considering: caramel leather

by Grace Bonney

Image via Style at Home

It’s a bit of an understatement to say that leather is less-than-popular choice with a lot of people in (and out of) the design community. And I know I’m going to get gutted for even considering this publicly, but I wanted to be honest about something we’re thinking about for our living room and would love to get some opinions on the pros and cons of leather sofas.

Now that Aaron and I both work from home, we’ve had to get really realistic about the way we use our space. I’d love to say that we always eat at a dining table and never drink colored liquids near our furniture, but we’re pretty much couch potatoes when it comes to all meals of the day. I’m hoping that will change when we have a porch to eat on, but the reality of our situation is that we both eat, and spill, on the sofa on a regular basis. Our green polka dotted sofa has been fairly forgiving over the years, camouflaging various soda and sandwich spills. But lately the spills have started to add up (several coats of Scotchgard) and the cats have had their way with the arms so it’s time to get something new.

I’d been hemming and hawing over fabric choices for the sectional until I came across an image (top) of a gorgeous caramel colored leather sofa from Perch in Portland. I’ve had a weakness for caramel colored sofas for a while now and when I imagined something that color in our new (mostly white and black) space, it seemed like the perfect color and material solution: something warm and rich but also helpful with spills and pet hair.

Images above: Rue Magazine and Anthropologie

I know a lot of you (including large parts of myself) aren’t ok with leather in any form so I understand and apologize if the idea of it is too offensive to even consider. But I’d like to think this out a bit and see if it’s worth pursuing at all. So, to those of you with leather sofas (or if you’ve ever had one): what are the pros and cons? I know what the ethical cons are, but I’d love to hear what the practical pros and cons are, too. Thanks guys- xo, grace

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  • Not so much a fan of the leather myself… but that’s mostly personal and I love those photos.

    Q: Do you have air conditioning? If not, how much do you really want to peel yourself off your furniture during the summer?

    Q: How often do you have guests crash on your couch? I find leather way less comfy for sleeping, mostly because it’s sticky and nonbreathable.

    Some food for thought. On the other hand, being able to wipe off the pet fur certainly sounds nice. :)

  • We love our leather sofa! Now that we’ve had leather, I can honestly say I don’t think we’ll ever switch back to fabric. Leather is a breeze to clean, you never have to worry about spills or stains and pet hair is a non-issue. I say go for it!

  • I had a leather couch for years and it was so comfortable (which I was surprised about) and SO SO forgiving when it came to me dropping parts of my meal (I too eat too often on my couch). Also, as it aged it just got better looking.

  • We bought a leather sofa a couple of years ago to take us through the rest of our ‘little kids at home’ years. It’s by far easier to keep clean and clean when something is spilled on it. The one downside is that it’s not as comfortable. In the winter, I have to add a blanket underneath if I want to relax and watch a movie.

  • if you’re cats have had their way with the fabric couch, i would be leary of a leather couch. my brother-in-law had to replace his leather sofa and get one of his cats declawed (something i’m against, but maybe you aren’t) because of the mess his kitty created.

    • sarah

      thanks for the tip. i’ve been hearing that from people on twitter. do cat marks in leather show MORE than in fabric? (i wouldn’t declaw our cats, so that’s not an option for us)


  • I SO wish that we had bought a leather couch when we were looking. We have two kids and our beautiful Crate and Barrel sofa is pretty much toast. Leather is the best choice for coach potatoes (UNITE!) and if you and AC are even thinking about having kids in the future I would invest in leather now…one well placed baby mess and your investment is gone with upholstery – with leather a warm wash cloth and poof!, good as new. I love love love that caramel color!

  • I have two hairy dogs that shed no matter what I do, and the leather is so easy to keep clean – a quick wipe and they look good as new. I entertain quite a bit, and my leather furniture is easy to clean up – crumbs and spills wipe away. Plus, I’ve had my leather sofa 25 years, and before that, it belonged to my father, and it still looks great – it’s the same caramel color you are looking at, and it has aged waaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than me. It’s the most durable piece of furniture in my home. Still looks classic but modern, still looks great. And still extremely comfortable.

  • I love my leather sofa. I love that it is easy to clean and that my cat’s fur doesn’t embed in it. However, it doesn’t lend itself to snuggling up on it, sleeping on it, etc. For that, I’ve been thinking about making some quilts that can be thrown down when it’s time for an afternoon nap. Easy!

  • Well since I love my leather bags and shoes can’t say that I have an issue with leather! We love our leather family room furniture (red contemporary). Cleans beautifully, kitty friendly. I have white leather in my studio too!

  • I don’t see leather as an ethical issue. I mean, yes, a creature gave its life for your couch. But when you consider the ethical costs of your other choices– the ecological impacts of pesticide-drenched cotton, the bugs and bunnies that died in the field where that cotton was grown, etc… or if you go the synthetic route, the chemicals that wind up in the water supply as a result… leather, a natural and extremely durable material, seems to win out. You’re choosing the loss of one life (cow) vs. the losses of possibly hundreds of smaller lives associated with other choices. It’s impossible to live impact-free. I think leather is a responsible option.

  • I inherited a leather sofa from my aunt when I graduated college and moved out. It was really worn and had been scratched in a number of places on the seat by their cats (I assume while jumping off?). I know you love cats, so consider also their wear and tear on the sofa.

  • Looks great. Very practical. Only thing is and this may sound really stupid – all my leather is NOISY!!!!!
    My Mother also had a leather suite and it was really noisy as well. It creaks with every move you make. Something you never really think of, eh?

  • We have leather couches and chairs and we LOVE them. We live in Dallas, Texas… hot and humid and I’ve never had to peel myself off the furniture. When guests sleep over, I put blankets and sheets over the cushions, and it’s a comfy sleep (I’ve slept there, too!) So so so easy to clean – just wipe down… very handy with dogs and kids.

    Cats are the one downside to leather. We had to get all new furniture after my cat passed, because it looked like ostrich skin… completely picked and clawed. So… we probably won’t have another cat, because I don’t agree with removing their claws.

  • We had a leather sofa growing up and, just like upholstery, the wear and tear is worst in the spots where tushies sit everyday. With leather, though, we not only had squashed foam, we also had cracked leather (which can be beautiful, of course…). I imagine keeping it conditioned helps with this, my folks just never did it.

    Those couches are all beautiful!

  • We have two leather sofas (in different rooms) and if I ever had to, I would replace them with leather. For us, with kids and a dog, it is by far the easiest choice. And, even if it’s not the trend right now, like UGGS, it’s just one of those things people refuse to give up and, thus will always be “in”.

  • Can you honestly say that everything you own is peta certified? Who cares! That’s why God created animals. I say go for leather…it’s creamy and delicious and classic.

  • Leather furniture is worlds better for people with allergies! Doesn’t harbor dust mites and pet dander. Even if you don’t have allergies, your friends who do will thank you.

  • I’ve got a thing for caramel leather sofa’s too. And I love old chesterfields. I find a leather sofa nice to sit on (when sit-in), easy to clean, very sustainable (yes, also sorry for ethical reasons), gets nicer with age, nice and cool in summer. Can’t think of any cons, sorry! (maybe the only thing is that sitting is sturdy when new)

    Although you say it’s a ‘less-than-popular-choice’ I find I come across them more often now a days (maybe in Europe? )

    Good luck!

  • leather sofas are the only thing that has kept my family sane for the past 20 years–with 3 cats and 3 rambunctious kids, and, when we were older, hordes of teenagers descending on the house for movie nights and parties. I think my parents would have replaced the couch every year were it not for the sturdy, warm, forgiving nature of leather.

  • I think if your cats like to scratch furniture, leather might not be the best idea BUT it’s possible that they liked scratching the fabric sofa because they liked the texture. Also, it can be a bit chilly when you first plop onto it, so consider how well your apartment is heated first…

  • The cat dilemma is a problem near and dear to my heart. I think leather would be a great option to combat the sofa-shredding. Plus those caramel colored leathers look great with everything and age beautifully

  • We have 2 love seats – one leather (passed down to us from someone who no longer wanted it) and one fabric. I find the fabric one way more comfy and it seems our cat does too. Although I’ve seen cat scratches on leather and it ain’t pretty. It shows up for sure.

  • I don’t personally own cats, but it seems to me that leather looks better with age, use, and yes, even scratches.

    More the question is: What type of cat marks (ie, concentrated “scratching post” style marks in one place or smaller, “walking and stretching” style marks all over)?

    Said another way, would the cats be a catalyst to a “distressed” leather sofa or a “destroyed” leather sofa?

  • With two cats, I had to give up on fabric upholstery. After watching my aunt’s leather couch only get better with age (and a house full of dogs), I decided to try the animal-friendly—if environmentally-disastrous—option of a vinyl “leather-like” sectional. For cleaning and even comfort, it’s two checks in the Win column. But vinyl does NOT hold up to cat/dog claws the way leather does. It hasn’t torn in the 5 or so years I’ve had the set, but one sofa arm (the one the cats use to pull themselves up on to the back of the sofa) is full of Braille-like pinholes. On the other hand, I could try “repairing” the damage with a warm iron. So there’s that.

  • I think cats are particularly excited about scratching leather, and I think the scratches show up more on leather than fabric. For this reason, we ended up with microfiber. I was aesthetically opposed at first, but after seeing the cat’s claws struggle to engage with the fabric, I was won over. Plus it’s so stain-resistant.

  • we have a huge, espresso color, leather sofa. it is extremely comfortable, durable & forgiving (meaning if it gets scratched, it adds more character)

    it is wearing in nicely over the years, and looks better and better.

    it also adds a balance of masculine, (with feminine elements that exists in our home).

  • I have a leather sofa and in addition to the usual pros, such as easy clean-up and pet fur not sticking, I’d add this: if you have good quality leather, light-colored leather, even the little scratches and nicks from dog and kitty claws will buff out just from sitting on the couch. It’s the best! The closer the color of the tanning to the base color of the cowhide, the less even deep scratches will show up – so caramel colored seems the way to go!

  • i absolutely LOVE leather. looks classic, lasts a long time, and i think its good way to “mix up” your look. get a white cotton slipcover for summer/warmer weather and call it a day. i especially love the sofa in the first photo.

  • I love these photos! However, I’m not usually a fan of leather sofas because they are often too cool in the winter and too warm in the summer… not great for cuddling during movies… should be fine if you’re just perching and eating though.

  • con: cats tend to destroy leather sofas with their back claws.

    pro: they are amazing to lay down on in the summer (if you have AC.)

