Consider this your definitive guide to confidently buying the perfect Chesterfield sofa for you and your home. It includes key research, answers to the most asked questions, and top tips. Our aim is to make the journey from wanting a Chesterfield to owning one a whole lot easier.
It has been carefully broken down into specific sections that will help inform you best. So if you’re looking for a complete guide, or just have a specific question, this article is designed for you!
The 2022 Guide to Buying a Chesterfield contents:-
What is a Chesterfield?
Chesterfield sofas are one of the most renowned sofa designs in the world. Sofas aren’t always a popular topic of conversation, but when ‘Chesterfield’ is mentioned, it’s commonly known by all. But what is a Chesterfield?
Chesterfields can be characterised by:
- Their large, rolled arms
- Low backs
- Deep button tufting
- Traditional dark leather upholstery
- Exquisite fine quality leather or velvet
- The height of back and arms being exactly the same
Each of these magnificent pieces of furniture simply ooze class and style, echoed through every unique feature and its attention to detail.
Due to their many distinguishing features, the Chesterfield has become a household name, with a desirable look and feel. Being made mostly from either leather or velvet reinforces the exquisite, luxurious style and composition behind the brand, – Another reason why they’re prominent within the sofa world.
Traditionally leather, they are usually brown but come in a wide range of colours. The sofas and armchairs have specific buttoning detail, high arms, and low backs. This creates a very rectangular silhouette where the back and the arms are aligned at equal height.
For a more in-depth look into the birth of the Chesterfield you might enjoy our History of the Chesterfield article.
Today’s ranges of Chesterfields
Although they are most distinguishable for their original features, there’s a wide range of Chesterfield collections. In fact there are nineteen collections in total, all unique in their own way.
Examples of two of the Chesterfield Collections
History of the Chesterfield
Birth of the Chesterfield sofa – Dating back to the mid-1700s
Chesterfield sofas first originated as far back as the mid-1700s when Lord Philip Stanhope, the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, commissioned a piece of furniture for his guests. Stanhope, widely considered a trendsetter at the time, commissioned this particular style of furniture and from that moment on, its popularity grew.
Due to its distinctive, stylish presence which was first placed in the home of an Earl, Chesterfield has become a household name and statement furniture piece; whether traditional or modern. This timeless piece maintains a certain distinction that other sofas simply can’t replicate, making it a truly stunning investment.
Prominent historical figures who also enjoyed them
- The most well-known historical uses for a Chesterfield were by Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Freud had a theory that patients would talk more freely and honestly when they’re comfortable, so he opted for a Chesterfield sofa in his clinic to allow his patients to lie back, relax and talk about what was troubling them.
- In fact, as this was a crucial element of Freud’s treatment process, he never travelled without a Chesterfield and always had one on-hand in his clinics across the globe. It’s for this reason that the iconic Chesterfield became synonymous with the practice of psychoanalysis.
- As the British Empire expanded, so did the reputation of the iconic Chesterfields, as the British took their favourite furniture with them, wherever they went! They soon became an icon in countries such as India, Australia, and Canada.
- Canadians – in fact, they became so common in Canada that ‘Chesterfield’ became the word used to describe a sofa of any type!
- Moving to more modern-day celebrities, Taylor Swift and Ellen DeGeneres are also known to enjoy the use of a Chesterfield, both in their homes and workplaces
How Chesterfields have continued to develop from the original 1700s piece to present day
You may ask how a sofa concept developed pre-1800s is not only still around today, but thriving?
There is no secret or shortcut to achieving such an accolade. It has always remained one of a kind, far different from any of its competitors. Its distinctive nature has continued to ‘WOW’ buyers for centuries.
Back at its conception, as an authoritative figure within the community (and renowned as a trendsetter who people looked to for the latest fashion and styles), it’s no surprise that Stanhope commissioned a piece of furniture that would become a true icon. If anything, he was a visionary way ahead of his time!
Another way they achieve total luxury and prestige is through the highly specific selection of quality leather. The leather treatment process is very time-consuming and costly, but again, adds to the overall quality of your finished Chesterfield.
Consider its uses
Now we know the background of the Chesterfield, let’s get into how to pick one.
There are key questions you should ask yourself before selecting a Chesterfield. The answers will ultimately determine which collection is best suited to you. With such a variety to choose from, knowing its intended functionality and location is critical, as it will guide your future decisions.
The key questions to ask are:
- Who will be using it and why? – Is it for your family to enjoy? Is it to be brought out at parties or for entertaining? Is it for you to enjoy as a reading chair? Or is it for your elderly parents when they come to visit?
