Leather versus Fabric Upholstery – Which one is right for you?

For most people, second only to a mattress, their most important furniture purchase is a sofa.  This month, we wanted to address one of our most frequently asked questions when furnishing a living room.

Leather versus Fabric Upholstery – Which one is right for you?

For families putting together a living space, one of the most frequent controversies is leather versus fabric upholstery.  When you’re shopping for a sofa or a chair, one of the first things to decide is which you would prefer.  It helps narrow the choices so you can focus on what you really want.  At Furniture Showcase, almost every day, someone says, “I don’t know whether I want fabric or leather.  Which one is better?”

Like most other decisions you will make, there can be benefits to both.  From my observation working with customers shopping for living room furniture over the years, it is pretty common to have a family where one person prefers the look and feel of fabric and another has his or her mind made up that leather is the only option.

For a large room with multiple pieces of furniture, I usually recommend a mix.  If you choose a leather sofa, adding a fabric chair and ottoman not only adds color to the space, but by varying the color, texture and pattern, you end up with a much more interesting room.  If your sofa is fabric, leather is an easy addition because the right color of leather can go with most any room.  It also provides seating for that family member who loves the look and feel of leather.

To help you weigh your options, here are a few of the pros and cons to consider when you are deciding between leather and fabric upholstery.

FABRIC PROS:

If you prefer a very soft, comfortable feel, or textures that are warm and cozy like your favorite blanket, you can have furniture pieces upholstered with very soft textures.

The options of color and pattern are much greater with fabric than leather.  You can find almost any color or pattern to suit your style.

FABRIC CONS:

Where good quality leather may develop that aged leather “patina” that looks great over time, old fabric usually just looks worn out.  Fabric collects more dust over time and most fabrics can absorb spills quickly.  (There are many new performance fabrics available these days.  I love some of the new indoor/outdoor fabrics that come in a variety of colors and are even bleach resistant.)

Leather PROS:

Think about your favorite leather shoes, purse, or belt.  They go with a variety of styles, and the color is neutral.  This makes leather very easy to mix with other pieces.  Most leather is easy to clean and does not collect dust like fabrics can.  On protected leathers, spills wipe up easily.  On more natural or waxed leathers (without an impermeable coating), spills and oils from your skin can absorb into the leather, but it develops a patina or aged look that still looks good for many years.  If you have both leather and fabric in a room, you are likely to want to replace the fabric pieces before the leather because the leather is neutral and wears well.

Neutral colors of leather never go out of style, and they provide an excellent base for adding color and pattern with pillows, rugs, and other accessories.  Mixing leather with other fabrics and finishes adds another texture to a room without being too busy.

 

Leather CONS:

The number one objection we hear about leather furniture is that it is cold to the touch.  Leather can have a cool feel on initial contact.  Genuine leather will warm up to your own body temperature quickly.  An easy solution is to use a throw or blanket until it warms to you.  Imitation or cheap leathers may be less breathable and might feel more cold or hot.

The second objection we hear often is fear that dogs or cats will scratch or tear leather.  Good quality leather is not easy to tear, so it is highly unlikely that they will make holes in the sofa, but they can scratch it.  Some leather can be touched up with leather care products. (Think about how you care for your shoes.)  Also, it depends on the animal, but some animals don’t like the feel of leather and may be less likely to stay on your leather sofa.  If you have pets, consider purchasing a protection plan with any new furniture.  Be sure to ask whether it covers pet damage.

Because there are so many different kinds of leather and so many imitations on the market, shopping for leather can be confusing.  Visually, it can be difficult to tell the difference.  Many of the imitations are a good product, but it is important to know what you are getting.  Here are some very simplified definitions to the most commonly confused terms.  (There are hundreds of others – these are my top four.)

Top Grain Leather –  The hide of a cow is very thick and has many layers.  The layers are sliced to make leather.  Top grain means it comes from the top layer.  This layer has a more natural appearance.  You may see natural scars and marks from the animal.

