Made with carefully selected materials by artisans who have honed their skills through years of practice and dedication, it’s clear to see why Chesterfields make such excellent investment pieces. But what separates low-quality mass-produced imitations from the distinctive quality investment pieces that stand the test of time?
In this guide, we’ll look at the different materials and techniques used to manufacture Chesterfield sofas and how they affect their value. I’ll then share some practical tips with you for keeping your Chesterfield in excellent condition so that it holds its value for decades to come.
What factors determine the value of a Chesterfield sofa?
The importance of a good frame and suspension system cannot be understated. Without these key components, you have a Chesterfield that is more skip-worthy than investment worthy.
Hardwoods make for the best frames. Now and then, we're lucky enough to reupholster decades-old Chesterfield sofas. I’m always amazed at just how well these frames have held up over the decades. A quality hardwood frame with reinforced joints is the difference between something that will fetch 70% of its selling price after 10 years and something which will be worth very little if it’s even still around.
The suspension system
There’s nothing better than the soft buttery feeling of slinking into a sumptuous Chesterfield sofa. This level of comfort cannot be achieved by cushion fillings alone, it requires a quality suspension system. Webbing and spring suspension systems are excellent choices. You can check the kind of suspension system by taking away the cushions and feeling the base. A webbing system will give some resistance when pressed, on a spring system you will be able to feel the spring coils.
The most important thing about cushions is that they're made from natural fillings or reflex foam. Duck and goose feather fillings deliver a soft sit but require regular plumping to keep looking smart. This is the most luxurious option. Reflex foam is a great alternative and a little cheaper. It always looks smart, doesn't require plumping and you practically melt into it.
A good quality Chesterfield retains its shape over the years. Although fibre cushions are very comfortable initially, they quickly lose their shape and degrade after a few months. You can always replace them with foam or feather fillers, but they do devalue Chesterfield.
The upholstery material
Sumptuous velvets and aniline full-grain leathers are the highest-quality upholstery materials you can buy, and this should be reflected in the price. Although these materials look incredibly sumptuous, they are nightmarish if you’ve got children or pets running around as they easily stain, scuff and scratch.
Overtime velvet will accrue pressure marks, and leather will develop a patina which gives it character. These kinds of Chesterfield sofas are highly prized in vintage circles and with proper care, they may even accumulate in value.
Semi-aniline leathers and high-quality polyesters are cheaper than full aniline leather and velvets. They are however infinitely more durable making them a very practical option for homes with children and pets. For polyester materials, look for the Martindale rub-count score, this should be at least 40,000. The higher the score, the better though as it means that the fabric wears less.
Materials such as bonded leather, faux leather and polyesters with a low abrasion score will quickly deteriorate after a few years, which unfortunately means a negligible resale value.
Why you should avoid low-quality Chesterfield sofas
The quality of materials used to make a Chesterfield is what separates investment pieces that stand the test of time from those which end up in a landfill. The buy once and keep forever approach is great for the environment.
There's not only the environmental factor to consider. You should also consider the opportunity of having a beautiful example of quality craftsmanship in your home which you can pass through the generations. What's more? As you'll never have to buy again, it’s much cheaper in the long run.
How to spot low-quality chesterfield sofas
As one of the biggest furniture purchases you’ll make, making sure you're not looking at a low quality Chesterfield might seem daunting. Here is our roundup of the tell tale signs of a low quality Chesterfield.
|Low Quality||High Quality|
|Thin polyesters, and/or faux and bonded leathers.||Aniline, semi-aniline or protected leathers and thick polyesters with an abrasion score over 40,000
|Fibre or foam core fibre cushions||Feather, foam or foam core feather wrap cushions|
|No suspension system at all||Webbing or spring suspension system|
|Chipboard frame||Solid hardwood frame - extra points for reinforced joints|
How the condition of a Chesterfield affects its value
Unless you’re looking at a vintage Chesterfield, a used Chesterfield is always going to be cheaper than new. As a sofa though, the design holds its value very well. In immaculate condition, a Chesterfield made with high quality leathers or fabrics, on a solid hardwood frame with a good suspension system, should never lose more than 40% of its original price.
That being said, life happens and brings scuffs and scratches along the way. A light scratch in a single area might take 10-15% off the value. For heavy scratching in multiple places, this could be up to 50% of the value.
You should always remember though that leather is a natural material and the highest quality ones are abundant with marks and scars, which could easily be mistaken for a scratch. These natural markings are not defects and therefore don’t devalue the sofa, they are markers of quality and an excellent way to know that what you’re buying is the real deal.
You should also consider the condition of the cushions as over time it’s natural for cushion fillings to wear. If the cushion fillings are in a particularly bad shape, they can be replaced, but you should expect that the value (and the headache) of replacing them will be reflected in the price.
Top tips to keep your Chesterfield in great condition
- Keep it away from sunlight and sources of heat as these damage leather and fabric.
- Don’t let your children or pets bounce on it. If you have a spring suspension system, doing so can dislodge the springs which is a costly fix.
- Vacuum the button pleating every month very lightly to remove any accumulated dirt.
- If you have reversible cushions, flip them every six months.
- If you have leather, use the appropriate conditioner every 2-3 years. This keeps it saturated with oils which keeps the leather looking healthy.
Some final thoughts
Whether you’re considering buying a new Chesterfield, selling your own or looking to buy second-hand, you should know that these can be excellent pieces that retain their value very well.
If you have any questions about materials or processes and how they might affect the price of a Chesterfield, feel free to reach out. We love all things Chesterfield and will be delighted to discuss with you.