Leather for Beauty, Comfort and lasting Quality
Supple and luxurious, leather lends itself beautifully to the sophisticated, sleek, clean lines of Contemporary furniture designs. With draping capabilities, which emphasize the great shapes of today's high-fashion styles, leather is the perfect cover.
Yet, when seeking the perfect sofa, sectional or chair that speaks to you personally, experts say that a soft and plush hand (or feel) of leather covering the frame is the factor often trumping all else in the majority of shoppers' buying decisions.
That's not too surprising given that touch is the first sense we experience in the womb, and the last to leave us in the aging process. A superbly soft leather just feels wonderful, and well, sexy - making our initial attraction and emotional response with this natural, luxe material extremely visceral. If you want the attraction to develop into a relationship that can go the distance; however, it is important to ask (and answer) a few questions to determine compatibility.
Who (and what) Do You Love?
Be upfront with your salesperson or design consultant about all other loves in your life, particularly kids and pets. Not all leathers are created equal and durability is a factor to consider. Also, be open about your lifestyle; meaning, what, where and how often the furniture will be used.
"The fact is, a quality leather can last a very long time," relates one of our upholstery experts, "And when you are investing in great, quality design, you want longevity."
As wise a choice as leather furniture can be, education is key in determining the ideal grade of leather for your unique circumstances, and will ensure you receive the best value for your investment.
A family with small children and a couple of dogs who like to nap on the sofa may not want a naked, or untreated,aniline leather which offers no protection from stains in their family room. And if they do, they should be sure to understand what to expect in how the leather will wear over the long haul. High-traffic space or not, that same family may also not want a fully protected leather due to the difference in the feel of the material. [See accompanying story]. The good news is that we can help choose the ideal leather, which may be one with some protectant that still has a soft, supple feel.
Why Top Grain is Tops
Leather furniture prices are largely determined by the quality or grade of the leather. Leathers are graded by the size, location and extent of the natural blemishes, such as wrinkles and scars that are inherent in all natural hides.
Hides are separated into layers. "The very top layer is known as the top grain, and if you were to examine the top layer under a microscope, you would see fibers running in every direction, making the top grain layer of the hide very, very strong," says Rob, our leather expert.
There's a vast range of quality and price within top grain leathers, and what's best for one may not be best for others. Part of leather furniture's appeal is luxuriant comfort. "The finest of top grain leathers will have the softest feel, but may not be as desirable if ease of care is important within your house," advises one expert. "They do tend to be a little more temperamental."
Finally, no matter how well it is cared for, all upholstered furniture will fade with time when exposed to light and heat. We can offer suggestions and solutions to help you get the most out of your leather.
Aniline: Only the best, blemish-free hides are soaked
in the aniline dyes used to create this exceptionally
sumptuous and soft "naked" leather, with no other finishes
or pigments applied.
Semi-aniline: Sometimes called "protected", these leathers
have a small amount of pigment, giving them slightly better
protection against stains and fading.
Pigmented: The least costly, and generally the most stain
and scuff-resistant, pigmented leathers are also somewhat
stiffer. Perfect for family use.
Pull-up: Full anilines that have been processed to produce
a weathered, or distressed look.
Embossed: Lower-grade hides that have been imprinted
with any of a wide range of textures.