ode to the chesterfield

The term ‘Chesterfield,’ was originally used to describe a sofa in England, in the 1900’s.

There are a few other rumored origins, but apparently the first idea came from Phillip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, who commissioned the first ever Chesterfield sofa in the 18th century. He wanted quilted leather upholstery and a deep base in its design so that gentlemen could sit comfortably and still remain upright.

From there, it became quite the popular household accessory, and the rest, as they say, is history.


He really sounds like my kind of guy, that Earl of Chesterfield. I’m not really sure I would have survived in the days of yore, what with my unhealthy addiction to unabashed donning of yoga pants and various pajama combos. Um, death to girdles. That, and the whole biting on a stick whilst giving birth thing. Boo.


On the subject of my search for sofas: After the  immense grief that has been suffered in dealing with my slipcover loss, I’ve decided that this time around, I’ve had enough with the craigslist drama. You know, the kind where you want to send a mean email to a perfect stranger loaded with vague insults in response to their message letting you know that the one-of-a-kind find that you’ve been searching for and were on your way to pick up, isn’t available anymore. Because, whoops, they sold it already. So you console yourself by saying it probably had roach eggs in it, while you rock yourself to sleep at night in the corner via the fetal position…devastated by your loss.

I mean, I never did that.

Needless to say, I’ve had fun gazing at all the eye candy out there, and thought that today called for an observance of that celebrated shape.

I’ve covered a few posts on sofa inspiration before, though none were dedicated solely to that of the great Chesterfield sofa. Do any of you remember this image from Domino, the first time it was published? I fell in love. From their very first issue, Domino was a big inspirational catalyst for me at a time when I really knew I wanted to do something, but I wasn’t sure what. They pushed me to think outside the box. But I remember seeing that photo with all it’s tufted goodness, and falling in love. And I waited like a total dork each month at the mailbox, just hoping that next magazine would arrive soon. Sigh… anyone else out there a die-hard nerd like me?


Arguably one of the most classic shapes when it comes to sofas, and the perfect combination of both masculine and feminine qualities…nothing quite beats the Chesterfield.


What I love most about it, is the versatility and possibilities in styling, that comes with that classic shape.

via domino

For something that serves as such a classic statement maker in a room, it certainly blends well with any style of decor. From modern to traditional, it’s a beautiful combination.

And while traditionally viewed in a leather finish, I love all their fabric finishes, as well.

via from elle decor

So, to chesterfield or not to chesterfield…that is the question.

Oh thou glorious shape of sofa.

Happy eye candy everyone. Have an inspired day!

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Responses to ode to the chesterfield

  1. Julie says:

    I’ve been drooling over a few Chesterfields myself lately & I think they’re great. Go for it, sister!

  2. Mrs Mike says:

    LOVE it!!! If my sofa were not in perfect condition and only a few years old, I would upgrade in a heartbeat!! :)

  3. Ashlee says:

    My husband and I just recently purchased one. I was a little nervous at first but every time I see it I fall in love again. Hopefully the kids will be kind and keep it looking good.

  4. Melissa says:

    I spotted a Chesterfield at the Wetumpka Faith Rescue. Of course, it is gone now. It was covered in a hideous floral chenille.

  5. sarah says:

    Not a fan of leather, but I love the upholstered versions! And don’t worry – no biting on sticks for the Earl’s wife. The upper class was given laudanum. Depending on the dose it would either dull the pain or full on knock them out!

  6. ann says:

    First, don’t you just love when someone finally fesses up to being a blog stalker? Yeah, I’m one of those and have never left a comment, but with three young kids and two crazy dogs I can so relate to so much of what you write.

    I also happen to be the proud owner of a brown leather Chesterfield, and I love it! I’ve had it for over ten years and it’s just getting better with age. The one thing I would change about it, which is the reason for the comment, is the tufting on the seat. It catches everything and I’m constantly having to suck the evidence of our crazy life out of each and every seat tuft with the vacuum. The smooth seat cushions will be far less maintenance for you whether you opt for leather or velvet. Both are great options, but do your research if you’re thinking of purchasing new. Most furniture stores will never tell you this, but there are velvets that are super comfy, uber durable, AND machine washable (this is the part they won’t tell you).

    Good Luck! I can’t wait to see what you come with.

  7. Tennille says:

    I love the chesterfield and appreciate the little history lesson. I’ve always wondered where that word came from. There was one of these beauties on my local buy and sell a few weeks ago but it was more than I wanted to spend on a second hand couch, like $1500 or so. Yikes! However, maybe worth the cashola (????) I’ve decided I like the look of the ones with the tufted back and the non-tufted seat the best. The white leather one with the nail head trim around the arms..,.there are no words. Perfection for mom and dad, leather durability and wipe-ability for the kiddos. Someday. :)

  8. Linda says:

    The Chesterfields are wonderful; I would love to have one. But, what impressed me so very much in this posting is that the bookcases are actually full of books! Mine are all like that, yet in almost all decorating pictures I see bookcases that have a few books interspersed with many photos, vases, flowers, art objects and so on. Love the books!

    • Dorothy says:

      And have you noticed that the very few books they possess all happen to be consistent sizes and in colors that match their furniture?

  9. That was straight couch porn. I loved it. The Chesterfield is my ultimate. Someday, I will have one. Someday. I say go for iT!!

  10. Jami Nato says:

    we finally splurged…well kind of and bought a chesterfield from restoration hardware. it was a floor model…50% off. not really in the budget but what can you do when you see your DREAM couch. anyway…all that to say…i heart the couch. i stare at it sometimes for long periods of time. worth the cash.

    • Luanne says:

      Jami~I ahev loved the Chesterfield for a very long time and was so excited to visit/test the coucha couple years ago in our Restoration Hardware as it was out on display. I found it to be extremely deep though. To the point that I couldn’t lean to the back at all. You needed to sit up pretty much. It appeared low, and deeper than the ones Im seeing on this page. Do they come in different depths? How do you like the comfort?
      I checked out the one from Ethan Allen but it actually felt too shallow (to me).
      Thank you!

  11. robyn says:

    ACK LOVE so many of these pictures, and oh how I miss Domino.
    Earlier this week I sent an email to my sister and hubs about
    a Chesterfield on sale at Anthro…. We don’t NEED a new couch but
    still it looks so lovely….

  12. Kate B. says:

    Couch porn! Hah! I HAD to de-lurk to tell you that I also waited every day for a new Domino. I even read your paragraph out loud to my husband. He said, “Yes, the Domino. I know.” Sigh.

    Love your blog.

  13. michele says:

    we just bought two long, gray chesterfields for our great room, and i love them more than life itself. and i’m not even kidding.

  14. Melanie Malone says:

    I agree with the other comments concerning the tufted seats . I think that would be very uncomfortable. I have no personal experience, that’s just my two cents.

  15. Beth Norwood says:

    In the words of the Barenaked Ladies… If I had a million dollars, I’d buy you furniture for your house…maybe a nice chesterfield or an ottoman.”