Our Guide to Good Chesterfields

How to spot a high quality Chesterfield sofa
– A simple guide

 
I think you will agree with me when I say:

“It can be REALLY hard to know how to spot a top quality Chesterfield sofa”

 
This is where we can help.
We have worked really hard to put together a thorough guide for you, so you can learn how to choose your own perfect Chesterfield. Hopefully we will show you how to avoid some of the pitfalls too and hope to spot a great sofa.

My article will cover the following topics:

  • 1 – How (a good) Chesterfield is made & how to spot the quality

  • 2 – Types of Chesterfields

  • 3 – Comfort in a Chesterfield

  • 4 – Leather types

  • 5 – Brands to know

 
Ok, lets get started!

S.W. James. How to spot a quality Chesterfield

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How to spot a quality Chesterfield

Most people love them, you see them everywhere you look, but do you know what makes a good Chesterfield sofa?

A Chesterfield sofa is a timeless classic and the focus of any room they live in. A true statement piece. In this journal, we would like to show you how to spot a well-made Chesterfield (and also a poorly made one), and which brands to look out for.

Read On To Become An Expert On All Things Chesterfield…

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How to spot a quality Chesterfield

A short introduction

Firstly, we’d like to say long gone are the days where the Chesterfield could only be found in the manor house or gentleman’s club. A good Chesterfield looks beautiful in any space it dwells.

From the classic, hand-antiqued Chesterfields to the more modern, contemporary fabric covered Chesterfields, there is undoubtedly a perfect Chesterfield statement piece for all types and tastes.

 

“At S.W. James we have tried to cater to all tastes”
Jamie – Creative Lead at S.W. James

 

You should know all Chesterfields are not created equal. There are some beautifully made examples out there for you, but also some very poorly made, imported types too. The kind you can’t really call a true Chesterfield.

Try our chesterfield in your home

Peace of Mind

So how do you go about picking the perfect one for you?

Do you go for the cheapest option or most expensive? Do you know what leather is right for you? Do you know which colour to go for? Is it going to be comfortable? The questions are endless and choosing the correct Chesterfield for you needs a little time and research.

With so many companies out there selling ‘Chesterfield sofas’, we thought we’d put this article together, to help you learn a little more and avoid the many pitfalls around picking the perfect handmade Chesterfield sofa.

What to look for

How (a good) Chesterfield is made and how to spot one when you see it!

Our Guide to Good Chesterfields

….You will want to pay attention to this!

Much like a fine pair of handmade shoes or a beautiful Rolex watch, you should be looking for quality in your new Chesterfield.

A quick search on eBay will turn up a lot of ‘Chesterfield sofas’. You may think they offer good value for money, However, much like a fake Rolex, they look good for about 10 minutes but again, much like a fake Rolex, will start to fall apart pretty quickly. Buttons fall off, pleats come undone, cushions become very flat and uncomfortable.

The above are all signs of poorly made Chesterfields. So how do you spot a good one…

A great Chesterfield, much like an S.W. James, is built to last a lifetime. Make sure the one you choose is as well.

If you choose the right Chesterfield, it will live with you for the rest of your life. Just like a Rolex watch, a good Chesterfield is a modern-day heirloom and an evergreen statement piece that will never go in our out of fashion and will look amazing in any room it lives. A good Chesterfield will reflect your character and will be something you should be truly proud to own and talk about.

The chances are you are only going to buy a Chesterfield once, so you are far better off selecting a more expensive, well made Chesterfield that will be tailor to your needs and will last you longer than any other piece of furniture you will ever own.
A good Chesterfield will become part of your family and part of your life story.

You will:

– Spend lazy nights on it

– Enjoy intimate drinks

– Bounce your young son or daughter on your knee on it

– Listen to that perfect album or watch the film that will stay with you forever

Our SW James hand rubbed antique leather collection

Our Guide to Good Chesterfields

The best part?

Our famous Chesterfield sofas

A good Chesterfield will start to feel like an old friend after a while. It will acquire a few character-building knocks and scrapes as it grows, much as you will.

In short, we recommend you buy quality and it will forever pay you back.

 

So, what do you need to look for when picking your Chesterfield?

The art of creating a handmade Chesterfield is something that’s passed down from master to apprentice over generations.
This skill has somewhat become a neglected and lost art.
At S.W. James we are pleased to be keeping this art very much alive.
Every element of your S.W. James is crafted by hand in our workshops and the traditions will be kept alive for generations to come.
Here are a few areas to consider when you make your choice.

