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Leather couches can often be associated with dated interiors, a furniture piece that is no doubt less commonly embraced than it once was. Often acting as a statement piece in the home, leather couches can be a bold decor choice. But, leather couches don’t have to equate to the bulky and cold-feeling ones we saw lots in the 2010s; they can also reflect a sleek and design-led look when done right.
We spoke to interior designers to get their advice on how to embrace the leather couch while ensuring a stylish look that doesn’t feel dated. Keep reading to learn from their design expertise to channel this classic interior design trend.
Are leather couches still in style?
‘Leather sofas are like the cool kids of interior design – always in style and loved by many,’ says interior designer Soledad Alzaga. ‘Some people are drawn to their classy look and how they get better with time, developing that unique worn-in look. Some people find them a bit stiff or think they bring too much of a serious, masculine feel to the room. It’s all about personal taste and what makes you feel comfortable and cozy in your space.’
San Francisco-based Interior designer Soledad Alzaga has worked on designs projects in San Francisco, Sonoma, Atherton, New York, Martha’s Vineyard, Los Angeles, Mexico and Argentina.
Interior designer Rayana Schmitz, founder of Firefinish Interiors agrees that leather couches still have their place in sofa trends: ‘I wholeheartedly believe that leather couches, although not as commonly embraced nowadays, are undoubtedly still in style and bring an enduring charm to any space. In the current growing trend of cozy and moody interiors, leather stands out as a versatile and fitting choice.’
But, it’s important to first consider the type of look you’re aiming to create with a leather couch since it’s a furniture piece that can span many interior design styles. David Samuel Ko, founder of Los Angeles-based interior design firm Maison Ko weighs in: ‘I think leather couches are great for a space that is more Mid-century style or leans more rustic. It’s a great material to add to your palette and can easily be styled with softer fabric pillows and throws.’
He adds, however, that in some cases, leather couches may not be the most practical of choices: ‘There are some instances though that I would advise against leather. If you have pets, I would steer away from leather as any scratch marks will show up pretty easily.’
3 ways to style a leather couch for a timeless look
According to designers, the leather couch is a classic living room sofa idea that can look highly effective when styled tastefully. So, if you’re feeling inspired to bring this statement piece into your living room, read on for three expert ideas – from choosing the right type of leather couch to styling it with other decor items.
1. Embrace a worn-in look
The beauty of leather couches is that over time, they develop a softer and organic look. To lean into this relaxed look, it’s best to fully embrace its wear and tear, rather than being too concerned with it looking brand new. Not only does this capture that much-desired vintage decor, cozy aesthetic, but it will also become more comfortable over time.
‘I believe a quality leather sofa is always in style and gets better with age,’ says designer Keria Schultz, Owner and Principal Designer at Arizona-based KSDesigns. ‘The key is to embrace the natural wear and tear that makes it look more loved and worn in.’
To truly embrace this worn-in and timeless look, choose natural light brown tones that best complement this aged look: ‘Opt for top-grain leather in warm caramel tones for a timeless aesthetic that effortlessly blends with various interior styles,’ advises Rayana. ‘Embracing the imperfectly perfect nature of leather not only adds character but also makes it easy to care for, aligning perfectly with the low-maintenance appeal many homeowners seek.’
2. Avoid anything bulky
Choosing the right shape and size of leather sofa is crucial to achieving a modern look. Bulky leather sofas that fully touch the ground can risk looking dated, and they also tend to overpower a space. By contrast, a leather sofa that sits off the floor allows for a more balanced space.
‘Look for clean lines and tailored proportions for a more current and timeless feel,’ advises interior designer Lauren Sullivan, founder of Well by Design. ‘Opt for a button-tufted leather sofa in a home library or study for an old-world feel or a slim and sleek option in a more modern space. The quality of leather makes all the difference, and above all else – never, ever go for those bulky ones with cup holders.’
3. Add plenty of contrasting textures
Leather couches can often end up looking cold and uninviting if they’re not styled alongside contrasting textures. To capture a design-led look of this standout furniture piece while ensuring it provides cozy appeal, it’s key to layer it with plenty of warm textiles such as cushions and throws. You can take this a step further and ensure the whole room has lots of contrasting tactile elements to ensure an overall balanced feel.
‘The key with leather couches is to balance out the space with the use of other materials that give the room a variety of textures,’ advises interior designer Luis Carmona.
‘Leather tends to stand out in a room due to its smooth, and sometimes shiny, finish. Usually being the largest piece in the room, the couch tends to anchor down the space. Accessorizing the room with other smaller items such as accent chairs, side tables, ottomans, and light fixtures is important to help provide balance to a room both in materials used and scale. Opt for a fabric rug and soft throw blankets to soften the appearance of the leather.’
Luis Carmona is the owner and lead designer at VERDE Interior Design. With almost two decades of experience in the creative space (interior design, advertising, and marketing), Carmona gets to blend his many passions into one design studio, offering services to commercial and residential clients in both Houston and Dallas.
Leather couches have long been a classic furniture piece, and they will continue to be. Not only can they create a cozy feel in rustic and vintage-inspired spaces, but they’re also a great choice for sleek and modern spaces. By following these expert tips, you’ll be able to integrate this statement furniture piece into your home while maintaining a timeless and design-led look.
If you’re feeling inspired to elevate your space with a statement leather couch, you can shop our leather couch edit below to channel this look in 2024.