Is leather the best choice for furnishing your luxury space?

Georgie Mihaila
8 Min Read
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For many of us, leather has become synonymous with luxury, elegance, and quality.

Famed for its durability as well as its beauty, the material is a staple of high-end interior design, especially when it comes to furnishings. From sofas and ottomans to accent pillows and wall coverings, leather can be an excellent choice for interior furnishing.

However, as with any material or design choice, there can be downsides. Leather may or may not be the best choice for furnishing your luxury space, and here we’ll explore some of its advantages and disadvantages — so you can decide whether it’s a good fit for your space.

The disadvantages of leather furnishings

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Cost: Real leather can be significantly more expensive than fabric. This cost can vary depending on the quality and craftsmanship of the leather, and the brand’s reputation.

Susceptibility to damage: Unfortunately, sharp objects can scratch, tear, or puncture leather surfaces. Thankfully, you can repair leather with household products like shoe glue. To repair a tear with shoe glue, clean the surface of any dust or dirt, apply the adhesive, and tape it into place. Once the glue is dry, the tape can be removed.

Sensitivity to environmental conditions: In warm climates, leather can become hot and sticky, and in cold ones, it can become uncomfortably rigid. When exposed to direct sunlight or moisture, leather can fade or discolor.    

Limited style and color options: Although leather furnishings come in various colors and finishes, options may be more limited than with fabric upholstery.

The advantages of leather furnishings

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Elegance and sophistication: Leather’s natural texture and color variations can add a touch of elegance to interior spaces. It’s a highly versatile material, suiting classic, contemporary, and even more leftfield design styles.

Comfort: The soft, smooth feeling of leather is one of its most prized features. It also molds to the body over time, so it can get even more comfortable over the years.

Durability: High-quality leather is extremely durable when compared to fabric upholstery. With the right care and maintenance, leather furnishings can last many years or even decades.

Easy maintenance: Compared to other materials used in upholstery, leather is easy to clean and maintain. You can often simply wipe away spills and stains with a damp cloth, and the leather’s smooth surface makes it easy to dust. To prevent damage from light or moisture, you can keep leather furnishings out of direct sunlight and use widely available protective coatings and leather conditioners.

Leather furniture and pets: Challenges to consider

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While leather furniture can elevate the look and feel of a space, there are a few very specific potential challenges you need to consider if you have pets. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Susceptibility to scratches and tears: Pets, particularly cats and dogs, can inadvertently damage leather surfaces with their claws. Scratches can be quite visible on leather, and while some minor damage can add character, deep gouges or tears might require professional repair.

Risk of stains and odors: Pet accidents can stain leather and leave lingering odors. While leather is easier to clean than many fabrics, urine and other liquids can penetrate the surface if not promptly addressed, potentially causing lasting damage.

Comfort for pets: Some pets might find leather to be less comfortable compared to softer fabrics. In cold climates, leather can feel cool to the touch, while in warm climates, it can become sticky. Providing pet blankets or designated pet areas can help mitigate this.

Maintenance: Regular maintenance is crucial to keep leather furniture in good condition when you have pets. This includes routine cleaning to remove pet hair and dander, as well as applying leather conditioners to maintain the material’s suppleness and prevent drying or cracking.

Protective measures: To protect leather furniture, consider using pet-friendly covers or throws. These can be easily removed and washed, providing an extra layer of protection against scratches, spills, and general wear and tear.

Options to choose from when adding leather to your interiors

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There are many categories of furniture where leather upholstery is an option. One of the most popular types of leather furnishing is the leather sofa, due to leather’s comfort and malleability. Leather is also popular for many other types of chairs, such as armchairs, dining chairs, desk chairs, and even bar stools.

Leather ottomans and storage benches are also popular and stylish — not only do they provide a practical purpose in storing possessions, but they can also double as comfortable seats or footrests. Leather poufs can also be versatile accent pieces in lounges, bedrooms, and similar spaces.

Other types of leather furnishings include headboards, accent pillows, and wall coverings. Thinking outside the box, accessories like picture frames, trays, and decorative boxes can add visual interest to tabletops, shelves, and mantels. 

Your other options

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Before deciding on a material for the upholstery in your luxury living space, it can be worth considering the different options available. There are many luxurious, elegant materials out there. 

If softness and aesthetics are your priorities, a material like velvet can add texture and sophistication and comes in many color variations. Silk, satin, chenille, jacquard, and brocade have similar advantages.

If you’re looking for something more durable for furnishings like sofas and chairs, why not opt for a durable material like leather and pair it with velvet or silk drapery or accent pieces, for example?

For warmth, softness, and durability, cashmere or mohair can be an excellent choice for throws, blankets, and pillows. Alternatively, faux fur can closely replicate the appearance and feel of real fur in a cruelty-free fashion. Last but not least, linen is known for its breathability and understated elegance.

Making the right choice for your space (and taste)

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Every material has its advantages and disadvantages. When choosing the best material for your upholstery, drapers, and other furnishings, consider what your priorities are.

Some may value longevity and durability, others comfort, others intricate patterns and a wide range of colors. If in doubt, why not visit a store and see (and touch) different materials in person?

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With a decade-long career as a digital content creator, Georgie started out as a real estate journalist for Multi-Housing News & CPExecutive. She later transitioned into digital marketing, working with leading real estate websites like PropertyShark, RENTCafé and Point2Homes. After a brief but impactful stint in the start-up world, where she led the marketing divisions of fintech company NestReady and media publisher Goalcast, Georgie returned to her first passion, real estate, and founded