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Hides are Hip


Supple and luxurious leather lends itself beautifully to the sophisticated, sleek and clean lines of high-fashion, contemporary furniture designs, with a draping capability that serves to emphasize the great shapes of today’s styles.

Yet, when seeking the perfect sofa, sectional or chair that speaks to you like no other, experts say that the soft and plush hand—or feel—of the leather covering the frame is the factor often trumping all else in the majority of shoppers’ buying decisions.

That’s not too surprising given that touch is the first sense we experience in the womb. A superbly soft leather just feels wonderful, and well, sexy—making our initial attraction and emotional response to contact with this natural and luxe material extremely visceral. If you want the attraction to develop into a relationship that can go the distance, however, it’s important to ask (and answer) a few questions to determine compatibility.

Who (and what) Do You Love?

Be upfront with your salesperson or design consultant about all other loves in your life, particularly kids and pets, because not all leathers are created equal and durability is a factor to consider. Also, be open about your lifestyle, meaning, how, where and how often the furniture will be used.

“The fact is, a quality leather can last a very long time,” relates a Contemporary Design Group upholstery expert. “And when you are investing in great, quality design, you want longevity.”  As wise a choice as leather furniture can be, education is key to determine the ideal grade of leather for your unique circumstances and ensure you receive the best value for your furniture investment.

A family with small children and a couple of dogs who like to nap on the sofa may not want a naked, or untreated aniline leather which offers no protection from stains in their family room, for example. And if they do, they should be sure to understand what to expect in terms of how the leather will wear over the long haul. High-traffic space or not, that same family may also not want a fully protected leather due to the difference in the feel of the material. The good news is that a Contemporary Design Group professional can help choose the ideal leather, which may be one with some protectant that still has a soft, supple feel.

Why Top Grain is Tops

Leather furniture prices are largely determined by the quality or grade of the leather, and leathers are graded by the size, location and extent of the natural blemishes like wrinkles and scars that are inherent in all natural hides.

Hides are separated into layers. “The very top layer is known as the top grain, and if you were to examine the top layer under a microscope, you would see fibers running in every direction, making the top grain layer of the hide very, very strong,” says a Contemporary Design Group leather expert.

There’s a vast range of quality and price within top grain leathers, and what’s best for one may not be best for others. Part of leather furniture’s great appeal is luxuriant comfort. “The finest of top grain leathers will have the softest feel, but may not be as desirable if ease of care is important within your house,” advises one expert. “They do tend to be a little more temperamental.” Finally, no matter how well it is cared for, all upholstered furniture will fade with time and exposure to light and heat. Your local Contemporary Design Group retailer can offer solutions to help slow the process.

Leather, By Definition

Here are some words commonly used to describe leathers. Working with your design professional will help you decide which is the BEST leather for you!

Pure Aniline: Most leathers are aniline dyed, but only the finest, most beautiful hides are aniline dyed and left “naked” creating sumptuous and soft leather.

Semi-aniline: Sometimes called “protected,” these leathers have a small amount of surface pigment, giving them slightly better protection against stains and fading.

Corrected: These leathers are less costly. The natural top grain is corrected and embossed to create a uniform look. Heavier surface pigment is applied making care of these leathers easier.

Pull-up: Full anilines that have been processed to produce a weathered, or distressed look.

Embossed: Varying grades of leather can be embossed to create natural looking textures or artistic patterns.


Sklar Furnishings