Tips for Shopping for a Quality Sofa

Know What to Look for When You Buy a Sofa

A sofa is likely one of the ten biggest purchases you will make in your life. In addition, you will likely only buy a handful of them during that same span. So doesn’t it make sense that you would want to get the best quality possible for your dollar? It seems a lot of people do not know how to shop for a quality sofa, or they simply think that you get what you pay for. That is not always true, and if you know what to look for in quality you will know what is worth your hard earned dollars and certainly what is not.


When shopping for a quality sofa, there is one thing you should check before you even get into a quality check. As you approach a floor model that looks good to you, before you do anything else, make sure it will fit in your home. That doesn’t necessarily have to do with the quality of the sofa, but it will influence whether or not you are wasting your time looking at it. Measure your room, measure your space, and then check the measurements on the sofa before you do anything else.

The Sofa Frame

Once you know the sofa will fit, it is time to decide if it is a well made sofa. The most important factor is going to be the frame. The frame is the wooden “skeleton” of the sofa. You want to first make sure that it is made of a hardwood. Oak and alder are common frame woods and are both fine. This should probably even be the first question you ask to a sales person when you are shopping for a quality sofa: what is the frame made of? Once you confirm that the frame is made from a hardwood, find out if it is kiln dried. A quality sofa should have a kiln dried hardwood frame. The drying keeps the wood from warping or cracking during seasonal changes as well as changes in the humidity.

In addition, the wood should be thick and heavy. To check this yourself, you can reach under the front of most sofas and feel the front of the frame. Make sure that this area is at least 1” thick, but preferably about 1-1/4” thick. If everything checks out, then you have found a quality sofa frame.

The Spring System

A Comfortable Sofa For Your Home!

A Comfortable Sofa For Your Home!

By Mike Yeager

A soft, plush sofa can be so inviting...even if you're visiting in someone else's home. Sofas can really make a home comfortable and relaxing. Sofas come in a variety of styles such as sectional sofas, leather sofas and sleeper sofas. One of the first things both you and your guests will notice, each time they come into your home, is how comfortable and relaxing the furniture looks. Well chosen sofas will help to give your home furnishings the elegance and style you want.

Sofas are generally referred to as stuffed, padded, and spring-cushioned furniture. Sofas are also defined by the decorative materials and fabrics that cover them. The first furniture upholstery was probably leather, stretched on without padding. Italian Renaissance chairs were cushioned with leather, velvet, or embroidery; the French made ornate chairs covered with tapestries and embroideries; England developed upholstery in Elizabethan and Jacobean reigns. The use of springs is comparatively modern. Hair, fiber, flock, foam rubber, down, and kapok are used for padding in modern upholstery, and woven fabrics, plastics, leather, and synthetic leather serve as coverings.

There are thousands and thousands of sofas, sectional sofas and other home furnishings to choose from over the internet. Choose from only the best sofas representatives who offer quality, elegance, quick delivery to your home and, of course, great prices!

Tips for Shopping for a Quality Recliner

Shopping for furniture is not exactly routine. Aside from a home, there are few things you buy with less frequency. When you add in the factor of moving parts, shopping for reclining furniture can be that much more intimidating. Your best bet is to know a little bit about reclining furniture going into the process. To help you go onto that furniture show-floor properly prepared, here are some tips for shopping for a quality recliner.

1) Look for a Quality Frame

Whether you are buying a recliner, a reclining sofa, or a simple loveseat with no reclining mechanism, the quality of the piece of furniture starts with a quality frame. In furniture, the frame is the skeleton, and you want one that is strong and supportive.

Start by talking to the sales person. Ask what the frame is made of. What you should be looking, or listening for in this case, is a hardwood. Alder is a common hardwood frame, but Oak or even any of several Asian hardwoods (parawood or rubberwood for example) will work.

Next, ask to make sure that the wood is kiln dried. This is especially important with imported pieces of furniture. Many a retailer can tell stories of Brazilian or Asian furniture pieces cracking in the warehouse because the wood dries after coming from humid weather.

