All Buttoned Up: The Chesterfield Sofa

via Fleming & Howland_William Blake Sofa

The Chesterfield sofa has triumphed for centuries with steadfast elegance. Designed in the mid-18th century by the Fourth Earl of Chesterfield Philip Dormer Stanhope, who was renowned for his affinity for all things refined, the Chesterfield sofa is all about luxury.  With its distinctive high arm and back deeply tufted in premium leather, the handsome sofa appealed to many elite gentlemen of the time.  It is said that an estate home wouldn’t have been considered complete unless the master owned a Chesterfield.

Lending to its dramatic aesthetic are its highlights and shadows created by the tufting to add volume and expressive visual interest.  Tufting is simply a process of securing the filling, padding and fabric to the frame by stitching through all of the layers and pulling the points taut, creating a dimpled affect. Stitching is usually hidden by a button covered in the same fabric.  Tufting typically offers firmer support in comparison to a single flat cushion because the stitch holds the assembly in place and minimizes movement.  However, depending on the padding, filling and fabric chosen, there is some variation.

The overall impression created is greatly influenced by the type and pattern of fabric used.  Because the physical placement of the fabric is altered by the tufting process, solids, textures, tweeds and small to medium patterns are a great choice for a Chesterfield sofa.  Leather is traditional, but velvets, mohair and woven fabrics are popular; linens and textures can offer a more casual air. Tufting will tend to distort the alignment of fabrics with large patterns, but can also intentionally create a more carefree, whimsical feeling.  To further dress up this classic standard, decorative metal nail heads can be used to accentuate the form.

Always in style like a gentleman’s blue blazer, the Chesterfield continues to woo many a heart, including mine.  Here are a few favorites:

via Madison Modern Home


via Love Decades


via Maisons Du Monde


via Ralph Lauren Home


via Fleming & Howland_Benjamin Sofa


via Sofa Classics


via Name Design Studio on Etsy


via Wolfe Rizor Interiors

Source links:

Fleming & Howland/Chesterfields

Madison Modern Home

Love Decades

Maisons Du Monde

Ralph Lauren Home

Sofa Classics UK

Name Design Studio via Etsy

Wolfe Rizor Interiors


  1. Deborah Hetherington says:

    Hi! Thanks for this article on chesterfields as my husband and I are considering one for our living room. It was really informative. What style of pillows would you recommend with this sofa? Thanks Deborah

    • Karen Egly-Thompson says:

      Great! I hope you find the perfect Chesterfield sofa. A couple of square throw pillows would look great as long as they aren’t too big/oversized. A smaller rectangular lumbar pillow mixed in would be a nice addition.

  2. Deborah Hetherington says:


  3. Great article Karen. It’s also worth mentioning that when choosing a Chesterfield, it’s important to make sure you research how one is made as there are many pitfalls the uninformed can fall in to. We have a page on our website dedicated to highlighting what to look out for which may be of interest to your readers:

    Deborah, our fabric site has some shots of the pillows on Chesterfields that Karen mentions if this helps?

  4. There is a sofa at Restoration Hardware called the Kensington – I’m a fan of the “tuft” look, for sure.

  5. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but
    after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyway, just wanted to say excellent blog!

  6. Some fantastic examples here – of course, always better if made in the UK (The original home of the Chesterfield). Always worth checking, as they can vary greatly. Mass produced, low quality frames and poor leather will lead to disappointment. I’m always interested about non UK perspectives on the History of the chesterfield –

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