Leather Splits – The lower layers are sanded, coated, and polished to give the leather a more uniform appearance.  This is still 100% genuine leather.

Bonded Leather – This is the most confusing term of all.  Bonded leather is a man-made material that is made from the pieces of leather that are ground into fibers and bonded together (usually with polyurethane).  It is not necessarily a bad product, but it is not 100% leather.  There are high quality bonded leathers and cheap bonded leathers.

Leather-Match or Leather-Touch –  A product labeled “Leather-Match” is a combination of genuine leather and something else.  It may be bonded leather or polyurethane on the back and sides, and leather on the parts of a sofa your body touches.

Some sofas may have a combination of top grain leather on the parts where your body touches, and less expensive split leather on the back and sides.  (These are not labeled as leather match because they are still genuine leather.)

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Browse Leather Sofas at Furniture Showcase

When you are shopping for living room furniture, consider a mix of fabric pieces and leather to achieve a collected look.  For many families, one person may love to relax on a fabric sofa, while someone else in the family may prefer the look and feel of leather.  Since this is a personal preference, a mix of both is right for the most homes.

 

 

 

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Sofa or Sectional? Which is Better for You?

We have had more people than ever looking at sectionals.  Sometimes figuring out what kind of sectional works best in your room can be tricky.  Here are a few tips to consider when shopping for a sectional.

Sectional Shopping Tips

  1.  Measure your space before you go shopping.
  2. Take some pictures of your room with you.  (Especially any items you want to include in the finished room.)
  3. When you find the sectional you like, use painters tape to tape off the shape of the sectional in the room to make sure you’re comfortable walking around it.

Sectional vs. Sofa PROS and CONS

  • Sectionals are a great way to divide a long room.
  • Sectionals are cozy and a great way for the whole family to sit together.
  • Some sectionals are modular.  They can be set up different ways if you move to a different house or like to rearrange your furniture.  Others can only be used one way.
  • A standard sofa may be more versatile to use in future rooms and arrangements.
  • A standard sofa allows more opportunities to a variety of seating options, which may be better if you want to include a rocker or recliner.
  • Sectionals lend themselves to a casual, comfortable style.  They are better for a room where families or close friends relax.  Sofas may work better if your space is more formal or if you frequently have guests who do not know each other as well.

When you are ready to shop for a sofa or a sectional, come see us at Furniture Showcase at the corner of 5th and Main in Downtown Stillwater.  We would love to help you figure out an arrangement that works best for your room and your family’s lifestyle.

Furniture Showcase Design Services

Room Plans - Keana Alex SofaRoom Plan - Taylor Alex SectionalShop for Alex Sectional at Furniture Showcase

Shop for other sectionals at Furniture Showcase

Great Variety of Gliders Available at Furniture Showcase

Thinking of a glider for a nursery, bedroom, or living room? All of these come in a variety of covers and can be customized to work with your own unique style!

Fashion and Furniture by Rachel Maxwell

Have you ever noticed how furniture can reflect the current fashion trends? Similarly, a lot of outfits and accessories today reflect the style of classic furniture. Fashion and furniture may have a lot more in common than you might think. If the thought of decorating a room scares you, it may help to think about how you put together an outfit.

Start by Choosing a Style
As we all know, everyone has his or her own sense of fashion. Shopping for clothing may seem easier, because you know exactly which stores carry the styles of clothing you like. Shopping for furniture may seem overwhelming to you because furniture stores normally carry a multitude of different styles. This is why it is important to pick a style ahead of time.

When choosing a style, consider your choice in fashion. Do you like to be casual and wear jeans and boots? Maybe you would like a comfy yet durable leather sofa. Do you have a fun and outgoing personality and like to wear vibrant colors? Maybe you would like a custom sofa with a pattern that reflects your individual style and personality. Do you prefer a more formal and sophisticated style? Start with a dark solid color sofa accented with nail head trim. This style is similar to selecting a little black dress accented with a pearl necklace. You could add a pop of color, such as a bright tufted ottoman. This style is similar to wearing bright red heels with a leopard top. Sometimes you just want to wear a comfy sweatshirt, and this is similar to curling up in a chaise lounge. You might be surprised how your preferences in fashion can be reflected in your home.