  • Ethical concerns aside (and unless you’re vegan, I’m not sure why you’d care), I think leather is a wonderful choice of materials. I put it in the same category as marble/wood/stainless steel countertops — yes, scratches and stains and marks will show and they won’t look new forever, but that patina is a GOOD thing. Even the most beat-up old leather sofa still looks incredible if it was good quality to begin with.

    As a vegan (and I realize this is a potentially controversial statement, but OH WELL), I’d personally rather see someone invest in a high-quality leather sofa that they’ll keep for decades than to buy something of a lesser quality and less durable that they’re going to get rid of in five years. Lowering consumption (and over-manufacturing and over-disposing…) will have a greater positive effect environmentally in the long-run, anyway.

    Of course, if you do decide on leather, be sure you learn about the various grain types and dying processes and know where the manufacturer sources their materials so you wind up with something that will genuinely last you for a long, long time.

  • We have a leather club chair; it’s held up very well over the last 6 or 7 years that we’ve had it. We have three dogs, all in the 10-15 lb range. Dog nails won’t scratch nearly the way that cats do, but for us the scratches are ok and just weather the leather more.

    A few things to look for:
    – Some leathers are treated so they don’t need to be conditioned periodically. This can also help deal with issues of sun damage. The downside of these treatments is that they limit the natural “patina” that I find really appealing in leather.
    – Most leather treatments and tanning processes are terrible for the environment, something I wish I’d known when we got our chair.

    That said, a quality leather furniture item should last a really long time if it’s treated well.

    One option you might consider: reupholstering your existing couch? Can be less expensive than buying new, and less wasteful too. If you like the silhouette of the couch, you may be able to have it upholstered in leather.

  • Seven years later and our Cisco Bros. sofa is almost indestructible! Our cats put a few scratches in when we first got it, leather polish mellows the marks. I use Soft Claws claw covers on our new descructo-kitten, who seems to love fabric upholstered pieces more. Our child is now four, and you wouldn’t know we had a kid from looking at it.
    I say go for it, in two years EVERYONE will want a leather sofa ;)

  • I agree about leather being a tough choice, but it is good for all the reasons you mentioned – durability, ease of cleaning. Just think, if you’d purchased a leather sofa instead of the green polka-dotty one, would you be replacing it yet? Probably not. As a vegetarian, I used to buy some fake leathers, but they just don’t last. If I’m going to use animal skins, I try make sure that it’s a long-term purchase, not just a trend or fad item.

  • Grace, I love Certain leather pieces. Have you sat on some of the most uncomfortable leather sofas ever????

    So that comes to pricing as well..The better the tanning and where the leather comes from seems to affect the lounging around comfort level.

    I do love the caramel color!

    Do come and enter my Artful Offering!It is truly beautiful!

    Art by Karena

  • We have a leather sofa from Restoration Hardware (which I think is pictured in the 2nd photo)
    It’s great because it has a little bit of distressed look, so you don’t really have to worry about animal scratches. Although if they use it as a scratching post it would be ruined. Keep it lotioned and it should be fine.
    Guests sleep on it all the time, no complaints. You’ll need some throws because the leather is cool.

  • I’m not a huge fan of leather sofas…but the first one looks really good with its clean lines…and how gorgeous is caramel with that shade of blue( first image and the one from rue)!! xx meenal

  • Leather sofa’s are great! I have two; one in cream, one in plum. They wipe great and have worn wonderfully with a big dog. The caramel seems like a no brainer!

  • Leather and pets are not always the greatest combination. My father-in-law’s brown leather sofa got scratched to heck by their dog in a matter of months…Of course if you like a more worn-in look that’s just added charm. I will say that when I was in college we had a beat up old leather sofa in my dorm’s living room that was insanely comfortable and full of character after many years of solid abuse.

  • I don’t think you need to apologize for discussing the existence of leather furniture – some people don’t like it, but it’s here to stay, and, hey, some people don’t like Art Deco ::waves hand:: and design bloggers can’t pretend that doesn’t exist, can they?

    I have no ethical issues with leather furniture myself, but wasn’t wedded to leather when we bought our couch (used). It is everyone’s favorite couch who has ever sat in it. It has taken much abuse and just keeps going. I will definitely buy leather again (though I will also be in the market for some velvet-upholstered wing chairs in my next furniture purchases).

    With respect to clawing: my understanding is that a cat will be LESS INCLINED to claw leather furniture than fabric (the fabric is perfect for claw-sharpening), so if the cat can be encouraged to use its scratching post, the leather might be OK. If the cat is incorrigible, though, it’s going to claw the leather too, and the damage will be much more costly.

  • My ex and I bought a leather sofa because we had 3 cats, and cleaning the hair off the fabric sofa was a never-ending task. When we split he kept it, but I do miss it! It was super comfy (I didn’t find it sticky in the summer) and as others have said, cleaning pet hair is a non-issue. I have a leather easy chair now, and the only problem is little claw-pricks from my cat jumping up onto the seat. If you have cats the leather won’t last forever, but nothing does, really! And if you’re going to have kids, or just have them visiting, leather is worry-free when it comes to sticky hands or worse.

  • leather ages beautifully, provides warmth and texture visually. i totally dig the idea.

  • First thing, the cats’ claws rip the colored top layer off the leather, leaving it full of decolored stripes. Pretty soon, they also get down to ripping little pieces out of the leather :-(

    I really would have loved to get a leather armchair, but as a cat owner I just didn’t dare trying it. Every (!) cat owner with leather furniture I know keep their stuff covered with blankets… so whichever way, I’ve learned that cats + leather = saying goodbye to the leather.

  • Our leather sofa is still looking good despite years of abuse from both a Jack Russell terrier and from our toddler + his friends. I’m not a big fan of leather sofas and it gets very cold to sit on in the winter. We make it cosier with sheepskins and blankets.

  • I LOVE my leather furniture.

    I have dogs that track in a lot of dirt, and it wipes right up off the leather with a sponge and some water. I don’t worry about spills, either. My dogs DO scratch it up a bit, but that is ok with me – I consider it part of the patina.

    I’ve had my leather sofa for 5 years now, and it has held up REALLY well. This is why I just bought a leather love seat and two chairs for a different room. The only tip I would have for shopping would be to see how worn the in-store samples look. It seemed to me the more expensive the furniture, the more delicate the leather. I think a better ‘quality’ leather does not equal durability.

    PS – My folks have a caramel sofa they bought 30 years ago and I am in love with that color, too.

  • We have leather in our living room. We eat our meals on them as well! AND we have two cats. I dust them and wipe them with a wet cloth to clean them up. They are super easy to care for. The cats do not use them as a scratching post either. I never have to vacuum cat off of them…and that is my favorite part about my leather furniture!

  • Yes, there is the obvious ethical component to leather (most of the soft leather used for furniture comes from calves rather than adult cows) and most animal farming involves cruelty (particularly in furniture sourced from the developing world, including China and India).

    However I would be more concerned about the ethics of the social and environmental impacts of leather, which is a huge burden to bear when you’re trying to snuggle up on the couch.

    Tanning (treating the hide) is classed by the UN as a high impact sector. It uses unacceptably high levels of energy, water and chemicals such as lead and chromium. The tanning industry also produces large quantities of waste, which often pollutes ground and water.

    From a social perspective, the industry also has negative health impacts, not just for those working in the factories but also for those living nearby. Research in the US has found a five times higher than average level of leukemia amongst residents near a tannery in Kentucky (ethicalconsumer.org). From an epidemiological perspective, poorer segments of society would be disproportionately impacted.

    Design should be so much more than form and function. The story of our stuff (and the story it continues to tell long after it has been discarded) should impact our aesthetic. Design should be aspirational!

    Maybe you could take some tips from here: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/01/how-to-go-green-furniture.php

  • I agree with Anna. Kids in the future? Get a leather couch. It is the same reason I got a leather interior in my car. My kiddo’s diaper leaked the orher day and i am still trying to get the smell out. Gross!

    Plus those couches are gooorgeous!

  • I so miss my leather couch. We went microfiber when we moved to a bigger house and I *hate* it. The salesperson told us it was better for pets. I can’t agree. Our dogs don’t get on the couch, so that’s not an issue. And our cats claw everything, like the rugs, dining table, dining chairs, so we keep them in softpaws.

    But since having my daughter three years ago, this microfiber has just gotten ruined. Any small spill shows and I have tried scrubbing to no avail. Even rented a steam cleaner and that just made the spots look worse. And the microfiber seems to absorb smells — I feel like my house smells like dog due to this couch and no amount of scrubbing or steaming can help.

    I am hoping to replace this couch with another leather one, ASAP. It just holds up better and lasts longer.

  • I have a leather sofa (fortunately, I also have a pottery barn outlet nearby), and I’m fine with all the nicks and scratches it’s gotten from my dog, an 80 lb pit bull rescue mix. Can’t imagine what a cloth sofa would look like at this point, as he and I (and friends) loll and sit and lay on it all the time. I’m in the Deep South, and my sofa might initially feel cold, but it seems to warm to body temp pretty quickly. love, love, love it.

  • Grace, I have to add my agreement with the cat-scratch people. We bought a new couch and two chairs last year. I seriously considered leather for the couch, but I was very concerned about the cost versus the destructiveness of kitty claws. I compromised by buying a fabric couch in a design that hides stains and fur, a microfiber chair, and a leather chair. Results after one year: couch–a few pulls from claws; microfiber chair–perfect condition except for the occasional cat hair, which brushes right off; leather chair–practically destroyed by one kitty who thinks it’s fun to drag himself all over it with his claws.

  • I adore caramel leather. Cannot say enough good things about it. Excellent choice. I hope it becomes wildly popular. Love it!

    On the kitty front –you usually see the major scratching damage on the arms/sides of leather furniture. I think if you can find a sofa with knobby/uneven arms (like the chesterfield above) you wouldn’t have much problem…but solid block/smooth arms may as well be just giant scratching posts. Can’t blame the clever darlings for using them as they perceive them. …

    The other alternative would be to get a purposely worn-in beat-up piece that will look better with age and scratching. You might eventually have to patch their favorite spot and it would look even more loved. Imagine — a couch where kitty scratching is encouraged? Huzzah!

  • My in-laws have had two huge chestnut-colored leather sofas for 15 years, and they are still look fantastic (or even better!). The sofas have survived 2 large clawing, drooling dogs, climbing, drooling grandkids, arts and crafts, and countless meals and naps. They’re unbelievable. I think the key is to make sure you’re getting THICK, securely stitched, high-quality leather with high-quality cushioning (a down/feather blend will hold up!). If the quality is good to begin with, scratches won’t really show up, and they certainly won’t puncture the leather.

