The Chaise. Luxurious lounge fashion: from traditional to modern

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

HOW to lounge sumptuously and stylishly -- the subject increasingly intrigues people who think of home as a haven, a place in which to unwind and relax. It is also of concern to furniture manufacturers who are busily translating lounge fashion into a wide variety of luxurious chaises and daybeds.

Some of the new chaises look like daybeds. And some of the new daybeds look like chaises. And some are simply called chaise-daybeds. You see their comfort and elegance featured in decorating magazines and decorator show houses.

The range of designs is enormous, from strictly traditional to far-out modern. Some are slim and sleek, others big and rounded and lush.

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Ned White, upholstery designer at American of Martinsville, has interpreted art deco as well as 1950s themes in his chaise-daybeds, some of which enclose fold-out mechanisms converting them to double beds. These, he says, are called ``sleep chaises'' as opposed to ``day chaises'' and they are made to match the company's best-selling sofas.

There is an increasing demand for matching daybeds and sofas, says Mr. White, and for chaises that can be used with any style or period of furnishings. ``For people who can afford the luxury of decorative upholstery, ``these pieces, with their high style and good looks, represent an attractive trend.''

According to Jena Hall, a woman designer whose new and very contemporary chaise-daybed is shown at Blair House, people want ``comforting'' surroundings and not a home that looks like the inside of a Boeing 747. ``Something has to insulate them from that high-tech society,'' she says.

``The daybed is good because, while serving many functions, including lounging, sleeping, and party seating, it leaves the space in a room visually open,'' says Ruth Clark, designer of upholstery at Clyde Pearson. ``We find that the piece has become one more element to be included in sectional groupings, and we make daybeds to match sofas and other types of seating.''

Says a Selig designer, ``Whether the piece is the focal point in a living room, a lounge in a bedroom or den, or a daybed for reading and napping in a secluded hide-a-way room, the versatility is there.''

One California designer, in furnishing a huge modern bedroom, makes a conversation grouping against one wall consisting of a daybed, a huge ottoman, and two big corner storage cubes.

While Contempo Concepts has introduced an ultramodern chaise, both ends of which are adjustable for different head and foot angles, Sam Moore is showing a chaise in traditional French design, and Kaylyn's new one-arm chaise is part of its City Mix Collection.

New Horizons Inc., a division of Schweiger Industries, goes futuristic with its sway-back chaise, part of a new modular group of armless seating units.

``People are simply demanding more versatility and something different in modular groupings,'' says designer Warren F. Williams. ``Many of our daybeds also include 54-inch-wide fold-out beds, and we will be introducing still other chaises and daybeds at the spring market. We think that in today's smaller living quarters they answer a real need.''

``I thoroughly approve the whole daybed idea,'' says New York interior designer Elizabeth Matthews. ``Because they appear to be light and airy, and because you can see over them and around them, they preserve a spacious feeling in a room. And they work very effectively to divide and define space in a room that serves several functions. I recently placed a matching sofa and daybed at right angles in a Manhattan bachelor apartment and the effect is stunning.''

A study made by Yankelovich, Skelly & White Inc. indicates that for the affluent younger generation, home has become a place for ``relaxing and renewing,'' calling for more comfortable sitting and sleeping surfaces and more soothing colors and textures. The new chaises and daybeds, or chaise-daybeds, present a comfortable way to go.

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