SW James vintage leathers

What to look for

1 – Leather

Selecting the perfect leather ranges to represent S.W. James has been a true labour of love. We have spent countless hours perfecting our choices. At S.W. James, we are famous for our use of luxurious materials. Our leather is as they say in the industry ‘Closest to the cow’. Meaning that every leather hide that comes from our tannery partners is of the highest quality possible, requiring minimal treatment and correction.

Our vintage leather is something very special. It’s a full aniline hide that is slightly hand distressed, giving a vintage, ‘lived-in’ look and a soft natural feeling. It’s buffed with soft wax and will age sympathetically with use.

our collection of handmade Chesterfield sofas

What to look for

2 – Well made and built strong

From its solid oak, wooden frame core, a good Chesterfield is built to stand the test of time. From day one, poorly built cheaper Chesterfields struggle. They are built on poor quality MDF or similar inferior frames. These poor quality frames and cost-cutting at the start means your new sofa is ‘built on sand’ and we all know what happens there…

A well-made Chesterfield has to be built on a solid oak frame and nothing else.

 

All our Chesterfield are built on solid oak, British made, kiln dried frames. These frames are both dowelled and stapled for extra strength. A sofa that starts its life on anything less cannot be called a real Chesterfield.

twin stitching on Chesterfield

What to look for

3 – Stitching

A well made Chesterfield has to be made by hand. All our Chesterfields are made in the time-honoured, handmade fashion and we still use a process known as “twinning” for all our stitching.

This pattern character is only seen on well-made Chesterfields so look out for this.

 

This method gives extra strength to our stitching. Twinning also presents a beautiful stitch pattern.

British made - hours in the making

What to look for

4 -Expert craftsmanship

When choosing the right Chesterfield it goes without saying you need to choose the experts to make it for you.

 

– A Chesterfield is an extremely complicated piece of furniture to make.
Every part of it should be finished by hand.

 

A well made Chesterfield becomes a true labour of love for the craftsman or woman that create it.

As a result, you need to learn about the team that is going to make your new Chesterfield for you. Our expert master craftsmen and women have been making handmade Chesterfields for over 30 years.

Our senior craftsmen are so established in the industry that a number of popular Chesterfield models that have become standards today were originally designed by them. We recommend you talk to the company owners and talk to the craftsmen if you can.

Learn about the countless hours and love that go into making a good handmade Chesterfield.

5 star rated customer service

What to look for

5 – Great customer service

Finally, buying your new Chesterfield should be a great experience!

Much like that handmade suit from Savile row or your handmade shoes from Churches, you should be guided through the full process and be involved and informed as your new Chesterfield comes to life.

As you will see in our reviews, our old fashioned customer service mentality is loved by our customers.

Feel the Comfort

Comfort in a Chesterfield

Next up is a hot topic – “Is a Chesterfield sofa comfortable?”

The answer is a subjective one, and down to personal preference.
The more traditional Chesterfields do have a firmer sit, that’s for sure but there is no reason a hand made, modern Chesterfield created by a reputable maker can’t be comfortable as well as elegant. Just talk to the company you choose to make yours. If they are worth their salt, they will be able to guide you through the cushioning process so you end up with a perfect sit.

I can’t emphasise this enough:

At S.W. James we have worked tirelessly to make our Chesterfields not only beautiful, not only durable, but also comfortable.

 

We purposely designed our Chesterfield sofa range with the modern home in mind, and comfort was a critical characteristic we needed to include across all our designs.

So, how do we create a sumptuous, comfortable Chesterfield?

Some of our comfort tricks are closely guarded secrets, but we can say its a combination of:

Our SW James vintage leather collection

Feel the comfort

A softer, more luxurious leather
than our competitors

Our hand selected vintage leather and heritage leather ranges offer the softest hand-finished leathers available.

The are of the very highest quality top grain, aniline leather

 

All sourced from our Italian based tannery partners who are the finest leather suppliers around.

handmade feather and down cushions

Feel the comfort

Comfortable cushions

We have created a unique cushion comfort blend, exclusive to S.W. James. We chose to put the emphasis on two things – Comfort and Durability.

Our signature comfort blend cushions offer both by the bucket load. Separately both are easy to achieve, together, it’s not been as easy, but we have ended up with beautiful products after a lot of hard graft.