  • I have 2 messy little kids, one sweet kitty, and one insane french bulldog puppy. We got a white leather sleeper sofa from Z gallerie about 6 months ago to put in our office/guest room. Even though it gets fairly little use compared to the sofa in our living room, it is already showing some definite signs of wear. The cats claws have left some pretty ugly looking gashes in the leather. The leather sofa is a little uncomfortable (i bought it online without sitting on it) I would not have bought it had I had a chance to try it out.

    As long as you buy something with a distressed leather you will probably be okay. Just don’t get something that looks all shiny and perfect because your cats will leave little scratches on it just from jumping on and off.

  • No personally cons to leather, i just think for a leather couch that one is EXTREMELY unattractive. no great lines or neat characteristics…boring rectangle.

  • Your color choice is perfect~love them all! I love my leather sofa and wouldn’t trade it after 7 years of use. The dog loves it too, as she has claimed it for her very own, and I am merely privileged to share it with her. Leather patinas beautifully over time, and to me, looks even better years later. Hope this helps! Absolutely love your picks~

  • Ethical concerns aside, I have to say I was a sucker for the photos you’ve shown. That color is gorgeous. That being said, my parents bought a leather couch and chair a few years ago, and our cat had his way with it almost immediately. Cat scratches on leather = way more noticeable.

  • My sister-in-law has a gorgeous dark brown/black leather sofa that in theory should be very comfortable, but in reality is not always. What seems to happen is during the course of a movie or time spent relaxing, is that you slowly slide down the couch. So by the end of the movie you have basically slid or are slouched to where your back is on the bottom seat area (hope that is an adequate description). The style she has is exact to the perch sofa. This may not be a big deal, but I wanted to put it out there because it is something my husband and I consider when we were discuss purchasing a new couch. :)

  • Repeating the comment that if your cats claw fabric furniture they will claw leather. And it shows more and you can’t do anything to fix it – apart from replacing the furniture.
    If you really want leather, train your cats to stop clawing first.
    I speak from experience.

  • I grew up with both leather and fabric sofas {which my parent’s still have}. I have to say that while the leather is by far the chic-est in the house, it’s also the one that sees the least action – except from the pets. {And it really does show every scratch and claw mark.} As for the rest of the family, we typically opt for one of the other chairs or sofas since in the winter the leather one is cold and in the summer it’s sticky.

    That said, typical leather-woes aside it’s gorgeous {in fact, it’s actually a congac/camel color} and has held up amazingly well over the years – pet scratches aside.

    Can’t wait to hear what you get! :)

  • i bought this dark leather sectional from macys (http://bit.ly/gUi4aC) a few months ago. i have 2 cats who sometimes scratch it when they jump on or off quickly. initially i was really upset that it was getting scratched, but for the most part the scratches wear down after being sat upon and are barely visible. it’s soft leather and extremely comfortable. cat hair on the couch is a non-issue now whereas it was a huge problem with our old fabric couch. love it.

  • Clarifying, it’s not scratches you have to worry about – it’s holes. Unless you get a really thick leather, your cat will probably punch holes in the leather while scratching. Mine did :(

  • Leather is awesome. I have cat, dog and toddler. If your cat starts clawing the furniture, spray some vinegar on it so his/her paws taste icky after touching the sofa.

    Beware of bicast leather. In the US, you are allowed to sell bicast leather as if it were true leather. Bicast leather will not age like true leather, in fact, it will not age much at all before it falls apart.

  • I do like leather couches when they’re comfy and well-made. However, my mom had a great burgundy leather chair and even though our cat was not much of a scratcher, his claw marks were all over that thing. Every time he jumped on, he grabbed on with claws and there were permanent little stabs all over the arms and top of the chair. Then, if for some reason he got scared or excited while standing there, his claws would drag against the leather. Fairly quickly there were light-colored drag marks and some tears and they were very obvious. With fabric, you can rub out at least the little tears and encourage the weave to come back together, but not so with leather. However, I still think soft paws might help, as well as a lighter color leather which may hide the light marks from claws better than the burgundy leather of my mom’s chair.

  • I’m a fan of leather when it doesn’t look sloppy. It’s challenging to try and find a leather couch that is both clean looking and comfortable, but if you do I say go for it!

  • I have a friend who has a caramel colored leather sofa. She has had it for years but she needs to clean it and doesn’t know what to do. her husband’s hair has left oily spots on the back and she’s just beside herself on how to clean it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • Personally, I have no problem with leather sofas. That caramel color is gorgeous! And they’re long-lasting and classy. And it’s your apartment anyway — so who cares if people disagree with your choice? You’re the one who will be living with it!

  • I really like the top one. I say if you want leather, own it. I feel sad that you have to print so many disclaimers for something you might want to use in your home. Do it, love it and it will most likely catch on to everyone else. Believe in your own taste and that confidence with make others follow suit. Maybe soon we’ll see the trend going back to leather couches (Although, hopefully not ever the oversized ones with pads on the armrests and cup holders).

  • This is PERFECT timing. We’ll be moving in not too long and since kids are in the next few years future, we want to get a leather couch. Caramel colored couches were exactly what we’ve been looking for, and I love the above pictures. I’ll be excited to benefit from any research and posting that you do! Here’s a request for reasonably priced leather couch examples, not made with that cheap, shiny looking bonded leather!

  • I love our leather couch. I’d never consider fabric–with a dog and possibly kids in the future, leather is easy to clean and does not attract pet hair. Vaccuming pet hair from a cloth couch = not something I’m interested in. And don’t you hate it when a guest comes over, sits on your sofa, and is covered in pet hair? I don’t know–just gives me the willies.

    I actually love taking naps on the cool leather in the summer, and if someone sleeps over I just put a sheet over the couch so that they don’t have to lay directly on the leather all night. Easy.

  • YES get a leather sofa. That one is beautiful. My husband and I absolutely love ours. It is a cat and cat hair repellant. One of our cats did climb on it to attack a bug and left a tiny scratch mark, but it wasn’t bad and adds to the character of the leather (we like to think). We have a/c so we’ve never had a “sticky” issue and the couch is very comfy (we sat it in for a while before deciding to purchase it – a must). For us the cat hair reason alone makes the splurge worth it!

  • Although I love the look and the warm color, I’m not sure it’s the right choice for cat lovers.

    We had a leather sofa ourselves but I’m sad to say that it did not hold up to razors that we call our cat’s claws, or to my husband and my occasional spilling It was destroyed quickly and has since been replaced. Cat claws, much more so than dogs, are lethal to leather.

    Yes, leather is good with hair, but claw marks (really “gashes” would better describe them) are very noticeable. And so are spills.

    We replaced our leather couch with one in a sturdy fabric that is treated to resist stains… and one that does not have a white backing, so that claw “pulls” don’t show. It’s working out much better.

  • We just got a leather couch from Ikea (the Karlstad) when our upholstered couch wouldn’t fit in our new apartment. I’m loving it already and I don’t think I can go back to fabric. (Plus it’s surprisingly comfortable-I always assumed the worst about Ikea couches but apparently I was wrong!)

    We’re couch potatoes, too, so we got the fabric on the old couch treated when we bought it, but after a year or so it got harder and harder to remove stains and spills.

    We also have 3 cats, 1 of which is on the pukey side, which was NOT a good combination with the upholstery. Ew. And the problems with keeping cat hair off the upholstered couch are now completely non-existent with the leather.

    I love the caramel color leather you’re looking at and wouldn’t mind getting the same thing when we find a place that can fit a full sized couch!

  • My aunt passed along a leather couch to me when she redecorated and I love it. In a previous furnished apartment we had synthetic couches and talk about sweaty. It was disgusting! In the winter leather can be chilly when you first sit down, but so toasty once you’ve been sitting for awhile.

  • The leather looks amazing. From a design standpoint, it’s a no brainer.

    From an environmental standpoint: tanning is awful. BUT! If your intent is to keep the sofa for a long time, then the production of one leather couch may be less adverse to the environment than the production of 3 upholstered couches. It’s worth investigating.

    As far as the cats go… could you bring them over to a friend’s home that has leather furniture and see what happens? ;-)

    The lesson learned in all of this is that dogs rule.

  • There are no cons to having good quality leather furniture. It takes anything that’s thrown at it from children, adults and pets and gets better looking with age. It can also take on a variety of looks depending on how you accessorise it. Once you’ve had a leather sofa there’s no going back to fabric.

  • Hi!
    So exciting to pick out new furniture for a new space! We decided on a leather sofa about 6 months ago, and found that the proportions and look of the Ikea Karlstad were just right. So far it’s easy to clean and seems like it will look new for a long time! It does not scratch as some of the other leathers we looked at. We got the loveseat and added a chaise onto ours. We’re also couch potatoes and either eating dinner on the sofa or laying….sometimes both. : ) Good luck, the carmel color is beautiful.

  • Ok you might not read this far, but have you considered sunbrella ? I just did an ENTIRE condo in sunbrella, down to the draperies, and you can’t tell. They now make scrumptious velvet, soft textures, and I have poured coffee on them and dabbed it up to test it. Just an idea. Have someone email me if you want me to direct you to proper manufacturers.

  • I have a leather set in my family room and its great b/c we allow the dogs on the couch and we dont have to vacuum them off, the weigh they age is much nicer than fabric.
    Some may have a personal issue with leather, but for those who dont if you have kids or pets, they are a great option!

  • **MAKE SURE: That it is not “Top Grain” leather. This sound good in theory, but it is actually just the top of the leather and so it’s like a veneer only half as thick. Our Macy’s leather sofa got a tear in the seat after 4 years and cannot be repaired. Also, we didn’t have children or pets at the time. Very minimal wear, but not we have to get rid of it! I would have loved to keep it forever, pet hair doesn’t stick! Oh, but pillows do slide down quite a bit.

  • these are so beautiful! I LOVE caramel leather anything too. it’s pretty seventies-looking, in a good way!

    My parents have two big dogs who are allowed on the couch (and who occasionally steal a stick of butter, a jar of hand lotion or a ketchup bottle and eat it on the couch) so they bought a leather couch five or six years ago. It’s incredibly durable against big dogs with big claws (it does have a few scuffs from the claws but it’s fared a lot better than the fabric upholstery). It’s *awesome* with regards to clean-ups and i think if you get a leather with a good shine (rather than a suedey finish) then staining is not too much of an issue. Only drawback is it’s not quite as comfy as cloth upholstery, you will probably want to sit on a blanket in summer or winter. I think the shape you choose can make a huge difference for comfort – my mom picked a pretty stiff, formal shape (kind of louis xv style) and I think that’s part of the cause. The Perch sofa and the sofa on the cover of “rue” look pretty comfy; I bet that Anthropologie sofa would be stiff and less comfy.
    I understand the ethical question but I think Katrina Strain made an excellent point about ethical issues, and I think if you eat beef (or know anyone who does) then it makes sense to use the rest of the animal too.

