"Chesterfield Sofa" and 4 Other Tricky Furniture Terms Defined

Ever wondered what "chesterfield sofa" and "bonded leather" mean when you're shopping for furniture and accessories? Well unfurrow your brow! We're going to make things simple and break down the top 5 trickiest furniture terms. 

1. Chesterfield Sofa

A classic style marked by ample tufting and shelter arms; the more traditional designs are done in leather or faux leather and often include nailhead details. 


The origin of the Chesterfield style of furniture is up for debate. However, through research (bear with us through a minor history lesson) it was learned that in the years 1694-1773 the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Lord Phillip Stanhope, commissioned the first leather chair with quilted leather and buttons. The goal for this chair was to allow for people to sit upright without wrinkling his/her clothes. 

Phil must've been quite the trendsetter because this style of furniture is still popular today!


2. Bonded Leather

A mix of leather fibers and adhesive that is pressed into a sheet, for a material that often looks like genuine leather. 


The origin of "bonded leather" makes sense. We stumbled upon a great analogy: bonded leather is to genuine leather as ground beef is to steak. Strange, but great. Bonded leather is often confused with synthetic leather, which it's not. Bonded leather takes leather scraps and bonds them together with an adhesive rather than using a whole piece of animal hide. There are bonded leather products that are 100% leather but there are also options like bonded leather upholstery which could contain less leather. 

The name's leather, bonded leather. 


3. Bombe

 Type of accent chest with dramatic, outward-facing curves, usually encasing the chest's drawers. 


The origin of bombe (pronounced "bombay") is very simple. In French, bombe means "any rounded or convex piece of furniture." The word literally translates to "bomb-shaped" or "bulging."

This style is the bomb(e).  


4. Distressed

A technique to artificially make something look older than it is; often used to give the appearance of an antique. 


This term speaks for itself. A distressed product has been made to look like it has gone through a little bit of use. 

That cocktail table isn't anxious, just gorgeous. 


5. Finial

A carved accent that doecorates the top of a post or pilaster-- often a bedpost (post-top finial); it is usually an embellished ball but can be anything from a fleur de lis to a pineapple. 


After digging through the dictionary, it was discovered that the word "finial" comes from the latin "finis" which means "end." Makes sense since the finial sits at the end of a bedpost. 

And with that, this post has reached its finis. 

We hope this helps demystify those tricky furniture terms.If you want to further expand your furniture IQ, check out our glossary! 

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Q&A: Designing with a Long Living Room


I just bought a small condo and I am looking to buy living room furniture. My dilemma is the size and shape of the room. It’s oblong and I’m trying to maximize my seating. How can I best arrange the room to have the most seating but not just put all the furniture against the wall? — Teresa, Delray, FL


This is a question that our Design Experts are often asked. In a perfect home, a living room space is more square, but many dwellers face the challenge of the oblong living room. Especially in a smaller-sized condo, you want to get the most out of your space with seating, comfort, and decor. At the same time, you don’t want guests to feel cramped. Fortunately these longer, narrow living room spaces are a blessing in disguise and there are several ways to make it work. Think about what you’re using the room for. Do you entertain frequently? Are you looking to relax? With a longer living room, you have the opportunity to break up the space into sections. Here’s a good rule of thumb: the main area should take up 3/4 the space while the smaller area, such as a reading nook, dining area, additional seating, etc. fills up the rest.

For a combined living and dining room, shift the focus of the space to entertaining and mix similar furniture lines and colors. This will help tie the two sections together. For example, pairing the Alcove table and Alcove chairs with the Paris Collection sofa and loveseat to maximize seating while allowing for foot traffic. For a more formal living room look, opt for a wider sofa with two opposing chairs. For example, pair the Colette Collection sofa with two Colette Collection accent chairs. This arrangement is perfect if you have a TV or fireplace across from the sofa as the main focal point.Or, if you’re looking to relax in the space, create a reading nook with either one or two chairs on the opposite side of the room.

Helpful Tips

  • Draw up a floorplan of the space to see what types of furniture you can fit, and where.
  • Look for longer rugs that will fill the room to visually tie the sections together.
  • Match your largest furniture item (most likely a sofa) with your longest wall for space efficiency.
  • Bring your sofa about two inches out from the wall to add an illusion of more space.