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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