There hasn't been one time in my more than 19 years of practice when I wasn't asked by a concerned wife, or by "the mister" himself, for a comfortable chair in a bedroom or den. Often, the solution is an easy one. A comfy chair and ottoman work as a refuge to put up your feet and watch television or read your local daily. However, when a chair and ottoman won't do, inevitably, a shy sotto voce request from the husband will come for a reclining chair, while behind his back, the wife shakes her head and makes ugly faces a la "I Love Lucy."
Comfortable chairs are also known as club chairs and recliners, both of which have their origins in turn-of-the-century France. The French had toyed with different versions of chairs, from the more formal and rectilinear fauteuil de style to the more comforting fauteuil confortable for interiors of distinction. The recliner was a result of the industrial revolution and campaign furniture designed for Napoleon's wars. A step in the development of the chair was a reclining bed. Further development of this concept included the first chair made for Napoleon III. (Ladies, take note of the noble lineage of this chair.)
During the 1920s and '30s, in what is known as the Art Deco period, the French developed the coveted club chair, named so for their appreciation in exclusive gentlemen's clubs. With its architecture rooted in the streamlined design of airplanes, ocean liners and automobiles, it was no wonder men loved the chair. Covered in mohair and mostly leather, these chairs could easily last 40 to 50 years. Many of these chairs are still found in old homes and antique stores throughout Europe. In current U.S. markets, its design is the most favored for lounge areas and family rooms.
In the U.S., during the late 1920s, the founders of the company now known as La-Z-Boy also developed patents for adjustable wooden chairs that would later morph into reclining upholstered chairs. These recliners have been a staple of American households since the 1950s, but they peaked around the 1970s, when having one in your living room or family room was all the rage. More recently, many consider these recliners akin to sensible shoes worn by seniors.
Reclining chairs are reportedly beneficial because they relieve lower-back stress. Many of these chairs come with heating and massage options. The technology of these recliners was even used in a few of the space rockets of the '60s and '70s. Alongside residential architecture, these recliners unabashedly grew larger and became the ugliest piece of furniture around, hence all the grimacing when the idea of one makes it into a conversation. Furniture designers took notice, and over the past decade recliners have become less bulky and a bit more stylish. Some reclining chairs are so well designed that they are almost impossible to distinguish from any other upholstered chair.
Sit down, kick back and enjoy any style of chair you choose. In the end, your comfort is the ultimate luxury.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.