What Are Chesterfield Sofas?
Chesterfield sofas are typified by their tufted appearance, as well as by armrests that sit at the same height as the back of the sofa. Both the armrests and the sofa’s back typically curve outwards towards the top of the sofa, giving it an unmistakable look.
Contemporary Chesterfield sofas — with coiled spring seats and the iconic button tufting that make them so identifiable — likely did not come about until the middle of the 19th century. While much of the history of Chesterfield sofas is largely speculation and hearsay, what we do know for sure is that they have been in existence for approximately 200 years and in that time they have been viewed as less of a simple piece of furniture and more of a symbol of status and elegance.
Chesterfield sofas were traditionally short-legged and low to the ground, made of leather, and stuffed with horsehair, using the tufting of the sofas to keep the stuffing in place. While many modern-day Chesterfield sofas do keep to tradition, many others have branched out and began to experiment by utilizing cloth exteriors such as velvet, increasing the height of the sofa by crafting taller legs, and varying the design of the sofa while keeping the key elements that make it a Chesterfield intact.
What hasn’t changed over the years is the widespread popularity and reputation that Chesterfield sofas have earned, the posh and elegant demeanor they will lend to an office or sitting room, and the fact that a well-made Chesterfield sofa will retain its quality craftsmanship and its value for decades to come. From the time of their creation, Chesterfield couches have been objects of fascination and envy, a worthy collector’s item for anyone who can appreciate the finer things in life.
A Short History on Chesterfield Sofas
The most commonly accepted story of the creation of Chesterfield sofas stems back to Britain in the mid-1700s, specifically to a man named Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield. Lord Stanhope was a wealthy British aristocrat who was very well known for his career as a writer and politician. He was also a well-regarded gentleman who was as known for his manners and elegance as he was for his status as a trendsetter. It is said that he commissioned a sofa that was not only stylish but that would serve a more utilitarian purpose as well: being the gentleman that he was, Lord Stanhope required a sofa that would not wrinkle his suit. It would not be until shortly after his death, however, that the Chesterfield sofa would become the symbol it is today.
When Lord Stanhope was upon his deathbed, he was visited by an old friend, Solomon Dayrolles, who came to pay his respects. Lord Stanhope’s documented last words were “Give Mr. Dayrolles a chair,” a testament that he remained a gentleman to the end. Lord Stanhope’s butler, unsure as to which chair he meant, gifted Dayrolles the Chesterfield sofa that had been commissioned. Dayrolles’ new Chesterfield sofa was the object of envy and fascination among those calling upon him, and a number of his guests admired the sofa so much that they commissioned to have versions of their own created. Thus the legend of the tufted Chesterfield sofa began.
How They Became an Icon
While the tale of Lord Philip Stanhope is more storied fable than historical fact, what has been established beyond a shadow of a doubt is that the Chesterfield sofa existed by the start of the 19th century, and in the time since they were originally created, have spread across the world to become a near-global indicator of class. Time has not seen their popularity wane, and they remain a safe purchase for any who wish to purchase furniture that will remain at the forefront of style indefinitely. They are so popular that, until just a couple decades ago, the most popular colloquial term in Canada for any sort of couch or sofa was “chesterfield”.
Originally a staple of British furniture, Queen Victoria was famously enamored with the sofas, sparking a proliferation of Chesterfield sofas among those of means that expanded far beyond Britain’s borders. Their steady spread across the world can be traced back to the British aristocrats who brought their elegant, luxurious clothing and furniture with them as they established colonies and traded with faraway countries. Other notable examples of proponents of the Chesterfield sofa are Sigmund Freud — the psychologist famously credited for first utilizing psychoanalysis — and his grandson, the artist Lucian Freud.
Sigmund Freud relied upon Chesterfield sofas in his sessions with patients, where he needed a superbly comfortable sofa to lull his patients into a state of relaxation. His grandson, Lucian, is known to have painted many of his subjects sitting or lying upon an old Chesterfield in his studio.
Why A Chesterfield Sofa is Right for You
Traditional Chesterfield sofas are classics, elegant in a way that will never go out of style. Their bold Victorian aesthetic is the perfect blend of form, function, and comfort. If maintained and kept in good repair, they will make for a beautiful antique to be passed down to family who will appreciate the craftsmanship that went into creating your Chesterfield sofa. While contemporary Chesterfield sofas may seem to serve as an unneeded update to that classic Victorian look, they are no less antique-worthy. The benefit of their cloth upholstery and the design alterations that differentiate them from more traditional Chesterfields make them perfect for rooms with a more modern stylistic theme. Whether traditional or contemporary, the Chesterfield sofa is a wonderful focal point for any room decorated with the intent to impress while remaining functional and comfortable. Their history and reputation will serve as an excellent talking point to any who inevitably will take note of them, and their quality as furniture make them practical as well as beautiful.
Our selection of Chesterfield sofas are handmade and carefully crafted, unique and personalized to make your sofa more than just a piece of furniture. Whether a traditional or a contemporary Chesterfield sofa has caught your eye, antique and antique-looking furniture are as likely to be investments as they are functional furniture, and it is important that you buy your Chesterfield from only the most reputable and high-quality provider.
English Georgian American has promised to deliver furniture that is unparalleled in its quality, and when it comes to Chesterfield sofas, only the finest will do. All of our furniture is crafted in the United States of America from the finest materials available to ensure that our furniture meets your needs and expectations; we have also partnered with Theodore Alexander, a high-end and world-renowned upholstery workshop, to better fulfill our promise to you of antique-quality furniture.
A Chesterfield sofa is a good investment for anyone wishing to add an air of class to their homes. An English Georgian American Chesterfield sofa is the right investment for you because it is more than simply a sofa, it is a centerpiece that makes a statement — one of class, dignity, sophistication, and luxury. Browse our selection to find the Chesterfield sofa of your dreams!