Just like any important life choice, choosing and buying leather furniture deserves thoughtful consideration and planning. Lest you think I am being melodramatic, think about it. Leather furniture will last, literally, almost a lifetime. It is durable, comfortable, and its looks get better with age. It comes in a variety of styles and colors. There’s really nothing else like it.
However, there are many sofas that would like you to think they are leather. Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for leather furniture.
1. Leather upholstery lasts four times as long as fabric upholstery, so it is very kid and pet-friendly. There’s not much they can do to harm it. And just like your leather shoes or jacket, your leather sofa or chair will look better as it ages.
2. Aniline leather is the softest and most expensive leather. It is dyed in a drum, a process that lets the dye completely soak into the leather, creating a color that is rich, deep, and saturated. No protective coating is used.
3. Also dyed in a drum, semi-aniline or protected aniline leather has a small amount of coating applied. This gives it slightly better protection from stains and fading than aniline leather.
4. Pigmented leather is not dyed in a drum, the color is applied to the surface. This means the piece is not dyed through and through. The color may not be as rich, but the finish provides greater protection from scratches, stains, and fading. Pigmented leather furniture is less expensive than aniline leather but also isn’t as soft.
5. Unlike fabric upholstery, the color of a leather sofa or chair doesn’t matter in terms of regular maintenance — it won’t fade. And since all you need to do is remove dust with a damp cloth, you don’t have to worry about the effects of chemicals and cleansers. Which is great for anyone bold enough to have a red leather sofa.
6. Choose zippered seats. Even though your leather sofa can easily last for decades, the cushions inside may not. Zippered seats will give you easy access if you need to get the cushions refilled or replaced.
7. Leather upholstery has a reputation of being cold, but this is a misconception. A leather sofa will conform to the temperature of your body in about 12 seconds.
8. As with any piece of furniture you buy, a leather sofa should suit your lifestyle. Will it work for the way you’re planning to use it? What room will you put it in?
9. When looking at the price, which may be more than a fabric sofa, keep in mind that leather furniture generally lasts at least as long as three pieces of furniture upholstered with fabric.
10. Stay away from leather-vinyl combinations. The two materials may look good together, and the price may be tempting, but the leather always outlasts the vinyl, so your furniture will not wear consistently. Motion pieces, such as recliners, are the exception to this rule, as they sometimes use vinyl.
Now that you know all the benefits of leather upholstery and what to look for, all that’s left is choosing the style and color that you want.