The Chesterfield – an iconic design

The iconic Chesterfield

29th April 2016

We love design classics because they last forever and go with (pretty much) anything! When it comes to sofas it’s hard to beat the handsome lines of a Chesterfield. It’s a great statement piece – elegant, classy and surprisingly flexible.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the sofa was invented by the Earl of Chesterfield in the eighteenth century. As a side note Earls have also brought us sandwiches (Earl of Sandwich) and tea (Earl Grey), so if you’re taking tea on a Chesterfield you’ve achieved the hat-trick! But back to the Chesterfield – when it was first commissioned it had buttoned leather and the distinctive rolled arms and back. The quality and craftsmanship spoke volumes about the owners and it became the go-to fashion piece for drawing rooms and gentlemen’s clubs across Britain.

The Earl of Chesterfield was known for his impeccable manners, sense of style and his wit, so for a modern take, who better than Laurence Llewelyn Bowen to recognise the design’s brilliance, ‘Chesterfield sofas are the ultimate statement of comfortable, dignified British decorating, but in the right hands they can also be sheer rock and roll.’

Flexible, iconic, Chesterfields certainly make an impact, so here’s some tips on how to make the most of them.

Look at me!

If your living room is a party, a Chesterfield can tend to hold court and monopolise the conversation. That’s fine for a little while, but really, we need some variety, people! Bringing in some strong contrasting personalities such as modern pieces and adding bold colours in art and rugs can help spread the impact around and create a more balanced room – and more varied conversations!



Rock it

Velvet was very popular for upholstering Chesterfields – usually with dark colours such as ruby red and deep blue. These are great shades for a study, but if you’re after a bit more excitement, perhaps consider a brighter, bolder approach. Orange or bright red velvet will add some Hollywood pizzaz, while neutral colours such as off-white and linen will provide a more sophisticated feminine look.


Bailey 3 seater sofa in royal blue

Location, location, location

These sofas have a real presence, and used in the right way they can make a room really special. The sofa’s low back doesn’t create a visual barrier which is very handy. Even better, it looks brilliant from behind, so it can be placed in the middle of the room. In fact ‘floating’ a Chesterfield in the middle of a space is a great idea – particularly when you pair it with another to create a separate intimate area. Now you know why they’re so popular in hotel lobbies!

We're taking Great British design to the Olympics!

We’re proud to have designed and supplied a special Chesterfield sofa range for the British Olympic Team to enjoy during their time at British House in Rio this summer. "In support of Britain's finest athletes, we set out to create a modern classic that represents the very best of Britain's proud history of furniture design and craftsmanship" explains Philip Watkins, Design director at DFS. Called Britannia, it’s a unique design with 233 gold hand-made buttons to represent each of the gold medals won by Team GB in summer Olympics to date. Hopefully there will be plenty more to add to the next version!  Britannia is a limited edition range that’s available to order between now and August.  


Britannia The Great British Fabric Sofa

You can see more about the thought process behind the design, how the athletes were involved, and why the thought of Britain and home is so important when they're out there in Rio here

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How to make grey work in your living room

Grey Fabric Sofa

How to make grey work in your living room

17th April 2016

When it comes to home decorating, grey is anything but dull… say hello to the cool shade that’s hot right now!

It used to be that grey was thought of as a depressing colour, conjuring up images of boring offices and utilitarian, industrial environments – back in 2011, The Guardian even referred to the shade as the ‘drabbest colour on the planet’! But ask any interior designer today for their favourite decorating shade, and grey (in any one of its 50 incarnations!) figures highly on their lust lists. Here’s how to get your stylish heart racing without having to buy the latest EL James book!

Grey matters

Grey is definitely hot in the décor stakes right now. But before you rush in and paint your whole room in Farrow & Ball’s Mole’s Breath (or any of the other myriad shades of grey out there), it’s worth understanding how this new neutral will work in your home.

What natural light does your room get?

North-facing rooms get cool northern light, which is blue in hue, while south-facing spaces benefit from the warmer, golden tones of southern light. And as you might expect, west-facing rooms get warmer light as the sun starts to drop, while those pointing east get their maximum warm light at sunrise.

So which grey is great for your room?

