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The Meridienne, classic for French lounging

The chaise lounge or  “fainting couch” is a piece of furniture that meets us somewhere between a bed and a chair. It is a luxurious piece that has its roots with the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.  The well healed ruling classes spent large chunks of time lounging, eating and drinking, more eating and drinking, and then even some more.  We’ve all seen the many images of these folks and their gods laying on one.

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Daybeds became popular among the French aristocracy in the 19th century. Like the ruling class of centuries before this cultured class spent a good deal of their day lounging, reading, more lounging. The two most well-known daybed styles were the Récamier and the Méridienne. The Récamier had two raised ends and was named after the French Society Hostess, Madame Récamier, and for the portrait that was painted of her on the chaise. The Méridienne was raised on one side with a slight back and one armrest along the same side and named for the area of the house, the meridian, where the sun would be in the middle of the day. Perfect for cat napping.

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Portrait of Madame Récamier by Jacques-Louis David

These couches continued in popularity during the Victorian era where they evolved into the “fainting couch”.  This was an era with corsets so tight as to bring on a fainting spell. (Or perhaps a reprieve from dull conversation?)  “Fainting rooms” were not uncommon and were complete with fainting couches and low lighting to assist in recovery. 

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In the 1960’s and 70’s there was a great modernization of the chaise lounge. Designers eliminated the arm rest and created a streamlined look with a weaved back.  The popularity and affordability of home swimming pools brought these chaises to the forefront once again.

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The modern chaise lounge is very sleek without rococo adornments and fabrics. It takes the place of oversized chairs and allows the space to have more seating in an economical way. The colors are neutral to allow for interchangeability with the rest of the room design. Some have the round curves of the old-fashioned chaise while keeping with the modern use of materials such as metal legs.

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The use of materials like leather adds an edge.

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I love pairing a classic chaise frame with a contemporary plush fabric.  The result is classic, clean and so very fresh and contemporary.  Modern luxury.

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There is something so lovely about this piece of furniture.   Would you use this classic piece in your house?

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