Your choice of a new couch for your living space will be heavily influenced by how you tend to use the sofa. From lazy mornings with kids watching TV to lively cocktail parties with friends, there’s a lot that needs to go into the decision process.
And it can get even more complicated to make a final decision when you look beyond the most practical upholstery material. Making sure your chosen style matches your home can become a difficult process.
So, we decided to create this guide to help you better understand how to choose a leather sofa style.
Different Leather Sofa Styles
When you look at any piece of furniture, you’ll likely notice that they all seem to be unique. And while all those small differences in design style and even the dimensions have a significant visual impact, you’re still able to categorize furniture styles.
The first thing I will do is go into the main leather couch style options and show you how they need to match up with your living room décor.
Classic Leather Sofa
Classic leather furniture should not be misunderstood as antique or old-fashioned. While it is a traditional leather furniture style, it can be the perfect addition to your living room.
Let’s start with the dimensions.
The first thing you’ll notice with this type of leather sofa is that manufacturers tend to push the dimensions to the limit. That makes these sofas wider than standard, and they usually have a very high seat back as well.
What you need to keep in mind with those large dimensions is that you’ll need the space to accommodate such leather sofas. Not only does it physically need to fit into the room, but it can’t look visually out of place.
So, if you have a small living space or you live in an apartment, then classic leather sofas are not the most suitable option.
From a visual design perspective, traditional leather furniture also aims to take center stage. It’s all about adding as much visual detail as possible, including button tufted leather, nailhead trim, and intricate wood carvings.
Placing such leather furniture in any kind of room will mean that it takes over. If that’s your interior design goal, then making a bold statement like this can be exactly what you need.
Modern Leather Sofa
At the opposite end of furniture design, you’ll find the modern sofa. It’s a mid-century style that took a completely different approach to create timeless elegance.
What you’ll immediately notice is extremely clean lines and subtle geometric shapes rather than highly detailed style features. The goal is to blend the sofa into the living room without taking over and becoming the central focal point.
The dimensions are also going to be considerably smaller, with a much lower backrest that gives it a sleek appearance. The reason many people like to choose this type of mid-century leather furniture is to allow the rest of the room to become the focal point of the interior design.
It’s a great style if you have artwork on the walls or sculptures that you don’t want to distract from. And if you have large panoramic views of a city or landscape, then those windows should take center stage and not your leather sofa.
I’ll get to the different shades and colors of leather shortly, but with modern furniture, you’ll tend to find uniform colors to avoid highlighting the different shades that naturally appear in the leather.
When you want to blend in your furniture in the most subtle way, the modern style could be the best way to go.
Contemporary Leather Sofa
Contemporary living room furniture is often mistaken as something that is ultra-modern. But it’s actually a mix of features from both classic and modern furniture designs. And that gives you a piece of furniture that works well in many types of interior décor.
Typically, you’ll find that contemporary sofas are quite a bit larger than modern ones, but they tend to include the more subtle design of modern sofas. That means you’re less likely to see tufted leather with extremely detailed stitching.
And you’ll also find that it’s less likely to make the upholstered leather itself stand out. Using sprayed and rolled-on colors, you can still have a sleek modern look, but not in a complete understatement.
It’s an ideal choice for any room where you don’t want to go to either extreme of the design scale. Your couch would provide a great balance to the room and give it a warm, welcoming appeal without making the furniture too overpowering.
Many people find that they start with this furniture style for design ideas and then try to figure out if they prefer the more modern or traditional look.
Chesterfield Leather Sofa
Chesterfield leather sofas are a great option for anyone who needs to kit out a living room with furniture that immediately makes a wow statement. The style originated in 17th century England where Lord Philip Stanhope, the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, commissioned a completely new type of leather sofa.
At the time, it was frowned upon for furniture to be comfortable. Your worldly life was not meant to have those types of pleasures, and even the wealthiest royalty only considered basic functionality.
But that all changed with the Chesterfield sofa that was designed for comfort and to avoid the suits of royals getting unnecessarily wrinkled while sitting down.
It’s the first kind of sofa style that really aimed to make a visual statement and be a great place to rest and be comfortable. Picture intricate stitching on tufted leather with large rolled arms and appealing wood carvings.
There is no mistaking that such a sofa boasts maximum impact, and you need to be comfortable with your sofa or loveseat taking center stage.
It looks great in the right type of room, but it has to match and complement the textures and layout of the room.
This simply wouldn’t work in a modern apartment or a small living space. But if you have a large living area with a warm fire burning in winter, then such bold elegance is exactly what can provide the perfect finishing touch for that space.
Edwards Leather Sofa
For those of you who would like a more contemporary touch to a Chesterfield couch, you might want to consider adding an Edward-style leather sofa to your living room.
It’s a great way to add the warmth of a traditional Chesterfield approach. But at the same time, you can tone it down to better match your existing room design. The result is a timeless sofa or loveseat that blends more easily with other parts of the room.
An Edwards leather sofa is still going to have large dimensions and a high backrest. There are often rolled arms and nailhead trim, but the difference is mainly in the way it’s upholstered.
Rather than make an overstatement with tufted leather, you’ll see sleek and smooth finishes. At the same time, it’s not as uniform as modern furniture upholstery, meaning that you can get a more natural warm looking finish.
