This week's material focus is fabric versus leather, for sofas, dining chairs, barstools and beyond. Our match up today is more to do with personal preference than one material being significantly better than the other. In the furniture world, salesmen, manufacturers, designers and consumers can all argue their preference for endless amounts of time. In my opinion? I think when it comes to sitting and relaxing, its always best to go with what looks best, is most comfortable and will provide the best value for money for you. However, in order to make that decision, it is always wise to know some important facts about what you are choosing. Leather: Comes in all different grades, thickness, ages and process types. The most confusing part is that there isn't really an industry wide standard from one category to the next. Some stores will use Category A - Z, while others use more a numerical system. Vat dyed leather is the absolute most important feature to look for - it means the dye colour goes all the way through the hide. This means that scratches will be far less noticeable (especially if you're going for that ruby red three seater). Thicker hides will provide a firmer seat, whereas soft or antique hides have a bit more give in them to provide a softer experience and aesthetic. Leather can scratch, and it will most definitely age and need routine cleaning and moisturising to maintain it's appeal (about every three months). The bottom line is: leather is a more expensive option, it can last longer and is a great option for children and pets - but that all depends on how it is cared for.
Fabric: Similar to leather, there are so many options when it comes to fabric choices, from cords, suedes, linens, knits, velvets or woven patterns - the options are endless, as are the colour choices. Fabric can be a favoured option because unlike leather, it breathes. Where many people don't like sitting on a cold couch in winter or sweating it out on leather during the summer, fabric can be an excellent choice. Depending on your selection, most fabrics will also be significantly lower in price than leather options - meaning the investment doesn't need to be quite so long term. Are you concerned about pets? Suede, Cord or tightly woven fabrics are a great choice. I personally prefer fabric, and with a cat and two fabric sofas so far we have not had any problems. An initial fabric protection (or scotch guarding) and regular vacuuming are the only maintenance required - but it's also a great idea to get fabric furniture steam cleaned at the same time as carpet or rugs.