  • A leather couch totally solved our cat-destruction issues. We actually had Lore do it, after I read about your experience getting your polka-dot couch recovered by them! I bought the hides online and had them shipped to Lore, and they worked their magic. Good luck on your couch journey!

  • just wanted to chime in on the cats and leather. i would absolutely not recommend it if your cats are not declawed. my parents have three cats who are front-declawed (declawed before they got them from the pound). they have a leather chair that is beautiful and has held up fine. their back claws don’t seem to affect the chair. however, my husband i have three cats who are not declawed and all it took was one afternoon when we were out of the house and one cat was feeling feisty. we came home and the cat had shredded the arms of our leather chair. mariap’s description of “gashes” is right on. not good or fixable. we have had much better luck with our couch which is upholstered in the micr0-velvet fabric from room and board.

  • The couch is gorgeous and you will no doubt love it for years to come. I think the cat issue depends on your cats.

    We bought a piece of “pleather” furniture to test it out with our cats before investing in dream pieces. We currently have two very young cats (less than a year when we moved into our new place) who still tear around after each other on a regular basis, and one of them is hardly the most agile feline. He stumbles and falls a lot, so he’s often spotted clinging to the edge of furniture, and he also happens to have very thin needle-like claws. So, while neither of our cats seems to have any interest in actively scratching furniture, they have created quite a few punctures in the pleather just in their general course of playing. If your cats are older and have entered a more leisurely stage of life, I would worry about that less.

    Regardless, I would suggest opting for thicker leather. It’s more likely to experience that appealing distressed look with use rather than the ostrich skin that someone else described.

  • You can always buy a used one you find and hand dye it to the color you want! That caramel exists from the same place I dyed mine. Then you are re-using and have less guilt. Also I have dogs and leather lasts & lasts! My before and after leather couch dyeing project would fit well after this post :)

  • We had two cats that loved to scratch and shed on our fabric couches. Once we got leather it wasn’t an issue, they did not try to scratch it (I think they prefer the resistance the fabric offers) and we were careful to keep their claws clipped to dissuade them, put scratch post up etc. The leather is so easy to clean and fur is no longer an issue. Our leather was quite soft, didn’t squeak as others have said. I will always go leather as long as I have young kids and animals.

  • I inherited a leather couch from my parents, and although I LOVE not having to clean cat hair off the couch, my kitten DID tear up the leather with her claws when she first came home with me and found out she loved jumping around on the top of the couch.

    Since then, though, I’ve kept her nails trimmed very short, and she hasn’t marked up the couch any more.

  • yup- we had a cat and a leather couch at home- and the cat preferred to scratch the leather one versus the fabric one. And it shows a lot more.
    Maybe get a second-hand one first? ;)

  • I don’t have an opinion on leather, except that it is nicer for people like me who have allergies.

    One thing to consider either way though, is some good slipcovers. There is a lot of style to choose from, and modern updates have drastically reduced the cons of previous generations. And most you can clean thoroughly with one quick toss in the wash. Great for warmth, great for cleaning, great for protecting your investments from day-to-day wear and tear.

    Maybe not the most artsy choice, but hey, might still be worth investigating.

  • We bought leather couches when our kids were small and the cats middle aged. I wouldn’t go any other way now. They have been so much easier to clean than cloth and I don’t worry about stains. They are a pretty tough black leather – I’m not sure how a more buttery soft leather would stand up. I sleep on them quite often and though they start off cold, it doesn’t take long for them to warm up.

  • A leather couch is a keeper, so you will have it for a long time. Its also great for kids and pets, so go for it!!!

  • My husband and I purchased a “cheap” leather couch and armchair four years ago. The couch is the most comfortable place for naps and our dog’s fur just wipes right off. Cleaning is a cinch. My taste has changed regarding our choice of furniture and in the future, I would never choose the style again, but as for the leather itself–it has outperformed our fabric upholstered furniture.

  • Inherited a leather love seat from my parents who had it for 15 years with multiple cats, and my baby brother. I think the brother was hardest on it. There were some kitty claw marks on the couch, but leather did not attract the cats the way fabric does. Having a scratching post nearby is helpful too. Leather lasts forever, and it is so easy to clean. Keep it conditioned though, or you could get spots that look like sunburn if you keep the couch near a window.

  • Our leather couch predates our cat, but we don’t have any troubles with him clawing at it (we’ve also been careful since day one to direct his clawing toward his scratching pad). We keep a blanket on the couch, on one cushion, and encourage the cat to sit there rather than directly on the couch. He seems to prefer the blanket anyway (it’s ordinary fleece), and it keeps his claws off the leather.

  • OK, the biggest issue is that cat scratches REALLY show on leather. Second is that I have found even high quality leather gets quite sun-bleached…good luck!

  • i just bought 2 of these leather chairs. so far so good w my pup’s nails, etc but leather definitely shows wear and creases from sitting in same spot ove the years and scratches. if u dig the worn in look go for it. http://twitpic.com/47iizy

  • People often wrinkle their noses when you say “leather sofa”. Silly, as these are usually the people who go right for my leather chair and park their butts in it all night. There are many clean lined and beautifully constructed leather pieces that stand the test of time. Leather holds well (your cats might have some input on that though) and if the right pieces are chosen can last decades (plural!). Other than the piece you noted. Check out the petrie chair from crate and barrel in cinnamon leather as well as many pieces from Mitchell Gold. Just suggestions. It’s your home. Enjoy it! No apologies.

  • Regarding pets: not sure about cats, but our dogs used to go up on our leather couch all the time and it was never scratched or punctured.

    The only negative that I see is that leather can be a bit cold. I remember not feeling as cozy with our leather couch as I do now with our upholstered one.

    The only reason we got a new couch was because our living/dining room was redone for an hgtv show. They got us a couch that was treated at the manufacturer so that it would repel stains. Mud comes off with water. No joke. Also, there is a 5 year warranty so if something happens we can get it reupholstered for free within those 5 years. Maybe this would be an option for you?

  • Pros: Easy to clean, looks great years later, our cat has never taken a claw to it (wish I could say the same for our fabric chair).

    Cons: Bare skin on leather is not good. Either it’s too cold, or too sticky. I keep a throw blanket handy for such occasions.

  • Definitely go with a leather couch. We purchased a used navy blue italian leather sectional on craigslist two years ago and it was the best furnature choice ever. It cleans up super easy and although the cat claws will leave little marks, it’s nothing compared with what the cat did to our last fabric sofa. Plus if you condition your leather often the claw marks will show a lot less. Plus the cat fur doesn’t stick to it and it’s very easy to clean.

  • Yes on leather for wear and tear in general. We have two cats. We have one leather sofa and a fabric sectional. The leather certainly looks better over time sort of no matter what you do to it – but all that has been said.

    What helped for me was having a big ugly scratching post close to the couch that would get clawed (they actually don’t mess with the furniture anymore and haven’t in years). If they have something more interesting to scratch, they will. Ideally also something to climb up and sit on. I realize that this is against every ounce of design sense, but it really makes a difference. And you could get them something a couple months before you get a new couch so that they would get used to scratching on the scratching post.

    Just make sure you get something you can hide or camoflage when necessary. :)

  • Pets will make the leather look distressed in places. If you choose a style with that finish to begin with, far less noticeable. I tend to like things that have a broken-in look to them. As someone mentioned, if you condition it, it will stay soft and the claw marks will not be as obvious. My good friends had a leather sofa and it was amazingly comfortable and you don’t need to worry about sticking if you just put a throw or blanket down on top.

  • Alia put forth a very good argument.

    Also, @amandapritchard: “Can you honestly say that everything you own is peta certified? Who cares! That’s why God created animals.” I found this comment (and others that dismiss legitimate concerns in favor of personal comfort and convenience) to be troublesome. God did not actually create animals for this purpose (cf. Genesis 1-3). But regardless, I think this post raises the important issue of what do we value most? Concern for the planet/ethics/others or concern for ourselves?

    Sorry for any preachiness, but something I feel passionately about is finding consistency in our values and aesthetics: pursue beauty, but not at the cost of compassion and love. Just food for thought… The caramel color is beautiful, though. Thanks for the post.

  • Alot of people seem to think leather and cats don’t mix, as if it is inevitable they will scratch it. Give kitties their own scratching posts and make sure they know not to scratch the furniture. I have a leather sofa and two cats and not one scratch. Leather is so practical as far as pet hair, kids, and allergies go.

  • I get around my own objections to leather by trying to buy secondhand leather items whenever possible (I’m OK with it in a used car, or with vintage bags, for example) — oh man, now I feel the need to stalk craigslist for a sleek old caramel sofa :)

  • I say you do it. Leather does not have to be offensive. I think it can be a huge staple for a home when you work with other textiles. Leather is easy to clean, it always looks good, and you can sleep on it. Most people do. The caramel color only adds to the pros list! It’s beautiful!

  • I use a product called Feliway that has cat marking pheromones which really helps cut down on scratching. You just spray the surfaces you don’t want scratched about once a month (it tricks them into thinking they’ve already scratched it, since cats scratch not just to sharpen their claws, but also to mark their territory.)

  • Speaking from experience, cat claw marks are MUCH more obvious on leather verses fabric.

  • If we had not bought our beautiful leather couch, we would have bought three by now with all of the spills and wear and tear our couch can handle.

    Leather does not have to feel “sticky” just choose a natural finish. Most scratches can be buffed out.

    My cat was far more likely to claw at an upholstered couch than the leather couch.

  • Unlike the rest of the fabric options, leather just gets better with age. As long as it is comfortable and you don’t mind the way it sticks to bare skin (my one issue with it), I say go for it!

  • i LOVE our leather couch.
    PRO-it is so much easier to clean, it ages beautiful, it is classic and timeless

    CON-we have never had A/C so it is sticky in the summer, but so worth it!

    we also have a cat and she never scratches the leather, maybe she’s super picky, but she just doesn’t like it. she prefers shredding things that have more texture and doesn’t touch the leather. maybe we’re just lucky :)

  • I LOVE my leather sofa.
    After you see what you wipe off of it, you will be REPULSED at the thought of appohlstry. Dust, hair, what not–vamoose with a wet cloth! It stays clean, and you know its clean! Unlike the mystery of fabric. Now I sit on people’s fabric sofas and it honestly creeps me out!