  • North The cooler, bluer light hitting these rooms can flatten some shades of grey, making them look cold and unwelcoming. To counter this, choose a strong, dark shade with yellow or beige undertones (often known as greige) and use it sparingly, perhaps as an accent wall. Or you could go for striking dark furniture, natural woods and warm metals, offset with paler walls that reflect the available light.
  • East Because they get their best light in the morning, these rooms can be a little on the blue side later in the day, so pick a grey with undertones of green or blue to emphasise this (in a ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ sort of thing!). East-looking rooms benefit from layers of colour, so bring in a few complementary grey tones with your furniture and accessories to add depth and interest to all areas.
  • West Make the most of the warmer light in these spaces by choosing greys that are made up from tones of beige or yellow – these look fab during the day but really come into their own at night under soft interior lighting. Play up the warmth with a rich, dark sofa in a tactile, plush fabric, and accent this with cushions and throws in golds and warm yellows.
  • South If you’re lucky enough to face south, you’re laughing as you have your pick of the spectrum. Cooler, pale tones with blue undertones will reflect and maximise all that lovely light, while darker greys work wonderfully too, giving the impression of warmth and cosiness.

A grey area

Afraid of the dark? Don’t be! It’s a myth that dark shades make rooms seem smaller. According to the experts at Houzz, rich colours on your walls add a touch of glamour and sophistication to any size space and, far from making the room seem claustrophobic, create a cosy, intimate feeling.

There are two ways to style a room with dark grey walls, both equally impactful. You can either choose to offset the dark with light, adding pale grey or white furniture and accessories, as in this gorgeous room we found on Dutch style blog

Light Fabric Sofa With Dark Walls, Image credit from

Contrast dark walls with pale furniture

Or you can embrace your dark side completely, and layer on the luxe with grey on grey sofas, rugs and cushions nestling against a rich, deep background, perfected in this stylish look found on

Dark fabric sofa with dark painted walls, Image credit from

Layer dark on dark for max impact

Hurray for grey

Whatever shade you go for, there is a huge range of great grey sofas and chairs at DFS. Here are just a few of our favourites for 2016, and for more inspiration, check out our new Style Sourcebook, online now, designed to help you create a space you’ll love to live in.

Sharp as…

In darkest Charcoal with crisp, clean lines, Flint is the perfect sofa for modern living.

French Connection Flint four seater fabric sofa in charcoal

Pale perfection

Comfort and style meet beautifully in Merit – and its pale Silver shade will work with both light and dark grey schemes.

Merit 3 seater fabric sofa in silver

Snuggle in

With its deep seats and room to stretch out and relax, Eleanor in Graphite turns any corner in to your very own cosy space.

Eleanor Left Arm Facing Open End Corner Fabric Sofa in CharcoalFor more shades of may find our latest board rather 'Pinteresting'...


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How to upcycle like a pro

Upcycle like a pro

10th April 2016

It’s the ‘spring’ clean season, and for many of us that means having a good clear out of ‘stuff’. But instead of heading off to the tip with yet more landfill, why not upcycle your old furniture and bits and bobs into something new, useful and above all, cheap?

DIY designer style

We asked Margate-based furniture designer Zoe Murphy, whose ideals of ‘Loving what belongs to you’ are beautifully reflected in her iconic ‘rejuvenated’ pieces, for her top tips on upcycling.

Furniture designer Zoe Murphy and her upcycled pieces

British furniture designer Zoe Murphy

Zoe’s 3 ways to beautifully upcycled furniture

  1. When upcycling or renovating a piece of furniture, pick a piece that you can unscrew and take apart easily in order to complete a proper and thorough restoration job.
  2. Pieces can be easily updated by simply changing handles and legs. You don’t always have to cover it in paint – I like to celebrate the original woods on an item before I think about decorating it.
  3. Gently remove the varnish (either with sandpaper in different grades or with varnish remover) on a wooden or veneered piece before you consider painting it. You’d be surprised how new furniture can look when you strip it back and recoat it. Often a lot of damage – scratches, stains, etc – will be on the coat of varnish and not the furniture itself.


Upcycling projects you can try at home

Want to get started on turning your own ‘trash’ into ‘treasure’? Here are three upcycling ideas for your home, from some of the web’s most stylish bloggers and interiors experts.

Tin can wine rack

Tin cans painted and upcycled to create a wine rack

Upcycled tin can wine rack

Top creative bloggers have this great idea for reusing old tin cans and turning them into an attractive and useful wine store.

 Skill level

Can you use a can opener? Then you’re good to go!


1 hr plus drying

You’ll need

Large tin cans (check they’re wide enough to take a wine bottle)

Can opener

Spray paint

Hot glue gun and glue

Simply remove tops and bottoms, clean thoroughly before painting in your favourite colours and glueing together. For full instructions, see here.

Pillowcase clothes bags

Upcycle old pillowcases and turn them into garment bags

Pillowcase clothes bags


The experts at Better Homes and Gardens have an innovative way to upcycle old pillowcases and give them a new lease of life as covers to keep your clothes dust-free. Perfect for getting your wardrobe in order this spring.

 Skill level

You don’t even need to use a sewing machine!


