Leather furniture is a popular choice because it’s stylish and low maintenance. However, it’s also susceptible to certain types of damage, like scratches and cuts. This makes them suitable for waiting rooms in high-end offices. Lots of lawyers’ lobbies have leather lounges, because they emit class and elegance. They don’t get much wear though, so they stay fresh. This is probably why you’re less likely to find leather in a doctor’s lounge, unless the doctor is a psychiatrist. If you do pick a leather lounge for your home, give it the TLC it needs.
The colour of your leather makes a difference too. If it’s black or brown, patina can be attractive, giving it mature stateliness. But on pale, beige, or white leather, the patina may look grey and unattractive. If you want to, you can keep your leather fresh supple, and patina-free by conditioning it once or twice a year. It keeps the seats plump and moisturised. Generally speaking, you should vacuum your lounge to remove surface dust and sebum.
When dust mixes with skin oils and airborne household contaminants, they can form greasy smudges on your lounge. Frequent dusting prevents this. You can also wipe the lounge with a damp cloth two to three times a week. Avoid soap, but if the lounge is particularly dirty, make a mild solution of water and dishwashing liquid. Wring out a damp microfibre rag and use it to wipe your leather furniture. Then, wring a rag dipped in distilled water and wipe the seats to ‘rinse’ off the soap. You can also use this solution to wipe off spills.
While leather is generally resistant to stains, watermarks can leave splotches, especially on lighter leather, so avoid pouring it on the lounge. If anything does pour on the leather – liquid or otherwise – wipe it up as soon as possible. Baking soda is great for sopping up spilled food, because it’s absorbent. Sprinkle some on the spill then wipe it all off. Wipe into the stain using circular movements, because outward wiping simply spreads the stain.
Follow with a damp cloth, making sure the water has no impurities. The reason your leather-cleaning water should be distilled is to protect the surface. If the water has any lime, salts, particles, or potentially abrasive chemicals, they could scratch the leather. Frequent vacuuming prevents this too, because it sucks up any particles that might grind into your leather. For seats on the lighter side of the spectrum, vacuum more often because the dust shows more clearly and smudges are far more visible.
You could use an old-school option to protect your leather, though it will age you. Our grandparents used doilies to keep their sofas from dust and soften the look. If you don’t mind being branded as eclectic, you could dress your lounges in delicate lace drapes. A more practical option would be to cover your leather lounge in loose tarps and throws. This is common in homes with pets – it keeps the chairs free of dander.
The downside is … your gorgeous seats remain hidden and nobody gets to enjoy their beauty. Besides, Murphy being who he is, you will keep them covered all week, then the second you remove the drapes for a weekend dinner, someone will pour their wine on your previously protected leather. A more drastic choice is to remove the seat altogether. Or rather, don’t locate light leather in a high-traffic room. Use it in your study, home office, or bedroom. Fewer people will use it, so it’ll be less exposed to dirt and stains.
A more contemporary replacement for doilies is throw pillows. Get some brightly coloured ones to contrast white lounges. You could also opt for dark tones, or black. The more cushions you use, the less of your lounge surface will be exposed (to dirt). Plus, because they’re small accessories rather than a large drape, you can still see and admire the leather itself. When your lounges are in lights shades, like Caviar, Dolphin, or Hennessey, be wary. If they also have (moving) metallic parts, oil the hinges carefully to avoid staining the leather.
If you’re brave enough to have light leather lounges in a home with pets and toddlers, start training them early. They should have other sofas and love seats to use, so they know to avoid ‘daddy/mummy’s chair’. Just make it part of your family’s culture. In the same way that dad is always at the head of the dining table and mum always gets dibs on the remote, the white leather is only for responsible non-spilling adults. But if you ever mess the seat yourself, be careful the kids don’t see it, because you’ll never live it down.