Learning the Ways of Leather

Leather continues to be a popular upholstery choice for people of all ages, stages, and styles. Leather and fabric bring different qualities, benefits, and needs with them, and today we want to take a moment to clarify for you just what you need to know about leather furniture and how to keep it looking amazing for decades to come…

Leather vs. Fabric

Let’s start it off by getting straight to the point – the leather vs. fabric debate. We will summarize first by saying that in the end it comes down to personal preference and priorities. There are many reasons why fabric is often the best choice – less expensive, never sticky or slippery, and more likely to qualify for those living a vegan lifestyle. That being said, there is a lot to love about leather – not only thanks to the luxurious look and feel, but to the long lifespan of leather furniture. Here are a few points to keep in mind as you consider choosing leather:

  • There is a reason for the additional cost of leather furniture. There are many steps involved in processing leather before it can be used; fabric is immediately ready to use. Leather must be cleaned, tanned, aged, and more, and every hide is unique and tells its own story, which means every piece of leather must be prepared with the utmost care and attention to detail. And while as little as possible is wasted, the natural shape of hides is such that they must be trimmed and pieced together in order to form tidy seams on your furniture (fabric comes in one consistent size and shape, so requires less creative patchwork).
  • Leather is gorgeous, but also especially durable. Our newest team member, Tracey, purchased a leather sofa because she has an active family and wanted furniture perfect for a busy household. 15 years, 5 moves, 4 kids, and 2 dogs later, her sofa is still alive and well…and when the day comes to eventually replace it, she’ll choose leather all over again!

Leather benefits from a little extra care, but is truly forgiving and long-lasting, ready to facilitate fun and function at home.

Avant-Glide by DutailierAvant-Glide by Dutailier

Leather of all styles

One of the best things about leather is that it is truly transitional – any style of furniture can look amazing in leather! Whether you choose a streamlined, modern sectional, or a cushy, overstuffed recliner, leather can give any piece a new level of sophistication and character thanks to its pure tone, smooth feel, and elegant distressing (as much or little as you like). One really great option is to mix leather pieces and fabric pieces to add more depth to the design with a variety of textures and finishes.

These are just a few of the amazing leather pieces we’ve featured on our showroom floor over the past couple years:

Maintaining leather Furniture

The life expectancy of a leather piece will depend on how much it is used and how it is cared for. Finished leather should be wiped down about once a week with a soft, damp cloth to get rid of any dust and dirt. If you need a little more strength, a very mild detergent, such as from Dove, can also be applied – review all maintenance instructions from the furniture manufacturer before applying. Unfinished, suede, nubuck leathers should not be treated with any products or conditioners.

 

Vogel accent chair in production - featuring nail head trim on vibrant yellow leather

Because leather is a natural product, much like our skin, it tends to get dry in the winter when our furnaces are on and humidity levels are low. So when you’re out stocking up on hand creams and moisturizers this season, pick up a leather conditioner, too, and apply it once before each winter – it will help keep the moisture in your material and prolong the overall life of your furniture!

It’s pretty hard to rip through or tear leather – it’s a durable product with inherent strength (and is naturally sturdy thanks to years being both nurtured and exposed to the elements). Many leathers have distinctive markings on them that are the result of scarring or natural “imperfections” (none of which break the surface of the finished leather) and should be considered contributions to the character of the overall piece, not issues to be fixed – this is part of the charm of leather! That being said, if you do happen to put a fresh tear or rip in your furniture, there are companies that are equipped to repair it using patches – contact us for more details.

Lastly, acidic or oil-based liquids can stain leather, so those are what you really want to watch out for. In addition, white and light-coloured leathers, while striking, can be marked by denim, newspaper ink, and permanent markers, so take those into consideration before investing in a light-coloured piece.

Our favourite leather brands

The majority of the upholstery brands we carry offer both leather and fabric upholstery options on their seating, but there are a couple we are especially fond of if you’re looking for the highest quality leatherwork. Our top 3 in this category are all Canadian-made and leather-first – LeatherCraft, Dutailier, and Palliser.

LeatherCraft

LeatherCraft offers a few fabric options now but, as the name suggests, leather has always been their true love and specialty. Each piece is handcrafted in Toronto from high-grade leathers and can be customized to the size and configuration that you prefer!

Bayview Sofa from LeatherCraft - upholstered in navy blue leather with contrast stitching

Dutailier

Dutailier, based in St-Pie, Quebec, is a long-standing manufacturer of reclining, rocking, and swivel-gliding chairs. We are especially fond of their swivel gliders, most of which come in streamlined, modern forms with wood or metal accents on the arms. These chairs look stunning in leather and are the perfect addition to your home office, nursery, or living room.

Grey leather Sonoma Swivel Glider Recliner positioned on an angleGrey leather Sonoma Swivel Glider Recliner positioned on an angle

Palliser

Tracey’s long-lasting sofa is from one of our best selling brands, Palliser. Palliser is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba and is Canadian through-and-through. Palliser makes a wide variety of stationary seating but is particularly loved for their reclining options – chairs, loveseat, sofas, and sectionals – all available in fabric or leather, with hundreds of options to choose from.

Palliser leather reclining furniture - quality furniture made in Winnipeg

Palliser-leather sofa, chair, and loveseat - upholstered in light grey leather with wooden cocktail table (with metal legs) in betweenPalliser-leather sofa, chair, and loveseat - upholstered in light grey leather with wooden cocktail table (with metal legs) in between

Leathers come in so many colours and finishes and we’d love to help you find just the right one to bring new life and character to your space. Connect with us in-store or online to learn more about the brands and products we have to offer that make the most of all leather has to offer.

Explore our upholstered seating here.