Prioritize Your Pieces
Think about which pieces are going to get the most use. If you wear jeans every day, you are probably going to spend more money on your jeans to ensure great quality. The same goes for furniture. If you spend most of your time on the sofa, you should probably spend the majority of your budget on the sofa. This is not to say you should spend your entire budget on a sofa, because then your room will look incomplete. Just as you would not spend your entire budget on one pair of jeans and go without shirts, shoes, and accessories. If you are staying within a budget prioritize which pieces of furniture are most important to you.

Accessorize

imax-31411 gold lampGold Earrings from LeonardsGold Bracelets from Wooden NickelIMAX Gold Vase
Accessories can make or break an outfit. The same goes for decorating a room in your home. A house with no pictures, lamps, rugs, or other accent pieces may look bare and unfinished, like a woman dressed in formal attire with no jewelry. You can also have too many accessories, causing your home to look cluttered and overdone. Sometimes less is more, so choose accessories you love that will make an impact on the room.

Maintain the Look
Similar to fashion, furniture trends continue to change. This is not to say you have to replace your sofa every year, but when you see a piece of furniture is starting to look worn or just outdated, you should consider replacing it with something new. Think of it as cleaning out your closet. You wouldn’t want to wear an article of clothing that was a fashion trend ten years ago that now has a hole in it, so you wouldn’t want to keep an old recliner you bought twenty years ago that is falling apart. You also wouldn’t want to go without ever getting rid of any of your furniture; it would be like adding more clothes to a closet running out of space. This is not to say you shouldn’t keep pieces of furniture that have sentimental values. Many people have antique furniture, which they have kept in pristine condition and plan to keep it as a family heirloom. The same goes for articles of fashion. You wouldn’t want to get rid of your great-grandmothers ring just because you are running out of space in your jewelry box. This can go back to prioritizing your pieces and finding the ones that mean most to you while replacing the ones with less sentimental value.

Furniture Reflecting Fashion
Furniture styles today have many similarities to today’s fashion trends. The most obvious similarity is color. Every year Pantone selects a color of the year and this color is not only reflected in fashion on the runway, but also furniture at market. This year’s pantone color of the year is Marsala. This color is popular in handbags, dresses, and tops, but also popular in today’s leather sofas, chairs, and rugs. Orange and pink are colors we are seeing more of in today’s clothing and furniture as well. Fifteen years ago people would have never imagined having a bright pink or orange sofa, but in today’s furniture trends it is very common.

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Think of over-lapping rugs just like dressing in layers.  It adds interest and allows you to use patterns that may be too intense on their own.

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We are seeing more texture in today’s fashion such as fringe, mesh, and sequins or jewels. The same textures are being found in furniture and home décor. Lamps can be found with studded lampshades and throw pillows with fringe or sequins. Many modern accent chairs come with mesh backs similar to the mesh found in dresses and tops. The legs on sofas and chairs are becoming narrower and more streamlined. This could be reflected from the skinny jean trend.

Just as there are famous fashion brands, there are also famous furniture brands. Louis Vuitton is a highly sought after and well-known fashion designer and many people try to replicate and sell his designs. The same goes for well-known furniture designers such as Luduig Mies Van Der Rohe and his famous Barcelona chair. A knockoff of this $5,400 chair can be found for only $299. Similar upscale furniture trends are becoming easier for people to obtain.

Fashion Reflecting Furniture
Many famous classic furniture designs are reflected in today’s fashion. The famous Womb chair and ottoman by Eero Saarinen is reflected in current women’s blouse and skirt sets. The famous Bertoia Diamond chair by Harry Bertoia is reflected in current mesh dress trends. Many tops on the runway reflect the style of the Wassily chair by Marcel Breuer. Even though furniture trends seem to be closely behind fashion trends, many of the current styles are closely related to classic furniture pieces.

