Buying a Chesterfield sofa can be a difficult task. You might consider buying from a high-street store, an independent retailer or perhaps an online marketplace. You might even consider purchasing directly from the manufacturer. Whatever you decide, as a pricey investment, it's certainly the last thing you'd want to buy from the wrong place.
Whether your Chesterfield will be a place to slink into on a slow Sunday morning or a piece of furniture that will become a generational heirloom. When done right - a quality Chesterfield is one of the most rewarding things that you can buy.
With this in mind - we'll explore the different types of businesses that sell Chesterfield sofas along with how their business models and approaches to quality differ.
Where can you buy a Chesterfield sofa from?
Having seen a lot of Chesterfield sofas over the years, I can confirm that there is a clear and noticeable distinction in quality between those purchased from artisanal manufacturers, and those purchased from online marketplaces and high-street stores. Whilst high-street stores are driven by trends, sales and maximising profit, artisanal manufacturers take an entirely different approach, focusing on quality and service.
Large high-street furniture retailers are volume-driven businesses. With large overheads and big advertising budgets, they have to sell a lot of sofas, with a chunky margin to remain profitable. They achieve this by manufacturing abroad using cheaper materials and highly standardised processes.
Features of the Chesterfield sofa such as deep buttoning, nail-trim detailing and leather antiquing, all require skilled artisans and quality materials to be done correctly. Unfortunately for larger retailers, the Chesterfield sofa doesn't fit well into this the standardised processes that they use.
In many cases they will forego the deep buttoning, one of the most fundamental features of a Chesterfield, using a patterned material to simulate the deep buttoning instead. As applying nail-head trim cannot be done by a machine, they forego this too. Not only are these kinds of Chesterfields lacking important features, but they are also built on low-quality chipboard frames. With a lifespan of 5-10 years, these sofas are far from investment pieces and will ultimately end up in a landfill.
Marketplaces such as Facebook and eBay are abundant with Chesterfield sofas, many of which sell for around the £500 price range. In many cases, this is simply ex-stock from larger retailers. Whilst these are not high-quality investment pieces, they are reasonably priced for the quality and not a bad option if you're strapped for cash.
You will also find made-to-order Chesterfield sofas on marketplaces around the same price point. These are normally handmade in the UK, to order for you. The catch is though that at such a low price point, the manufacturer is very likely to be using low-quality materials and unskilled labour. I would be very surprised to see a sofa made like this hold up for more than a year.
An independent retailer specialising in good quality furniture is an excellent place to buy a Chesterfield sofa. They are knowledgeable and friendly, refrain from shady sales tactics and deliver a level of service you don't find in larger stores.
Whilst independent retailers don't make Chesterfield sofas themselves, they order directly from manufacturers and sell to their customers. In most cases, they share a long-standing relationship with manufacturers which has been developed over decades. Because they work directly with the manufacturer, they can offer a wide variety of materials and customisation options to their customers.
If you buy a Chesterfield sofa from a good quality independent retailer, you can be sure you're getting a quality piece of furniture at a reasonable price. Although reasonably priced, you will get an even better service and value for money if you buy directly from a manufacturer.
Artisanal Chesterfield manufacturers
Artisanal manufacturers craft Chesterfield sofas by hand using high-quality materials and processes. Many of them sell to independent stores that value their commitment to quality and craftsmanship, but more importantly, they also sell directly to customers.
Traditionally they sold their Chesterfields directly from their workshops, but nowadays many sell online. They don't hold stock, instead preferring to make each order to the customer's exact specifications.
The benefits of buying from an artisanal Chesterfield manufacturer
As the product is the same, buying directly from the manufacturer offers the same level of quality when compared to buying from an independent retailer. There are two key differences though. Firstly the price, as without a middleman you will pay up to 30% less than you would at an independent retailer. Secondly, by having a direct relationship with you the customer, artisanal manufacturers can offer a higher level of service which you will often find better suits your requirements.
Personalised customer service
Developing a relationship directly with the artisans who build your Chesterfield, allows for a customer service experience that goes above and beyond.
Throughout the entire process, including after-sales support - you're likely to have a single point of contact, who will go above and beyond to accommodate you. This might mean arranging speedy delivery for a special occasion or sending you extra fabric for some matching curtains. As a valued customer, artisanal manufacturers will always do their utmost to facilitate your requests.
Quality of product
Artisanal manufacturers who sell directly to customers know that buying a Chesterfield is not business, it's personal. This may seem obvious, but high-street retailers focus heavily on volume, which is how they make their money. As with everything mass-produced, there is going to be a margin of error, and high-street retailers account for this.
For artisanal manufacturers, the quality of materials, quality process and quality of service are paramount at every stage. This is why artisanal manufacturers selling directly to customers, carefully source the materials that they use and test them carefully to ensure durability. They prefer to use tried and tested processes, rather than modern techniques which are cheaper and require less skill. They make this conscious choice because they know that your Chesterfield sofa is something that they need to get it right.
There is an abundance of customisation options available when building a Chesterfield sofa. Whilst independent retailers offer a reasonable range of choices, they are unable to do so on the same level as the manufacturers themselves.
We carry 150 standard materials but have relationships with tanneries and fabric houses around the world and are knowledgeable about their materials. When a customer has a specific material in mind which is outside of our standard range, we are normally able to draw upon our longstanding relationships with these fabric houses and tanneries, to offer multiple possibilities that align with their vision. Customisation options are not limited to upholstery materials either. We regularly source unique finishings such as feet and stud detailing to create pieces that reflect our customer's unique individuality.
By approaching each Chesterfield sofa as its own unique project, artisanal manufacturers see each Chesterfield as a blank slate and every design decision as something that the customer is welcome to take part in. When buying directly from an artisan, you are only limited by your imagination.
After sales care
As much as they may try, large and independent retailers often don't have the capacity or expertise to offer high-quality after-sales care service. As manufacturers selling directly to customers, this isn't a service we simply offer, but an integral part of our business.
As investment pieces, customers may encounter problems with their Chesterfield sofa many years after delivery. They have a stain, or a scratch or need advice on how to safely store it during a renovation. No one is better placed than the sofa maker to advise on these issues. We usually resolve problems quickly over the phone but we always have technicians available to make a home visit for trickier problems.
Supporting local businesses and British craftsmanship
Purchasing directly from the manufacturer is also a great opportunity to support British craftsmanship. In today's culture of fleeting trends and fast fashion, businesses that continue to offer quality hand-made products, using traditional techniques are rare. By buying directly from a manufacturer, you are not only supporting a local business, but you are also supporting the upholstery tradition.
What to look out for when buying a Chesterfield sofa
If you're looking for a Chesterfield sofa, we'd always recommend going directly to the manufacturer as they generally offer a better price and quality of service. No matter where you choose to go in the end though, you should always look carefully at Chesterfield's specifications to ensure you're buying a quality Chesterfield sofa.
A quality Chesterfield sofa starts with a solid hardwood frame. Foam, feather and feather-wrapped foam core cushions are the best quality options available. If you're looking for a leather Chesterfield, make sure it's protected, semi-aniline or aniline leather, you should avoid faux and bonded leathers at all costs. If you're looking for a fabric Chesterfield, polyesters and natural materials alike are great choices, but you should ensure that the Martindale abrasion score is over 40,000 to guarantee durability.
Need more information?
We're passionate about all things Chesterfield and would be delighted to answer any of your questions about Chesterfield sofas, materials or processes. Please get in touch and we will be happy to help.