You love leather shoes and leather handbags, but what about leather furniture?
Nothing quite compares to the enduring beauty of leather. Supple, strong and natural, leather is four times stronger than fabric. Not only is leather furniture able to stand up to the rigors of daily life, including children and pets, it actually improves in appearance as the years pass.
Beyond leather's unmatched durability, leather furniture also offers superior comfort. Indeed, a premium leather sofa's feel and comfort are hard to beat. "Made from natural skins called 'hides' that are actually a by-product of the beef industry, leather is cool in summer and warm in winter, and will quickly adjust to the body temperature of an individual whatever the climate," says designer, Stefanie Navarra.
Need more to love? Leather furniture is also remarkably easy to care for: a damp cloth to remove occasional dust is all that's required for normal upkeep.
Before starting any long-term, love affair, it's a good idea to get to know a little more about the potential partner. That in mind, we've got a quick guide to leather terminology that can help point you in the direction of the right hides to seek.
Hand: The softness or 'feel' of leather is referred to as its hand.
Top Grain: This is the strongest, supplest and most durable and valuable layer of the hide. All leather hides have to be split because a hide is too thick to upholster. Top grain refers to the top portion.
Split Grain: This portion comes from the bottom layer of a hide, and is just as durable as top-grain, though not as supple.
Corrected Grain: Top grain leather that has been sanded down to reduce some of the visual and natural characteristics, then embossed with a consistent graining pattern that is 'pressed' into the leather.
Leather-vinyl Match: An affordable, quality alternative to all-leather furniture, leather-vinyl match typically features top-grain leather on the seats and arms of a sofa (the parts that touch the body), and matching vinyl on the sides and back, making the piece less expensive.
Aniline: Transparent dyes used on the highest-quality leathers. Aniline dyes penetrate the entire thickness of the leather, enhancing the natural character of a hide and allowing the actual surface grain and markings to show.
Pure-aniline: Sometimes referred to as naked leather, this is by far the softest and most supple of all leathers, and the richest in natural color. Pure aniline also has the least natural resistance to stains, so is not the best choice for active households.
Semi-aniline: Sometimes called protected aniline, this is atop-grain leather that has been coated for added protection while still retaining the softness and natural beauty of the leather.
Pigmented: Leather finished with a coating that covers imperfections and produces consistent color and texture. The pigment coating increases the leather's durability, but also makes the hide stiffer and less supple.
Pull-up: A look associated with quality leather in which full grain, aniline-dyed leather is waxed or oiled and then pulled, producing variations of lighter and darker areas that add an aged patina and depth of color to the leather.
Distressed: Sometimes called antiqued, a technique that artificially produces the characteristics of natural age and wear in leather.
Bonded Leather: Offers the look and feel of leather. It is a blend of polyurethane, polyester/cotton and leather bonded to the back of the fabric to give it an ultra-soft feel, beautiful texture, and incredible durability.