  • I have two cats who do not scratch our furniture as they use scratching posts. This has not stopped them accidently scratching our rental sofas which are dark brown leather. Its very easy to scratch the leather when they jump up sometimes, especially our little fatty cat as she sometimes can’t make it! Or if something is under the sofa and they scratch to get at it, even running fast over the sofa can create marks. Scuff polish will disguise these but if the cat has perforated the leather nothing will hide it or repair it.

    Personally I dislike the leather sofas as they are cold to sit on and I just don’t like how they feel. I can’t wait until we buy our own place and we can buy fabric sofas!

    and seriously, declawing a cat because they ruined a sofa?

  • We have a leather couch and cats. We never have a problem with cat hair on the couch. PS. I would also suggest a red leather couch. Our leather couch is a bright red and beautiful! And it is extra comfy to sleep on..our guests never want to leave! :)

  • I totally agree with everything that Anna @D16 said. Fewer better-quality pieces are the way to go.

    And I LOVE camel leather. So classic but can fit with any design style. The sofa in the photo from S@Home with the chrome legs is beautiful.

    I say if you love it, go for it!

  • I have a beeeautiful chocolate brown leather sectional from west elm. I LOVE it. Easy to clean and comfortable. I chose leather primarily due to being sick of feeling apologetic about cat hair getting on guests. Brushing off cat hair with a swiffer is a breeze. It’s priceless to live without embedded cat hair or worrying about spills.

  • Grace, Leather is the only way to go if you are planning on having kids. Period. We don’t have cats, but a former roomates cats ruined my fabric chairs, which had withstood 20 yrs on abuse without showing wear. BTW I just moved our leather couch into our basement and bought a new one – That beautiful carmel color you’re showing. I didn’t even know it was a trend. It looks fantastic.

  • Because you both work from home, I’d be extra concerned with offgassing from the leather, and potentially nasty chemicals you will also be exposing yourself to, via contact and via inhalation, on a regular basis. Research the leather on your couch before you buy.

  • My parents finally got rid of their camel-colored soft stuffed leather couches after 20+ years just to change styles. They were quite comfy in the lower temps of our lower story, and looked great to the end, despite the fact that they were never ‘conditioned’. The softer the leather is, the more forgiving it will be to scratches. The lighter the color, the harder the scratches are to see. However, if your cats are clawers, I’d recommend against leather, as it’s too expensive to replace regularly. You could try buying some leather scraps that are similar to what you want, and stapling it over their favorite spots on your current couch to see what happens for a few weeks…if they stop scratching it, you’re good to go!

  • First off, cows are not raised for their hides. Leather is a by-product of the meat industry. As long meat is eaten there will be a source of hides that are used for many products, furniture is just one. Investing in leather offers one of the best furniture values for your money because it’s long lasting and doesn’t go out of style. Its durability is 4 times that of fabric. Many people consider it a lifetime purchase. Be aware that there are many grades of leather from highly protected hides (think plastic in the dye) to natural full grain. What I like about your thinking is your focus on how you live with your furniture. BY keeping honest about that you will make a smart decision about this major piece of furniture. That said, I do love the caramel color!

  • We have done poor quality bi-cast leather, upholstered couches, and a really good quality leather camel-coloured couch (which we have now). The reason we ditched the cheap leather and upholstered pieces is because they didn’t stand up to our daily wear and tear. We’re spilly too and we have a big dog and a two-year old. Our leather couches have been so good to us: tolerant of spills, resistant to scratches, and it even lets us wipe paint off it. Just make sure not to get caught up in “grades of leather”. Each store has a different numbering system it seems, so it’s a bit meaningless. Instead, ask for a sample, take it home and take your keys to it, let your cats play with it and spill various drinks on it. We did this and our couch, like the swatch, has held up very well.

  • I didn’t plan to get a leather couch (actually loveseat), but I fell in love with one from Timothy Oulton (surpisingly affordable at ABC carpet). It’s really comfy, I think because the leather is pretty pliable. It’s much cozier than stiff varieties I’ve seen elsewhere.

    I also enjoy that it’s cool in the summer, and in winter, our NYC apartment gets so hot that temperature is not an issue.

  • It seems to me that there are ethical questions to ask about ANY big ticket purchase…even fabric sofas require a lot of energy and resources to construct.

    I agree with what Anna above said, and also what another commenter said about the environmental costs of treating, dying etc hides.

    That said, what about vintage? Worn in leather looks fabulous.

    I own a craigslist-purchased “leather” couch from Ikea and long for the day when we can trade it in! I don’t even sit on it to watch movies, I just sit on the floor and lean on it. It’s awful. Stay away from cheap and blended leather!!!

  • We have two kitties and while I would love to say that they only use their scratching post, not the case. We have many different types of covered furniture, and the cats go for the leather before any of the other coverings. They dislike the highgrade microfiber couch we have (that we eat, watch tv on, sleep, etc.) and that has a stainresistent finish to it. Liquids just roll off it.

    Love the couch though! Camel, mustard, butterscotch – what wonderful colors for furniture.

  • Well you’ve certainly received quite a bit of advice on the durability, heath risks, and ethics of leather, so here’s a different offering:

    What will be the aesthetic of your living space? Leather can fit nicely into some interior “identities” (contemporary-bohemian, masculine-eclectic, rustic-modern, MCM, etc) and stick out in others (feminine-boudoir, beach house, come to mind). Sometimes, a space just *needs* leather, where in others you could go either way. I’d love to see an inspiration board of what you’re feeling for the living room (or the whole apt., for that matter).

    One last note, if you’re thinking of a sectional, that may be too much leather for the space, no matter how buttery and lux! You could get your caramel-fix from a leather accent chair instead. It’s so much fun thinking of all the possibilities…!

  • The leather look of the sofa is dreamy and rich, but it makes a big statement. Don’t know if that statement will resonate well with you down the line, but your aesthetic, not to mention your bank account will hope so!
    The main issue I have with leather couches is comfort on a hot day. There’s nothin’ like the creepy feeling of peeling your sweaty thighs up from the hide on a hot summer day. How about a caramel leather chair? That might take the exclamation point off the statement and add a dose of subtlety.

  • Sticking to the furniture happens with FAKE leather – real leather is very breathable. A cow did not give it’s life for your couch – it gave it’s life for McDonald’s (even sadder), leather is a byproduct of meat production. I want leather furniture – passed it up once for fabric, but I won’t do it again. I do wonder about the kitties, tho. If they scratch the fabric, they will probably do the same with leather.
    Some good hints here on how to shop – I know more now than when I started. The carmel color is lovely, but I would do some serious shopping – sit on it, smell it, give it alot of thought, because if you really don’t like the idea of leather, you won’t be happy.

  • we have a cat and a toddler and have recently bought 2 new sofas. I felt incredibly frivolous going for leather at the time, but now I’d never go back to fabric upholstery… especially after an “incident” involving my son & a blueberry muffin & my friend’s freshly reupholstered chair…
    I was worried about our cat (who is inside only) but he has shown no interest at all in the leather, he much prefers tearing apart our beautiful wool floor rug!
    As far as comfort factor goes, our leather is matte, pliable and has a natural texture to it. We’ve just been through an australian summer and it’s been fine, no “peeling ourselves off”… maybe more of a problem with stiff, shiny & smooth leathers?

  • I usually dislike leather, but I love the caramel color. The cat marks are going to be a definite problem. I have seen leather chairs ruined.

  • I think that if you are going to go with any sort of leather couch, this color is it. Caramel really warms up a room and can bring instant vintage aesthetic to any home. Plus, brown toned leather seems to wear just a bit better than any other. I stayed at a little boutique hotel in Cambria, CA not too long ago where they had a love seat made of impeccable caramel leather. It was like sitting on heaven!

  • I love the way those leather sofas look! I grew up with a leather couch, but it was a bad bad bad mix with our cat. She loved to scratch it and it quickly ruined our couch. She liked to shred our upholstered furniture too though, so it wasn’t just the leather she was attracted to. But, the marks on the leather showed much worse!

  • i am definitely not an expert in design, but i think that the caramel colored sofa is a great idea and it just would NOT have the same feeling if it was a fabric. leather would be gorgeous. my only con for a leather sofa is the sound it can sometimes make when one sits down. otherwise, it can feel really nice, if it’s a buttery smooth leather and with pets, hair and hairballs are easier to clean up.

  • oh and btw, our cats love to sleep and rub rub rub their faces in leather. i don’t have a leather sofa, but once when i didn’t hang up my jacket…never once did the cats mark on it. and, if your cats are trained not to sharpen their claws on funiture, that should not be a problem.

  • Loving this take on caramel leather… we love it here at The Adventure School and are looking for collaborative projects featuring / using it in various media. Thanks for the post and the inspiration!

  • No ethical issues for me and the warm color will be gorgeous with black and white and keep it from looking sterile. Our daughter and her husband have a dark brown leather sofa and their caramel colored 39 pound Vizsla is on it all the time….no damage that I’ve noticed and while they don’ t shed much, what does come off the dog does not show on the couch. (They also eat virtually all their meals on it too.)

  • What do we mean when we put ethical issues “aside”?

    Grace, thank you for sharing your thought process with us as you prepare for your new apartment. I support secondhand options as mentioned above.

    Our mother planet cannot support us always going for “new.”

  • Wow, I never knew I could learn so much about leather sofas, all these comments are amazing. Now I want to exchange my sofa in for leather. From the design point of view, that caramel is gorgeous and can work just as well as a pop of color as it does as a neutral backdrop for whatever great pillows you get, so I think it’s a win/win. Great post by the way.

  • I am vegetarian and love animals… that said I have a cream leather couch and think it is awesome! I have two dogs and a cat, so when I was looking for a new sofa and had my heart set on a natural linen one I unfortunately knew it was unrealistic. My husband kept nudging me towards leather and now I don’t know that I could go back. Pet hair wipes off! Red wine, even on cream is easily cleanable. I suppose I ease my conscious by not eating animals -but really I just love my beautiful, easy to clean and comfortable, cream leather sectional.

  • i have to second (or third or whatever by now) the concern about cat claws and leather furniture: if your cats scratch the old couch, they’ll likely scratch the new one, and i have two beautiful leather chairs to testify that claw marks show up MUCH MORE on leather than fabric…

  • Leather sofas rock. Leather sectionals are even better for two people to sprawl out on. Ours is comfy to sleep on, and my toddler can’t ruin it! No pets though.

  • “…leather is less-than-popular choice with a lot of people in the design community” – really? Did Mies Van Der Rohe know that? I can’t imagine the Barcelona chairs in anything else!

