In praise of the chaise

The sub­tle art of sprawl­ing in style

Country Life Every Week - - Interior Design The Inside Track -

Ow-slung fur­ni­ture might be de­sir­able in the pri­vacy of a me­dia room (‘telly room’ to you and me), but it isn’t nec­es­sar­ily some­where you’d want to chat to your dis­tinctly chilly neigh­bours about your con­tentious plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion or to a teacher who has popped round for a quiet word about your child’s ‘chal­leng­ing be­hav­iour’ (or what­ever the cur­rent eu­phemism is for ‘com­pletely feral and out-of-con­trol’).

Rooms suited to en­ter­tain­ing (and sticky con­ver­sa­tions) are rarely suited to loung­ing. As Nicky Haslam once ob­served, ‘The point of dec­o­ra­tion is to make peo­ple look pret­tier’. Low, ca­pa­cious, L-shaped so­fas do ex­actly the op­po­site, ren­der­ing even those blessed with the most lithe and el­e­gant physique as lithe and el­e­gant as a sack of po­ta­toes.

In 1800, when Jac­ques Louis David painted Madame Ré­camier, the legend-

Lary sa­loniste and con­fi­dante of the French writer, politi­cian and diplo­mat François-rené de Chateaubriand, she wasn’t flat out on a low, L-shaped sofa but poised and com­fort­able on a nifty, dou­ble-ended Direc­toire chaise longue. There’s a les­son to be learnt from Madame Ré­camier’s com­port­ment: namely that com­fort and el­e­gance are not mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive.

Al­though a 19th-cen­tury chaise might be a lit­tle camp for hard­ened mod­ernists, there are plenty of 20th-cen­tury in­car­na­tions that of­fer a sim­i­larly in­dul­gent feel in a sleeker style. Le Cor­bus­ier’s catchily named LC4 that he de­signed in 1928 has long been the ar­chi­tect’s chaise of choice, but, more re­cently, it has been rein­vented to com­bine pared-back looks with a more com­modi­ous feel.

The most com­modi­ous by far is Ge­orge Smith’s mag­nif­i­cent Brew­ster Chaise (£4,565, 020—7384 1004; www.george­smith.com), that art­fully com­bines deep but­ton­ing with a clean, sim­ple pro­file. Another great ex­am­ple of a new-wave chaise is Tal­lu­lah from Love Your Home (£1,125, 01483 410007; www.love-your-home. co.uk). Both would en­cour­age the sort of el­e­gant sprawl­ing of w h i c h Madame Ré­camier would

be proud.

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