Love Your Leather

Love Your Leather
Two stately buttery leather chairs flank a gallery wall. (Handout/TNS)
Tribune News Service
By Katie Laughridge From Tribune News Service

There is just nothing quite like leather furniture. Cool in the summertime and cozy when it’s cold out, the look and feel of leather is something we love. From ottomans and stools to chairs, sofas and yes, even sectionals, we appreciate a quality leather piece.

A variety of leathers are suitable for different uses and lifestyles. From natural leather with light protection to leatherette (faux leather) that can withstand kiddos and fur babies alike, there is a leather that’s just right for your space. A rainbow of color options are also available, from beautiful browns to bottle greens to poppy reds, which means you can work a leather into almost any palette.

A leather chair complements the brown tones in a bedding set. (Handout/TNS)
A leather chair complements the brown tones in a bedding set. (Handout/TNS)

While I love a great lived-in leather piece that shows it has been well loved and well-used, I still want to take good care of my leather pieces so they remain in good condition for years to come. How do I do that? By following the best practices as outlined by the folks who make leather furniture by hand.

Before we dig into leather care essentials, it’s important to note that as a natural material, leather has variations in color and texture. The less treatment a leather has received (to protect against scratching and fading), the more variation you will find. The more treatment, the less variation.

Each hide has unique characteristics including neck and belly wrinkles, evidence of a life spent outdoors, and grain variations, all of which are taken into consideration when a hide or multiple hides are cut, stitched and applied to a furniture frame. If you love the depth and character that variation gives, natural leather might be right for you. If you prefer consistency, consider a heavy protection or faux leather option instead.

Now, how do you take care of leather furniture? This is what the experts at CR Laine tell us:
  • Dust your leather upholstery periodically with a soft, dry cloth to prevent dust and debris from building up.
  • Never use harsh cleaners or solvents on leather, as they could abrade the finish or topcoat off the leather.
  • Any spill or stain should be blotted immediately with a soft, dry, white cloth. For stubborn spills and stains, a lightly damp cloth with warm water should be blotted on the stain to lift and remove it. If this does not work, a diluted solution of mild soap (color-free and pH neutral) and water should be mixed and then blotted to release the stain, and then blotted again with a dry, white cloth. With each option, BE SURE TO BLOT, NOT SCRUB. Cleaning should never be done heavily or in a scrubbing motion.
  • Clean an area at least twice the size of the stain. Allow the area to dry naturally as the application of heat can harden the leather.
  • Remember: All aniline dyed leather (leather dyed exclusively with soluble dyes) will fade from exposure to sunlight.
The best foundation for lots of great home decor is a well-furnished room, full of furniture that is truly loved and cared for. If you haven’t rotated those cushions in a while or dusted off your leather upholstery, now is a great time!
Adapted from Katie Laughridge is the owner of Kansas City interior design destination Nell Hill’s. For more information, contact Katie at [email protected].
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