Also, ask about the frame warranty. Many manufacturers will offer lifetime warranty on the frame and most will offer at least 10 years.

Finally, reach under the front of the recliner you are looking at. Grab the front piece of the frame to get an idea of how thick it is. Anything over an inch is fantastic, but just remember that the thicker it is the stronger it is.

2) Test the Mechanism

If you are looking at recliners or any other type of reclining furniture, the mechanism is of the highest importance. As the part of the furniture that is going to move, it will also get the most wear. Test it out. Recline it and close it several times. Additionally, ask to see what it looks like. The sales person should be able to tilt the piece back and let you see the way it is fastened to the frame of the recliner.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Studying gothic art with the Grenoble synchrotron

(Nanowerk News) Science and technology are becoming increasingly involved in the world of art. Scientific advances and new technological instruments are opening new doors to fields of knowledge to which they had been previously closed. Art is one such case in point.
Through an agreement with the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC), the Analysis of Cultural Heritage Materials (AMPC) research group, which concentrates on the study of materials that are of historical, archeological, artistic and cultural interest, is currently examining 15th-century paintings from the end of the Gothic period to the beginning of the Renaissance.
The interdisciplinary team that forms part of this research group is made up of Salvador Butí and Nati Salvadó, from the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Trinitat Pradell, from the Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering.
The objective of this experiment, which will be continued using the ALBA synchrotron, located in Cerdanyola del Vallès, is to obtain scientific proof of the relationship between the various painters and schools during the transition from the Gothic movement to the Renaissance in the 15th century. This is a critical period of history for Catalonia and it is hoped that the findings will reveal the influences of and connections with art from other regions in Europe.
The research focuses on a selection of works of art from the MNAC. The pigments, agglutinating agents and primers used are being examined, as are the reaction and aging process of compounds. A specific methodology has been devised for the research that goes from the preparation of the samples, through to the selection of the most suitable chemical products and structural analysis techniques with a resolution of ten microns so that compounds may be accurately identified in a sub-millimetric range. The researchers are also considering compiling a database with all of the information obtained for use in future research work.
In order to carry out this task, the researchers use chemical analysis techniques and large pieces of scientific equipment. They also have advanced technologies available to them, as well as other techniques such as X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy. A major part of the research is performed by taking advantage of the various techniques associated with synchrotron light.
In the words of the researcher Trinitat Pradell, “a synchrotron is a particle accelerator that produces very powerful light that is able to penetrate matter, which makes it an essential tool for analyzing molecules. It is a highly powerful, penetrating beam of light that is able to examine matter that cannot be seen under a microscope. It is very useful for studying coats of paint in depth, as greater quality and intensity is achieved than ever before. The techniques and aesthetic features of works of art can be examined on a molecular level, which was unimaginable using conventional techniques”.
Given the high operational costs of a synchrotron, the only way to use one is to earn grants through calls by the EU or by the Spanish government for its research lines at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF).
Many developed countries (USA, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Switzerland, Italy and France) have this kind of facility. As of 2010, Spain will also have one, the ALBA synchrotron, which is being built in Cerdanyola del Vallès.
There are only three synchrotron facilities on a par with the Grenoble ESRF, which is shared by EU countries. The other two are in the USA and Japan.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Retro yet Modern Lines in a Lifestyle Solutions' Convertible Sofa

I was recently looking online for a convertible sofa, and the ones made by Lifestyle Solutions really caught my eye. The reason why was because of its design and styling. The straight and simple lines reminded me of the mid-twentieth century, perhaps the 1950's and 1960's. Well, seeing many sofas that I liked, I decided to do a bit of research about the company.

Lifestyle Solutions is one of America's fastest growing furniture companies, founded in 1991. They have distribution centers in California, New Jersey, Florida and Vancouver, Canada. They have worked hard to build a reputation as a leader in style and design, as well as upholding a standard of exceptional quality and value that goes above and beyond what is expected in the industry.

One of Lifestyles Solutions goals, and the concept the company is built upon, is to design and create furniture that fit and individual's lifestyle (hence their name). They carefully consider every convertible sofa and other piece of furniture and try to conceptualize how that piece can style, compliment and enhance someone's living space.