As you can see, furniture and fashion have many similarities. If you find it difficult to decide on what type of furniture you want or the style of your home, take the time to reflect on your personal fashion choices. Whether you select clothing that makes you feel good about yourself, is comfortable, or will last a long time you can select furniture with the same qualities.

Creating a Timeless Room

Are you tired of living in a “tired” room?  If your room feels outdated, here are some tips to bring it up to date in a way that you won’t be repeating the whole process in a few years.

We often get requests from people who want to “freshen up” their space without breaking the bank.  We hear people say things like, “I know my room is dated, but I really don’t want to start over.”  Good News!  You don’t have to completely re-do your room every few years!

If your room is a “time-capsule,” where nothing ever comes in or goes out the door, even the best designs may start to feel stagnant.  These tips will help you make small changes along the way, so your room always feels current and fresh!

 1.  Enjoy the Process

Designing a room doesn’t have to be something with an exact start and finish.  Enjoying the space you have now should be the goal – not having a house full of “finished” rooms.

Think of your room more like your closet.  Different pieces need to be replaced at different times.  Your wardrobe is constantly changing a little at a time.  Your home can, too!

Your favorite pair of shoes that you wear almost every day probably needs to be replaced more often than something you wear only occasionally.  The same applies to your favorite recliner or chair.  One worn-out item can start to make your entire room look old and dated.

If your chair is old, but your sofa is still in great shape, you don’t have to replace everything at the same time.  You could replace the chair and add new pillows to your existing furniture.

 2. Make a Plan

Start by taking an inventory of the room.  Examine each piece on its own merit.

Take pictures of your room.  If you are just looking for a new chair, show the pictures of the entire room to the salesperson or designer that is helping you rather than just describing the piece you are replacing.  Sometimes, someone with a fresh eye can suggest something perfect that you may have overlooked.

NEVER MATCH NEW PIECES TO SOMETHING YOU DON’T LIKE, or you’ll end up with a house full of furnishings you can’t stand!  If you are thinking of replacing your sofa or drapes in the next few years, take into consideration the other pieces you will want to have in the future.  If you are only buying a chair today, choose one that works with the direction you are going.

 3. Neutrals are Your Friend

For the larger pieces and the pieces that are the biggest investment, choose materials that wear well, like leather.  Leather wears well and some pieces even look better with age.  Also, just like your leather shoes, it goes with any style.

Wood finishes that are already slightly distressed will not show wear as quickly as something very smooth and shiny.

Natural materials like stone or glass do not show wear, and they can be at home with many different colors and styles.

For the largest pieces, stick with a classic style rather than something very trendy.

 4. Only Buy What YOU Love!

Collect things you love, but don’t get overrun with a “collection.”  If you live in your room every day, you want it to feel comfortable – not like a museum.  Collections of a few items can be interesting displayed together, but large collections can be a nightmare to display.

Beware of telling people that you collect something.  They will continue to give you those things for the rest of your life!  There is no polite way to tell them if you want to stop!

Remember – sometimes less is more.  Nothing makes a room look more dated than piles of clutter.  If your accessories are starting to look old and dated, get rid of some.  Just having some empty space can be refreshing.

If you have display shelves in your room, once in a while try taking everything off to clean them.  Start by only putting half of it back, and then decide whether you want to keep the rest on display.

 5. MIX IT UP!

Everything in the room does not have to “match.”  The furnishings and décor you choose should complement one another. If you love a certain style – go with it!  Don’t worry too much about what is on trend at the moment.  If you prefer a rustic style or modern style – use that in your room, but don’t go overboard.  STAY AWAY FROM THEMED DECORATING.  A few years ago, everyone was looking for “Tuscan” or “Old World” style.  Now, we are seeing the same customers mixing it up with contemporary flair.  Adopt a more eclectic style that mixes pieces you love that are different styles or not obviously one particular style.
If you buy everything as a matched set, it will all start to look dated at the same time.  If you mix it up a little, you’ll feel less compelled to replace everything at once.  If you’re on a tight budget, think about which pieces would make the biggest impact.  If your coffee table and end tables are a matched set, you might just want to change the coffee table.  An upholstered ottoman in leather or fabric might work beautifully with your existing end tables.

