Some furniture is best left in the annals of history.
Take the chaise lounge, for instance. It looks cool, even elegant in the right setting but it’s never the go-to seat. If in a room with a sofa or armchair, I’m bee-lining it to the sofa or chair every time.
I get that these days there are many types of chaise lounge designs and styles, but they simply are not for me.
BUT, give me a chaise sectional any day of the week.
While the chaise sectional derived its name from the chaise lounge, and even kinda has a similar shape, it’s apples and oranges when comparing comfort. And for me, furniture is all about comfort. I do not believe in forsaking comfort for style.
What is the difference between a chaise lounge and chaise sectional?
It’s pretty obvious, but let’s spell it out.
The Chaise lounge
It’s a long upholstered bench with a back spanning part of the length and end. It’s designed to “lounge” on with your feet. Because the term applies to any lounging chair where you put your feet up, there are many variations.
Note, the chaise lounge is more chair than sofa. It’s a piece of furniture for one person. It’s not meant to seat two or three people, but I suppose it can do that in a pinch. In these instances, I’m always happy I snagged the comfy armchair. I’m not big on sitting on bench-style furniture, no matter how elegant or soft the seat.
It’s steeped in history which may be part of its ongoing appeal. For instance, it was a chair design used by the wealthy in ancient Egypt? It sure was, then the Greeks had ’em and of course the Romans. Fast forward many hundreds of years and what we see these days as a chaise lounge was first conceived in France in the 17th century [source: Frances Hunt].
The Chaise Sectional Sofa
The most glaring difference is the chaise sectional sofa is a sofa and not a chair.
It’s a regular sofa with one or two ends that extend outward so you can sit with your feet up… lounge out if you will.
It’s more a tweak of the sectional sofa than the chaise lounge chair. However, because the extending part of the sofa looks like and operates like a chaise lounge, it’s aptly called a chaise sectional.
The chaise sectional came about as a compact sectional sofa. They’re mightly popular because they are comfortable, can seat two to three people and you enjoy the ottoman effect without some random ottoman in the space.
I love chaise sectionals because they are comfortable (I love lounging) and they accommodate two or more people. To me, they make sense.
The chaise lounge, meh, not so much. But I’ll temper my controversial opinion below.
Why I don’t like the chaise lounge (most of them)
It’s not that I don’t like lounging, I do. I don’t like the chaise lounge because it’s awkard for arms. The back which the long side doubles for an armrest is too high resulting in the arm to the side, but that pushes you almost off the edge. You can do the classic French post with one leg draped to the floor and opposing arm above the head or uncomfortably trying to gain some comfortable traction along the back, but that’s not how I want to sit when binge-watching Netflix.
With the chaise sectional, you don’t have that problem because you get a proper armrest on one side. Moreover, there’s plenty of space on the other side for the arm without an armrest. With feet up, arms comfortable, I can easily rip through a season of the latest Netflix offering.
Time to temper my opinion a bit
If forced to choose, I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d opt for a chaise lounge over a chaise sectional. However, contemporary chaise lounges offer some designs I could maybe work with. Would I buy them? Probably not. But, it’s an improvement.
Basically, a comfortable chaise lounge is one that properly accommodates my arms which means a proper armrest at least on one side of the chair. Here’s an example:
The problem with what to do with the other arm still persists. With a chaise sectional, the other armrests on the sofa seat. But with a chaise lounge like this, the other arm falls.
Another proposed design that some people like (but not me) is as follows:
Where the chaise lounge truly shines is in the sun
Most of my comments above refer to chaise lounges in the house. I’m simply not a big fan because of the awkward arm placements.
However, a patio chaise lounge is another story altogether.
But that’s because they’re designed for comfort and proper armrests. I love a chaise lounge ladened pool deck at a hotel. I reserve it with hotel-issued towel, hit the pool to cool off, then gladly read a book for hours on the patio chaise lounge. Here’s what I’m talking about:
See what I mean? Of course, you do because chances are you’ve enjoyed the same pool-side chaise lounges I have.
What if it’s all about the style for you?
I’m a comfort guy. I believe you can find great looking furniture that’s comfortable as well. But I kinda get if you put a bit more weight on style. Maybe you love the French salon look all ornate throughout that would be be seriously lacking without a chaise lounge. I get that. Sometimes, if you have the money and time, decking out rooms for effect can be fun. Different strokes for different folks. For you, there are some wild chaise lounge designs to consider that while wouldn’t entice me to sit in them, they undoubtedly garner attention. Check them out: