The Bay Area’s Great Finds’ Top Designer Offers Tips for Buying Quality Leather Furniture—Part I

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Great Finds’ top designer, Chris Reddy, offers tips for buying and caring for quality leather furniture.

Accessorize your leather furniture with decorative pillows

I should be nicknamed ‘the fussy consumer’ for all my obsessing over how and what makes a piece of furniture a good investment.

Investing in a good piece of leather furniture that lasts and meets your expectations takes a bit of knowledge. The Bay Area’s Great Finds has experience in educating clients, helping them to select leather furniture that meets their needs and budget perfectly. Their top designer, Chris Reddy, weighs in on how to make sense of it all.

“I should be nicknamed 'the fussy consumer’ for all my obsessing over how and what makes a piece of furniture a good investment,” says Reddy. “Buying leather furniture requires a bit of know-how. The reality is, most of us don’t have a lifestyle or budget of the rich and can’t afford to refurnish their homes every year.”

Clients hope to make a good choice in selecting what they believe they’ll be living with and enjoying for many years to come. A good piece of furniture is an investment, so it is important to purchase the right piece that will last.

“As a fussy consumer and a designer entrusted to provide professional guidance, I have acquired practical information over the years that you may find helpful,” Reddy adds.

First, Chris Reddy starts with the basics. Is it leather-or not? Budget-priced “bonded leather” is a digested leather pulp product made by forming a slurry of leftover leather scraps. These otherwise unusable bits of waste are bonded together with glues and adhesive chemicals, and then attached to a paper or cloth backing. It’s similar to how pressed wood is created from wood particles. Pressed wood or fiberboards do not yield the same strength as hard wood and this analogy can apply to manufactured composite leather products. Consumers should be careful of misrepresentation.

Manufacturers looking to cut costs and keep prices low may use real leather on the cushions and then dyed-to-match, leather-looking vinyl on the sides or backs. It can be hard to tell. Ask if the product is made entirely of genuine leather or just “leather-match, reinforced vinyl.” “Leather composite” furniture may be a combination of leather or bonded leather on the seat cushions with vinyl elsewhere, usually on the sides and backs.

The most durable leather is “full grain,” also known as “top-grain.” It is the outermost, top layer of the skin that has had the longest exposure to the elements, which produces, with proper tanning, leathers with the highest level of toughness and durability. The hides often show natural skin characteristics and sometimes signs of abrasion or markings from branches, etc., all of which produce an interesting, distressed look. If so desired, a less distressed look and a whole host of other features can be incorporated with multiple techniques.

Many special effects can be achieved because leather is a material that is so receptive to manual and chemical enhancements that the results are almost endless. Leather can be embossed, glazed, distressed, have its grain altered or changed, made to simulate crocodile skins, color-enhanced to make it duo-tone, and on and on. Any treatment or process that requires more hides or entails more time or labor will be reflected in the price.

A “split leather” or “split hide” product is created when they take a hide and separate it into thin layers, like wood veneers. Split hides vary in thickness and durability and are not as durable as top grain. A layer of “suede” occurs when the hide is split and a soft nap is exposed on one side. Suede split leather does not have the durability of top grain. The usually soft and supple suede, and even thin layers of hide, can be modified with various agents to produce durable leather that is stiffer and nap-free but will not be as durable as top grain. Coloring, grain patterns and a wide range of textures can be added with imprinting.

Please look for the next release where Chris Reddy of Great Finds designer furniture will discuss how consumers can decide which is the best leather pieces and finding furniture that is built to last.

For more information on Great Finds, contact them at 415-658-9304 or 925-997-9755. Check online for current offers and sample sale items at http://www.greatfindsrarebuys.com.

About Great Finds

Great Finds is a professional Bay Area home furnishings buying service and design center. Led by experienced interior designer, Chris Reddy, Great Finds has slim markup on fine discount furniture and home décor. As a web-based business we excel in providing reasonably-priced expert design services along with the added bonus of incredible savings. We are ready to assist you in making the right leather furniture selection and can help you awaken a home’s potential with designer furniture from many fine manufacturers such as Henredon, Bernhardt, Century, Baker, Barbara Barry, Ralph Lauren, Stickley, Burton James, Classic Leather, American Leather, Henredon, Leather Craft and so many others.

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Chris Reddy
Great Finds
(415) 658-9304
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