Is this the perfect “chesterfield” for the Manse?

Mad Men couch

I have loved this couch – or chesterfield, as I once would have said – for more than two years. Perhaps it is time to finally buy it and install it at the Manse. What do you think?

First things first: why doesn’t anybody say “chesterfield” anymore? When I was growing up here at the Manse in the long-ago 1960s and ’70s, that’s what we (that is, my family) always called the “couch” or “sofa” in our living room. Were we just weird? Or is “chesterfield” a word that was genuinely common back then but has simply faded away?

Anyway, leaving that pressing issue aside: I want your vote on a chesterfield – oh, all right, couch – that I’ve been eyeing for the Manse’s living room for quite some time. It comes from a relatively prosaic place: The Bay. I first spotted it in a glossy Bay flier that came tucked into our Gazette (the former workplace of both Raymond and me) a couple of years ago in Montreal. I loved the midcentury style, and I loved the colour. And the price was right too; it was on sale for something under $1,000.

Which, as it turns out, this couch often is. (On sale, I mean.) Every time I check it on The Bay’s website or in the big downtown-Montreal Bay store, it seems to be on sale once again. This past weekend I tracked it down at that store (hence the photo) with a tag on it saying, “This weekend only! $799, regularly $1,599!” Except when I went to The Bay’s website just now (that would be Tuesday evening), it was still on sale for $799. Not that I’m complaining.

In the store they had it displayed along with a bunch of fabric swatches, showing that you could get it in quite a variety of colours. Including a nice red, my favourite colour in the world. But I have to say that that bright lemon-lime shade seems just perfect for the Manse’s living room. Or is it? Perhaps it is a colour that Raymond and I will get thoroughly sick of in less than five years, and wonder a) what we were thinking and b) why we didn’t just buy something in a nice sedate beige or cream? Is this lemon-lime Mad-Men-style couch my own variation on the late-1960s Avocado-Green-appliance craze that I remember so well?

To help you make an informed decision on this weighty matter, I offer up a photo of the couch that the lemon-lime model would replace. It came with the Manse when Raymond and I bought it back in 2012, and while we were a little snickery at first about its pleather upholstery and evident wear, we got a little less so when we realized that a) it was actually pretty comfortable and b) it was the only couch – oops, chesterfield – that we had. Here it is, with Sieste the cat as the crowning touch:

Old couch

Our current living-room chesterfield at the Manse. (And our current cat.) I hope you’ll note the vintage curtains in the background – the same ones that adorned those windows when I was growing up in this house in the 1960s. I think the lemon-lime couch would look just great with them! (Please note too the bit of crocheted-by-hand doily – which is not, as I have explained before, an antimacassar.)

And here, just to confuse matters further, is another 1960s-style chesterfield that I found at The Bay last weekend when I was seeking out my lemon-lime model. This one’s a hundred dollars or so more expensive, a bit more comfortable to sit in, and has those funky Jetsons-style rounded lines:

Jetsons couch

Perhaps this is the one I should be considering? Do you like the rounded lines? Do you like the colour? It’s retro like the other one, but I am not quite as enamoured of it.

I don’t, however, much care for the colour, and while there were other upholstery options with it too, none of them really grabbed me. But I don’t know; maybe this is the chesterfield for the Manse.

What do you think, people? Let’s hear from your inner (or, heck, outer) decorator. I need some advice!

25 thoughts on “Is this the perfect “chesterfield” for the Manse?

  1. I would vote for the yellow couch. If you ended up doing the walls in grey with white trim, it would really pop. Plus, you can add red accents and it wouldn’t be obtrusive to the room. Though, to be fair, I don’t know what you’re doing with the walls or window treatments. But yellow is okay, and sunny 🙂

    • Wow, Nicole, with that colour-scheme suggestion you are already about a hundred miles ahead of Raymond and me on the decorating front! I think you had better come visit the Manse and offer a few more suggestions – we could use your help!

  2. Instead of a coach, sofa or chesterfield, I would have thought you would have been more interested in a “divan”, or perhaps a “settee” or even a “davenport”. How about a “canape”? [http://blog.madisonseating.com/furniture/know-your-furniture-sofa-loveseat-divan-or-canape.html]

    Anyways, regardless of what you get, be sure to put on those exquisite clear vinyl slip covers to complete the ’60s motif [http://www.collectionsetc.com/Product/protective-clear-vinyl-furniture-covers.aspx, http://www.harrietcarter.com/product/see-thru-furniture-covers/%5D

  3. Hi Katherine — I spent a weekend debating buying that couch myself. I was worried about the complaint on the website — that the legs of the couch broke the first time someone sat on it!

