Leather is one of humankind’s earliest and most useful discoveries. Long ago, in ancient times, when resources were scarce, people learned how to make use of every material that was available, and this included animal hides. There were no plastics and metal was hard to find and mine. Glass and pottery were acceptable for some uses, but not for things like clothing, shelter, and upholstery.
Leather Furniture begins Its Journey into Homes
Leather eventually evolved from a common, everyday material into a luxury for wealthy nobles and royalty. While it is difficult to know exactly when leather began its journey as upholstery, the first documented use of leather for furniture are leather chairs dating from 3100–2686 B.C., the early dynastic period in Egypt. In Greece, the first leather couch in recorded history dates as far back as the late 7th century B.C.
Used without proper tanning, leather dries out and disintegrates fairly quickly. Leather was tanned and used for a variety of purposes, including clothes, sandals, bottles, buckets, and military equipment. And as the tanning process improved, leather became a popular choice for furniture upholstery.
Leather Upholstery Hits the Big Time
During the middle ages, leather upholstery’s durability and imperviousness to absorbing food odors made it a popular choice for covering dining chairs. By the 14th century, the tanning process had improved and become a popular trade. The craftsmanship improved to point where the nobility and wealthy were demanding high-quality leather furniture.
As leather furniture craftsmanship continued to advance, leather furniture became more elaborate with tufting, buttons, and quilting. This is the basis of the ever popular Chesterfield style of leather furniture. The first Chesterfield sofa is thought to have been commissioned by Philip Dormer Stanhope, the Fourth Earl of Chesterfield, in the 1700’s. The style has endured to this day and can also be seen on loveseats and chairs.
Due to its durability, leather furniture has remained a popular choice for furniture. If you’ve ever relaxed into a leather chair or sofa, you know there is no other feeling in the world like it. Soft and comfortable, leather furniture only gets better with age.
Modern Leather Furniture Comes in All Styles and Colors
Years ago, leather furniture meant oversized, traditional styling. Strong colors such as oxblood, burgundy, rust, burnt orange, walnut, and burgundy ruled the day. Turquoise, navy, and blackberry were also popular. Leather furniture usually had glazed, shiny finishes. Tufted wingback chairs, traditional chesterfields, double-busted pub sofas, and traditional saddle-arm sofas claimed the majority of leather furniture styles.
During the past 10 years, designer colors have emerged. Modern leather feels soft, comfy, and relaxed without losing any of its innate sophistication. Leather can also be draped, gathered, and pleated in very much the same way as fabric upholstery. You can even find leather on pieces such as ottomans or benches.
Modern leather furniture can be found in a variety of shapes and color options that can be customized to suit your personal taste. It makes the traditional a little more modern and the modern a little more traditional. When you add a touch (or more) of leather to your interior decor, you add a little something extra to your home.