The Chester Sofa: Why Include One in Your Decor?

Despite its centuries of history, the Chesterfield or Chester sofa is still one of the most widely used pieces of furniture. It is considered a classic. Thanks to its elegance, it is able to become the center of the decor.
The Chester Sofa: Why Include One in Your Decor?

Last update: 20 March, 2023

The Chesterfield or Chester sofa is a popular choice when considering a sofa for the living room or for other spaces, due to a variety of reasons. We will share them with you in detail here!

The Chester sofa: Origin and characteristics

The Chesterfield sofa is considered a furniture classic. It’s said to be of English origin and that its creation was due to a commission from the Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773).

This nobleman specified to the cabinetmaker that the furniture should force the person to sit in a correct posture. However, there’s no reliable source for this or other versions.

Other accounts place its origin in the 19th century.

What is clear is that it began to be used in the lounges of men’s social clubs in Victorian London. Soon after, it became a staple in the homes of English high society.

From there, it spread to the former colonies of the British Empire and then to the rest of the world. Research mentions its use as a characteristic element of interior decoration between 1870 and 1890, both in Europe and the United States.

As for the characteristics of the Chester sofa, the following are highlighted:

  • It may feature two or three seats.
  • The armrests and backrest are located at the same height.
  • The backrest is studded with buttons (at the beginning, these were golden).
  • It has capitoné: this consists of a fabric and padding, putting the upholstery in the form of diamonds.
  • Depending on the extension, it has four to six legs, made of turned wood or sometimes metal.
  • Originally, it had leather upholstery, but nowadays, these sofas can be found in velvet and a great diversity of fabrics.

Why use a Chester sofa in your decoration?

The Chesterfield is one of the most well-known pieces of furniture, to the point that when the word sofa is mentioned, it’s almost inevitable to think of this design. Now, we will see why this preference and what are the benefits of using it in decoration.

Sofá chéster en estilo clásico.
This sofa is a must when you’re looking for sophistication and bring class to the environments.

1. It’s a classic

The term classic alludes to that which creates a trend or is worthy of imitation. In a way, this is true of the Chester sofa. In fact, some other models have also been derived from it.

2. It never goes out of fashion

Another meaning of classic has to do with that which does not go out of fashion. It’s timeless and may look great in many different eras. This also happens with some musical pieces, literary works, as well as with furniture.

3. The Chester sofa is the archetype of the sofa

Designer Jasper Morrison, in his book Everything But the Walls, points out that the Chester is like the symbol of all sofas and of comfort in the home.

4. It has its own self-identity

If there’s one thing that can be said about the Chester sofa, it’s that its design is unmistakable. The continuous line from one armrest to the other, as well as the backrest with the buttons, are its sign.

Everyone recognizes it.

5. A Chester sofa gives character to the decor

In the same vein, when this piece of furniture is placed in a room, it endows the space with its own unique personality, even making the other elements seem subordinate to its influence.

6. The Chester sofa is sober and elegant

There’s no doubt about it: this is a sober and elegant piece of furniture that stands out without the need to be flashy or have an excess of superfluous ornaments.

7. It brings a touch of distinction

For the reasons mentioned above, its distinguished appearance makes the space permeate with majesty, as if it were the living room of an aristocratic mansion.

8. It’s functional

The Chester sofa is not a mere ornament. It fully fulfills the function for which it was designed – that is, to be a piece of furniture where a person can remain seated for a certain time.

According to research conducted at a university in Bulgaria, analyzing the model of different furniture (including the Chester), it is found that the design has remained in its basic form, precisely because of its functionality.

9. It adapts to other styles

Although it has a very marked personality, it can even work with other styles or trends within the decoration. It ranges from vintage to minimalism.

10. It’s perfect for the living room

In the living room, the central element is usually the sofa. And what could be better than a Chesterfield as a design centerpiece? It can even be matched to the color of the walls.