- Are you placing it in a study or work environment? Is it to be sat on and enjoyed, or is it a statement piece to add grandeur to a room? Be really clear and specific with your intended purpose. The reason we ask this is because each sofa comes with different features and qualities such as extra cushioning or a lower back.
- Posture support – Chesterfield’s are firm seats, with an upright backrest and recessed buttons which help you to sit at the right angle. A position that naturally supports your bodyweight. The low back lets you get comfortable. The armrests are at the perfect height to offer both comfort and support. Be clear what your natural and most comfortable resting position is, as again, this is really important when deciding on the right collection for you.
- Consider the range – Your Chesterfield needn’t just be a sofa. Depending on the collection, they’re also available as sofa beds, suites and corner sofas. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking these sofas are 1 dimensional
- Location and purpose – Depending on where you locate your Chesterfield, whether this be intended for relaxing in your living space, or for studying and working in your office, you will more than likely go for a different style, size, and function. For example, a traditional office chair, which has the ability to swivel and rotate would be more suited to an office. For a cosy, smaller space, you may decide on a corner sofa, to maximise the space you have.
- Accessories are available – Whether you’re looking for an accompanying foot stool, chaise longue or coffee table, each collection comes with accompanying accessories. Both practical and stylish, to really complete the look and feel in any room.
Depending on your answers to the above questions, you will be best suited to a particular range.
For example, if you are looking for a large sofa to live on, in an expanse of space, you would be best suited to the Bolton, Dorchester or Windsor collection, as all three are available as four-seaters.
For a smaller space, you may opt for the Hepburn collection, which are available as three-seaters or smaller.
Location of your Chesterfield
Chesterfields make especially good focal points in any size of room. They tend to work particularly well in large rooms that are yearning for something to break them up a little however.
To use your Chesterfield as a main focal point, try and position it as much in the middle of your living room as possible, this is when Chesterfields are at their best.
Know your dimensions
Before deciding where to place your Chesterfield, it is absolutely crucial that you know the dimensions in your living space! The ergonomics really do come into play when deciding on such things, so there is no way to escape needing to be confident with them.
As well as knowing your dimensions, do you know how to describe the living space and shape you have? Knowing your room layouts is key: is it rectangular, squared, open plan, with a big floor space, etc.
When arranging your living room furniture, start with the largest piece first (which will be your Chesterfield
As a statement, timeless classic, your Chesterfield will rightly gain the spotlight in your living area. Because of this, we advise you orient the piece toward the room’s most prominent feature, which could be a TV, fireplace, gallery wall, exposed brickwork, or window.
If possible, avoid placing the sofa directly in front of a window, as this might block some of the natural light and could discolour the piece over time.
Next, position smaller seating options, such as armchairs or tub seats, opposite or adjacent to the first
Chesterfield piece. Finish by filling in with accent furniture, including ottomans, coffee tables, end tables, and lamps. Make sure each seat is within reach of at least one tabletop surface.
Don’t forget to factor in light and heat sources! You want to uphold the pristine condition of your Chesterfield for as long as possible, so avoid it coming into contact with any sort of damage.
Choosing the right size
Despite there being an obvious association with suiting larger spaces, do not let this be the deciding factor in your purchasing decision. Due to the grandeur of a Chesterfield, they tend to be associated with manors and mansions. However, we are here to show you they really can be suited to any room, of any size, in any space.
When choosing your dream Chesterfield, you are in complete control of every decision, including the size of the piece.
For a smaller space, it may be wise to opt for a 2-seater sofa. To add to this, you may decide on an accompanying armchair or wing chair too.
For a larger living space, you may decide to go for a larger corner sofa or a suite. Again, always measure the space you have first, as well as factoring in the size of each Chesterfield piece.
Each collection’s size can be found within our showroom size guide, which reinforces the room you will require, pre-purchasing.
Choosing the type of leather
At Chesterfield Sofa Company, we understand how important choosing every single detail of your Chesterfield is. The largest decision being the type of leather.
A big decision will be in your home – specifically, do you have children or pets? Depending on your situation, you may decide to choose a more hard-wearing leather with additional conditioning features. How to protect your Chesterfield is a great read, which will help you choose the right leather for your situation.
All our furniture is handmade to order in a selection of over 100 premium leathers. You can choose from six types of leathers, including over 100 different tones and shades.
Choosing your covering from a selection of over 100 leathers
Here you will find six categories of individual leather types. Once you have chosen the type of leather, you then have over one hundred various colours, tones, and textures to choose from
The best advice we can give here is to Order some free samples! It is crucial you get a real-life feel for your fabric and colour. You’ll want to position these samples in different locations as well at different times of the day as the natural light that enters the room changes.
Deciding on the right colour
Within each type of leather, there are a multitude of colours available. You can browse the many options when you choose which sofa collection you would like.