    I don’t have a leather couch, but I do have two leather chairs and those things are nearly indestructable. I insisted on getting leather seats in my car because it holds up to kids, pets, spills, etc so much better than fabric. I think the key is to stick either to a really trim, modern design or go really classic – but avoid anything that can scream 1980’s Great Room.

    Another alternative is vinyl – I have some chairs covered in white ostrich print vinyl and I LOVE them!

    Read more at Design*Sponge http://www.designspongeonline.com/2011/03/considering-caramel-leather.html#ixzz1G3Kagxsw

  • My leather couch & chairs have been absolutely trashed by my dog & cat. Before the cat was declawed, she used the arms as her own personal sharpening board. The dog’s nails have left deep scars, as well. I wish I could say it added depth of personality to the furniture, but it really just looks like crap!

  • I’d never do a leather couch myself – too cold in the winter and too sticky in the summer.

    I also find myself to be pretty grossed out by it – that is a cow’s SKIN. That should be decomposing but it’s not because of a ton of harsh chemicals.

    Also, gotta say that I totally love my upholstered couch – it is soooo comfy!!

    Finally – a tip for cat owners – get some heavy duty double sided carpet tape (from the hardware store) and put the tape wherever the cat likes to scratch. Change it out as needed when it gets furry. Cats hate stickyness

  • we have the IKEA leather Karlstad and we’re absolutely in love with it. super easy to clean, surprisingly comfy and i agree with the sentiment that making the investment in a leather sofa that you’ll have for many years to come is far better for the environment than a fabric one that will only last a couple of years. the caramel is gorgeous as well. we only went with the ikea since we have 2 little kids and i didn’t want to have to worry so much. so far ,they haven’t done anything except get sticky finger prints on it and since its leather they’ve wiped off super easily.

  • Apologies if this has already been said, but here are two thoughts from a girl who grew up with a leather sofa (unfortunately a bright teal one!):
    Leather is cold: I don’t mean in terms of the “look;” I mean in terms of temperature! I found that in the winter the leather just wasn’t a cozy surface.

    Leather is slippery: I found it hard to curl up and get comfortable on the leather sofa, as it lacked traction.

    Beautiful caramel sofas though!

  • I LOVE leather. It is very easy to keep clean, and wears great. We have 3 beagles and dog hair is not an issue at all. I do not find it too hot in the summer but having a nice throw, cotton for the summer can take care of that. So comfortable. I have IKEA sofa and love seat, I have had the love seat for 8 years and it still looks great. I think it makes a nice background for more elaborate patterns as well. Good luck.

  • I had a wonderfully comfortable leather sofa that lasted through our children’s preteen years and on through their college years….through all their friends and the hundreds (yes hundreds) of parties we had throughout the years. Believe me, teenagers can be just as messy as the young ones. It aged beautifully! Watch the kitten’s claws! My advice….make sure it is entirely leather (not bi-cast) and well made!

  • My last two sofas have been leather and I will never go back! I don’t understand why this is an unpopular choice. Easy to clean and looks great forever. What’s not to like?

  • I love the look of leather but it is so hot, sticky and uncomfortable in the summer :(

  • leather: looks great, warm, durable. great for allergies. i wear shorts or skirts a lot and it always feels cold and uninviting to sit on, though. personal choice. glad we can make them!

  • Have you ever considered Softclaws as an alternative to declawing? They’re these plastic caps that you (or your vet if your cat is a squirmer) glue over their claws. They come off as the claws grow and you have to replace them every so often. We started using them when we got our new furniture and wanted it to look respectable.

  • A. Don’t ever apologize for your opinion or preference in furniture.

    B. As the owner of a massive (inherited) leather chair and three dogs (sm,med,xxl) I can say that it has held up for the past five years pretty well. I haven’t taken very good care of it. I need to clean it more often and oil it. Also, it wears in different places so be prepared for that. You can stain it again though and it will be as good as new.

  • We have two leather sofas and a chair. I have been vegan for years and vegetarian for almost 20 years so I did struggle with this. I wanted to sit on my couch and not get cat hair on me every time, I wanted a couch that would last forever having cats with claws (the furniture does get scratches on it but adds to the rustic look)
    Also, I don’t eat meat, but most of the world does. I can’t do anything to stop animals from being killed and leather from being made, but if it is going to happen I feel its good recycling to use the leather. Maybe I just say that to justify it to myself! I feel its very different from animals being killed for fur.

  • Okay so I am a recent design grad with a degree in interior architecture, a strong ethics code (with respects to animals and the environment) and I am currently employed by a pretty high-end furniture company so I’m going to give you my honest opinion.
    1.) good quality leather furniture lasts forever.
    2.) eco-friendly tanneries do exist and create great leathers that contain no harsh chemicals (like formaldehyde) and most can be cleaned with distilled water (which even gets rid of scratches as long as the leather is fully aniline dyed)
    3.) All leather for furniture and clothing is a bi-product of the meat industry so I try to think of it in terms of the Native Americans using all parts of what they hunted for food (it’s corny I know but the logic is there).
    4.) I have two cats and one is a menace with clawing furniture, especially leather. There are other means to deter them other than de-clawing (which I am against since I used to volunteer at a vet’s office and seen that procedure first hand, I still cringe when I think about it).

    I hope this helps!

  • i say get the leather. who cares what people say. i never understood the whole white slipcover concept. i tried it once, and those people must wash them every day. or they don’t have pets. or kids. and they eat out. and never sit on their sofa.

  • Thank you to Deborah and Sarah M–leather is absolutely a by-product of the meat industry. Cows are not killed for their hides. Also, there are about a zillion ways to treat leather. When purchasing a leather sofa, speak to a knowledgeable salesperson about the different kinds of leather available. Some are better suited to families with pets and children. Also, top grain leather is the highest quality. Split grain leather the lowest, generally used for belts, handbags, shoes, etc. A hide is thick and uneven. It is cut–split in fact. The top layer is the top grain. If you were told you purchased top grain and it tore up easily–you were lied to. I sold leather furniture for years and have been taught more than I ever wanted to know about leather. When considering purchasing leather furniture, buy the best quality you can afford and it will last forever. I love my caramel leather chair, bought off Craigslist, in my living room! My cats don’t bother it one bit.

  • i am obsessed with leather! i think it is beautiful and it is one of those materials that becomes more beautiful with time.
    leather couches themselves are incredibly comfortable and in fact i enjoy the cool against warm blankets. they also are very easy to keep clean, basically dust it occasionally. i would make sure that the sofa itself has some structure. i have noticed the less structure sofas seem to get a bit “droopy.” i would go for it. the color is great! should not really date itself and it will be great for spills, snacks, and snuggling!

  • my parents have a leather couch, and although people say they do last forever, i believe they don’t.. leather cracks with age, and the cracks can become rough. it might be because it was an everyday couch, and living in australia the heat made it a little uncomfortable to use..

  • I have two chocolate leather lounges and two cats. There are a couple of small scratches but they are barely noticeable as my cats scratch their scratching pole, not the lounges. You might need to look at getting a new scratching pole when you get the lounges to try and distract them?
    I would not go back to fabric once having leather as the benefits outweigh the cons.
    I don’t find them too hot either and I live in a rather toasty part of Australia.

  • First of all, LOVE caramel leather…
    It is the first leather color I am drawn to!
    I have a leather sofa and love it because I have two dogs, one of which likes to try to dig a hole in it every once in a while (he’s a puppy). So sometimes I come home and there is what looks like a bald spot on the cushion. It’s a $2500 italian leather masterpiece, but lets just say it fell onto my truck for $60… so I don’t get that torn up over it. Not to mention I bought some leather wipes from walmart and all it takes is a little rubbing before the lighter scratch marks are oiled back into their original finish.
    It is also amazing to just be able to wipe stuff up without worrying about staining.
    No cons here… except maybe a little darkening where there is high traffic. But it just makes me think of a really cool vintage leather jacket.

  • As a current cat owner (4) and former owner of a 7-foot leather sofa, leather bench, 2 leather armchairs and 2 leather ottomans, I would have to say that cats and leather do not mix. My merry band of felines destroyed the ottomans and the other pieces were picked, nicked and scratched by their claws.

    Unfortunately, the most beautiful (and expensive) leathers are also the most most vulnerable to kitty claws.

    I find that claw marks are a lot more visible on leather than on fabric. Distressed leather is one thing, but leather worked over by a cat goes WAY beyond distressing!

    We said goodbye to our leathers.

    I have to say I don’t miss it. I brought more color into the rooms with the new fabric covered sofas, and I sleep better at night, knowing the cats are not leaving a hundred new pinholes in those hides as they jump from sofa to chair to floor.

  • My mother had aleather sofa in the family room which she brought in 1950 it is still around.
    Love it for its durability and if it is good leather nother looks richer

  • I think leather is way too cold in winter + too hot in summer. I think just get a cool leather chair + a fabric sofa.

  • I live in one of the hottest cities in Australia and we have a leather couch. It’s fantastic in the heat (it’s cool and it breathes.) It’s easy to clean, classic and hopefully will last a very, very long time.

  • Thanks for posting this. I’ve been thinking about getting a leather fold-out for the living room. I’ve learned a lot just from reading this! xo

  • my favorite part of leather is that it absorbs your body temperature! i stay so warm in the winter & only stick in the summer if i was already sweaty when i sat down. we’ve had our couches since the ’90s and they still look brand new!

  • Go leather.

    We have a cat and a toddler. We’ve got two leather couches, not only does our cat not scratch them, she won’t sit on them either.

    As for the toddler, leather is kid proof!

    I’m a vegetarian and I believe leather (provided it is good quality) is the sustainable choice because if buy well you buy once and that’s better for animals and the earth.

  • We have had a leather sofa for at least 25 years. It has survived two kids, a dog, a cat, and my husband falls asleep on it every night. In summer, it’s very cool and we don’t stick to it at all. Periodically I have someone in who fills the bigger cracks to keep the leather in shape. His regular business is repairing upholstery in cars and does an excellent job. Maintenance of leather is key.

    I would say a quarter of a century is a pretty good testimony to the product.

  • I’m not a fan of leather, for practical as well as ethical reasons.

    Re: stains, I can’t tell you how much I love microfiber. I bought a white ultrasuede chair. The second day we had it, my 3-year-old wrote all over it with red sharpie. A little bit of soap & water got every single mark out of that chair. My sofa, also ultrasuede, is used more frequently and has developed a wonderful, soft quality and still looks great 4 years later.

  • Sorry this is a little off-subject but I have been sofa shopping for about a month now and wonder what you like and dislike about your current Room & Board sofa? We don’t have any of their showrooms in Houston so I would be buying blindly off their website and that is scary!

    How long have you had it? Has it held up well considering the price? Would you buy from them again?

