To the discerning home owner looking to buy furniture “Why buy Leather” is a really good question especially if it is the first time you have considered leather over other options for your furniture.
Its true to say that you cannot beat the special feel good leather furniture brings and the aroma that you get from new leather. It certainly adds to the ambience of any living room, lounge area or conservatory but there are important aspects and a decision making process that needs to be considered before purchase, namely:
Lifestyle – Leather is much tougher than its fabric counterparts and certainly with continuous use can outlast such options especially if there are young children and/or pets in the mix but this depends on the type of leather you opt for. In households were spills and scratches are a part of everyday life you cannot eclipse items made from pigmented or corrected grain leather product. This in fact constitute around 85% of the total household leather sold in the UK and are easily serviced by regular cleaning and conditioning and repairs addressing scratches, spills and pet damage are relatively easy to fix.
Households fitting into the above category should try to avoid leather types such as Aniline, Nubuck and Suede which are considerably more porous than pigmented leather meaning that spills or repairs requiring re-colouring are much more difficult and sometimes impossible.
TIP: Think about what YOU need from your leather furniture and try to decide your type before you shop. Remember – Furniture retail staff may be able to advise you but don’t be surprised if they scurry away for advice when you mention leather types to them. If you have numerous boisterous offspring and several cats & dogs around the place but like the look of a natural untreated leather suite costing £3k its possible that they will sell it to you out of ignorance (yours AND theirs) or even the need to achieve the Sale rather than give you the information you so desperately need at that point.
Leather improves with age when cared for; it resists fading, tearing and plucking and sits gracefully in any environment.
Style – Leather is always “In-Style” and can come with distinctive characteristics such as rich and varied colours, stylish designs and grain patterns that give a sumptuous feel and considerable aesthetic advantages.
TIP: Try to avoid what’s known as “Two-Tone” leather finishes. These are basically items made up of pigmented type leather with a darker “Flash” of colour to give the impression of depth (mottling) to the finish. These can be problematic due to the fact that this “Flash” of top colour is very thin and after the translucent sealing coat, applied during the manufacturing process, wears thin it starts to wear the top flash also and this can happen very quickly in comparison to the standard pigmented only version. Even mild cleaning can remove colour from two-tone leather finishes when the sealing coat has worn thin over a period rendering the item to require re-colouring / re-sealing in order to bring back its aesthetic appearance.
Serviceability – This is very much linked to the “Lifestyle” issue in that whilst most leathers are very serviceable, especially corrected grain pigmented leathers, some, such as full aniline and nubuck, are not so serviceable and can be a bit of a pain to keep clean and stain free.
Assuming you have chosen the pigmented type (85% of total leather suites sold) you should ensure that you include your leather furniture in your housekeeping routine. There is no need to go mad and scrub it weekly; a simple wipe over, every couple of weeks, with a clean cloth with a very mild solution of detergent (not really enough to cause suds) will usually suffice. It also acts to introduce a little moisture to the material. Of course if you spill something on it which may stain it you should act immediately to stop it soaking in.
TIP: The most important action you can take to preserve your leather (preventing cracking, paving etc) is to treat it with a reasonably good conditioning cream every 3 months or so. You can purchase such products from any number of sources but don’t be taken in by “designer” type leather care kits costing upwards of £50! there really is no need. www.furnitureclinic.co.uk (on-line sales) do a pretty decent pack for around £20 containing their Ultra Clean and also Conditioning Cream they say it will last for up to 6 applications for a 3 piece lounge suite – just follow the instructions and you won’t go far wrong.
In short then under Serviceability read “Your Commitment” to keeping your leather furniture in good nick? The leather will play its part for as long as you play yours.