Birmingham interior design tips: Types of leather explained

by | Jul 22, 2023 | Furniture, Interior Design Tips

Leather furniture has earned its popularity in homes for various reasons, such as its resilience, comfort, luxurious texture, and being a renewable, natural resource. Whether seeking a chic addition or a spacious sectional to accommodate family and friends, leather remains a timeless option known for its long-lasting qualities. If you find yourself bewildered by the assortment of leather types available, this article aims to guide you towards the perfect choice for your home.

Full Aniline Top-Grain Leather:

At the pinnacle of quality, full aniline top-grain leather is derived from the animal’s uppermost hide layer. Valued for its distinctiveness and superior appearance, this type of leather retains the natural markings, such as scratches, barbed wire imprints, or insect bites, acquired during the animal’s life. It’s essential to recognize that each furniture set made from this leather may vary, originating from different animals. The selection of full aniline top-grain leather signifies opting for the best hides available. While the cost may be higher, it can be seen as a worthwhile investment due to its exceptional durability compared to faux leather.

The dyeing process of this leather involves aniline dye, a translucent, water-soluble substance that imparts color without creating a uniform surface like paint or pigmented sealant. Consequently, the leather develops a patina over time, retaining its softness and suppleness due to minimal additional processing. The patina showcases an interplay of light and dark shades resulting from wear and absorption of body oils and moisture. If you desire furniture with a distinguished, aged leather bomber jacket appearance after several years of use, full aniline top-grain leather might be your ideal choice. For example, consider the Hancock & Moore Monaco Top-Grain Leather Recliner, which exemplifies the rustic patina that develops over time.

Semi-Aniline Top-Grain Leather:

Semi-aniline top-grain leather is also sourced from the animal’s upper hide layers, akin to full aniline top-grain leather, but with more pigmentation. The application of aniline dye serves to cover up scars and imperfections, creating a more uniform color and texture. This leather is often found in furniture sets featuring matching sofas, loveseats, and recliners. For those who prefer furniture without a patina, semi-aniline leather can be a suitable alternative.

Moreover, it proves to be an excellent choice for families or pet owners, given its enhanced durability and stain resistance compared to full aniline top-grain leather.

Split Leather:

Split leather is typically employed for the back and sides of leather furniture, with higher-grade top-grain leather used in areas of direct body contact. This type of leather is created by splitting the bottom half of top-grain leather. It is commonly utilized in items such as shoes, purses, belts, and more. However, split leather tends to be more vulnerable to visible damage like scuff marks and may not age as gracefully as top-grain leather over time. Furniture composed entirely of split leather is generally more budget-friendly than those upholstered entirely in top-grain leather.

Faux Leather:

Faux leather, often referred to as synthetic or vegan leather, is a material engineered to mimic the look and feel of genuine leather. It is a durable option commonly used on the back and sides of some furniture, like split leather, to manage costs while maintaining a leather-like appearance. Faux leather is an attractive choice for those on a budget who still desire the high-quality appearance of leather in their homes. It proves more affordable than furniture fully upholstered in top-grain or full-grain leather.

In conclusion, understanding the distinct characteristics of different leather types can assist you in making an informed decision when selecting the ideal furniture for your home. Whether you opt for the natural elegance of full aniline top-grain leather, the more uniform look of semi-aniline leather, the budget-friendly split leather, or the affordability and ease of maintenance offered by faux leather, there’s a perfect choice for every preference and lifestyle.

At Birmingham Design Studio we would be happy to help you make the right selection based on your lifestyle.

Client Reviews

“Love this place! It all started one snowy miserable day when I walked in to look for an entry table on what certainly was a bad hair day for me. That’s when I met Kristi – an outstanding designer. Since then, Kristi and her design team have helped me with furniture and design for our vacation condo in western Michigan, and ongoing re-do of our home not far from the store. The store has a wide selection of furniture and rugs. Kristi and the designers quickly picked up on my individual preferences and at no time did I feel pressured to buy. I stopped shopping anywhere else!”
Vera Treshnewsky

Kristi Karimpour and her husband Kamran founded Birmingham Design Studio over three decades ago. Their goal was to establish a full-service interior design studio that would cater to the diverse needs of clients seeking sophisticated and timeless designs in the heart of Birmingham, Michigan. From the beginning, Kristi’s vision was clear – to create interiors that would not only reflect her clients’ personalities and lifestyles but also stand the test of time.