A well-made Chesterfield has to be built on a solid oak frame and nothing else.

 

feel the comfort

Feel the comfort

Lots of feathers and lots of springs

A poorly built Chesterfield, the kind you might find on Amazon or eBay will have cheap cushion fillings, much like you would find inside soft toys.

This kind of filling has very little support for comfort, especially over time, when the cushions go flat.

Avoid these at all cost.

Cheap Chesterfield also have very little support under the foam, with no springs in the back or base.

Our Guide to Good Chesterfields

Why is comfort important?

Our famous Chesterfield sofas

The best Chesterfields, much like ours, come with a beautiful combination of feather wrapped foam cushions as standard. Only the top Chesterfield brands will offer this and it ensures amazing longevity for your treasured piece.

Additionally, on our No.4 Chesterfield range, we included our most exclusive, ‘super sprung’ base.

 

Over a hundred individual springs are hand stitched into the frames of this Chesterfield. As soon as you drop into it, you known you are sitting in something special. It’s the most comfortable Chesterfield we can make and we feel it’s the most comfortable Chesterfield you can find.

For the No.4 range, we have also created bespoke cushions that have three layers of comfort. This cocktail of comfort is a closely guarded secret. This combination of springs and bespoke cushions create a truly comfortable Chesterfield sofa.

“Simply wonderful to come home to”

Three great choices

Leather types

Another personal subject is the choice of leather you should consider to cover your new Chesterfield. There are some exquisite leathers out there, too many to mention today, so we have selected 3 to discuss in this article.

take a Look at our leather choices…

Our SW James hand rubbed antique leather collection

Leather options

Hand-rubbed antique leather

Antique leather is robust, strong and very long lasting. This leather is the most reliable choice. You could pick up a vintage antique rub Chesterfield from an antique store that will be over 30 years old that still has the same beautiful antique rub leather it was built with originally. I know this as I now have my fathers in my home. He bought his antique oxblood rub Chesterfield in the early ’70’s. When he gifted it to me, (as he knew I loved it so much) the antique leather, whilst certainly lived in, is still in incredible condition and lives proudly in front of my fire at my home. You will see a picture of me sat on it as a 1-year-old on this page.

hand distressed vintage look leather

Leather options

Vintage, hand distressed leather

This leather is slightly hand-distressed before it is applied to the Chesterfield. This hand finishing technique creates an individual, ‘lived-in’ look. This subtly hand distressed surface combined with a soft waxy feel means our vintage leather achieves additional character over time.

When it’s tightly pulled over the contours of a Chesterfield, natural shades and highlights are formed on the leather surface.

 

our heritage leather range

Feel the comfort

Heritage, the finest of leathers

The Heritage range represents the softest and most luxurious leather we know. Fully aniline and very subtly and carefully dyed.

This waxed and polished finish brings out an elegant and refined touch to any Chesterfield sofa or chair it covers.

Velvets & Wools

BUT… not everyone wants leather.
Take a look at the fantastic options:

A Chesterfield can be finished in any upholstery of your choosing!

Velvet is a trendy option at the moment and something we get asked for a lot on bespoke orders.

 

So are linens. We love wool Chesterfield, and we offer a beautiful selection of linens and Herringbone wool, created by one of the oldest wool mills in the UK – Moons.

A fabric cover instantly makes a Chesterfield look more contemporary.
Suiting more modern interiors whilst still maintaining that feature status you expect from a Chesterfield sofa or chair.

Herringbone wool on a Chesterfield sofa
Our SW James hand rubbed antique leather collection

Our Guide to Good Chesterfields

Investing in a good, well-made Chesterfield sofa, chair or suite is a big decision

Unlike modern throw-away furniture, if you choose the right Chesterfield from the right company, it will be with you throughout your life and much like my father did for me, something you could gift when your loved ones fly the nest.

To summarise – much like a Rolex, an S.W. James Chesterfield is something you can take pride in owning.

It is something you can proudly call your own.

Knowing your Chesterfield will be there to come home to at the end of a long day should be something that will make you happy. It will grow with you, develop its own characteristics as you live with it.

A good Chesterfield will become as friendly and welcoming as an old friend and will only get better with time.

A Chesterfield is something to truly treasure! Unlike a tailored suit or a pair of handmade shoes, you won’t grow out of your Chesterfield. It will grow and evolve alongside you and your loved ones.