MIX OLD AND NEW – Even a room full of priceless antiques can start to look dated.  A more timeless way is to mix a few antique or sentimental pieces in with new things.  The older pieces add interest, and the new pieces add comfort and function.

Consider adding more contemporary wall art to an otherwise traditional room.  If you look at your favorite rooms in décor magazines – chances are, you’ll observe that most of the artwork is more contemporary in style.

 6. Introduce Colors and Patterns in a Way that is Easier to Change

Although the sofa and leather cocktail ottoman in this room are neutral, the color and patterns on pillows and accent walls keep the room from being boring!

Although the sofa and leather cocktail ottoman in this room are neutral, the color and patterns on pillows and accent walls keep the room from being boring!

Preferences for colors and patterns change over time.  Think of adding most of the colors and patterns on pieces that are easier and less expensive to move or replace, like pillows, accent chairs or accessories.

Be on the look-out for these items, and when you find something you love, remember that it is ok to part with your old ones now and then!

Even pillows and accessories can be expensive if you are buying a lot of them. Apply the same rule of only buying what you love – and not something just because it is trendy.

Look to your closet for color inspiration.  If you see a lot of one color, and you have always loved wearing that color, chances are you won’t get tired of seeing it in your room.

 7.  Focus on the Function of the Space

If a room is beautiful but it is not comfortable for you and your family to live in, you will get tired of it fast!  Make sure there is a comfortable place for your family to sit together.  If your room is lacking storage, look for unique pieces, such as a storage ottoman, or try adding baskets under your end tables.

 8. Stay Flexible

Sometimes you just need a big change!  Our goal is to have a timeless room – one that never looks dated, and you never get tired of it.  If you go shopping to replace a chair that is starting to look worn, but you find the style of your sofa is holding you back, maybe it wasn’t so timeless after all.  If you no longer love the style of your room, and you want to start fresh, consider whether the time has come to make a big change.  If it’s not in the budget, then, by all means, keep using what you have and stick to your plan!  But, if you can afford it, why not consider donating some of those good usable pieces?  Sometimes people feel guilty spending money to re-do a room, when many of their items are still

A leather sofa that wears well over time will be a more timeless choice than a pattern.  (Unless, of course, it is a pattern you have always loved.)

A leather sofa that wears well over time will be a more timeless choice than a pattern. (Unless, of course, it is a pattern you have always loved.)

Top Grain Leather wears well over time and develops a natural patina that looks good with age.

Top Grain Leather wears well over time and develops a natural patina that looks good with age.

in good condition.  There are many agencies in Stillwater that would be thrilled to put your pieces to good use or put them in the hands of someone who really needs them.

 9. Remember – If YOU love it, then it’s perfect!

Getting Your Home in Shape

By Heidi Greeson

Every year, lots of people make New Year’s resolutions to get themselves in shape, but have you ever considered making a resolution to get your home in shape? It may be a strange concept to compare getting your home in shape to getting in physical shape, but making some major adjustments (or even just some minor ones) to your home can really improve your overall mood and mind-set. Personalizing those places that you spend a majority of your time, like the living room or master bedroom, really can create lasting impacts through design. In an effort to help you create that perfect space, here are some guidelines that are sure to keep you on track!

