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Chaise-ing perfection

Final Project | June 1, 2022 | By:

For 25 years, Matt’s Motortrimming in Havelock North, New Zealand, has specialized in auto and marine upholstery, but when the company couldn’t find just the right chaise lounge for its building, owner Matt Forbes decided they would custom-build one of their own.

“We looked on the internet at other chaise lounges and Chesterfield chairs for ideas,” says Forbes. “We found a few that were close but nothing that we liked every aspect of.”

The piece had to be large enough to seat up to four adults and long enough for someone to lie down on. “We wanted a soft comfortable feel, but I was aware that deep buttoning generally uses a firm foam, or more traditionally wadding, to get the right look,” says Forbes. “The combination of softer foam and our inexperience with tufted deep buttoning made it challenging.”

The cushion was covered with one piece of leather nearly two meters long and with just enough character to prove it wasn’t vinyl.

The backs of most chaise lounges are made in two pieces and are usually separate from the arm piece. Forbes wanted a wrap-around feel so a user could sit comfortably in the corner. 

“The idea of buttoning around the internal curve proved quite tricky and almost impossible to maintain the diamond dimensions and symmetry,” says Forbes. 

Another design challenge came with the lounge’s legs. “We wanted stubby full-turned legs in a darker finish to complement the black,” says Forbes. He found the ideal legs from a company in North Carolina, but when that supplier learned that his potential customer was from New Zealand, he refused to sell. “He said that I should be using legs with a metric thread and his imperial thread legs would cause problems if anyone wanted to change them.” Suitable legs were eventually found, and the chair was complete.  

The overall look is a Victorian style with a Gothic impact. As a bonus, removing the cushion reveals storage space. The chaise lounge was named a 2021 Awards for Excellence winner in the Upholstery-Residential/Commercial category by OFPANZ, the Outdoor Fabric Products Association of New Zealand. 


Project name

Chaise lounge scratch build

Design and build

Matt’s Motortrimming, Havelock North, New Zealand

Material used

Audi Nappa Ebony Pearl leather, Barbarossa Florence Black Graphite embossed leather

Fabric supplied by

Le Mans Auto Fabrics, Wellington, NZ

Barbarossa leather and foam from WT Distributors, Auckland, NZ

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