FINDING THE right furn iture
for your home is tricky. It involves balancing factors such
as décor, compatibility, function,
comfort, quality and price.
Incorporating leather furniture
can help simplify the process, because it works well in a variety of
settings. And leather furniture is versatile: It
lends an air of formality to a casual room, yet brings
a touch of relaxation to a formal room.
Because leather lasts four to five times longer than fabric upholstery and
requires very little maintenance, it’s ideal for furniture. And because leather is
a natural product, individual hides vary due to wrinkles and other anomalies,
lending each piece its own unique personality.
Here are some things to look for when selecting leather furniture.
The real deal. Top-grain leather is the most expensive grade, but comfort,
quality and durability are the returns on your investment. During the tanning
process, hides are selected and sent to a splitting machine. The top three-sixty-fourths of an inch of the original hide is called the top grain.
Many manufacturers use leather on the panels that can be seen and
touched, but use synthetic material to cover the back and other, less visible
areas. This is common for furnishings such as theater chairs. It’s an option
that can keep furniture costs down.
Color to dye for. Aniline is a process in which the leather is dyed all the
way through so that as it ages it retains a uniform color and appearance. An
additional pigmented top coating is applied to the surface of the leather to
offer greater longevity to the overall appearance.
Built to last. Look for frames made of hardwood. All stress joints should be
reinforced with additional corner blocks for strength and stability. The best
cushions are made from dense, pure foam that has been double-wrapped in
Dacron polyester to ensure that they retain their shape.
A final note. Because leather has been preserved during tanning, cleansers
such as saddle soap and ammonia water are unnecessary and harmful. If you
dust your leather furniture weekly and occasionally wipe it down with lukewarm water, it will look great for years.—Will Fifield
TO FIX A WOBBLY chair or table leg, slice
off a thin piece of a wine cork and slip it
under the shorter leg. When the table or
chair stays steady, attach the cork with a
dab of glue.
Paste shoe polish can help mask gouges
and knicks in wood tables and chairs.
Choose a shoe polish color that closely
matches the shade of the wood. Take a
small dab and carefully work it into the
ding, then wipe gently with a soft cloth. A