This morning we have a guest post from Maria of Rathwood Furniture who tells us all we need to know about leather furniture.
A leather sofa is one of those all-time favourites, a truly classic piece of living room furniture that never goes out of fashion. Cosy and warm, traditional or vintage-inspired, trendy retro or informal, each leather sofa comes with its particular character, charm and personality. The leather sofa is a versatile piece, elegant and stylish, of course, but also a hardy and resistant companion.
Style and budget are usually top priorities for many looking to buy furniture but the main factor that will influence the price paid for a leather sofa (and the mileage you’ll get from it) is quality.
These are a few factors to keep in mind:
-Is it ‘real’ leather?
It might sound like an obvious question but many people do get tricked into thinking synthetic sofas, resembling leather, are the real thing. If it is ‘faux leather’, ‘vegan leather’ or any other ‘leather alternatives’ then your sofa will be synthetic, using a non-natural material that might trick the eye but will not have the qualities of leather. It might do the job if you are on a tight budget but will not last or give you the comfort of a sofa built in real leather.
The qualities that have made leather sofas attractive for so many years include not just the warm and inviting look of natural leather but also the fact that leather sofas are breathable and adapt to temperature better, the soft feel to the touch and their comfort. Leather is a natural material but being porous and breathable also means that it will absorb liquids, so it needs some attention.
There are many types of leathers and leather finishes, and some will be more delicate than others. If your leather sofa is going to get a lot of use and be exposed to possible ‘accidents’, you should keep that in mind. It is important to know the leather used to build your sofa and also understand the fact that colour and shading can change overtime with its use, but isn’t that part of its beauty?
-What kind of leather?
This is the most attractive and natural leather, prized for its soft natural feel. They are the most expensive leathers to produce because only the very best selection of hides can be used to produce full aniline leathers. They have been dyed in a vat process with no colour coating added to the surface so the leather breathes more easily but will also be more absorbent – so you need to be careful with liquids.
Pull Up Aniline
This is a type of aniline leather that has an additional oil and/or wax treatment. These leathers are designed to become ‘distressed’ looking through time and use. Its properties are similar to full aniline.
Semi-Aniline dyed leathers have been dyed through and also have a thin finishing layer on the surface. They combine the softness and feel of full aniline leather with the protective benefits of a surface finish.
The leather may be buffed (corrected) to reduce heavy natural scarring and blemishes in the hides. It is then coloured with a coating containing opaque pigments and embossed with a grain pattern to ensure uniformity of colour and resistance to fading.
Nubuck (Chaps, Stonewashed or Suede)
These are aniline leathers where the surface has been brushed, to create a velvety texture. It shouldn’t be confused with suede leather: while suede is the flesh side of a piece of leather, nubuck is an effect that is done to the grain side. Nubuck is incredibly soft but this brushing also makes the leather more absorbent.
Bycast leathers or Coated Leather
This leather varies in quality. It is a technique that uses split leather, produced from the lower split by melting a type of glue on the surface, then rolling on a film of coloured polyurethane.
-What is in the frame?
Another factor you need to look at is the structure of your leather sofa, what sort of wood has been employed to build the frame: is it hardwood or is it softwood? Hardwoods are more expensive and resilient but will also influence the price of your sofa.
Some leather sofas are the fine result of many work hours and delicate craftsmanship, keep this in mind as this will reflect on the price but also in the uniqueness of your leather sofa. For example, it takes over 12 hours to hand polish one of the Halo leather sofas in our collection, they have a delicate seven-stage ageing process to achieve that vintage look, and each stud is applied by hand. Take for instance the Kensington three-seater sofa has 1700 nails, that is a lot of work hours put into each piece!
-Leather Loving Care
There are many creams and leather wipes specifically designed to help you keep your leather sofa clean and protected. Leather sofas are incredibly durable and resilient but they do need a bit of tender loving care – all good furniture does!
Rathwood is a shopping and activity destination centre located in Rath (Tullow to Shillelagh Road) on the Carlow/Wicklow border. Rathwood has been selecting quality furniture at its showrooms for 20 years. One of the most popular brands of leather sofas available in stock at Rathwood is Halo, known for its innovative designs created with the highest quality aniline leather.