Have you ever given the history of leather furniture a deep thought? Leather-making is such an interesting process that it deserves to be told and retold to people especially those that have a good many pieces of the said material.
The Leather Story
A long, long time ago, primitive man hunted food by going after animals. He then removed the skins and hides from the dead animals and used them as clothing, footwear, even tents. The earliest recorded use of leather material was in the Paleolithic period when cave paintings showed the primitive man’s use of leather clothing.
The Paleolithic sites also showed a lot of bones that were used in scraping skins and hides for the removal of hair.
Not long after, man discovered leather preservation using smoke. He also discovered leather treatment when he infused tannin in leaves, barks, twigs, and fruits of a few plants and trees.
Much later, earth salts and alum were finally used as tanning agents. These then produced softer and white leather. These were also dyed using different plant dyes.
Leather manufacturing was introduced in Britain by the religious and Roman invaders. Most of the monks from these places were leather experts especially in using it for writing. The Britons had a lot of uses for leather from clothing, shoes, bags, and even some warfare articles.
Throughout the centuries, leather creation expanded and grew steadily over the medieval times. So it’s no surprise that you would see period films featuring leather tanneries during the medieval era.
Leather Through the Ages
For hundreds of years now, cattle hide was used to cover books, even to bind them. Cowboys from the West also used this material as a huge part of their outfit. Later on, leather material became a luxurious addition to pricey car interiors. Today, it has dominated the world of fashion and interior design so it is no surprise that furniture stores in Sacramento area also offer this stylish material.
Many people just dream of owning a leather sofa situated inside their spacious family room. The smooth Italian leather can be used on a long sectional or that cute ottoman.
Leather furniture can be mixed and matched or you can just pick a piece to balance the fabrics in a room.
Leather furniture pieces have the capacity to stand on their own in terms of aesthetic appeal and quality. Mix it with other fabrics or use it as a base for fabric or silk covered cushions. It can also add a twist to your home if you use it on architectural detailing or finishing.
Leather material has gone a long way from being a cowboy hat or boot. It is now the star of many furniture shops. McCreery’s Home Furnishings offers the best leather sofas and chairs from American Leather. If you want to go beyond furniture pieces in utilizing this wonderful material, then have it installed as a part of your flooring or walls.
Real or Faux Leather?
So, do you really have to smell or touch leather in order to recognize its authenticity?
Genuine leather, keep in mind, is made from animal skin. These are skins of cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats. There are various kinds of leather. The three types are aniline, semi-aniline, and pigmented kind.
When picking the type of leather that you would use, consider how it would eventually look and the foot traffic in the room where it is going to be placed.
High-quality leather furniture often uses vegetable tanning. This is tanning that does not use chemicals to dye the leather. Natural methods are used such as coloring with tannin and tree bark. While these methods take a lot longer as compared to chrome tanning, the products are a lot more beautiful and durable.
Italian leather is also often associated with high-end products. This is true. Italian industry is centered on treating leather in a lengthy process. They also use only quality hides unlike buffalo or goat hides (which originated in India) which have thinner, more odorous skins.
The leading differences between real and fake leather are the following –
- Labels proudly announce that the product is true leather. If you read man-made leather, then it means you’re not looking at the real deal.
- Check the edges of the furniture or garment. Faux leather looks pristine on the edge. It also feels foamy compared to the rough-around-the-edge look that real leather offers.
- Check the pores. These have to be inconsistent. Only faux leather has consistent pore patterns.
- And here is the last and most important part of the process – smell and touch the leather furniture. Real leather is soft and flexible. One that feels like plastic is probably faux.
And, yes, smelling also will help you tell that the leather furniture is real. There is a distinct smell to a leather object that can never be replicated by furniture makers.
Understanding Leather Grades
In a world where product replication is widespread, it seems acceptable for everyone to have like-looking materials. Yet handmade leathers are the best kinds that are known to last for many, many years.
To know what you are paying for, here are the different leather grades –
This sits at the very top of the chain. It is referred to as full-grain because it has not been buffed out or sanded down. The marks as well as imperfections that came with the hide remain. The thickness of the skin is also kept intact.
Some may find sanding down this hide as a more appealing way to manufacture the product. Only the highest quality luggage, footwear, and furniture are produced from full-grain leather types.
The second one on the list is top-grain leather which shows a split layer with the imperfections no longer seen. Since the skin has been sanded down, it also becomes thinner making it a lot more workable for manufacturers.
The top-grain leather products are smoother to the touch and they are more resistant to stains. While the breathability is affected because of the finish, the fact that you won’t have to worry so much about cleaning it up offsets this negative aspect.
Aniline leather is the high quality, top-grain leather that does not come with any protective treatment. It is a natural-looking leather because it comes complete with markings. It is susceptible to surface scratches, though.
The pigmented kind is still a type of top-grain leather but this one is coated with a clear top pigment or layer. The pigments are either shiny or bright-colored. It appears less natural, of course, as the colors are often used to hide the imperfections on the leather.
This is the kind of leather that is commonly found in many auto upholstery and furniture shops.
Semi-aniline, on the other hand, is still pure aniline but it comes with a coating of clear finish or pigment. This makes the leather material more durable as it protects it from spills and stains. The coating also gives the assurance that the color will be consistent throughout the entire surface.
This is the one that has that napped surface when you look at its underside. This type is formed by using split leather with the top-grain rawhide taken off and the drop split left behind. When sanded down further, this can reach the right thickness that is required for the furniture, shoes, or bags.
Cow leather is tougher to work with which is why goat, deerskin, and lamb are often chosen instead.