What I had originally noticed, even with an untrained eye, the modern adaptation of retro styles, is what Lifestyle Solutions call their transitional design. This means a coming together of traditional and contemporary designs. They strive to achieve this marriage of modern and traditional through, not only the shape of the furniture piece, but also by the finishes, materials and fabrics that they use.

Not only does LS strive to cater to a growing customer base, but they do it without leaving a large impact on the environment. Environmental considerations are an important part of their business practices. All their furniture is constructed from plantation grown hardwood.

Lifestyle Solutions carry a wide range of types of furniture, but their largest collection is of convertible sofa beds. They group these under two main headings: Sofa Bed Convertibles and Casual Convertibles. The first group consists of futon style sofa beds. These are high quality and come in a large variety of styles and finishes. The second group, Casual Convertibles, range greatly in style and these are the ones I first saw that had the retro / modern lines. If you like unique furniture, then you will find something here that you like. Most of these convertible sofas do so in the click-clack fashion, where the back of the sofa reclines back fully. Looking at these, you will realize that there is a lot more to a convertible sofa than you may have thought.

A convertible sofa from Lifestyle Solutions not only is very functional, but the functionality is built into each piece in such a way that it adapts to contemporary living needs. And without compromising the design or functionality, each piece enhances your home or living space.

A new worry that has only cropped up in the last decade to the end user consumer is product packaging. So many large items are now sold on the internet, and you want to receive your item in pristine condition. Lifestyle Solutions is aware of this and uses modern technology to come up with the best packaging for every item they sell. They use injection molded foam to cushion each piece from movement and impact. Though they cannot actually control what happens during shipment, they do try to make sure that their furniture arrives perfectly at delivery.

If you are in the market for a new convertible sofa, definitely check these out. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you discover in this retro-modern line of furniture.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

The Benefits Of Owning A Leather Sofa

Written by Scott Wells

there is a leather sofa available to suit virtually every taste. It is not surprising they have become so popular as there are many advantages to owning a leather sofa.

· Leather is highly versatile meaning that it can be used to create either a contemporary or traditional look.

· As leather is a natural material it is able to breathe and adapt to the temperature of the room.

· Leather sofas will stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

· Leather is also flexible so that if it is stretched it will bounce back to its original shape easily.

· Leather sofas are also highly durable and easy to keep clean meaning they are a great option if you have children or pets.

With all these benefits it is easy to understand why leather sofas have become so popular. This increase in popularity and demand for has lead the sofa manufacturers to expand the range of styles of leather sofas they sell. The range of styles available is now vast from traditional 3 piece suites to more contemporary corner sofas. The majority of these different styles come in a variety of colours from traditional browns and blacks to more contemporary oranges and reds.

So whether you have a home which is decorated using soft beiges and natural materials or bold colours and large prints there is a style of leather sofa to compliment the style of your home.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Sectional Sofas Make Sense in a Modern World

Okay, I admit, sectional sofas may not the most exciting topic to read about. They don't do anything. They just sit there. And while they may just sit there, they at least they do it with style. They are comfortable, look great, can be moved around to suit our individual tastes and preferences, have built-in amenities, and come in an amazing array of fabrics, leathers, and other coverings. Let's take a brief look at the evolution of sofas generally, and see if there is a place for sectional sofas, and you many discover that they are more exciting than first appears to the casual observer.

Years ago, there were really only a few basic sofa styles to choose from. There was the basic covered bench, or settee. For many years, this was a mainstay in parlors and formal living areas all over the world. Even the Chinese and Japanese integrated this furniture style into their living spaces as they started to westernize. These sofas were relatively small in size and functioned as a basic sitting area for guests, or eventually for home owners to relax on. Socializing was an art that was taken to all new heights during Victorian times, and one that we have departed drastically away from in many respects. But like everything else, sofas evolve to the changing needs and wants of the people.

By the 50's and 60's the basic sofa had lost much of the traditional styling. Gone were a lot of the fancy wood carvings in the frame, and lush fabrics. Nylons and other synthetic fabrics became the thing. Leather, of course, was still an attractive option that gained popularity. Metal legs on furniture became common, and sectional sofas were starting to appear.

