It's a Classic: The Chesterfield Sofa

By Marsha Fottler September 21, 2015

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Comfort and style in a historic piece of furniture.

Few items of furniture are as recognizable as the Chesterfield sofa, named for Philip Stanhope (1694-1773), the Fourth Earl of Chesterfield, who was a British diplomat, writer and expert on fashion and furniture. He supposedly commissioned the first Chesterfield for his home. In classic Chesterfield styling, the back of the sofa is the same height as the rolled arms, giving the piece a wraparound cocoon feeling when you nestle in. The back features snowball tufting, and the sofa usually sits on bun feet. When you see one in a design magazine, you envision the library in a British country home, the common room at a men’s club or the family room in your contemporary home. New Chesterfield versions that are particularly fetching are by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (about $3,500) and the version that RH produces called Kensington (about $4,000). Many makers of modern-day Chesterfields offer them in velvet, linen and a variety of easy-care fabrics. But tobacco-hued leather rules if you’re strict about wanting the classic look.

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