Bizarre thrift coincidence #1: the contour chair lounge

Contour Chair Lounge Advertisment 1976

[From McCalls, April 1976, uploaded by jackie121467 on Flickr.]

Alert readers will have noted the oddly shaped chair pictured in one of the photos from Thad’s garage sale:

A couple of fabulous green chairs

It’s a contour chair lounge, which was produced by the aptly named Contour Lounge Chair Co. of St. Louis, Mo., from the 1950’s to the 80’s. The above chair is probably one of the earlier models, which reclines when you depress a wooden lever on the right-hand side. Later models were motorized and sometimes included “thermonic heat and viveration” (vibration). What most interests me about the contour lounges is that they were some of the earliest examples of ergonomic devices. The chairs were custom made based on each customer’s measurements; the idea is that, when reclined, the entire body is supported and relaxed, feet above heart, back and neck cradled. This hilarious commercial from 1984 highlights all the features of “the most comfortable, most relaxing chair made in the world today”:

The chairs aren’t really collector’s items–designwise they’re interesting but flawed (those ugly arms!)–but they certainly have a following. I would put an approximate value of $150-500 on a chair in good vintage condition (the price would vary depending upon the upholstery and of course the location of the sale).

Those of you who know me or have studied the about page know that I used to own a shop. We sold home accessories, gifts, stationery, vintage items, and revamped old furniture. Two years ago I bought a contour chair from a living estate sale off of 119th St and replaced the torn seafoam vinyl with a durable navy blue Pindler & Pindler fabric (a single chair uses about seven yards of fabric, by the way). I can personally testify to its comfort level, because it lived in our living room for a few months before the store opened and it was reupholstered, and I fell asleep in it many times. (The only picture of the chair I could find is this photo on Manic Thrift Store Shopper.)

It turns out my friend Daniel owned a double contour chair that he and his wife loved but didn’t have room for. That thing was huge. So of course I bought it and had it recovered in red velvet:


Odd side note: Bonnie Bing featured the chair in a Wichita Eagle Valentine’s Day-themed fashion spread.

So what is the amazing and bizarre thrift coincidence involving the contour lounge chair? Well, guess who appeared at Thad’s garage sale and spirited away the space-conscious single-wide lounge? None other than Daniel and his wife, Pam. Surely the chair will bring them good luck and happiness, because it was clearly meant to be theirs.

I do not believe in anything so imaginative as thrifting gods, but if they did exist I could imagine them chortling over the master orchestration of this particular series of exchanges.

(Stay tuned for bizarre thrift coincidence #2, which involves Georges Briard, thrifted gifts, Anna’s house, and my own procrastination. Until then, happy thrifting!)

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Filed under Emily, Synchronicity

31 responses to “Bizarre thrift coincidence #1: the contour chair lounge

  1. of course! steal at will…anytime.

    love this post and everything you guys are doing!

  2. Jackie Sheehan

    I have a contour chair!!! I love mine… it brown vinyl in perfect condition! It still has the back pillow that came with it! It is electric which works… and it also has heat and the vibrator that are not working right now! I love mine!

  3. Theo.H.Miller

    I am interested in buying a Contour Chair {Single}
    Please advise- I have one now but needes to be redone. Perhaps you can tell me of some one that could rebuild mine or would that be the best way to go? Got excited when I found your page on the “net”

  4. Theo.H.Miller

    I sent a message don’t know if it got thru so here I go again. I am interested in obtainiing a Contour Chair {Single} I have one now and would appreciate advise as to whether it would be better to have it refinished or get a new one. All the padding is gone ,I feel the cross pieces when I get in it (everyday)

  5. My father had one of these when I was a kid. I inherited it, but somewhere along the line it got passed on to my sister because I didn’t have room for it, and then it vanished.

    Fast-forward 20-odd years, and I have my father’s back and circulation problems. I bought a Homedics DeStress elevation chair, and while the heat and massage function are nice, the chair itself is much too awkward and rickety.

    I looked into Contour chairs on eBay and CraigsList, and while I occasionally got a hit, they were consistently going for $250 – $500. Until this week, when I found someone in Riverside (a 120-mile round trip) selling one for $40 (and a cosmetic tear in naugahyde fabric). While quite a drive, and hauling it in a 91 Escort hatchback was an ordeal in itself, it was well worth the effort.

    Anyone out there in the market for a like0new Homedics DeStress Inversion Chair?

  6. Emily Courtney

    I curently AM looking to get rid of a contour lounge. Have on taking up space in my living room and nowhere to put it. Power slide and vibration work great, has back and head rest pillows, upholstery in mint condition. Asking $300 obo, any one interested, we live near la crosse wi. My email is mamaem2008@yahoo! Thanks so much!

    • Chunquerto

      I am very interested and have sent you an email.