By the 70's and 80's sectional sofas were serving families all over the country, if not the world. These modern adaptations allowed for lots of seating arrangements, and some creature comforts that their predecessors simply didn't enjoy. Now you could have a love seat and a sofa together in a corner "L" assembly if you wanted. Or, you could separate them out just as easily, with say, a coffee table in between them. When you consider some of the amenities that were introduced directly into the furniture you can see how relaxing and lounging was made more comfortable and convenient than ever before. Built-in recliner chairs, compartments for storing magazines, remote controls and other items, and pull down surfaces with integrated cup holders, all made sectional sofas serve the needs of families becoming more and more interested in watching TV, playing electronic games, and being entertained by a DVD.

Furniture that works for how people actually live is a real hallmark of sectional sofas. This is the primary feature that really makes them welcome additions to our homes, and what will keep them popular options for years to come. As long as we continue to gather together for entertainment in our living and family rooms, we will have a need for large, diverse, comfortable seating.

Sectional sofas are here to stay because they do what we want them to do. I'm glad too, because they simply beat the pants off anything else when it comes to being able to sprawl out and relax at home. I can't imagine trying to enjoy my favorite DVD's while sitting on a stiff ol' settee with both my feet on the floor, back straight, tea in hand, and nowhere to set the cup. Can you? You gotta love modern sectional sofas!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Opening Night at SOFA New York Crafts in The International Art Market

by Loretta Fontaine, reprinted with permission from The Crafts Report

By early evening, the translucent structural entrance erected in front of the Seventh Regiment Armory on May 29 was glowing softly against the darkening sky. A well-dressed group paid $500 each to be the first admitted, giving them two hours to snap up pieces from the 52 international galleries inside before the rest of the crowd entered.

Welcome to SOFA New York. At SOFA, which stands for Sculpture, Objects, and Functional Art, the Ferrin Gallery of Lennox, Mass., premiered and sold out all 12 of Sergei Isupov’s new ceramic statuette series, offered at $8,000 to $10,000 each.The Gallery Na Jansken Vrsku of Prague sold Stepan Pala’s glass sculpture for $35,500. Moderne Gallery of Philadelphia sold a rocking chair of stack-laminated walnut and suede by Wendell Castle for $17,000 on the secondary market.

The artists at SOFA are renowned in their fields of glass, ceramics, metal, fiber and wood. Most no longer sell their own work but rely on gallery representation — which doesn’t mean they don’t attend SOFA.At this show, the artists are invited guests who hope to discuss their work with collectors who travel across the country to see it. The galleries have the booths and take care of the sales.

The event and the art are exceptional
As befitting a major art event, no expense is spared in presenting an exceptional show. Inside the entrance, designed especially for SOFA by architect David Ling, was a stack of thick, glossy, show catalogs. Each gallery displayed their artist’s work in stunning, hard-wall booths, and breezy fabric banners floated over the carpeted aisles.

The armory has no air conditioning of its own, but two tractor-trailer trucks, humming with cooling equipment, sat on a side street. Black tubes snaked from the trucks into the armory, providing the perfect temperature for both art and patrons.
The crowd swelled to 1,000 at 7 p.m. when the $125-ticket holders entered the event benefiting the American Craft Museum. Collectors, artists, museum curators and gallery owners filled the aisles.

Forty New York City restaurants were recruited to provide food in the theme, “The Art of the Sandwich.” A waiter from Le Cirque enticed passersby with sandwiches of smoked salmon, cream cheese and chives. Sylvia Weinstock Cakes displayed petit fours on silver trays draped with mountain laurel branches.The women punctuated their chic, mostly black, outfits with kinetic necklaces or colorful brooches. Everyone clutched glasses of wine and champagne as they admired the scene.

SOFA is where artists and collectors meet
Each booth at SOFA is a microcosm of an art gallery. The work, handmade and one-of-a-kind, often loses its functional basis to become purely sculptural.Steven Weinberg, wearing a resin necklace resembling lemon Jell-O, posed with his wife for publicity photos in the middle of the show floor.

