There is a well-known ladies' club in London which was formerly occupied by men, who left behind them a legacy of their superior ideas of comfort in the shape of very many extremely comfortable chairs, which are one of the great attractions of the place. It is generally conceded that woman is apt to fail in this respect in furnishing. Yet this may, perhaps, be taken as a tribute to that energy, alluded to in the old adage which concludes that her work is never done, which presumably leaves her no time for the oc-cupation of a lounge chair.
Though the early Victorian age was an extremely upright and uncomfortable one, previous to that, in the time of Sheraton and Chippendale, comfort was studied with the greatest attention. Lines were thought out and followed with the most absolute precision.
It is difficult in these times to get workmen to realise how important is this exactitude. But when the contours of the human frame are really considered, and the chair made as it were "to fit," if not the individual, at any rate the general structure of the body, it will be seen that a greater degree of comfort must ensue. The modern padded chair has reached the acme of luxurious ease, but the feminine mind is apt to have a limited idea of the size required. Such a chair
The ideal chair for a quiet evening-the large lounge shape, well upholstered and fitted with a reading-stand
Messrs. Bartholomew & Fletcher should be easy in the sense of being an easy fit for the occupant. It should allow ample space for change of position, and not on any account give a sense of being boxed in, or all its charm is gone.
Even when giving adequate elbow-room, however, a padded chair is not always a comfortable one, for this question very largely depends on the quality of the upholstering. Nor do we want a chair that feels all right for a few months, but soon begins to wear down in all directions, which is due not only to inferior materials, but to inadequate workmanship.
The majority of people are quite as much in the dark when buying an upholstered chair as in purchasing a mattress, and it is only possible to give, as a means of protection, the same advice as was given on the question of buying a mattress, and that is, to go to a reliable firm in the first place. One way to ensure absolute reliability is to patronise a house where the work is done actually on. the premises, as is the case with one or two London firms, which have factories at the back of their shops. Here only the first quality copper springs will be used, mounted on the best linen webbing. The horsehair will be of the first order, covered with the best hessian and scrim. Even the question of the carding of the horsehair makes a difference. One of the aforesaid firms has it hand-carded, as the machine is apt to break the hair. Common webbing can be bought from about a farthing a yard, and in that case very soon sags down in the middle, and it is wondered why the chair has worn so badly. Cheap iron springs also are used in the chairs at astonishingly low prices, and these likewise, of course, do not keep their position. The properly made chair is quite a work of art before it is covered. The edges of the arms are most carefully padded and stitched separately. Then the springs have to be properly tied down, which needs an experienced workman. Indeed, each process demands good materials and workmanship. It has been considered worth while to go fully into these details in order to show readers that in paying for a good chair they really are getting their money's worth, and will find themselves well repaid for their outlay, for such a chair will live for longer than would several cheaper ones. The Ideal Chair
Many people prefer the high, straight back of the grandfather chair
The ideal chair, therefore, is a large lounge shape, with the best upholstering. There is no more delightful way of spending an evening than in such a chair with a favourite book, one that inspires its reader with a sense of companionship and fellowship with one of the great thinkers of this world.
Some people, however, have an absolute aversion to such supremacy of comfort, and infinitely prefer a chair with little stuffing, and built on the upright lines of the grandfather chair. It certainly does give a sense of being conveniently shut out from the world and the draughts, by its high back, and has also the merit of being the infinitely more picturesque pattern of the two. These chairs underwent a revival about twenty years ago, and a proof that they are appreciated is the fact that thousands of them were sold and continue to be purchased. Either of these chairs can be converted into reading chairs, and are immensely improved by having a reading arm, which costs an additional 25s., attached to it. A chair of this description may itself be had for £3 18s. It will be understood that a good quality price is being quoted.
Chairs for the Week-end Cottage
The ideal lounge chair will cost about a five - pound note. The price, however, largely depends on the covering. but an extremely nice tapestry one can be bought for this. If something that will wear everlastingly is wanted, an English mohair velvet should be chosen. The writer has recently seen a chair covered with this that has been in hard wear for ten years, and was returned to the show-rooms to be used as a sample and to serve as a witness to the wearing capacity of the firm's work. The chair looked absolutely new, and it seemed impossible to believe that it had ever been in general everyday use. Such
Oak chair, with adjustable back, copied from a Stuart model
A really comfortable dining-room chair. It is constructed from the recognised Sheraton pattern, having the lyre back and the broad band at the top Messrs. Bartholomew & Fletcher velvet is, of course, expensive, and will add a good deal to the initial expense, but when the appearance is taken into account, and the fact of the inconvenience of sending favourite chairs away to be re-covered is considered, it seems worth it. Moreover, if a good shade of green is chosen for the colour, it will go in any room, and one never gets tired of it. The week-end cottage has become quite an institution, but though people desire really to be comfortable on their Saturday to Monday in the country, they do not feel inclined to invest much in expensive furniture. A delightful oak chair with an adjustable back, copied from an old Stuart pattern, exactly meets their requirements, and is very frequently used. It has a padded seat and a loose cushion on the back, covered with charming shades of velvet, and is not only remarkably pleasing to look at, but extremely comfortable, especially as a reading-chair. A rather more luxurious version of the same thing has large cushions stuffed with vegetable down. It is also supplied with castors. The respective prices of these two models are 25s. 6d. and 50s.
In the ordinary dining-room chair the question of comfort should always be taken into consideration. Here we can profit by the expert knowledge of the old makers, for exact replicas can be bought of many of the old models. One of the recognised Sheraton patterns, with a lyre back and a deep band at the top, is remarkable for comfort, the depth of the band making the support come at the right level for occupants of varying heights. The fashion for using a complete set of arm-chairs is a declaration for comfort, and if the room be sufficiently large, the fashion undoubtedly realises an ideal, for an arm-chair is certainly more comfortable than any other for sitting in at table.
It is not always recognised that a special form of chair is desirable for that feminine occupation-needlework. Too high a chair is very apt to make the worker stoop, especially when working by lamplight. There is a charming Heppelwhite design, with an oval back slightly curved inwards from the sides, that is perfect for sewing, and is, moreover, an admirable type of the occasional chair that is so useful in any room, and of which it seems impossible to have too many. For a writing-table, however, something rather different is appropriate, as the arms are very apt to get in the way when writing, and the best thing is rather a straight-backed, armless chair.
For moments of restful reading in a bedroom we are no longer content with the wicker chair, with its inseparable and exasperating creak. Small, upholstered chairs, with loose chintz or cretonne covers, are now used. A cane chair may also be delightful, as it does not creak, and, if in a good design, will be very comfortable. Then there should be a special low chair for sitting in to put on boots and shoes. A cane-seated one, with the seat sloping slightly downwards at the back, is the best shape. A useful chair for the purpose may be made by cutting a piece off each leg of an ordinary chair to make it sufficiently low, and then putting a cushion in the seat, and another on the back. The result will be a really comfortable chair.
A comfortable chair of the Heppelwhite design, particularly useful as an occasional chair or for sitting in when doing needlework Messrs. Bartholomew & Fletcher
The following are good firms for supplying materials, etc., mentioned in this Section: Messrs. John Bond's Marking Ink Co. (Marking Ink); Godiva Carriage Co. (Baby Cars); Thomas Keating (Kealing's Powder).