The enduring appeal of leather: From natural hues to vintage styles 

Distressed or smooth, natural or dyed, leather promises a long-lasting relationship. As household materials go, it’s among the most durable, versatile and naturally beautiful.

Better still, it improves with age so you know you’re buying something of an investment. In a rich tan colour, leather accents add vintage vibrancy and a luxurious touch to any room.

Alternatively, you can achieve a fresh contemporary look by choosing pieces in smoke blue, ash grey or pastel green, with a matt finish instead of a glazed, shiny look.

Relax: The Altamura sofa from Heal’s in old England blue soft Italian leather will create a chic focal point in your sitting room

‘Leather provides the essential ingredient for defining a style,’ says Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin. 

‘From battered vintage to sleek Italian modernism, from country cottage to Manhattan penthouse, leather is the ultimate signifier.’

Take a seat

You can go large and invest in a leather sofa. Today’s designs go further than the polished Chesterfield you might spot in the lobby of a country hotel or fusty gentleman’s club.

Think contemporary shapes and compelling colours. As well as natural caramels, tans, dark browns and blacks, there are plenty of brighter shades. 

The Altamura sofa in old England blue soft Italian leather will create a chic focal point in your sitting room (from £2,849, Heals). 

Or if you’re sticking with natural hues, the Barbican Demetra light tan sofa is a best seller at John Lewis (£2,249). Using accent leather chairs in the dining room is popular, too.

Oka has reported a surge in sales of leather dining chairs — up almost 50 per cent compared to last year.

You’ll need to make the agonising choice between the matt-finish shades including aged truffle, China clay, ash grey and smoke blue leather. You could always mix and match colours, of course. (Stafford chairs from £475, Oka).

The Narwana lounger, £595, blends distressed black iron with soft subtle leather

The Narwana lounger, £595, blends distressed black iron with soft subtle leather

If you’re after an informal seat, the Narwana lounger blends distressed black iron with soft subtle leather handmade from goat leather, a by-product. 

The leather is dyed using vegetable extract and tree bark (£595, Nkuku).

Don’t limit your leather seating to sitting and dining rooms. Tall leather bar stools will add character around a kitchen island. Try the enticing Brooks bar chair (£159, John Lewis).

Placing a leather bench in your hallway can create a sophisticated welcome, or placed at the end of your bed, you’ll get extra seating as well as making a design statement. Look at the Mina bench (£470, Perch and Parrow).

Striking headboards

Contemporary bed designs can be topped with a leather headboard. A range from Swiss bed manufacturer Hasena are fully upholstered in premium leather. 

The Tondo Cena solid rustic wood industrial bed has an acacia vintage wood frame and a deep padded headboard upholstered in leather — there are 11 dyes to choose from including a striking sage green, muted pebble grey and traditional tans. Prices from £1,720 (Head2Bed).

A quick-fix alternative is to buy a separate leather headboard, which is fixed like a wall hanging. You can order one on Etsy for about £200.

Eye-catching: Contemporary bed designs can be topped with a leather headboard

Eye-catching: Contemporary bed designs can be topped with a leather headboard

Floor show

Since leather is extremely durable it’s perfect for heavy footfall by children and pets. Specialists can dye flooring any colour. 

Slate grey is popular at specialist Element 7 where top grain leather is used mainly in dressing rooms, studies and living rooms.

Mark Edwards, managing director at Element 7, says leather flooring is a true investment for a forever home.

‘We provide leather floor for a range of clients from flats to footballer’s mansions. 

It will last and last. Our tanner provided the leather for a floor in a farmhouse which was laid 50 years ago. It is still in great condition. In fact, it gets better with age.’

Prices start from £400 per sq m.

Up the wall

Studioart specialises in leather wall tiles and coverings. They are treated to produce mock sandstone, marble and mosaic finishes and to be suitable in bathrooms and kitchens. You can choose from a rainbow of colours of its signature leather wall panels.

Metallic options add more drama, should you feel the need. Metal inserts can be placed between the leather tiles to create contrast among different materials. Prices start from about £300 per sq m plus VAT.

Catchy accessories

‘You don’t have to fill a whole room with leather,’ says Chloe Beharrell, a London-based designer. ‘Instead, incorporate the fabric using some smaller, timeless pieces.’

Perfect for giving your fireplace a luxe feel, leather fire fenders have the bonus of providing more seating when you’re entertaining. 

Try Oka’s Berenson fire fenders with ash grey leather upholstery on the bronze-finished frame.

For a flash of leather without going all out on a hide sofa, you could use leather cushions. 

Try the leather and double Harris tweed split design cushion at £48 (Not on the High Street) or Luxe cream leather stripe chevron quilted cushion at £61 (Amara).

Savings of the week! Furry cushions

John Lewis's teal faux fur cushion was £25 and is now £17.50

John Lewis’s teal faux fur cushion was £25 and is now £17.50

For most people, it may be too early to put up the Christmas decorations. But it is the moment to consider creating cosy corners for chilling out during the festive period. 

Faux fur or sheepskin cushions are an easy way to create an atmosphere of ease and comfort without spending a fortune.

Marks & Spencer has reduced the price of its Supersoft pale grey and charcoal grey fake fur cushions from £12.50 to £10. 

Its white sheepskin cushion is also down in price from £39.50 to £31.60. 

B&Q’s Petersberg faux fur cushion in brown and white now costs £4, instead of £10.

John Lewis also has several options. Its teal faux fur cushion — which would look great on a grey sofa — was £25 and is now £17.50. The brown version has been reduced from £35 to £24.50.

At Wayfair, you will find a faux Mongolian sheepskin cushion in topaz. Its price has been cut from £39.99 to £31.36.

Here’s to relaxing in style.

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