“Magellan Boat,” cast glass by Steven Weinberg.

SOFA organizers arranged for luminaries such as Weinberg, Wendell Castle and Dante Marioni to pose with art jewelry. Weinberg bantered with the photographer and held a picture of his 7-week-old son to his chest as the next flash popped.
Weinberg, a glass artist, has work in the permanent collections of over 30 museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

He has exhibited at SOFA since its beginning, and compares the opening night gala to a wedding — all the same familiar faces in the art world, good friends and good food. “It’s really about touching base with a lot of people who support you, who collect your work,” Weinberg says, “You want people to know what you are doing currently.”Weinberg described three boat forms displayed at SOFA from his present series entitled “Boats and Buoys” as, “vague interpretations of the cross sections of hulls.”
His work sat on white pedestals in the Leo Kaplan Modern booth. The elegant arcs of cast lead crystal were mesmerizing studies of the optical power of glass. Smooth concave prisms ground in the crystal magnified the precisely suspended bubbles, and scattered the texture of the crusty bottom surface within the forms.

Weinberg received his MFA in glass from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1979. With 25 years in the field, he says his studio in Pawtucket, R.I., is “a well oiled machine” with one part-time and two full-time employees.
“[Working today] is very different from when I was just out of college, did all-nighters right up to the deadline and then drove the work to the gallery,” says Weinberg. “I can’t do that anymore. I have a family at home, four boys. I have defined hours that I work and within that time frame I need to get a body of work out.”

On opening night at SOFA, Leo Kaplan Modern sold all three of Weinberg’s pieces. Weinberg says gallery representation frees him from worry about marketing. “Selling is just something I should not be doing — no artist should be doing,” Weinberg says. “I don’t want to be dealing with clients and collectors directly other than in social situations as the opening [at SOFA].”

Jeweler Lisa Gralnick, another SOFA veteran, arrived and immediately delved into rearranging her pieces in the display cases of the Susan Cummins Gallery booth. Sporting a shock of brown hair, an infectious laugh, but never jewelry, she is always an animated presence.Gralnick balances teaching metals at the University of Wisconsin at Madison with her studio work. She has a loyal base of collectors who have followed her as she pursued different series of work, starting in black acrylic jewelry, to wearable reliquary pieces, to intricately fabricated rings in gold.

Brooch made from sheets of 14k gold, by jeweler Lisa Gralnick.

Her latest work, showcased at the opening, is a reflection of her love of the freshness and spontaneity of the paper models she uses as prototypes with her students. “There is a certain irony in it for me,” Gralnick says of her new designs. “Paper models are always planned for a piece, the thing you do before, but not the piece itself. I see myself now as making gold models for paper pieces.”
Gralnick’s brooches are fabricated from thin sheets of 18k gold. Folded and elegantly scored in strong radial designs, their surfaces shimmer with a calm, reflected light.

The evening at SOFA was bittersweet for Gralnick as Susan Cummins had announced she is closing her gallery this year. “I’ve been with Susan for a long time, 14 years, and she has been an extremely important person in my life and my career,” says Gralnick. “She handles everything in terms of promoting my work and selling it and giving me the freedom to focus on making it, and to focus on teaching, which is a part of my life.”

SOFA events are where Gralnick meets her collectors. “Very few of my sales that Susan Cummings does actually come directly out of the gallery (in Mill Valley, Calif.),” Gralnick explains. “They come from a national network of people that Susan has nurtured over the years that are interested in my work.”

Mark Lyman, a bearded man who calmly surveyed the scene at the SOFA opening, started as an artist and teacher. In 1993, he founded SOFA with several partners in Chicago to enlarge the market for contem-porary decorative art. The group started a second venue in New York City in 1998. Lyman initiated an educational program to work with his events. “We had a commitment from the beginning,” Lyman states, “for presenting educational lectures and exhibitions within our events because it is very important to get the message out about the work.”At the show, Lyman offered 17 lectures to the public on subjects ranging from carving glass by Japanese artist Toshio Iezumi to a panel discussion on collector genius.

