The 10 Best Outdoor Chaise Lounges
A Brief History Of The Chaise Lounge
It had four legs of carved wood and a cushioned backrest that encouraged people to lie flat, rather than on their sides.
The humble chaise lounge can conjure up vivid mental pictures. For example, imagine a Victorian-era gentlewoman swooning onto her fainting couch, overcome with the vapors. Or how about a troubled patient dutifully detailing his secret fears aloud from the sofa as his psychiatrist jots down notes? Truth be told, the idea of a piece of furniture that’s part chair, part bed goes back much further than all that. It's actually thought to have originated in ancient Egypt, made from palm sticks tied together with rawhide.
These ingenious little beds weren't just limited to Egypt, however. If you’ve ever laid eyes on a work of art from ancient Greece, you’ll notice that when the subjects were in repose, they often did so on a daybed. One of the greatest pleasures of Greek society was the symposium, a gathering during which men would discuss events, view entertainment, drink, and share food. Rather than sit or stand, they relaxed comfortably on their left sides over pillowed couches called klinai. Ancient Romans even had their own version known as convivia, where they also opted to rest on klinai instead of an upright chair. Go a bit farther east and you’d find that the Chinese also valued low platforms for relaxing during the day, preferably out in the open air on a terrace.
By the 16th century, a design had sprung up in France that resembled the chaises of today, known as a chaise longue. It had four legs of carved wood and a cushioned backrest that encouraged people to lie flat, rather than on their sides. It provided an excellent place for ladies of wealth to rest without having to go to their chambers. By the 1700s, the ornate Rococo style had become all the rage, first in Paris, and then in other parts of Europe, and chaise longues evolved into elaborate status symbols for the elite.
It’s been suggested that a wave of immigrants in the 1830s brought the chaise longue to America, where it was re-dubbed as a lounge. However, there are British newspapers that had printed the term before then, in 1807. The bed-like seat became an important part of interior design in wealthier residences, especially if one or more of the women who lived there was pregnant. While they’ve fallen in and out of favor since then, you’ll still find a chaise in most households, whether at the end of a plush sectional or placed perfectly in the backyard near an inviting pool.
Lounge Like You Mean It
If you’re looking to soak up some rays, you’ll want your chaise to have a number of functions. For one, it’s got to be adjustable. As the sun moves across the sky, you’ll not only need to target certain areas without casting a shadow over yourself, but you’ll certainly want to recline at different angles when you’re lying on your back compared to your front. It should also be portable, so you can take it to the beach or follow the sun around your backyard. Consider a model with a cushioned cavity, which makes it extra-convenient for you to rest on your belly without straining your neck. A breathable waterproof or quick-dry fabric helps if you’re repeatedly getting in and out of the pool, or if your sunscreen or tanning oil spills.
If you camp often, try taking a tri-fold chaise with lightweight steel construction and dense fabric with you.
If you can’t imagine an afternoon of relaxation without a snack or drink in hand, then you’re in luck — there are plenty of chairs out there for you. Look for foldout tables, beverage holders, and spill-proof fabric. A lounger that’s outfitted with a detachable canopy or cover of some sort will help keep a frosty drink from warming in direct sunlight and protect you from harmful UV rays. Some sets even come with side tables for all your bric-a-brac.
Perhaps you’re simply looking to bring the coziness of your living room to the outdoors. Whether you’re soaking in the backyard scenery of a desert or forest, you’ll want something sumptuously cushioned, with a softer fabric that’s still hardwearing enough to resist fading and other types of damage. Plush arm and headrests are paramount, especially if you’re taking a book, tablet, or laptop with you. This is another instance when having a small table comes in handy, so you can set your things down from time to time.
If you camp often, try taking a tri-fold chaise with lightweight steel construction and dense fabric with you. It can make a welcome addition to the seating around the campfire and double down as a cot that’s perfect for stargazing or to act as a safeguard against curious critters.
And of course, some features are non-negotiable. Always make sure your chaise can withstand inclement weather, will resist rust or decay, and is made from high-quality materials that can support more than enough weight.
Quick Tips For Creating An Outdoor Oasis
Just because an outdoor space is exposed, doesn't mean it can't still feel like an intimate part of your house. Complementing your chaises with armchairs, side tables, colorful accent pillows, and even a small couch can open things up immensely. Arranging your furniture around a focal point will instantly create an inviting atmosphere. You can also add extra decadence by serving up mixed drinks and tasty snacks with the help of a rolling bar or patio cooler.
If you live in a colder climate, try opting for a fireplace or outdoor heater. In addition to providing much-needed warmth, they give off an ambient source of light. You may also want to consider installing patio string lights, which range from retro glass bulb styles to bendable copper wires with tiny, twinkling bulbs that can make any space look right out of a fairytale.