The Recipe for the Elusive Knole

Proven formulas for popular furniture items, the Buildlane Recipe Cards feature takes a look at optimal dimensions of some of the most timeless (or timely) silhouettes and introduces you to their origins, to prove just exactly how a classic becomes a classic! 

It is said that the Knole is THE original upholstered sofa. Before this classic came into existence in the 17th century there was nothing quite as cozy, unless you are cool with sitting on a bench upright with nothing but the wall for back support. I mean seriously, fathom that!?!

Anglophiles take heed. As we see more and more British influence in the design zeitgeist of late, is it really more than a matter of time before the Knole starts poppin’ back up on client’s wishlists? Originally designed for the Knole House in Sevenoaks, West Kent in the early 1600s, the Knole sofa has deep roots in the aristocracy of Great Britain. Made with iron hinges, the stately settee was the pinnacle of luxury furniture, made for the use of the aristocrats and royal family who resided within Knole House. (and duh, Downton Abbey too!)

This sofa silhouette is characterized by adjustable sides that are secured by a heavy cording around finials at the top of the arms and back. This function allows the sofa to be let down to enjoy as a day bed or tied up tightly for added privacy. And while we are digging into the history, just know that these sides were originally conceived to help keep out the chill of a draft.

Traditionally a two-seat sofa in the past, now the Knole can be made much larger while maintaining the same charm. 

How it works within the context of Today’s Design Zeitgeist

The Knole Sofa has seen more reinvention than any other sofa by far. Having centuries to evolve into many different eras of design the Knole’s distinguishable build has proven to be extremely adaptable. From the highly decorative detailing of the renaissance revival, covering the Knole in ornate fabric, colorful piping, tassels, and fringe to the distillation into Scandinavian design, the Knole holds up in any design context. As seen (below) in Vitra’s Mariposa Sofa, The Knole can be interpreted through any design lens. 

Buildlane’s take on the classic allows this stand-out shape to transition into today’s living spaces. With a 28-inch seat depth, our template continues the tradition of a deep cozy nook to curl up in. The 18-inch seat height and 38-inch high seat back and arms enclose the space when tightly shut and expand the sofa when relaxed. 

The Knole Sofa is a recent addition to the Buildlane Template offering. Get a jump start on the idea but make it yours!

How can you make your Knole Sofa unique?

  • Consider cladding the seat back and arm exteriors with veneered wood panels.
  • Think about how you tie the arms and back together. You could use cording that matches your fabric or a contrast cording to bring attention to the unique structure? 
  • Is your Knole detailed with bolster pillows? 
  • How many seat cushions will your Knole have? One large bench cushion or one per seat? 
  • How can you imagine the finials might make your Knole?  

With over 400 years of experimentation, the Knole Sofa still has so much more to offer to your clients. Make it yours today!



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