15-30 mins per cover

 You’ll need


Liquid stitching glue (available at craft stores and online)


Bias binding tape

Make a small slit in the seamed end of the case (big enough to fit a hanger handle through), seal with liquid glue then cover with bias binding. For full instructions, see here.

Cross-stitch decorated chair

Repurposed furniture ideas for upcycling projects

Cross-stitched cane-backed chair

Add instant interest and va-va-voom to an old cane-backed chair with some stylish cross-stitching. With thanks to the style geniuses at

Skill level

Ability to thread a needle and follow a simple pattern


2 hrs plus, depending on the complexity of your design

You’ll need

Pencil to trace design on to chair

Chunky yarn (from craft shop or haberdashery)


Lightly trace your pattern on to the chair back, then cross-stitch your design following the pattern. For full instructions, see here.

Retro reloaded

If upcycling is all too much for you, or you simply don’t have the time, here are a few pieces from DFS that you can choose to inject a cool retro vibe into your home whether it is a sofa or a chair. For more retro style ideas, check out our 70s-inspired looks with a modern twist, part of our new Style Sourcebook, online now

To infinity and beyond

If you love the 50s Atomic Age look, check out the Napoleone chair with its space grey colour and funky, futuristic shape.


Rock on!

Add some hippy-hippy shake to your décor with this 60s-influenced Ripple rocker. Far out, man.



Chasing rainbows

Streamlined and sleek with a riot of colour-block stripes, our Kaleidoscope sofa is the 70s personified, beautifully reflecting that era’s love of pattern.


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How to lighten up with the Scandi look

How to lighten up with the Scandi look

3rd April 2016

There’s something about a change of season that makes us want to shake things up décorwise. So with the clocks going forward last Sunday and the days getting longer, our thoughts turned to that most beautiful of light, bright decorating schemes, Scandi. 

 The good news about Scandinavian décor is that it’s a really easy look to achieve, and works well in any size room. It’s all about pared-back simplicity, white or neutral walls, pale furniture, wooden floors and a hefty dose of hygge (‘hyoo-gah’), the Danish concept of living simply and well.  

 You don’t have to go the whole hog – a little Scandi goes a long way – so maybe just pick one room on which to unleash your inner Frigga (she’s the Norse goddess of hearth and home, in case you were wondering!)… and prepare to light up your living space, northern style.  

5 ways to get the Scandi look 

1. White wash 

Nordic interiors are predominantly white with accents of greys and other calming neutrals. Like the myriad words for snow across Scandinavia, there are many, many shades of white, so mix and match at will to create a clean canvas against which to set your furniture and accessories. Check out Pinterest for some beautiful Scandi-style schemes, such as this gorgeous room featuring our stunning Freya white leather sofa.

white leather freya

2. Ditch the drapes 

Well, we say curtains in the UK but it didn’t sound as alliteratively dramatic – whatever you call them, for true Scandi style they need to go because this look is all about the light (if you’re worried about nosy neighbours, thin opaque blinds are a good alternative). Boost the illumination factor with a selection of mirrors, like this modern mosaic one from Dwell, to reflect the rays and brighten up every corner. 


mosaic mirror

3. Pare it back

We’re not talking total minimalism here, more relaxed calm (remember hygge!) with some key accessories to add focus and style. Vases, lights and accessories in natural textures such as linen, stone, glass and metal all help to build the look. We’re loving this frosted glass bowl from Dwell with its organic shape and opaque grey colour – perfect for adding a pop of colour to an otherwise pale and interesting palette.

frosted bowl


4. Wood works

If you have wooden floorboards you’re on to a winner, so strip them back and varnish them (if you’re feeling really daring, then a swish of whitewash wouldn’t go amiss). Layer them with rugs in complementary tones or striking geometric prints, like this amazing dark grey striped rug from Dwell, to define and separate areas of your room.dark grey stripe rug

5. Add Scandi-style furniture

Complete your Nordic interior design with a stunning sofa in white or any neutral shade




Where there’s light, there’s dark

As a total contrast to all that light, here’s our roundup of some of the best ‘Nordic Noir’ TV box sets for you to watch in your Scandinavian haven… compelling, dark and seriously addictive.

Moody views
Thr bridgeThe Bridge

Danish/Swedish crime drama TV series with the action playing out in and around the Øresund Bridge linking the two countries. Was the inspiration for UK TV series, The Tunnel, which is back on Sky Atlantic on 5 April.

The Killing

Copenhagen-based police thriller with numerous plot twists, damaged characters and amazing views of the Danish capital.

Arne Dahl
Arne Dahl

Gritty Swedish supercop series from the books of crime writer Jan Arnald – cult watching.

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