Emerging artists bring new faces to SOFA

The galleries at SOFA showcase established artists, but are always on the lookout for new talent. Leslie Ferrin, of Ferrin Gallery, saw the work of Laura DeAngelis while traveling in Missouri.DeAngelis arrived at 10 p.m. on her first SOFA night because she waited for her sister who was late at work. Fresh-faced, wearing a long black satin skirt and her hair upswept in two neat buns, she looked the part of the belle of the ball. “It’s a bit shocking,” she says of the event.

“Twin Sisters,” by artist Laura DeAngelis, sold on opening night of SOFA New York.

In the Ferrin Gallery booth DeAngelis was amused to note her name spelled incorrectly as “DeAngeles” on the tag next to her work.
After graduating in 1995 with a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in Missouri, DeAngelis renovated a downtown Kansas City building into living quarters and a studio. When the studio was finished she taught adult education classes and immersed herself in producing a series of ceramic circus sculptures. Working intensely, her friends joked that she left the studio only to walk her dog.DeAngelis volunteered to work on the committee planning the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference in Kansas City in March 2002. She was encouraged to put up a solo show in town during that event and all but one of her pieces sold.

Ferrin called DeAngelis and asked her to ship the leftover piece to New York. “Twin Sisters” features two female figures with uplifted palms in pink frocks on the broad back of a circus lion with a sublime gaze. DeAngelis fired the piece six times, each time adding another wash of colored engobe, finishing with a final firing of simple wood ash glaze.“Twin Sisters” sold on opening night of SOFA to a Manhattan woman with a prominent art collection.

By late evening, the crowds started thinning out and heading home, and a tray of crumbs was all that was left of the petit fours. DeAngelis and her sister walked up an aisle, soaking in the show while chatting and planning time to look at the entire show in the next few days.The New York Times noted in a review of SOFA the next day, “In the end it doesn’t matter if you call it art or craft; presence is what counts, and it can be found in nearly every booth.”

Loretta Fontaine is an Albany, N.Y., jeweler who writes on the arts.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Families plump for leather sofas as cushion against recession

Lucy Alexander

If you associate leather sofas with the taste-free bachelor pad, the fusty gentlemen’s club or a suburban branch of All Bar One, think again. From high-end homes to the high street, the leather sofa is now the hottest trend in interiors.

Leather is the favoured material of the Candy brothers, who design the most expensive new homes in London, and of shoppers in the less rarefied atmosphere of the John Lewis upholstery department, where sales of leather sofas have jumped by 87 per cent in a year. Land of Leather is dead (who will fill those Christmas advertising slots?); long live the leather sofa!

They are everywhere, from David Cameron’s office to Simon Cowell’s X Factor dressing room. Scarlett Johansson is draped over a glossy red one in the winter campaign for Mango.

Ronnie Campbell, Labour MP for Blyth Valley, claimed £6,000 of taxpayers’ money for furniture, including a “leather sofa and pouffe” (he is paying it back). You should have gone to Ikea, Ronnie, where leather sofas start at £349.

“Leather is very strong right now,” says Dan Cooper, upholstery buyer for John Lewis, which sells 50 different leather sofas, starting from £499 for the very cool Art Deco Romeo (NB trend fans: Art Deco is also huge for this year). “This is a real trend, because these are established sofas; it’s not just because we’ve launched something new. This is a very big increase. Last week leather sofas accounted for 52 per cent of all upholstery sales.”

Leather sofas are also the biggest sellers at Tesco and Marks & Spencer. B&Q and Laura Ashley are expanding their leather or faux-leather sofa ranges in 2010 to cope with demand. Sally Bendelow, head of home design at M&S, explains: “Leather is on trend. Champagne or white is more modern than black.”

M&S has sold 70,000 brown leather Abbey sofas over the past decade. So why leather and why now? Cooper attributes the trend to the perception of leather furniture as an investment purchase and the attraction that holds to the post-recession mindset.