Theater Recliner Sofas
The last type of sofa I want to show is a great way to kit out a home theater. While you could choose to add a few recliners to a home cinema room, it can be even more impressive to add a sofa with individually reclining sections.
The great thing with these types of recliners is not just the fact that they provide comfortable seating. You’ll also have a choice of reclining features that include both mechanical and power recliners.
The advantage of power recliners is that you have more transitional recline settings to give you more flexibility.
And being able to kick back with a bowl of popcorn for a great family movie night is the best way to enjoy the experience in maximum comfort.
Detailed Design Features
The next thing I want to demonstrate is that even within the different leather sofa styles, there are additional features that you want to consider to make sure your sofa or love seat will perfectly match your living room décor.
Tufted Leather And Stitching
The first thing I want to draw your attention to is the leather upholstery itself and the visual impact it makes. Some people might prefer a very smooth and uniform surface with single geometric shapes and stitching.
Other people tend to focus as much as possible on tufted back and seat cushions, which work particularly well with a natural shade of brown leather. What’s great about tufted leather is that the repeating patterns provide a different visual effect depending on the angle of view and light.
In a living room with a lot of natural light, that can result in amazing changes in appearance depending on the time of day and intensity of sunlight.
Similarly important is the type of stitching in the upholstery. This isn’t just of practical importance to make sure that the pieces of upholstery don’t come apart. The type of stitching pattern and color of the thread will also have a visual impact that you may need to tie in with the rest of your interior design.
Leather Color And Shading
Here at Leather Furniture USA, we specialize in bringing you only the best top and full grain leather furniture. Beyond the fact that these are the toughest and longest-lasting types of leather, there are some visual benefits that come with them.
Let’s start with full grain leather.
The manufacturing process ensures that the outer grain layer with all its imperfections stays intact. And when you add a full or semi-aniline dye, then you get a visual impact that highlights the natural shades and imperfections.
You don’t end up with a monotone black or brown leather, but a truly unique effect on every leather sofa.
With top grain leather, manufacturers lightly sand down the outer grain layer to reduce the natural imperfections. The result is a more neutral hue once a dye is applied and provides a more uniform visual effect.
It’s particularly impressive on a black leather couch where you get a totally smooth and rich finish.
This is an easy way to distinguish between a modern and traditional leather sofa. It refers to the rounded out arms of the sofa that almost looks like the top of it has been rolled in on itself. It’s a fantastic feature and goes extremely well with detailed stitching or nailhead trim.
More on that next.
What you have to keep in mind, though, is that rolling the arms in this way does extend the dimensions a bit. It’s a bit like a boxer pumping up the chest and shoulder to look bigger. This sometimes makes a leather sofa look larger than it is, so make sure that you pay attention to the width of the seat cushions to understand how many people can comfortably sit on it.
Because of that extra width, you’ll also need to make sure that it suits your living room and doesn’t make it too crowded or overpowering. It also means spacing out other furniture like side and coffee tables, as well as other seating arrangements.
This is where many manufacturers will provide a large range of different options to achieve a truly unique finishing touch. Along edges like the front of the arms, it’s possible to add metal nailheads in a carefully arranged pattern.
It can really bring out the contour lines of furniture, and with the right choice of polished or brushed metal, it’s the ideal look to break up large areas of brown leather.
What you have to be careful about is the size of the nailheads and the color. You don’t want to overdo it with almost reflective large heads on a black leather couch, for example.
They can be the perfect touch, but you still need to make sure that they don’t completely distract from the sofa and surrounding interior design details.
You’re now getting into the finer details, and depending on the effect you want to achieve in your living space, you’ll have two choices to make.
First of all, you’ll need to consider how much exposed wood you want to be able to see on a couch. Some people prefer to keep this to a minimum and let the leather upholstery be the main attraction.
But it can be equally as effective and sometimes necessary to introduce some contrasting materials. This is particularly important if you have wood wall paneling or floors.
And the second thing you need to decide on is the look of the exposed wood. Some modern favorites in our online collection have simple wooden feet with maybe a slight curve in them. But if you want to go for a more rustic and traditional experience, then some carved wood can be a great touch.
To make this decision, look at the surrounding area of the room and how you plan to decorate it. Then try to tie it to the couch with the right level of detail.
Different Feet Materials
While I mentioned different designs you can achieve with exposed wood on a leather sofa, another option you have is to break with that convention altogether. There are some amazing metal feet that work especially well with a modern living space.
It can provide a clear and clean contrast between a sofa and the ground it’s standing on. And with the right choice of color and finish, it can even result in an almost futuristic floating effect.
It wouldn’t be overly suitable for a traditional sofa and interior design, so be careful how you approach this kind of feature.
Choosing The Right Leather Sofa Style
Getting the ideal furniture style for your living room requires careful planning and deciding on a common theme. One of the biggest regrets people tend to have is ending up clashing furniture with interior design.
And considering the expense of a leather sofa, it’s a costly mistake to make.
So, when you’re starting your research for the ideal sofa, take a step back and look at the space you’re trying to fill. Work out how much room there is and what your overall color theme should be. Then observe how much intricate detail there is in other furniture and use that as a baseline for your new sofa.
And if you need some help with the different design choices, then check out our leather sofa and chair collection and use the contact form to have one of our expert staff help you with the decision process.