When I first brought home my ash-gray couch many years ago, I looked toward it with suspicion. The far end of the couch was my seat, traditionally, but in its place, a strange peninsula jutted outward: my very first chaise lounge. The sectional couch was handsome, no doubt—its chaise provided a sharp accent to the room—but I wondered about its utility. What if I didn’t want to put my feet up? Won’t it fight with the coffee table? What’s this for, anyway?
My instincts, I’m happy to report, were wrong. My early doubts quickly turned to charmed appreciation, then to reverence, and now to total evangelism. I love the chaise. Maybe a little too much. It has changed my life for the better. It will change yours, too.
Best known as a standalone piece of furniture—first as the mythical “fainting couch” of well-heeled 19th-century women, then as the favored seating of therapists’ offices—the chaise now proudly flanks the edges of couches in more enlightened living rooms around the country. And there is good reason why. Let us now recount the triumphs of the chaise, particularly as seen on the incomparable chaise sectional.
It’s the only acceptable sectional.
You know you miss the massive ’80s sectional from your parents’ basement, but people with “taste” have deemed those couches too tacky. Fine! The chaise is a secret trap door, a sectional that carries on the tradition but brings modern flair to a space instead of the smell of Funyuns and Hi-C. No one will know what you’re getting away with.
It’s a second couch all to yourself.
Seriously, and you don’t look like a couch hog.
It’s a world-class footrest.
If you, like me, stake out your couch territory and guard it jealousy, you will want to claim the chaise for yourself immediately. You’ll soon savor the relief of built-in limb elevation every time you flop down—no small thing. Before long you’ll scoff at your former preference for an ottoman that moves around for “flexibility” and “convenience.” Why, when you could have this serenity all the time?
It’s ridiculously flexible.
You may or may not be more flexible because of the fine place you’ve created to pamper your legs, but the design flexibility with chaise sections really is stellar for small spaces. Frequent movers with different needs, this is for you. Mine has lived happily in three different apartments.
It’s a home office and personal HQ.
My laptop and I have spent many, many working hours together on my chaise, and we make a fine team. If you are the type to lay out a dozen notes to yourself while you work from home, the chaise is happy to oblige. Note: This will require advanced knowledge of chaise leg positioning, so it is not recommended for beginners.
When you have a certain kind of guest over...
I will not go into this too much, but sometimes, when you’re with someone you don’t know very well, someone you maybe like, and you’re watching a movie, and you get a little closer to each other, and you start to make contact—sometimes, you’re not quite sure if you should suggest moving to the bedroom right away. Too bold! Too hasty! Well, in my experience, the chaise can be… a good alternative to a bed in those situations. Moving on.
Speaking of beds, it turns your couch into TWO beds.
If you live in a major city and your friends still use your apartment as a hotel more often than they should, a couch with a chaise comfortably sleeps two people instead of one, no air mattress required. Unfortunately, I know this too well.
And most important of all: the incomparable luxury of a secret lounge chair in your living room.
In The New York Times, landscape architect Alec Gunn once observed that the chaise is “well suited for only one thing: doing nothing.” With respect to Mr. Gunn, he is wrong, as you can read above. But he is right that your chaise is a singular luxury in home furnishing, as if you snuck a lounge chair off the beach, upholstered it in fabric, and hid it in your otherwise perfectly respectable living room. Pure glory.
It is now time to join the chaise cult. This is a good place to start. And if you don’t love your chaise, I always accept backups for myself.