Though suede may feel great, it is not that durable because it can easily absorb liquids due to the pores on its surface.
This is generally regarded as the more durable counterpart of suede. It is manufactured by using top-grain leather hide that was slightly sanded. This feels velvety to the touch.
Leather Colors and Dyes
It is also not surprising that the more expensive types of leather are fully dyed. The semi-dyed types are easier to prep and paint, hence, these are more affordable.
There are now producers of leather who machine spray their products. These are cheaper but you should choose the ones that have been antiqued manually.
White leather is the most difficult to produce, thus, a white leather bag, jacket, or couch is sure to cost more but you will surely have a unique piece to be proud of.
Leather in Sacramento Interior Design
Wood wainscoting may be a lovely design idea but you can surprise everyone by using leather tiles. What you will get is a unique and sophisticated look. You will be amazed at how this wall finishing can make a bland place appear more elegant if not sophisticated.
As to interior decoration, there isn’t a material out there that can be more adaptable than good old leather. It is versatile, meaning, you have the leeway to use it in modern settings or in timeless dwellings.
This is a wonderful neutral piece that should be used sparingly, though. It can be easily mixed and matched with different furniture groups consisting of various upholstered pieces. Remember that too much leather can also make a room appear daunting and cold. Avoid this result by including just a piece of leather furniture as a feature piece. You can finish off with colorful accent pillows.
Leather also gets better with age so you won’t have to worry about replacing it soon. Leather furniture bought today will look amazingly wonderful two decades from now.
Leather products’ prices are often determined by the kind of leather used and how it was also produced. The one that is considered to have the highest quality is full-grain leather. The lowest type is bonded leather and, surprisingly, the ones that are referred to as genuine leather.
Expect to see sofas and other seating units to be cheaper if they were just made of bonded leather. High fashion producers such as American Leather and Bradington Young provide you with full-grain leather or what’s known as calf leather. There are even manufacturers that offer unique leathers like an ostrich's. The cheaper animal leathers include buffalo and goat.
How to Clean Leather Couch
Upholstered furniture goes through the same rigors as cabinetry and other pieces of furniture. The only difference is that you may not always notice the dust that settles on upholstered pieces. Brushing or vacuuming every week in order to remove dust as well as avoid colors becoming dull is one of the many effective ways of caring for leather and upholstered pieces.
In the first place, why? Why should a busy homeowner care for leather furniture?
Leather is a beautiful, natural product. This is one of the few materials that allows the piece to breathe while delivering warm and unique characteristics.
Leather beautifully displays traces of where it came from – the scars, brands, growth, and creases show it all. These add character to the couch and do not affect the overall quality of the furniture piece.
Leather is resilient, durable, and has a patina that develops over time which increases its appeal.
Begin by protecting your leather sofa from direct sunlight. It is best to use leather pieces indoors or any area that would allow them to sit without being touched by the rays of sunlight.
Dust can be removed from semi-aniline, protected, or pigmented leather through vacuuming. You can then follow this process by wiping them with a slightly damp piece of cloth. You can also use a mild soap if grease has accidentally touched your leather piece.
Follow up with buffing using a soft, dry cloth. Avoid rubbing or wetting excessively.
Next, it is common for leather to have natural oils and perspiration coming from the hair and skin. These can have an effect on the leather sofa’s finish. The degree of this said effect can vary from one person to the next. Cleaning is best done where the bare hands, arms, and heads usually rest. Do this a couple of times each week.
You can also use leather protection cream to better protect your leather couch. Apply it to both new and used leather from two to four times every year. There are also soft leather cleaners which can be used more often as needed. When cleaning, make sure that you don’t rub the cleaner, instead, use a soft, wiping motion.
Another problem with leather furniture ownership is when ink marks stain the lovely piece. Find a ballpoint pen ink remover that could penetrate more deeply than the usual cleaners. When the stain is a tad more serious, it may require you to ask for professional help.
When it comes to hide food, here’s a word of caution – do not use it to polish your leather couch. Instead, use the usual leather creams and cleaning solutions.
Nubuck, suede, and aniline leathers ask for specific care since they all lack protective coating. Find products that were specifically manufactured for these kinds of leather finish. Make sure that you follow the cleaning instructions thoroughly. Be sure to test on an unseen part of the couch before you begin the cleaning process.
Another warning when it comes to owning leather furniture is to keep it away from any heat source. Keep a distance of 30 cm from the leather couch and the radiator (or any other heat source).
As for liquids, quickly find some absorbent paper towels then dab the area where there was a spillage. Use clean towels to completely dry the area afterward.
Plump the back and arm cushions as well as the seats and fixed pads so that they maintain their shape for years. Should you notice any crease especially on the seat surface, be sure to smooth it out so that it won’t become a permanent problem.
Lastly, just be gentle when sitting on your leather sofa so that it will be with you for a long, long time.
Not all leather items come with the same standard. Some leather grades have a higher quality than the rest as you’ve already learned. And both fake and real are being sold in the market so it is up to you to distinguish which ones you will take home.
Identifying genuine leather is a matter of getting used to the touch and appearance of this material.
Remember that full-grain leather is the la creme dela creme of all leathers. This is also the toughest kind. A basic way to find out full-grain leather is to search for scars and other small imperfections. If nothing has been done to hide such, then these natural imperfections will point to the genuineness of the material.
And be sure to care for your leather furniture so that many generations will get to see its wonderful beauty. Visit our leather furniture Sacramento CA showroom now or take a Virtual Tour to inspect the different leather pieces.
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