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Comfort

A warm house, a comfy chair, a well-lit room – lots of things make our homes comfortable places to be.

Over time, as society has changed, so has our idea of comfort. Technological advances, affordable furniture, domestic behaviours, heating and lighting have all impacted the comfort of our homes.

A cosy corner or a sofa to veg out on: how do you stay comfy at home?

Historic illustration of two people. One is sat by the fire with their foot on the grate, the other is stood at the windows opening the curtains Living Made Easy Published by Thomas McLean, printed by J.Netherclift, 1830. Object number 16/2008

Stories to look out for

Curved chair in dark orange fabric Object number 190/1998

Scoop, by Terence Conran, for Habitat, 1974–1980

Each chair was made from a solid block of upholstery foam that was scooped out to form a seat. The seat and cushion were then covered in a corduroy fabric called 'Groovy'.

Low to the ground and unusually shaped, it would have been almost impossible to sit up straight in this chair. Scoop's form reflects the informal and relaxed style of furniture that we expect in today's homes, where lounging is an everyday part of getting comfortable.

 

Blue chair with brown wooden legs Object number 27/2012

Easy chair, 1720–1740

In the early 1700s, this easy chair would have been the height of comfort. Fully upholstered, its high back protected its sitter from cold draughts and its wings were perfect for napping. Chairs like this were expensive and would generally have been reserved for the old or the sick.

Although faded, the upholstery on this chair is original, making it an exceptionally rare example of early Georgian furniture. 

 

Painting of a person reclining on a chair smoking a pipe in front of a fireplace Object number 39/2004

Interior of a parlour, John Soden, 1862

After a long day, coming home and settling into your favourite chair can be incredibly satisfying.

The figure relaxing in this painting may have just returned from the races – he has mud on his boots and a book called 'The Turf' lies on the table to the left.

The man looks comfortable but his pose and behaviour would not have been considered respectable during the Victorian period. Smoking in the parlour was frowned upon and his red face and discarded tankard suggests he may have overindulged at the races.