  • Start with getting rid of stuff. I know it’s that burden we all dread, but when your space is so cluttered that it interferes with daily activities like getting dressed or finding your keys, minimizing these inconveniences will be sure to reduce stress and save you loads of time in the future! If you feel like you have just too much de-junking to do, then start small and work your way up to the bigger items. For example, try cleaning up a little during every TV commercial. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish! For larger de-cluttering projects, start with sorting things into piles based on whether you use it all the time, whether you use it seasonally, or whether or not you have used (or even seen it) in the last year. Chances are, if you haven’t even noticed it being there in the last year then you probably won’t need it.
  • Make a goal. Envision a room that you feel could use some improvement- what is your goal for that room? Is it to be more comfortable, more beautiful, or even more functional? How do you like to use the room? This is an important step, as it is easy to get side tracked when you don’t have a goal in place!
  • Ask for help! Most people who are successful at getting in shape hire a personal trainer or use the buddy system. Consider working with an interior designer. Or, use the buddy system and have a friend whose style you admire work with you. Sometimes it’s good to have a second opinion.
  • Remember- it’s YOUR home! Most people that are on their weight loss journey will tell you that they are not doing it for someone else, but for their own happiness. This is important to remember if you are working with a friend. Don’t let someone else talk you out of what you really love! Just because something is trendy doesn’t mean you have to like it. If you stick with colors and styles that make you happy, then that’s all that matters.
  • Set a budget! You can think of this the same way that someone “budgets” their calorie intake and amount of exercise. This can be one of the more difficult things to do when redesigning a space, especially when you are trying to set a realistic budget. First, it’s good to make a “ballpark” estimate of what it would take to make your home how you envisioned it. Then, do your homework and start getting quotes on everything you want to incorporate into your new space. Once you have figured out just how much everything is going to cost, prioritize those items that you want the most. Sometimes your taste exceeds your budget (just like that piece of chocolate cake may exceed your calorie budget), so you may need spend a little less on a few items in order to afford the really amazing piece. For example, if you want the brand new custom upholstered sofa, then you might have to settle for less expensive lamps and accessories. Whatever the case, you will most likely end up satisfied in the end! And if there is an item you just can’t live without, consider saving up for it. Some stores even offer layaway plans or special financing options so that you can afford that perfect piece!
  • Be flexible. You don’t give up on your workout at the gym if your favorite treadmill is taken. You try a different machine, and who knows, you may just love it! Finding the perfect piece that you have envisioned in your mind or saw on your favorite television show can be nearly impossible to find. If you are trying to recreate that gorgeous living room from your favorite movie, it won’t really be your room if you copy it exactly. If you can’t find that exact rug, something similar may work out even better for you. And that sofa that looks so fabulous on Pinterest may be impractical or uncomfortable for you. Be open to similar options, and you will be able to create the perfect space for you.
  • Celebrate your success – big or small! Just like with diet and exercise, small successes help inspire you to take on bigger projects. It’s a good idea to start small. If designing your living room is overwhelming to you, start with another room. Start with a space that you see every day. If you always come and go through your front door, the entry will have the biggest impact because you see it every time you come home. Do your kids pile all their stuff there, making you grumpy every time you come home? Try working in storage for all those shoes, coats and backpacks. Can’t ever seem to find your keys? Add a special key hook or bowl and make a point to keep them there.
  • Stay focused! Remember to think about your end goal. If you buy a chair or a lamp to match the room you have now, rather than the room you want to have, you’ll end up with a room full of stuff that you don’t really like. It’s better to think about what you want to have in the future than to match to something you don’t love. Post a picture of your goal if you have an inspiration photo. When you are making decisions, think about how each item would work with that room. Remember that an inspiration photo is for inspiration; it doesn’t mean you have to copy each detail exactly.
  • Stop procrastinating. Most people have at least one room in their homes that they don’t really like. Maybe it’s the mismatched furniture they don’t like looking at, or maybe the room has become a dumping ground for clutter. Sometimes they just close the door and stop using the room, making it on giant closet. It’s time to conquer the clutter and take back your home!

If you follow these steps, getting your home in shape can be fun and easy. Start with that by picking out a room and make a commitment to follow through with it. After that, the remaining steps will start to fall into place. Stop making excuses and fulfill your New Year’s resolution of creating your dream home!

Bassett Beckie Bonus Room

Consider working with an interior designer or a friend whose style you admire to help keep you on track.

Consider working with an interior designer or a friend whose style you admire to help keep you on track.