So when is a couch not a couch? When its a chesterfield.. That probably got some blank stares, but I heard someone from back home use the word the other day and had to write a note on it. If you Google chesterfield you’ll get a hotel in Miami Beach, towns and townships all over the States, even a brand of filterless cigarettes but no mention of a piece of furniture in the first few pages. Anyone from Canada or the UK will know exactly what I’m talking about though, sofa, couch, chesterfield all the same thing.
Officially a chesterfield has a distinctive look identifiable by its buttoned upholstery, rolled arms, equal back and arm height and nail head trim. No one knows exactly where the name comes from; some say it was named after a piece of furniture commissioned by the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope in the 1800′s. This is the very same British statesman that Chesterfield County, VA and Chesterfield County, SC are named after. He was known as a man of letters and an orator, and has many quotes attributed to him including this one criticizing multi-tasking of all things “There is time enough for everything, in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once; but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time” (turns out he was right according to this study)
Whatever its origin it was held as a status symbol in the 1900’s, bat-shit crazy Sigmund Freud (hilarious) used one in this office for his patients to lay on while practicing psychoanalysis. The name is still used by high-end furniture makers, especially in the UK to describe period pieces for anyone looking to recreate a Victorian era feel. A quick look on EBay and Craigslist came up with very few for sale, most items were for tobacco memorabilia (how amazing is that Reagan ad?) and coats with the same name, another dying word I guess.