Hides to Seek

For enduring beauty, quality and style, genuine leather furniture is a smart investment. In fact, real leather outwears fabric upholstery by four to one and actually improves in appearance as the years pass.

The key words here are “real,” and “genuine.” That’s because many manufacturers have become quite creative in recent years as they battle to offer the lowest prices. Spurred on by advances in technology, they’ve created a huge range of leather types and qualities. Indeed, in the search for the perfect leather sofa or chair, you may encounter bonded leathers, split leathers, polyurethane “leathers” and vinyl look-alikes.

Beware! Any leather furniture that is not labeled 100 percent top-grain leather means that the product uses man-made materials in order to reduce costs. It may have the look and feel of leather, but it is not leather and will never last as long or retain its good looks like the real thing.

So what’s a smart shopper to do? First, get the facts. As any of the designers at Home Inspirations will tell you, real leather is similar to human skin, and like people, the beauty of real leather is in its color variations and distinctive markings. That means if you see variations, you know you are looking at the real thing. If, on the other hand, you do not see any variations in the surface, you are either looking at heavily sanded leather, or a man-made material. This is very important because along with distinct differences in the way the leather feels to the touch real leather will always outlast man-made materials in terms of durability and beauty.

Ever Heard of a Sticky Cow?

We didn’t think so. Real leather is an organic material that breathes. So, anyone who tells you that leather furniture is sticky in the summer and cold in the winter has most likely been sitting on vinyl or some other man-made material. The fact is that real leather adjusts faster to the temperature of its surrounding environment than any other material, and is actually cool in summer and warm in winter.

Just like our skin, natural, full-grain cow-hides show wrinkles, insect bites, scratches, and marks that are unique to each animal. And, just as human skin can sunburn, direct sunlight can damage full-grain leathers too, which is something to consider when arranging a space.

A Natural, Renewable Resource

Easy to care for, and easy to love, leather is earth-friendly. The cowhides used to make quality furniture are a by-product of the meat industry, and if leather was not produced, synthetic alternatives created from non-renewable resources would be needed to replace it.

There are three types of leather used for upholstery:

Aniline, which is uses only the best hides, is highly prized and is the most natural looking type of leather. Aniline leather is colored by immersing the hide in transparent dye and is not coated with additional polymers or pigments. This means it can be stained easily and is not recommended for young families or high traffic use.

Semi-Aniline is a bit more hardy than aniline because it’s treated with a light coat that contains some pigment, which makes it more soil and stain resistant.

Protected is the most durable, because it has a polymer surface containing pigments, making it the hardiest leather. Easy to maintain, protected leather will stand up to a variety of conditions and uses.

Offering great value and visual drama, in styles ranging from classic and transitional to contemporary and casual, Thomasville leather sofas, sectionals, chairs, loveseats, ottomans and recliners are available in an endless array of fashionable colors and combinations. Plus we offer a multitude of options to make each piece a unique expression of you.

Leather, Occasionally:  Like a favorite leather jacket that gives any outfit a sophisticated edge a leather ottoman, like the Regatta Round or Regatta Ottoman, is the perfect accessory to rev up fabric-covered silhouettes. Conversely, an upholstered ottoman will add a pop of visual interest to the expanse of a leather sectional, as we show in the room scene here.

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