Portrait of Madame Recamier, 1800, Jacques-Louis David
David’s famous portrait of the legendary Parisian saloniste so captures the seductive essence of the daybed that Empire chaises like this one are still known as Recamiers. What’s great about a daybed is that it elevates the mundane to the glamorous. There’s a world of difference between lying on a sofa or your bed reading a book, which feels a bit slobby, and doing the same thing reclining on a daybed, which can make you feel as soignée as, well, Madame Recamier. Here are some of examples of Designers Collaborative members putting the daybed’s elegantly indulgent essence to fine use.
Bruce Bierman: This fine-boned chaise offers a stylish perch to enjoy the view from a Manhattan living room overlooking Central Park. Featuring details of Amboina burl and faux-ivory inlay, it’s a custom piece by Robe Di Legno, Inc., Delray Beach, Florida.
Tim Button: Smothered in pillows, this daybed in an Amagansett beach house is comfortable as a couch but can accommodate an overnight guest in a pinch.
Ron Bricke: This Pharaonic daybed is a vintage reproduction from the 1920s, when Howard Carter had just discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb and the world was crazy for all things ancient Egyptian. It’s slightly Cecil B. De Mille vibe was a good aesthetic fit for the flamboyant late 1980s, so I used it in this room at the 1987 Kips Bay Decorator Show House.
Glenn Gissler: In the guest room/study of a Greenwich Village townhouse, this vintage daybed is covered in a Brunschwig & Fils cotton. Its deep-dish comfort, together with its position next to under-window bookshelves, make it an ideal spot for long stretches of reading.
Bruce Bierman: If, as Coco Chanel is purported to have said, “Elegance is refusal,” then Mies van der Rohe’s classic 1930 daybed is one of the most superbly elegant pieces of furniture ever made. Often called the Barcelona couch in the mistaken belief that, like the iconic chair and ottoman, it was designed for the 1929 World Exposition in Spain, the daybed was actually commissioned by Philip Johnson for his New York City apartment. Today, it looks as timelessly modern as ever in the living-dining room of this Manhattan loft.