“People have held off buying sofas for 18 months because of the economic situation. Now they can see light at the end of the tunnel. But the difference is that they now want to invest in decent furniture that will last, rather than throwaway stuff — the recovery has been strongest in premium leather sofas.”

The British interior designer Tara Bernerd, however, has a word of warning for anyone rushing out to buy one. “Never underestimate the impact a black leather sofa will have in a room. If you’re thinking of black, think twice.” She recommends the Chester by Amanda Levete for Established and Sons, “a witty modern take on the classic Chesterfield”, and the Happy by Antonio Citterio, available at Flexform. “I’d get it in white — people think white leather is flash or a little bit Blofeld, but it is really very edgy.”

Suite and sour


• Red, white or champagne dyes are a modern twist

• Vintage or battered brown leather

• Art Deco or reissued Modernist design classics from Habitat or the Conran shop


• The matching three-piece suite •Shiny, cheap black leather or faux leather (sweaty and redolent of the warehouse new year sale)

• Sectional corner sofas (1980s playboy)

• Anything reclining (smacks of Joey from Friends in his tight white turtleneck phase)

Six Tips for Buying the Right Leather Furniture for You

There's nothing like the feeling of sinking into a plush leather sofa or kicking up your feet on a leather recliner. Once you experience the rich color and luxurious texture of real leather furniture, it's tough to go back to anything else.

And with good reason: Leather is the strongest upholstery material known to man, and its natural strength makes it much more difficult to tear, puncture, burn or melt than fabrics or vinyls. Leather also constantly adjusts to its environment, so it won't become hot and sticky in the summer or cold in the winter. This natural product also breathes and ventilates, wicking away body heat, and ages gracefully.

But before you start planning on giving your home the posh, natural look of leather, think carefully as you select your furniture. Whether you're dreaming of a sectional grouping or just a chair, leather furniture is an investment that requires you to give it the proper treatment it deserves.

So before you splurge, consider these basic tips.

1. Think Second Best

When you're shopping for leather furniture, it's easy to think that the highest-grade, most expensive leather equates to the best option. But this rule isn't accurate. For many consumers, the middle grade is the option of choice, as it can better withstand normal wear and tear while looking attractive.

2. Don't Expect Perfection

Oh, those scars, those veins, those stretch marks! Just like humans aren't all airbrushed perfection, neither are the cows used for leather furniture. But these characteristics aren't flaws, but rather are the qualities that give leather furniture its distinctive, natural appeal. If you look very closely, there's a slight chance you might even spot a brand, which is usually hidden in an out-of-the-way place.

3. Order Big

hose characteristics and differences in texture can be an issue if you're planning on purchasing more than one piece. Since leather is a natural product, it's difficult to predict whether your furniture's color and texture will match perfectly if you order several items over a longer period of time instead of all at once. This is especially important to consider with sectional pieces or matching ottomans. It can be a little easier on the pocketbook to build your leather furniture collection one piece at a time, but understand that this method might affect the overall look of a room.

4. Avoid Cat Scratch Fever

If there's anyone who should think carefully about their decision to purchase leather furniture, it should be pet owners. Pets do a number on leather furniture with their claws, so keep this in mind when deciding where your furniture will be safest in your home. Warranties on leather furniture don't cover animal damage, either. And manufacturers actually do extensive testing on materials, so forget about pulling one over on them by passing off Fluffy's scratches as a mysterious defect.

5. Sun Protection is a Factor

Just like you, leather furniture doesn't age well if it's exposed to the sun. So while you're mentally arranging a room around that leather sofa, look at whether it will be soaking up direct sunlight for extended periods. If so, search for alternate places to put it before you even bring it home, or consider another type of furniture.

6. Maintenance Matters

As you look at different leather options, imagine how much time you ideally want to spend on upkeep. Most varieties on the market only require frequent light dusting and the occasional wiping with a warm and slightly damp clean cloth. Take note if you find nubuck appealing, however: This higher-grade variety requires you to use a suede brush.

Now that you're enlightened about nature's most beautiful material, get ready to live the leather lifestyle. With these simple tips, you'll be lounging on luxurious, long-lasting leather in no time.