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What Is a Slumber Chair?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2014
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A slumber chair is a chair manufactured by the Streit Manufacturing Company based in Ohio. Founded in the late 1800s, Streit manufactured slumber chairs until the 1950s, when it went out of business. Vintage and antique slumber chairs are sometimes available in stores and through private sales, and some furniture manufacturers make chairs of similar designs. The value of Streit slumber chairs can vary, depending on their condition and whether they can be authenticated.

This chair design is often referred to as the first recliner in the United States. The original slumber chair consisted of an upholstered chair with a wooden frame that could be adjusted to change the angle, making the chair more comfortable to sleep in. The chair came with a matching ottoman that included storage under the lid. Together, chair and ottoman could be adjusted to an angle and distance suitable to support someone during sleep.

Designs of the slumber chair varied throughout the company's history, as did the materials used for upholstering. Some original chairs still have the stickers bearing information about when and where the chair was manufactured. These can be valuable for authenticating chairs, for people who want to determine whether or not they have an original. Generally, the better the condition of the chair, the more money it will fetch when it is sold, especially if people can show that it includes all of the original parts.

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Fans of 20th century American interior design may find something to appreciate in the slumber chair. The chairs were originally upholstered in a range of colors and can be reupholstered to match an interior design scheme if a desired color is not available. Consumers should be aware that if their chairs break, it is advisable to consult a furniture professional to repair the chair in a way that will help the chair retain value. Some upholsterers also have access to parts removed from chairs that are beyond repair, allowing them to make repairs with original materials.

People may use the term “slumber chair” to refer generically to any kind of convertible chair designed for sleeping. Several companies manufacture products under this name that bear little resemblance to the Streit products of the early 20th century. Slumber chairs can vary in design from sleeping pads that can be strapped up to create a chair to recliners that pull out to become totally flat for comfortable sleeping.

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