History Lesson: The Chesterfield Sofa

Chesterfield sofas are large couches with rolled arms the same height as the back, and typically with deep button tufting and nail-head trim. It was thought to be the ideal seat for comfort while avoiding wrinkling one’s garment.

A room, in the 1900’s, would not be complete, without a Chesterfield sofa. It became a worldwide emblem of British style. 

The origin of the name “Chesterfield” remains a mystery, though there are a couple opinions. One is that the word “chesterfield” was used in the 1800s to describe a leather couch. The other, is that the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, Phillip Stanhope (1694-1773), commissioned a similar sofa in the mid-18th century.

The invention of the sofa was around 1690, but comfort was not a high priority until the 1700s. So the early origins of the Chesterfield was very possibly in Phillip Stanhope’s era, though the tufting we see on the Chesterfield did not emerge until the 19th century. Tufting was an aesthetically pleasing way to keep all the horsehair stuffing of the sofa in place.

Through the years the Chesterfield has been recreated in various forms, from tufted leather Chesterfield settees to armchairs and headboards. They have been re-imagined in almost every material possible to take on a newer and more modern aesthetic appeal, from jewel-toned velvets to neutral linens.

The Chesterfield Sofa has enhanced all types of spaces from business offices, to hotels, to restaurants, to gentlemen’s clubs, to private homes and even in royal homes. Over the years the Chesterfield has adapted itself to a variety of trending interior design styles and still remains to be one of the best known embodiments of comfort and style.

Look what our designers found at the Hilton Hotel, downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana when they attended the annual CRBA crawfish boil this past month! Pictured in photo, yours truly!

By the way if you are in the Asheville, North Carolina area, check out this craigslist add for a beautiful antique chesterfield sofa!

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