Recliner chairs -- from Archie Bunker's living room to modern times.
have always been a coveted luxury in American homes. As a child growing up in
the 1970's I remember never missing an episode of All In The Family. I always
loved the scene when somebody sat in Archie Bunker's recliner chair. He would
tilt his head sideways, purse his lips together, and furrow his brows until
the "intruder" got out of his chair.
I witnessed in my own family the same status given to the sacred
recliner chair. Usually this recliner chair existed exclusively to comfort the
man of the house. (Remember, this was the 1970's) I have to admit that I did
not see this in my own house, because my father was not fond of sitting down
for long. It was in my grandparents house that I saw this recliner chair phenomenon.
I recall visiting my grandparents one fine summer and discovered the most bizarre
thing. After dinner I went over to their television, selected a show to watch,
and proceeded to get comfortable in the big recliner chair in the corner. When
my grandmother came around the corner after cleaning up the kitchen she gasped.
A look of shock was upon her face as she saw me laid out with my feet up watching
the Bugs Bunny Road Runner hour. (It must have been a Saturday right) She quickly
corrected the situation and hurried me out of the recliner. She said, "Oh...you
had better leave that chair for your grand dad.....that's his chair and nobody
else uses it." Well, I was surprised to witness such drama about a beat
up recliner chair. I realized that
there was more truth to the character of Archie Bunker then I had ever imagined.
It's three decades later now, I'm 40 years old, and I have
a home of my own now. I too have a favorite recliner chair. In fact, I'm sitting
it right now as I type this little jewel out on my ancient laptop. (Can you
say 286? ........Sure ya can.) The difference with my marriage is that we bought
two black leather recliners. My wife and I use them both and there is no personal
attachment to one or the other. (That's probably why we bought two.....to avoid
clashes over who gets to sit in the recliner)
Owning leather recliners is no longer a luxury for the wealthy minority.
You'll notice that I said "leather
recliners". We are not wealthy people by any means, and that goes to
show how the status of leather furniture has changed. There was a time not too
long ago when only the privileged minority could afford such a luxury. In the
past leather recliners were very expensive. Their cost was due to the manufacturing
process and the cost of the leather used. In order to have a large chair completely
upholstered in real leather you need to have a large animal hide. Way back in
"furniture history" earlier Renaissance styles were high status items.
The Spanish were exceptionally enamored by leather pieces and of course we can't
forget about the English. The English aristocrats were proud owners of high
quality leather furniture. Keep in mind that in those days leather furniture
was ALL leather and not corrected, blended, or sectioned.
The 18th century craftsmen had perfected the art of tanning.
Tanning the leather is a process where you introduce dye and prepare it for
the end state. Tanning in the 18th century took approximately 9-12 months. There
was even a tradition for some royalty to start the process of building a fine
piece of furniture when a child was conceived. The death of the Ox or Cow was
paramount to a sacrifice and the chair would be delivered the same time as the
baby. Of course the craftsmen could never dream of owning a leather chair. They
could only take pride in their work. (I'm sure they tested their work when nobody
was looking.) Just in case you are wondering....we still use cattle hides to
make leather furniture. Cattle hide is ideal because of it's size, strength,
and durability. Leather recliners wear over time and actually become softer
As time went on the demand for leather furniture grew. Now
you can buy a nice leather recliner for 500-1000 dollars. Of course you can
buy more expensive pieces if you can afford them. The reason that the price has
dropped is due to the sheer demand from the public. In order to keep manufacturing
costs down, the leading furniture companies use blends, composites and sectional
priority. They will use real leather in the area of the recliner that you rest
your arms, head, and back on, but they will use vinyl on the back, sides and
foot rest. Some consumers insist on investing only in the finest recliner(s)
and they can spend three to four times what the average buyer will spend. To
some degree you get what you pay for, but the comfort and appearance of the
lower priced recliners is outstanding. This was not always the case. In the
last decade furniture manufacturers have managed to satisfy consumer demand
by keeping costs down and delivering perceived luxury.
Of course, leather
recliners are not the only recliners on the market. Upholstered recliners
of various materials and coverings are very popular. I've heard many people
say they don't like leather furniture because it is sticky in hot weather. They
claim that leather "sweats" or that it is cold when you want it to be warm.
I've found it to be the opposite. Our leather recliners are actually cool when
we have a hot summer's day. In the winter we often have fleece covers over them.
They seem to always gravitate towards the colder end of the spectrum. It all
comes down to taste and preference.
If you are shopping for a recliner chair I recommend you click
the links in this article to browse through some of the better made recliners
on the market. I hope you have enjoyed this short article on recliner chairs.
Come back and visit soon. You may want to bookmark this page for future reference.
Brent Truitt is a freelance writer and publisher for http://www.recliners-only.com
Back to Chairs