Chesterfield Sofas – A History Lesson and Buying Guide on This Classic Furniture Piece
A lot of people believe the Chesterfield sofa is so called after the English town of Chesterfield. Others think it was named after the Earl of Chesterfield. It is believed that Philippe Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield commissioned the first leather sofa, although this is not a proven fact. The information in this article aims to provide background on the sofa and act as a buying guide for the modern Chesterfield sofa.
Chesterfield sofas are similar in build and style to a settee but are larger and more luxurious. They were first made in the 18th and 19th century along with many other furniture items. The sofas have deep buttoned, quilted leather upholstery and low base seats. They are easily recognisable by the arms and backs being the same height. This is somewhat in contrast to the Victorian sofas which were characterised by ornate carvings and scrolled legs. But the sofas were designed for the rich. It’s not surprising as the effort put into them was cutting edge for the time.
This period saw the Chesterfield sofa become one of the first sofas to be entirely upholstered. We associate the sofa in leather but the Victorians also used fabrics such as velvet and other materials. Some modern furniture retailers still offer the sofa to be upholstered in a choice of fabric.
The earliest example of a fabric sofa would be stuffed with horsehair and wadding. But in the 1830’s springs were introduced which saw the seats and backs filled with metal coiled springs filled with horsehair and wadding. The space needed to fit the coils made the sofa wider and deeper, making it much more comfortable. Not many people grumbled about this and so it became a very popular choice among the rich.
During the 1930’s in England, a new affluence was to be seen, enjoyed by the middle and upper classes. Furniture requirements became associated with status and a demand for top quality leather, very expensive compared to other soft furnishings, became the benchmark for seating in the luxurious residences of the rich.
Today, the Chesterfield sofa still remains in high regard and has a price tag to match. That being said Chesterfields are not purely for the rich anymore. There are still plenty of bargains still to be had. Modern design has resulted in a huge variety and choice, which encompasses design, colour and fabric. With some Chesterfields it’s possible to remove the covers and dry clean them. There are many types to choose from including armchairs, recliners, 2 seater, 3 seater and corner sofas.
Modern Chesterfields are beautiful in every way with a solid wood frame made from selected dried timber. The steel spring base is 8-way hand tied, ensuring rigidity and comfort to years to come. The seat cushions have pocket-coil springs and are formed from a mixture of foam, fibre and feather, whilst the back cushions are feather and fibre. The quality leather is an oil-wax pull-up, aniline dyed and to finish off the sofa, solid oak feet are used.
Modern Vintage Chesterfield leather chairs and settees are expertly crafted to replicate the antique look with incredibly realistic distressing in the areas that would have received most natural wear over the years. The leather will need periodically feeding with leather care wax or creams to the soft, luxurious condition.