    Thanks for the help!

    • hi lizzy

      oh we love our andre sofa, our cats just shredded it and we want to get something that can be used as a sectional.

      grace :)

  • i was wondering if you could email me & let me know about the first couch shown. a link to where you got the image would be awesome. i can’t seem to find it on the site.

    we’ve been thinking hard about the jump to a leather couch. cat hair is such an issue for us & that’s the only way i can see avoiding it. good luck!

  • Pros:
    My mother *still* has the expensive – and comfy! – big dark leather sofa my parents invested in when I was a little kid (I’m 42).

    As soon as the cats scratch it, it’s pretty much ruined. As far as I know, there’s nothing you can do to fix it. I have a friend with a beautiful dark leather sofa in his perfect Craftsman home, and the arm is shredded from claw marks. It went from classy to tacky just like that. Very sad.

  • Love leather. Once you’ve had it it’s hard to go back. I love the easy cleaning and how it retains it’s shape after a few years.
    I have also been looking at caramel or similar to the brown in your pics. We are in the market for new leather and I’ve grown somewhat weary of all the black and chocolate brown.

  • We have 3 cats with claws, two dachshunds who are always on the sofa and I love my leather furniture. I don’t have to peel myself off either. The quality of the leather makes a big difference too. Ours is a German brand that is awesome. Came with a five year guarantee. We have had it over five years and it still looks great. Can’t remember the brand , if my husband was home he could tell me. If you go with leather, do the fingernail test. Try to scratch the leather and if it scratches too easily it probably won’t hold up very well. Our cats like scratching on one of those cardboard scratchers you keep on the floor.

  • Love, love, love the leather sofas in my life! One a deep green buttoned Chesterfield and a beautiful red, glove soft beauty. Raised my son and one cat with these and they wore like iron. You do need to splurge on good quality leather. Some leathers are very glossy and so stiff, it would take generations to soften it up while others have paper thin leather. It is also easy to get so caught up in the leather color and texture that you forget structure !

  • Just before the holidays my husband and I decided to replace our furniture. He told me that if I wanted to replace it, it had to be leather – it’s easy to clean and is durable. I tried every which way to convince him in the direction of upholstery. I reluctantly went and picked out a leather queen sleeper and two patterned upholstered chairs. I bought the leather couch to please my husband, but it turns out, I am in love with the leather couch. Its extremely comfortable, even for napping and it warms up in just a second if its cold. I am a convert and not sure I will ever go back. :)

  • I think that leather is a good option because it lasts so long. I’m really into durability and longevity in design and objects I bring into my house. And I have become more so the older (and more financially stable I get).

    I have cats, too. The two things we found that helped stop the scratching habit on furniture:
    1. have a vertical scratching post, pad, SOMETHING for the cats to use. If they don’t have one, they will make use of what ever is around.
    2. double-sided sticky tape. Seriously. You can get wide and large rolls from PetsMart (they look like packing tape rolls) or other similar places. We covered the surfaces that the cats liked scratching with this stuff for a month or two and they were so freaked out by their paws sticking to the couch that we never had another problem. If you start to have problems again, just tape it up for a few weeks now and again. Better than de-clawing! The tape came off our couch and chairs easily and with out damage, I’m guessing the same would be true about leather?

  • Hello! I receive your blog daily because it intrigues me and you are always so clever with designs and renovations. I actually work, and sell, leather for furniture uphosltery, so I am a bit bias regarding the use and acceptance of leather. In a nut shell, I am all for it! Leather is derived as a bi-product, meaning cows are never slaughtered for their skins only, but rather a multitude of reasons which many of those help to sustain and support human life. I have a leather sofa, chair and ottoman and they are absolutely gorgeous. I also have four cats, and while cats do tend to scratch, I have been able to deter them from ruining my leather furniture by setting up a scratching post for them to use, instead of the furniture. It works! The positive side to leather is that it will last a lifetime, and then some, but it will also age beautifully. Natural leather develops a rich patina over time and the distressed effect from wear means the sofa has been loved and loved back over and over again. I think it’s a great investment and anyone who uses it will most likely say the same.

  • Grace,

    We LOVE our leather sofa. Bought it 10 years ago (pre-children, but two dogs) and it looks amazing today.

    We went for a Room & Board streamlined sofa that fits our Arts & Crafts sensibilities. The leather only gets better with age.

    Highly recommended!

  • I feel like a lot of people had bad experiences with the cheap leather overstuffed sofas that were mass produced in the 90s. Chose thicker leather, that way you don’t get the saggy bottom cushions that happen with the lower quality leather.

    Someone mentioned noise – when my saddle squeeks, I treat it with baking soda or baby powder. It might work if you dusted it lightly between cushions?

  • Grace!
    We LOVE our leather sectional. It’s more of a butterscotch color – we were looking for caramel like the one in your picture, but this one was on sale. Now I’m so glad we ended up with this color. I would never go back to fabric. I have two messy dogs and one messy husband and this couch still looks new after two years. It’s extremely comfortable and squishy – I think like all sofas whatever they’re made of, you can find comfortable and uncomfortable ones…just make sure you try it out before you buy!

  • Could you find a used leather sofa? You could avoid a lot of the ethical concerns, and perhaps rescue a large object from a land fill…

  • i love it! i feel like a leather couch brings out a certain part of your personality that maybe a fabric couch doesn’t. Especially Carmel colored! My husband and i found a dark brown one that was so comfy we almost died sitting in it! we currently have leather couch right (p.s. i love that your site is so well organized its very easy to navigate through!)

  • If you want a sofa that will last and last, leather is king. Our sofa is around 15 years old, and it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made. The thing to pay attention to is the construction (8 way hand tied is best, and you’re supporting American workers) Also, you want to make sure that it is all top grain leather, not “genuine” leather or split hides. If you have top grain leather, your cats should leave it alone.
    For comfortable in all seasons, pure aniline leather will not have a plastic-like top coat, and will be whatever temperature your room and you are.
    In a nutshell, if you buy good construction and top grain leather, you will have a sofa that will last you for the rest of your life. Now that sustainable!

  • Personally, I think the carmel couch you are talking about looks fab…and leather definitely wears well….my own personal issue with it is that it doesn’t feel cozy to me. In the winter, to me, the texture feels cold and not like something I want to curl up on, and, in summer, it feels slimy and sticky. I realize that is my own personal feeling, but I do think the texture, in terms of how YOU think it feels, plays a large part in whether or not you will and your guests will actually enjoy/gravitate toward sitting on it. Good luck with your choice! Whatever you decide will be great!

  • Leather has its pros and cons, but it appears that quality is key in tipping the scales toward the “pro.”

    My personal experience with (inexpensive) leather is that it’s easier to clean, which works for my boyfriend and I. (We have a parrot, and parrots are not clean pets.) Cleanliness aside, the leather is terribly hot to lounge on, never mind sleeping. In the summer we have to wear MORE clothes because the discomfort of bare skin sticking to hot leather is worse than the discomfort of wearing more clothes in the heat.

    Personally, I would not purchase another cheap leather couch. But if what Shannon Page above said about top grain, pure aniline leather, then I would be persuaded to try it again.

  • I have a leather sectional and we eat on it all the time and I have a child who obviously spills things. VERY easy clean up witch is really nice. I just condition it every so often so the leather doesn’t crack. ;-)

  • If you go for a leather with a “matte” finish instead of the shiny finish, your skin won’t stick to it, plus it isn’t cold in the winter.

    The caramel color is gorgeous, espeicially with pale blues and ivories.

  • dear, Grace,
    well, my parents have a couple of leather couches, and they do look amazing with the two tone leather and brass studs, however, it is a touchy subject for some and i do understand your ethical issues about it because a large part of me feels the same way.

    The pros about leather couches, as others have already mentioned, are that cleaning pet hair is no problem at all and wiping spills is a breeze.

    As for the cons, well the ethical issue for one, and unless you have air-conditioning/heating it’s pretty uncomfortable to sit on in the hot summer and the very freeeeeeezing winter. But the warm, inviting caramel colour is very luscious. Now I’ve never seen any, but how are faux leather couches?

    Anda final point; I know that the furniture you choose is a statement you are making about your self and sense of style, but I can’t help but think of the kind of people whom i would invite over and how they feel about using animal skins in decor. The last thing i would want is to make my guests feel uncomfortable… just something to think about i guess.
    -Sabeen (from frozen Calgary!!! brrrrrr)

  • p.s- i forgot to make one more point, i’ve noticed that the colour of the leather on my parents’ couches has faded quite a lot where the sun shines on them. It’s gone from a beautiful caramel to a nauseating pale greenish-brownish colour in some parts.

  • If you have small children leather is the way to go. It is so easy to clean, especially when they are sick. I won’t go into details but lets just say after this winter where we seemed to get every cold and flu going around, I am very happy I have leather couches. I guess you could just cover your fabric couches in plastic until the kids are older though, lol!

  • I have heard stories from people that own cats and dogs who have ruined leather couches. A dog ripped one to shreds and a cat used it as a litter box.

  • I don’t have a problem with leather ethically because I grew up on a ranch where cows were grass feed in wide open pastures and they provided food and income for my family. So using all aspects of the animal is a very appealing, non wasteful thing to me, but I know not everyone agrees with me. I also still get to eat this organic grass fed beef and consider myself very lucky to know where my meat is coming from and how spoiled the cows that provide the meat are(60 cows on 500 acres). I do find it important to find out where your leather comes from and where it was tanned (which a retailer should know). I would stick with cows raised in the US, Scotland, Ireland or South America and then being tanned in the US, Italy or Ireland.

    That being said my suggestion would be to get quality leather and you won’t have any problems with leather ever! When buying ask for full hide leathers only not top grain or split grain or any of the clever terms out there for really thin engineered leathers. The difference will be night and day, full hides are way more forgiving. For one they are thick and supple and maintain most of the natural oils. So if an animal scratches the leather you can literally rub out the scratch with your finger or if its a bad one you can heat the area up with a hair dryer which brings the oils to the surface and with a little massaging the scratches disappear. Also a couple common misconceptions are, leather is cold and you stick to it. That does happen with inexpensive thin or protected leathers (think car seat upholstery). A rich full hide that doesn’t have a fake plastic coat on top is a different story. Full hides are thick, warm to the touch and if they are left unprotected they are very soft. Some protective coatings out there are not that bad either and don’t leave you sticking to the sofa and make cleaning a breeze. For a caramel colored sofa I would recommend a slightly distressed leather because to me they get better with age. I do think caramel is a great choice for leather because its such a classic color (it reminds me of a Birkin Bag) and the sofa will last forever but you can do so much with it to change your look. If you invest in a quality piece you won’t have to replace it (you will have to hand it down or sell it) and to me that’s better then getting a cheap piece and having it end up in a land fill five to ten years down the road.