    • Yikes, Noreen, I hadn’t seen that – thank you so much for the heads-up! (Though I’m disappointed to hear it, of course.) Given that we live so far from any city and delivery of the couch would be a rather big deal, it would be so awful to have something go wrong with it early in its life here. This perhaps explains why it’s perpetually on sale…

  4. We said Chesterfield too. British, I think. Invented, or sat upon, by Lord Chesterfield? Love the lime green/yellow colour. It underlines the mid-century look. But is it comfortable? Have you sat…lounged…on it? The style appears to be from the days when people called sofas Chesterfields, and sat up — straight — on them.

    • I did try it out, Hilary, and while it may not have been the most comfortable couch – er, chesterfield – that I’ve ever sat on, I found it more than satisfactory. Would have to put it to the Raymond test, though.

  5. I’ve read where Noreen said that the legs broke from the couch when it was first sat on. If possible, try to find reviews of these sofas. You don’t want a chesterfield that doesn’t stand up (literally), or one that gets saggy after a short amount of time. As for colour, if it were me, I would stay away from cream or beige — they will get dirty easily and you’ll be forever noticing little spots, smudges, etc. God forbid that droplets of red wine would hit the furniture. Having a chesterfield “Scotch-guarded” is always a good idea, as stains will remove easier. If it came down to either the limey or red colours, I’d pick red because I think it would look richer, and I know I would get tired of the other one (which looks like it might glow in the dark, not that that’s a bad thing, I suppose.) And your Hudson’s Bay blanket will look smashing on the red chesterfield!

    • I meant to say: “And your Hudson’s Bay blanket will look smashing on the red chesterfield — and so will Sieste!”

      • Hi Katherine,

        I should also mention that the Bay stands behind their merchandise, so if there is a problem, then they will correct it. I know from personal experience, from when I bought a sofa and two side chairs. The sofa would not fit in the elevator of my building (even though we were sure it would), so it had to go back to the store. The salesperson there was very helpful, and he came up with a suitable alternative, in the same fabric and colour. Then, there was a mistake with the chairs, which were a matching pair. One of them had been sold to someone else, but the “sold” sticker was not on the chair when I decided on it. So, the salesperson offered a more expensive chair to match both sofa and other chair, at no extra charge. Then, a couple of months after everything was in place, I wasn’t quite happy with the suspension of one of the chairs. They sent out a furniture expert and he took apart the chair, adjusted the springs, and fixed everything up. None of this cost me an extra cent, and they were very helpful and professional in all aspects of the transactions.

        So, the long and short of it is that if something should not be right with your chesterfield (such as a leg breaking), the Bay will do whatever they can to make it right. Just be sure to ask about their returns, repairs, etc. when you buy, just to ensure they will be as helpful, and especially considering the distance from the store to your house.

    • That is a fascinating bit of information, Hilary – thank you for taking he trouble to dig it up and share it. I hadn’t realized that “chesterfield” was, as the piece says, an “indigenous” Canadian word. And my own experience – and probably yours too – backs up the research’s findings that it was more or less in the 1970s that “chesterfield” was on the way out and “couch” was replacing it.

  6. Katherine, here is a link to the Bay’s site, with their selection of couches. You’ll see both of the ones you’ve mentioned, plus an interesting red “Martini” one. I wasn’t sure of the extent of stock in the store that you were at, so I thought I’d show this to you.

    http://goo.gl/C2V948

  7. Strange! I googled “Jetsons style sofa” and this was a website on the first image result page. And this in Oct 2015, and I am in New Zealand. Your site must be popular! The discussion re Chesterfield caught my eye. Obviously in Canada, sofa and chesterfield are synonyms. In NZ/England/Australia, Chesterfield refers specifically to a lush leather buttoned sofa such as this – http://www.timelesschesterfields.com

    • Hi Jonny! Wow – thank you for the information on how a chesterfield is different from an ordinary sofa. Who knew? You’re right that here in Canada (in the middle of the last century, anyway) the two words (sofa and chesterfield; I think everybody now says sofa) were interchangeable. So do you like the Bay’s Jetson’s sofa? I bet it’s still on sale – it always is! (Though delivery to New Zealand is probably a little on the pricey side.)

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