    • Phil Bradford

      I would be happy to buy the chair, however I live so far from you that it seems impractical to entertain the idea. Do you have the capability of sending pics of the chair to me?

      • Emily

        I’m sorry! It sold, have someone coming to pick it up this weekend!! If for some reason this doesnt pan out, I will reply to this comment again!!

  7. Jackie

    I have the double wide “snuggler” in black leather. The Power slide and vibration work great as well. Although the lounge is large and does take up a great deal of space my husband I love it.

  8. Stacie

    My husband found a chair at a garage sale for $40. Thought it was a funky piece that would go well with our decor. Pleased to also discover how comfy it is!

  9. Elaine Moore

    My husband has a contour chair and looking for a replacement as the vibration and power slide no longer work. He is 6’2 approximately 210 pounds. If you have a contour chair please let us know as he is interested i purchasing another one.

  10. Greg Styles

    I too have one of these chairs, underneath the chair is a product label from the mid 60’s. Mine is black upholstery, it has heat, vibrate, and motorized recline… all functioning. I love the chair but if I get a decent offer I might be inclined to sell it. (Phoenix, AZ.) It does have a small tear which I believe can be repaired easily at the foot area.

    • Melvin LeBlanc

      I read about your contour chair, with one small tear that should be
      repairable. Please send me a picture and what you would take.

  11. Travis Ray

    I have a 2 early model st. louis lounge chairs white in color. I was wondering what they may be worth. They are early models with just manual recline. One has brass tacs on the trim. If you have information or just want to purchase them you may call me at 317-702-8130, thank you

  12. Flee Hyper

    My husband just bought one yesterday at a thrift store for $50! We love it! It is in excellent condition! It is so comfortable and supportive. It is tan leather and has a small tear on an arm. The electric glide was working til it sparked!!! LOL My husband redid the wiring and it is good to go now!! The motor is in excellent shape as well. WHat a great chair at a greatr price!! :)

  13. laura

    Can you tell the age by the serial number??????

  14. Carolyn Eanes

    My husband & I have a 1989 cuddler & we love the comfort–however, the viverator motor no longer works — we would like to buy a replacement motor if there is one available–Thanks, Carolyn Eanes in Martinsville,VA

  15. Deanna

    My contour lounge was hastily dropped at My door like an abandoned baby. Despite a few tears, This chair is My Physical therapist, Swedish Masseuse, cradle for cure. It became My hospital bed after surgery for fractured ankle. The lift for elevating and recline was better then the hospital. Two Heat and Two vibration knobs to adjust for purrrrrrrrrfect napping. If you lay inverted, face up at foot,arms extended above head,beyond chairs edge, feet at the headrest, You can experience traction relief for neck,back… I use it for creative photography posing and set design. Descent barbers chair as well. Occasionally I perform oral surgery…NO, I’m kidding. I never had seen another chair for 10 years. As luck would have it, there was the same model,mint condition for $100 at my neighborhood Thrift shop. Now I have Two, Hers & Mine. .I need information to rejuvenate and reupholster… and for the chair too.. Any tips or help would be appreciated.

  16. Kathryn

    I bought this chair at a garage sale for $40. I absolutely love it. I curl up with a good book turn the vibration on and sometimes drift off to sleep. It needs to be recovered as the bottom where the foot rest is has a rip in the material (it’s an ugly rust color with bright red dots). It isn’t pretty to look at but when I sit in it none of that matters. Love this funky chair!!

  17. N Martin

    As a child I lived across the street from the Contour Lounge Factory. As I remember the owners name was Ed Bosick. The building was a old church they used for the shop.He was a very nice person. The family lived in a house there. N Martin Las Vegas Nv

  18. Rolf Harper

    Great chair. I will get one as soon as I find one. It beats any recliner

  19. Joanna kinnett

    I was thinking about reupholstering my chair! Any instructions or advise?

  20. Marianne

    I have a pale brown contour chair. It vibrates and moves up and down. the vibrating speed button is lost, but otherwise the chair works great. in perfect condition otherwise. I want to sell it. any buyers? i live in Long Beach NY.

  21. Phyllis

    We have a double Contour Chair that needs to find a new home as we are moving & it won’t fit in the new house. We bought it new in the early 90’s. It needs to be reupholstered and one side works. FYI to Elaine – we had an electrician repair the switches once so you might want to try that to get it working again.

  22. Mike

    I have a contour lounge chair for sale right now listed on craigslist in St. Louis, Mo. Asking $250. No rips or tears. Has electric recline, heat and massage and works perfectly. Tan in color. I also have the pillow that came with it. Love this chair and I am sad to let it go. Call 314-489-5344.

  23. Leo

    We have a royal blue Contour chair. Power slide and vibration works great. Has a tiny tear which can be fixes, but overall in great condition. We live in NJ and selling it for $400 or best offer. If interested email us at ….

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