    Here are three manufactures that make great leather sofa’s in the US and offer full hides plus the origin of their leathers:
    (From least expensive to most expensive)

  • Leather is not as easy to care for as you might think. We had a camel-colored leather chair of the softest, most luxurious leather, and the arms became stained within a year, beyond cleaning. So be prepared to wipe the leather down at least once a week or buy a dark color.

  • I say go for the leather. The sofa I have now is the first non-leather sofa I’ve had in years. If you have kids or pets, they are the easiest to clean and the most-long lasting. I think the carmel-colored ones are pretty. I’d love an off-white one, but that’s just me. You can warm it up with throws and pillows. You can use a leather cleaner/paste kind of product and smooth many of the scratches out. It’s kind of like a old brief case – the more worn, the better.

  • I have a carmel leather couch and it is wearing in the headrest area?? What do I do?

  • Go for leather! I have 4 kids and I would consider nothing else for our family room couch. I was tempted my with a creamy french linen couch, but opted for practicality. If conditioned, regularly, it will look beautiful and can be updated with pillows. Go for it!

  • A good leather cleaner and conditioner are a must and get most stains, oily spots and scratches out! Conditioner also helps leather from fading or cracking.
    Guardsman sells both and they work really well. But vaseline lotion (the kind they use in hospitals with no added color or scent) works extremely well as a conditioner. Just apply and buff away any extra.

  • We got rid of all of our fabric upholstered furniture 10 years agao when we had 3 dogs – something I felt I had to do for my own sanity. We now have 3 hairless cats and none of them ever scratch on the leather. I don’t think I will ever have fabric furniture again. I live in NC. which gets hot in the summer and sticking to the sofa has never been an issue – there are all kinds of leathers out there to choose from. (Lee Industries makes great furniture and has fantastic leathers to choose from.)

  • I purchased a soft brown leather chair and ottoman from Perch. I ordered the down layer on the back and seat. It is my new reading nook furniture and is so comfy I sometimes can’t stay awake to read. Great furniture and wonderful place to shop.

  • I worry about the leather with the cats. My stepmother has leather couches and chairs, and her cat’s claws were tearing them up so badly that she had poor kitty declawed. That’s definitely a PETA problem!

  • i like leather but usually always go with vinyl for animal friendly reasons and it’s usually much better on the wallet. i have the perfect swatch of this caramel vinyl, looks just like those photos.

    • Hi Susie, may I enquire as To what company you obtained your swatches? I’m looking for a caramel colored vinyl couch, thx Susan

  • I have to say i had a leather sofa and it wasn’t that comfortable to lounge on and watch TV. Of course it could have been the quality of the leather but i just never got comfortable on mine.

  • I like the colour, but leather can be so COLD – even for Australia.
    And if we use dead animals, we should use as much as possible.

  • i say, go for it! i loved the leather furniture that i inherited from my sister when she moved on – i used for another decade! when it is the ‘dining room,’ work space, & entertainment center or pets &/or children are also around, leather (probably better than faux leather) can be a life-saver! now that my child is in college and the #of pets decreased, i have fabric but i passed my leather on to another friend with multiple kids & pets, as well as kids’ friends and friends’ pets (ie, a life of chaos worse than mine!) and it is still hanging in there. looking good. and i haven’t come across a color that couldn’t have the overall ‘look’ changed with accessories. go for it!

  • Leather was TOTALLY the way to go for us. We ended up with a really dark brown tailored leather couch with some great stitching detail, but my second choice was DEFINITELY the caramel leather. I know some have personal and ethical reasons for not wanting leather, but if you have a dog and a messy husband…it is the way to go.

  • I had to comment because we have a leather sofa and we have cats. It’s perfect on the easy care side of things, and I love it. Unfortunately as soon as we got it, the cats (or one of them at least) loved it too, and scratched all along the bottom of it, and the marks are still seriously obvious despite all atempts to disguise them. Having said that, it is a fairly soft leather, not the thick shiny chesterfield type, so you might be OK with a more hard wearing leather.

  • Make sure you know the quality of what you’re getting with leather! We got a leather sofa from Macy’s about 4 years ago and all was fine until it started ‘peeling’ on one seat which looked horrible! We got a quote for repair and learned that we purchased bi-cast leather which is a cheaper way of processing it (I wish Macy’s had passed on this cheaper processing to us as the buyer!). Long story short, it’s not repairable and now we have a problem sofa. Moved it to the basement and considering a slipcover until we can replace it. Also we have a cat w/ claws and he never touched it.

  • I have a caramel coloured leather sofa, and I could not love it more. It came from IKEA, which has ditched this in favour of a really ugly dark brown. Blech.

    I love how warm and inviting the caramel colour is. It goes with everything, and the leather wipes off beautifully. This is vital given our very active dog and cat, who spend a lot of time on it.

    When my sofa dies, you can be sure that I’m going to find someplace — even if I have to order it custom — to make an updated model of this caramel delight.

  • Our cats were declawed on their front feet. They still made a ton of puncture marks in our leather ottoman. This ottoman and a vinyl chair (also torn up) were favorite play fighting spots. I wish I could have a leather sofa–too afraid after seeing what they did to the ottoman.

    Maybe buy something small in leather. CL ottoman or chair and see how the kitties react to it. Otherwise I love leather.

  • I love leather furniture! It is so soft and warms to your body temp. It ages truthfully, gaining patina and marks from wear.

    I like the dings and scrapes, water marks and stains. It says I have history with my environment, and shows the story of our family life.

    Our leather sofa and chair have survived 15 years of rough and tumble of our four children and it is their favorite place to relax. They call it the “leather room”.

    I love the caramel color and actually have been thinking that will be my next leather color.

  • My cats play together a lot and when they leap off the arm their claws can’t help but dig in as they go and they have left a ton of puncture marks that way. Love the color of the caramel, but with cats, I won’t ever have leather furniture again.

  • We have the Room and Board Wells sofa in Caramel (versus the standard camel) leather that we got as a custom option. We love it, and we have a dog… no worries and no problem w/ nails/paws doing damage.


    I say do it. And, at least with the Wells, at 101″ you’ll have plenty of room to be as much of a couch-potato

  • Go for the leather, I’d say. We had a leather sofa for years, and I never felt it was “sticky” or “cold”. But I live in Germany so it doesn’t gets uncomfortably warm over here….

    Also: Good quality leather ages beautifully. Especially in a colour close to it’s natural tone.

  • 1. Pet hair should be convincing enough.
    2. Sticky kids is the runner up (especially if they are not yours, you don’t want to hold a grudge on their parents).
    3. Depending on the store you buy from, many offer “insurance” for an extra $100-200. In the case of spills, stains, punctures or tears (not from animals) they will come to your house and repair it. Free of charge. As many times as it happens. And lets face it, an extra $150 is not much compared to the cost of a new leather sofa.

  • OK…I know I’m totally late to the conversation and I tried to read through the other comments to make sure you haven’t heard mine already…I LOVE the LOOK you showed in your post!!!! You seem to have a gathered aesthetic that tilts a little more toward the feminine side. I think a warm, clean, masculine sofa, like any of those you’ve shown, is absolutely the perfect complement. And with your color palette? Perfection! Think men’s suiting with a boutonniere or colorful pocket square (throw pillows?) I’ve got two pristine leather square ottomans and I’m actually thinking about taking sand paper to them! Maybe I should just invite your cats over!

    For what it’s worth…

  • we have a caramel leather sectional and i adore it. it is a breeze to keep clean and wears extremely well. we live in AZ, where it is hot but not humid so i never feel like it feels sticky or anything. also, invest is good quality soft leather. it makes a huge difference. comments about it being uncomfortable or squeaky are prob b/c it is not a good leather.

  • its great with cats…and spills…my problem was pollen dust in a country house when i would leave the garden doors open.. leather just wiped off beautifully!! in the city sometimes “grit” can come in leather handles that better than most fabrics too…. have fun!

  • We have our pale peach leather sofas for over 21 years. I hated dark or busy fabrics, and wanted a light color,so for practical purposed, leather was the only way to go.I’ve never been sorry. You have to make sure you’re getting a good quality hide- and don’t get white- they clean like a breeze. 3 months after getting the sofas, we got black tar on one- a plastic knife, a little Lexol leather cleaner and conditioner, and it was as good as new. Life is too short to freak out over every stain and spot- leather is the way to go.

  • OK – I think I’m sold on a leather couch, especially after reading many of these replies to Grace, but I have another question – one set that I’ve seen (and really like) has decorative stitching on the cushions – they call it “picture frame stitching. Does anyone have experience with stitching on the cushions like this? Does it hold up well? Thanks, Jan

  • Just a tip on the cats destroying fabris/ declawing. Invest in Softpaws- nailguards for cats/ safe and humane. My cat doesn’t know he’s wearing them and we both can live in peace. I swear by them!

  • This is for Jan. Our leather couch has the stitching you are talking about. We haven’t had any problems with ours. It is a very good quality couch so that could make a difference. Ours are at least five years old and show no signs of wear.

  • The cat’s claws, even if they are not intentionally scratching the couch, will leave puncture marks in the leather and it will show up so much more in leather than in fabric.

  • so many comments, no idea if anyone has said this. I LOVE my leather chesterfield but give up any plans to have throw cushions stay artfully where you put them, they just slide down

  • I love it. I have been on the lookout for one for the longest time. It has to be that perfect shade of cognac. Thanks for the wonderful post.

  • I have a leather sofa/couch and LOVE it! It is sooo easy to clean (we are also couch-eaters!) – everything just wipes right off. The only con would be that you do stick to it a bit in the summer, but we are in Perth, Australia, where it is HOT and still only find this to be an occasional problem :)

  • Any ideas what you can put over a new leather sofa? I have two dogs that like to pee everywhere, I am doing my best to help them but they still have their accidents!
    What can I buy that is attractive and yet waterproof for a leather sectional? Anyone know?!

  • Hi Grace, if you’re reading this, here’s a question about your use of softpaws for your cats. Did they tear up your sofa while having the softpaws on? Or was that pre-softpaws? I’m going to have a roommate with cats, and we agreed she would use these softpaws. In addition, I think I will purchase a cheap slipcover (she will only be here 1 year). Thanks!

  • my tufted leather chesterfield couch was oh so fab and lasted 30 years looking great, until our Great Pyranees puppy dug a tunnel through all that leather. It couldn’t be fixed. I miss the couch, but I have the Great Pyranees to love.