Sitting pretty in a chaise longue In smaller spaces, a multi-functional piece of furniture is a perfect fit.

Design

June 09, 1996|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

One of my favorite pieces of furniture is the chaise longue.

Americans are often put off by its name, a French one given to this unique combination of bench, sofa and chair. In fact, rather than grapple with the pronunciation of "longue," many English-speakers refer to it as a chaise lounge. The reason I favor the chaise longue over more mundane pieces of furniture has to do mainly with its multi-functional quality. We live in a world of small spaces, and no other seating element is as versatile as this one. It's comfortable for stretching out, curling up, and for just plain sitting down.

You can also situate this piece almost anywhere in a room. Besides being placed with its back flush against a wall, it can have its head angled outward from a corner of a room, or it can stand alone in a perpendicular position.

Chaises longues are available in a variety of styles. The photo shows a newly manufactured chaise from Baker's collection of 18th-century American and English designs. Depending on its finish and fabric, this simple yet stylish piece could look good in almost any sort of setting.

The model seen here features a hand-rubbed and lightly distressed finish of mellowed mahogany. Loose boxed cushions are placed against the fully caned seat, arm and back. A checked linen fabric gives the piece a casual appearance that would surely enhance the look of a relaxed, contemporary-style room.

A beautiful view through a large sliding-glass door is the main attraction of our condo apartment. How should we position the furniture for both viewing and conversation? And should we use curtains?

Assuming that privacy is not an issue but that you do want to soften the glassy effect, the best solution might be a valance running the length of the wall.

As for the furniture placement, you'll probably want to include more than one grouping in your living room, size permitting. The main conversation unit should face into the room rather than being oriented toward the glass wall. Though it's the chief focal point, the view should not be the only facet of the room that attracts attention.

One possibility would be to place the sofa against a wall perpendicular to the sliding glass panels. Permanent seating can then be placed on either side of the sofa, while ottomans could be pulled in to form a rectangular arrangement, as circumstances require. This affords views of the outside, but it doesn't treat the vista as more important than guests gathered for conversation.

Pub Date: 6/09/96

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