11. It still looks great in different environments

There are many optimal spaces for this sofa, whether in the home or in an office. You can also place it in your home office, waiting areas, inside stores and even at malls.

12. Chester sofa: Several size options

Although the three-seater is a large piece of furniture (2.10 meters), if you have little space you can opt for a two-seater, which is 1.66 meters.

There’s even an armchair that’s only 90 centimeters wide in this style.

13. It’s durable

If well cared for and preserved, a Chesterfield piece of furniture can last for many years. And the best part is, the older it gets, the more valuable it becomes; it takes on an air of antiquity that goes well with its style.

14. Design updates

Without abandoning the original essence of the classic Chester sofa, there have been some excellent design updates in terms of both upholstery and form. In this regard, the following variations are worth mentioning:

  • The armrests are narrower and lighter.
  • They now include stain-resistant and hypoallergenic fabrics.
  • They no longer come only in the classic leather color, but also in beige, white, violet, red and even with patches of different colors, like a collage.
  • For those who like the aristocratic style, there’s a royal Chesterfield, which maintains the buttons and diamonds, but with more ornate legs.
Sofa chéster rojo.
Advances in textile technology allow having a Chester sofa in different shades.

What to keep in mind when buying a Chester sofa

When looking for a Chester sofa for your home or office, you have to consider factors related to both the furniture and the space, including who is going to use it. Let’s take a look.

  • Its price can vary: a leather cover is more expensive than fabric or leatherette.
  • Leather is best for a space with many people (such as an office).
  • For clubs, offices or companies, sober or neutral colors are better: blacks and browns are your best bet here.
  • However, for some people, the upright position may be uncomfortable.

Caring for your Chesterfield lounge sofa

If you want to enjoy your chaise lounge sofa for a longer time, there are some cares you should take into account. Take note of the following:

  • For the wooden parts, such as the legs, you can use a gentle wood polish.
  • The same goes for leather or fabric, when you decide to dust the furniture.
  • Take precautions when moving it: you could not only damage the sofa, but also your back, since it is a heavy piece of furniture.
  • You should remember that Chester sofas are for adults. Therefore, they’re not completely childproof.
  • You should also watch out for pets, especially cats scratching on the furniture.
  • Finally, if you are going to be away from home for a season or not using it for a while, you can put a protective cover or liner on it.

The Chester sofa: A cultural icon

The Chester sofa may be one of the most famous pieces of furniture in the world, along with Louis XV dining rooms and Chippendale desks and consoles. It’s often present in magazines, movies and TV shows (e.g. Friends).

Some say that even Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, had one for sessions with his patients. However, it’s not an impossible luxury, and it’s worth investing in an armchair of this kind to enjoy good reading or a movie at home.

Of course, remember that, from time to time, you should get up from your chair and move your body a little. A sedentary lifestyle is not very good either, even if you are sitting on a Chesterfield!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Fernandes Queiroz,R. & Lima Bezerra , I. Do lar à passarela. Técnica capitonê aplicada em vestuario. Trilhas da educação profissional. Inovação e criatividade nas práticas pedagógicas do senac ceará, 2, 5-13.
  • Kent, A. M., Phipps, C., Schwarz, E. & Blasquez Cano, M. (2018). Fashion space and place: convergence of consumer experience. Nottingham Trent University.
  • López Soler, M. (2014). Maridaje de las artes decorativas: mueble y vestido en el estilo tapicero. Su valor como lenguaje y documento histórico. En Sauret, T., Rodríguez Ortega, N. & y Sánchez-Lafuente, R. Actas de las jornadas sobre Diseño de interiores y mobiliario. Aportaciones a su historia y estrategias de valoración (Pp. 347-359). Vicerrectorado de Investigación y Transferencia de la Universidad de Málaga.
  • Morrison, J. (2002). Everything but the walls. ‎Lars Müller Publishers.
  • Parvanova, A. (2013). Comparative analysis: bulgarian furniture from the early renaissance and world examples up to the present. Wood, Design & Technology, 2(1), 62-72.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.