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Leather, or not?

Some pieces of furniture more durable than others

Leigh Hanlon, Tribune Brand Publishing

Many folks who’d like to enjoy a fine leather sofa never get one because they’re scared kids and pets will destroy it.

But the notion that leather sofas are dainty and delicate is just plain wrong, according to Wendy Rossi, a designer at Baer’s Furniture, a family-owned group with 15 showcases throughout Florida. “Nothing can come close to leather,” Rossi said. “In terms of manmade, we simply haven’t come up with anything as durable.”

Too many homeowners looking for furniture that’s safe from spills, tears and child and animal mischief often think fabric coverings are the answer — but this is not the case. Liquids will seep into most and can be difficult or impossible to remove once absorbed and dry.

“With leather, when there’s a spill you can usually just wipe up and clean it. It’s harder for liquid to penetrate,” Rossi said.

“Leather is durable,” she explains. “That’s why saddles are made from it and why we wear leather shoes.” In addition, leather can be repaired. “Work by a professional generally won’t be visible,” she said.

white leather sofa, love seat, and chair

Rossi acknowledges, however, that situations with pets are slightly more complicated.

“The biggest thing is you have to know your pets,” she said. “Does your cat claw at furniture?Are you planning on getting a puppy?”

Cats can sometimes be trained not to claw fine furniture if provided appropriate scratching posts, but when it comes to puppies, Rossi suggested that acquiring a leather sofa might be postponed until your puppy grows out of the chewing stage. Or at least segregate the puppy and the sofa during that time.

Another reason to choose a leather sofa? Pet hair. According to Rossi, pet hair generally won’t stick to leather — unlike woven fabric, which can attract and hold it.

The key to a leather sofa’s versatility is the hide itself. Leather comes in numerous grades; making sure that the furniture you buy has a quality covering is essential.

“Customers need to educate themselves and consider buying top grain leather with aniline dye that goes all the way through,” Rossi said. Also look for leather than has protection applied to it. A covering with these three qualities can last decades. “I have leather sofas in my home that I bought in 1994 and I live on them. These sofas can last with proper care.”

That’s the reason why so many homeowners love leather furniture. “Leather doesn’t change,” Rossi said. “It may soften, but it doesn’t get as worn-looking (as cotton and other fabrics). It’s very satisfying.”

That care includes routine cleaning and conditioning, which owners can do at home. Furniture retailers sell a protection package that can cover any problems like punctures, stains or cracking. So if you are looking for an investment-quality leather piece to accent your space, come to Baer’s for a wide selection and all the accessories you’ll need to make it last forever.