Chesterfield Sofa Guide: From Funky to Sophisticated

Buttoned up as the name may sound, nothing adds a swanky feel to a living room like a vintage chesterfield sofa. A Brit by birth, the chesterfield is known for its spot-it-from-a-mile-away details, including a boxy frame, quilted upholstery, and chunky rolled arms. With a style that swings between countryside grandeur and rock n’ roll glam (consider it those English roots showing!), the chesterfield is our go-to solution for any and all style dilemmas. Slip one into virtually any room and it will whip it into shape without stealing the show.

As intrigued by this quick-witted Brit as us? To style it seven funky (and decidedly non-stuffy) ways, read on!

Photo by Tim Street-Porter / OTTO

Dress a chesterfield in a soft, painterly velvet and it jumps straight from library icon to glamorous gal pal. When upholstered in a femme color, a chesterfield’s signature details soften; the tufting becoming a couture-worthy detail and the rolled arms becoming downright swan-like. What remains however, is the chesterfield sofa’s double-wide girth, making it ideal for grounding a room full of furniture with delicate silhouettes.

You might not expect it, but the chesterfield has globe-trotting chops to be reckoned with. To unleash your chesterfield’s inner bohemian, start by pairing it with a woven kilim rug. Despite their different origins, kilims and chesterfield sofas hit it off with fireworks, setting up a look that’s perfect for curating a global-leaning space. With a rug in place, continue plugging away on texture, filling your chesterfield’s deep-set seat with a troupe of worldly pillows. Helpful hint: opt for a linen chesterfield to make textile mixing and matching a bit easier.

Photo by Trevor Tondro / OTTO

While a chesterfield might seem like the antithesis of minimal Scandinavian style, when styled right, one will actually work beautifully in a clean-lined space. To achieve the perfect balance, pair a traditional chesterfield with a herd of sparse, white-washed Scandinavian furniture. If you fear that your leather chesterfield will stick out like a sore thumb among the scant pieces, remember that Scandinavian interiors crave warmth. While most rooms achieve the cozy vibe by way of a sheepskin or a chunky knit throw, a chesterfield sofa will seriously crank that style thermostat.

When it comes to industrial style, a chesterfield’s oversized proportions and hardware-inspired details make it a natural fit. To pull off a lasting union between the two, start with the biggest, most lounge-worthy chesterfield you can find. An ocean liner of a sofa will allow you to populate your space with more prop-sized furniture (a token of industrial design, if there ever was one). And while a dark leather chesterfield isn’t a prerequisite, keep your palette well-whetted with dark, cinematic colors to up the drama factor.

Photo by Ashley Batz, Courtesy of Daphne Nauleau and Briana Nix

Despite its traditional roots, render a chesterfield downtown cool by nixing a chesterfield’s traditional roll arms for square arms, or springing for unconventional details like all-over tufting. The modified form will both signify that your chesterfield is an intended deviation from the norm, and allow it the ability to display like an anomalous sculpture—just make that one very comfortable sculpture.

When you think about the kick-back-and-relax silhouettes that Mid-Century Modern furniture is known for, there’s certainly no reason why a chesterfield can’t get in on the mix. The key to styling a chesterfield sofa in a Mid-Century space? A boom-pow color palette. Choose a chesterfield in a bold, primary hue (we love candy apple red) to sync it up with your Mid-Century color wheel. Another tip? Try factoring in a few pieces that aren’t Mid-Century or English traditional. This will create a feeling of purposefulness (the secret weapon to staving off flea market-style disarray).

Photo by Paul Raeside / OTTO

The chesterfield has a definite quirky side, making it an inspired choice for a room with an madcap or eclectic feel. To get the look, choose a chesterfield upholstered in an off-beat textile. An unorthodox print or color will start your space off on a decidedly playful note and will set the trajectory for other colors featured in the space—like wall color, paintings, and rugs. The beauty of using a chesterfield in a whimsical room is that it’s a piece that can pander to eclecticism while not disappearing into the background (read: tangerine orange doesn’t scare it).

BONUS: The Chesterfield Chair
If moving in a full chesterfield sofa into your space isn’t an option (hey, some of us live in tiny third-floor walk-ups!), consider a chesterfield club chair. While not exactly a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids-size miniature, (it’s still plenty large), the chesterfield club chair is the perfect stand-in for its sofa counterpart. And while we’re on the subject, modern chesterfield sofas offer up plenty of variations too, including sleeper chesterfields sofas and chesterfield sectional sofas. No matter your need, the chesterfield silhouette really delivers.

In the early 18th Century, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Lord Phillip Stanhope, is believed to have commissioned the first chesterfield sofa. Seeking a fashionable piece of furniture that allowed him and his colleagues to sit comfortably without wrinkling their clothes, the chesterfield sofa was whipped up for him by a local craftsman. Trading wrinkles for tufts? No wonder it was a runaway hit.



July 3, 2017

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