Chesterfields and Beyond

March 24, 2012

The Chesterfield sofa conjures images of formally attired gentlemen sequestered in a dark paneled study, sipping brandy and smoking cigars. Throughout history the Chesterfield sofa has come to represent many things to different people. The Victorian era saw the Chesterfield as the key piece in living rooms, where gentlemen relaxed while their wives sat in chairs crafting needlepoint. Since the 19th century, it has been linked with Freudian psychoanalysis, as Sigmund Freud originally used a sofa during his hypnosis sessions with patients. Flash forward two centuries and find yourself seated in a sumptuous red leather Chesterfield in a dark corner of a local coffeehouse or wine bar.
Throughout the years, Chesterfield sofas have graced the palaces of royalty, prominent business offices, hotels, restaurants, gentleman’s clubs and luxurious private homes. Today the Chesterfield is synonymous with elegance and class in interiors all over the world, of every architectural and decorating style. Regardless of what it represents to many, the Chesterfield steadfastly remains the sofa that embodies the perfect blend of comfort and sophistication.
The Chesterfield sofa, however, has a somewhat uncertain history. This icon of the furniture world is widely thought to have been commissioned by, and consequently named in honor of, the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, in the 18th century. Aside from being a much-admired politician and writer, the suave Earl was a known trendsetter. When the Earl requested a cabinetmaker to construct a piece of furniture that would allow a gentleman to sit upright in the utmost of comfort, thus was the inception of the Chesterfield sofa with its characteristic deep buttoned upholstery, rolled arms, equal back and arm height and nail head trim. There has never been any solid confirmation of this noble beginning.

curved sofa Going Curvy?  Lytham Sofa from Lee Jofa
These days Chesterfield sofas are everywhere, mixed with modern or traditional furnishings, covered in leather or the union jack, lets just call it like it is… Chesterfield’s are once again trendy.  The Lytham Sofa from Lee Jofa is a nod to the Chesterfield with its deep button back but it’s been streamlined for todays living.  The striking thing about this piece is the use of curves to define its overall shape. First there is the curve from the middle out to each end. Then there is the gentle slope of the back rest as it flows down into the arms, certainly a departure from the even height of the back and arm of the Chesterfield.  The arms of the sofa embrace curvature thereby supporting the overall design theme.

A family owned company, Lee Industries is committed to manufacturing high-quality, American-made furniture, and it shows. Handcrafted using the finest materials, each piece like this tufted sofa is comfortable, stylish, and built to last.  I always go to Lee first when I’m shopping for upholstery.  There are many great frames to choose from and while they could use an update on their graded-in fabric line, they are happy to take customers own material (C.O.M.).  I consider Lee a semi-custom line as they will make some changes – longer, shorter, down vs fiber, welt vs topstitch, etc)  But of course everything comes with a price, they will charge for changes.

Lee usually has a pretty good lead time – 6 weeks or so – and they do their best to push things through when I’m in a hurry to get something shipped out quickly.  I recommend Lee.  leeindustries.com

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3 Responses to “Chesterfields and Beyond”

  1. margaret Says:

    Did lee industries make the leather couch at the beginning of the article?


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