What is a Chaise Lounge?

S. Mithra
S. Mithra
The Bauhaus movement credited the chaise for being flexible, functional and affordable.
The Bauhaus movement credited the chaise for being flexible, functional and affordable.

A chaise lounge, a uniquely American term, refers to an elongated chair with four legs whose back slants to make reclining comfortable. This piece of furniture was created back in France in the 16th century, evolved in Europe, and now interests people as an indoor recliner or patio seat outdoors. Originally, the name was chaise longue, meaning in French "long chair." But American English altered the spelling, pronunciation, and meaning to chaise lounge. They pronounced it "shayz" or "chase" lounge, because it they would be lounging in it.

Many varieties of chaise lounges decorate today's adaptable living spaces. Naturally, weather-resistant materials, like cedar and teak, are often used to construct outdoor recliners for garden patios or cruise ship decks. Very easy to maintain, their surfaces are slatted, so they don't collect rainwater, with removable cushions rather than upholstery. They might remind you of an Adirondack chair, but they are taller, with a more obtuse angle and longer seat. Other, often plastic, deck chairs don't qualify as chaise lounges either, because they have adjustable backs.

Some of the earliest indoor examples of chaise lounges can be traced back to France during the Renaissance. They were made out of curved wood and woven caning, or rattan. Unlike earlier recliner chairs of Ancient Greece, the French chairs were designed for the person to lie on their back, rather than on their side. As with much European furniture, the chaise lounge was imported to America in the first immigrant population wave of the 1830s. Their stylizations of carved wood, curving lines, and rich fabric upholstery proved popular to an American sensibility.

With the advent of modern construction materials, such as tubular steel and plastic, 20th century architects and interior designers remade the chaise lounge. They embraced the hybridized piece of furniture as emblematic of the new, open, multifunctional American home. The lounge could straddle bedroom, entryway, dining room, living room, and porch. The Bauhaus movement, especially, lauded the chaise for being flexible, functional, and affordable, perfect for the middle class family. Designers such as Marcel Breuer, Charles and Ray Eames, and Le Corbusier spent the 20s-60s creating sleek, modern chaise lounges of chrome, plywood, and plastic webbing.

Discussion Comments


Have you guys seen some of the contemporary pillow top chaise lounges? These are more expensive but oh boy are they comfortable! My sister bought one for her new place and it's fantastic. It has an arched design and it's patted with pillows all over. My back feels great on it. I do my best to hog it whenever I'm over at her place.


@serenesurface-- I have one of those and I agree with you. They are very convenient. I've actually had guests sleep on it when we ran out of room. It is far more useful to have a lounge chair with a back that can be straightened.

Mine is not plywood though. It's cushioned and covered with faux leather. It has metal-chrome legs. It's very comfortable. I spend most of my time on it watching TV or reading. And like I said, it can double as a makeshift bed if need be. Of course, this is an indoor lounge chair. An outside wood one would be nice too. But you should probably buy a cushion for it or it might not be comfortable enough.

I like my indoor one a lot. And it wasn't very expensive either since it's faux leather.


Actually there are chaise lounges with adjustable backs now. And as far as I can tell, they're still categorized that way. They don't look like deck chairs. They look like typical chaise lounges made of plywood. The only difference is that the back can be folded up or down based on the individual's preference.

I think this type of chaise lounge is far more convenient to use. I can totally see myself falling asleep on one on a lazy summer afternoon. And I would want the back down all the way for a nice nap. I think I will get a couple for the backyard.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • The Bauhaus movement credited the chaise for being flexible, functional and affordable.
      By: ArTo
      The Bauhaus movement credited the chaise for being flexible, functional and affordable.