Despite the many choices of tones, shades and colours, our experience still shows that a classic brown leather is by far the most popular choice.
This is due to the fact that a brown Chesterfield complements any décor, so it’s no surprise to us that it is our bestselling shade. A quick Pinterest search will throw up all manner of Chesterfield sofas, from the sublime to the outlandish. Although we adore a more daring colour, we do agree that brown suits most colour themes, moods, and styles.
Other popular colour choices include:-
For deeper insights into picking the best colour for your room, Chesterfield room colour guide is a
great read, as it helps to establish which Chesterfield colours compliment different colour schemes. It gives
excellent ways of complimenting and contrasting between darker base colours and lighter Chesterfield choices, and how bolder colour choices can exasperate the presence your piece has within your room.
Whether it’s a vibrant style, exuberating bold brights, pretty pastels, or a tamer, more relaxed classic shade of leather, we appreciate the need to make a statement in your home.
How to take care of your Chesterfield goes into extensive detail, in terms of maintaining and prolonging the
longevity and pristine condition of your Chesterfield. In our experience, we tend to find spillages and water
damage are handled well by most owners.
Heat sources, however, are typically overlooked. Over long periods these heat sources can dry out the leather resulting in irreversible damage. But what are the common heat sources you should be aware of and what impact do they have?
Sun can cause drying to occur on almost any type of leather as sunlight slowly evaporates the natural oils in the leather. When the leather gets dry, it will stiffen and begin to crack. Sunlight can also bleach the colour overtime resulting in a less vibrant sofa.
Central heating (radiators)
The warm air created from your radiator can heat up the surface of your leather sofa which degrades it over time by drying it out. This can cause your sofa to lose its natural texture, strength, and finish.
Prolonged exposure to fireplaces can dry, crack, and fade the leather, as well damage the framing.
Remember to place leather furniture at least 2 feet away from all heat sources. Ideally, your room temperature needs to be in the range of 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity of 30% to 60% would be ideal. Depending on the chosen colour of your Chesterfield, this may vary. For example, black sofas need extra protection, as surface temperatures can reach close to 200 degrees!
Personalising your Chesterfield
Choosing your furniture – A simple four step process
Every Chesterfield should be designed completely with you in mind. As such, customisations are
available to you at every stage of the design process. We have simplified this into four steps however.
Step one – Choosing your furniture
For each unique Chesterfield collection, you can choose the size, style, and shape of your desired furniture.
*Varieties do vary depending on the type of collection. Please see each collection for exact details.
Step two – Choosing your covering from a selection of over 100 leathers
See choosing the type of leather section
Step three – Choosing the colour of your wood stain
This is typically the step people are most unsure of. If you feel this way, please don’t hesitate to consult us for extra assistance. We are always more than happy to help.
Step four – Choosing the colour of your studs
This is the final stage in the customisation process, but one we feel most excited by! It’s the intricate details, such as the stud colour, that really bring your Chesterfield design to life.
- How to identify a genuine Chesterfield
As with anything, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Until you purchase a Chesterfield, that is!
Identifying the genuine models from a fake imitations is key.
How to tell if it’s real or fake gives you an in-depth insight into the tell-tale signs and helps to flag areas
of concern from the get-go.
Our top tips in identifying the genuine real deal from the imitations are:
- Check the label (sounds obvious but it’s the quickest and easiest thing to look for so start with that)
- Leather comes from an animal and no two hides are the same. Look for imperfections and differences in pattern detail between sofas
- Real leather has a distinctive smell – if you can’t smell this, it’s not the real deal
- Can it be stretched? Real leather can be. It should also change colour in the process
- Look for the pores – they have to be there on real leather
- Little imperfections are good – a sign its real. So, look for creases and wrinkles
- Does it absorb moisture? It should
- Ignore colour: this isn’t a guaranteed sign of genuine authenticity
Our final words
Here are a few tips we recommend you considering when deliberating your Chesterfield choice.
- Order free samples! It is crucial you get a real-life feel for your fabric and
colour before buying.
- Have a clear vision – Knowing the overall style you want to achieve in your space will ensure your sofa complements this and brings this vision to life.
- Know why you’re buying – When it comes to your sofa, what are you looking for? Do you want a different feel? A more supportive sit? What don’t you like about your current sofa? Buy the perfect sofa for YOU. After all, it’s definitely considered an investment piece
- Never hesitate to check information, ask questions, and enquire for advice. If you have a vision but you’re not sure how to bring it to life, then ask for help. A good manufacture will be able to provide you with the support you need to make the right choice.
Now there’s just one final question left to ask: are you ready to bring your vision to life?