Leather has been used as a clothing item and in interior decoration for almost as long as humans have been on the planet. As an incredibly versatile and strong luxury material, leather can be made into almost anything – shoes, pants, shirts, sofas, chairs, and even table tops. But with all the ethical quandaries, the cost, the style, the different types, and even just the upkeep, you might be asking yourself whether leather as an interior design element is even worth it?
Ultimately, that is for you to decide, but we here at homify have compiled a list to help you make this decision – a list that will tell you all about the different types and colours of leather, the maintenance requirements, and the overall cost so that you can come to an informed decision. So, let's get started!
Leather is made from the skins of many different animals, but it mainly comes from cattle, goat, sheep, and pigs. Although the variety is great, leather can usually be put into one of three categories. First, we have the aniline, then semi-aniline, and then pigmented (or protected) leather. The type you choose depends on the appearance you desire, the product, and the use the product receives.
Aniline leather is the most natural looking leather with the natural surface visible, and is less resistant to soiling. Semi-aniline leather is somewhere in between aniline and pigmented leather. It is more durable that aniline while still maintaining the natural leather appearance. The durability of this type of leather is achieved through the application of a light surface coating, which contains a small amount of pigment. This ensures consistent colour and imparts some stain resistance.
Pigmented leather is the most durable leather and is the type of leather that is used most often to make furniture and almost all car upholstery.The durability of pigmented leather is provided by a polymer surface coating which contains pigments.
Just as with any fabric, leather can also come in a variety of colours. Although it is less common to find crazy colours and patterns in leather, you can easily find monochrome tones in almost any shade you can think of – from the classic brown to a more sophisticated white, as we can see in this image. But leather can also be dyed all different beautiful shades of tan, brown, red, orange, green, and even blue or purple. So stylistically, leather can fit in just about any interior design style you have.
When we think of leather furniture, we often think of the classic leather sofa or chair. But did you also know that leather can be fashioned to fit almost any surface? Think about it – there are leather briefcases, leather trunks, leather frames, and hey, there are even suits that are made out of leather.
Manufacturers are also getting quite creative with what they upholster nowadays. In this image, we can see a leather desk top, fashioned in a chic, modern interior. The look of classic deep brown tricks the eye initially into thinking it is just part of the wooden desk, but there is a piece of stretched and fortified leather fitted right on top—genius!
Cleaning leather is relatively easy most of the time, and unless there's a huge mess, you can clean it yourself rather quickly without needing to call a professional. For everyday cleaning care, all you need to do is wipe down your leather furniture with a clean, soft cloth every week or so, but more often if your home is particularly dust-prone. Make sure your cloth is white, too, so that you don't deposit any dyes from the cloth onto your leather by mistake.
For something like grease stains, however, there is a different protocol. You won't be able to get a grease stain out with just a damp cloth. It is best to use a dry, soft cloth with a blotting action to blot up as much grease from the leather as you can. Follow this up by sprinkling a bit of talcum powder or cornstarch on the surface. Allow this to sit for a while and then brush it away gently using a brush with soft bristles. You may have to repeat the process once more if the grease doesn't come up right away.
For water stains, the best remedy is to blot with a soft cloth immediately after the spill occurs. Using a soft damp cloth, start wiping the stain outwards towards the edges of the surface in all directions, being careful not to scrub.
Caring for your leather furniture lengthens its life and keeps it looking as good as it did on the day you purchased it. Like wood, leather can fade, stiffen and crack when placed close to heat sources because it can dry up, so you want to avoid placing it very close to the fireplace or in direct sunlight. Regular vacuuming and wiping with a clean cloth every couple of weeks will ensure that it stays clean. You should never use harsh soaps, cleaning solutions, detergents, or ammonia to clean leather, and never soak a stain heavily in water. These will actually damage the leather instead of maintaining it.
Leather absorbs dyes quite easily, so you also want to make sure you don't place any printed materials on it, as the ink can transfer and leave stains. Using a leather conditioner about twice a year will ensure your leather furniture lasts a lifetime.
Because leather is an animal product and not a synthetic product that can be produced in factories, it is slightly more expensive. If you want to purchase a leather sofa, it can range anywhere from 500£ to 900£, depending on the size, of course. Leather chairs, on the other hand, are cheaper, ranging from 400£ to 600£ because much less material is used in their creation.
If you want something like a leather ottoman, they can be priced anywhere from 200£ to 400£. Needless to say, outfitting an entire living room with leather material can be quite expensive. But luckily, most interior designs benefit from just one leather accent in the room. Too much leather in a room will not only break the bank, but the room will also be left feeling quite stiff and old-fashioned—definitely not a 21st century vibe!
For more luxurious living ideas, check out this opulent abode in Istanbul!