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Thursday, March 28, 2013

What to expect when you're expecting leather.

We've all heard the old saw, "If it's sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Such is the case when buying leather furniture.

At Sofa Outlet, we believe that when you set out to purchase leather furniture, that's what you should get. There are a lot of posers out there in leatherland, often with catchy leather sounding names designed to mislead: Leatherette, Bi-Cast Leather, Bonded leather.

Once upon a time, my brother in law convinced his daughter, my niece, that the Naugahyde bench in the dentist's office came from an animal called the Nauga. Most of us aren't as gullible as a five year old hanging on the word of the father they adore. For instance, we already know that leatherette, like Naugahyde, has absolutely nothing to do with leather. It's a fake.

However,  as we wade deeper into leatherland, the demarcation between what's true and what's made up becomes a bit blurred. Bi-cast leather, for instance, is sometimes billed simply as leather, but there is more to the story. Bi-cast is made by slicing inferior cowhides, which would normally be useless as leather, into thin veneers. These slices are then coated with pigmented PVC and embossed to resemble the texture of leather.  The upside of bi-cast leather is it's affordability. The down side is that it is more PVC than leather, it is prone to cracking and peeling, and does not offer the soft supple hand of a true top grain leather. It can be easily identified by the strong chemical odor that it emits. (This can dissipate over time, so be sure to look for other clues of leather authenticity.)

Next, enter Bonded Leather. This product was designed with one goal in mind, and that is to mislead. Bonded leather is created by taking a thin, filmy carrier fabric and coating it with Polyurethane that is made to resemble leather. On the flip side, an adhesive is applied to which leather shavings are bonded. Hence, bonded leather, and the opportunity to associate the word leather to a product which is little else than plastic coated fabric.

Ok, so you've eliminated the fakes, now what? It's just leather right? Sorry... Wrong! All leathers are not created equally. There are still a couple of ways that we can be duped into paying leather prices for not quite leather. One of those ways is a fairly common industry practice in which leather is applied to all the "touch surfaces", and leatherette or some variation of faux leather is applied around the backs and sides of the furniture. This practice is known as leather match or leather mate. Again, this practice does help to lower the cost, but who wants a half leather sofa?

Split leather is another way to reduce cost to the consumer, but split leather is a practice in which inferior hides are shaved into veneers much like in the production of bi-cast leather.  To give the appearance of full grain leather, it is then painted and embossed. Unfortunately, it does not have the same durability a full grain hide, nor does it afford the luxurious look and feel of a true top grain leather.

Now that you know, you have decided to move on with a leather purchase. What should you look for? That depends upon what sort of utility you seek. Italian hides are generally acknowledged to be the industry gold standard. Top grain Italian leathers are graded according to their quality. Quality, however, should not be equated with durability. Top grain leather is the most durable of all upholstery coverings. It can last a lifetime and longer.

Leather is graded by the condition of the hides in their natural state. Higher grades (and hence, more expensive grades) originate from animals whose life was on the calm side. There will be less evidence of scarring from barbed wire and fighting, less bug bites. This type of leather is either left in it's natural color or aniline dyed. Aniline dying is a process in which the  hide is completely submerged and the dye is allowed to fully penetrate. Left as is, without additional emollients, the color is subdued and translucent, allowing the natural beauty of the leather to shine through. As a result, these hides, while beautiful, can be a bit challenging to care for. We recommend that these higher grade leathers are utilized in living rooms, for side chairs, and other furniture pieces that take less of a day to day beating.

While it  may seem counterintuitive, the lower grades of leather are more resilient and better for high use living, great for use in recliners, family room sofas, and ottomans. Because these hides are "corrected" you have the advantage of choosing from a larger color selection.

At Sofa Outlet we carry the full line of Omnia Leather. All Omnia hides are hand selected from herds raised in Northern Italy. The advantage of using hides from a colder climate is that they are thicker and therefore better insulated. Better insulated hides means more comfortable leather. They hold the room temperature and are easily brought to body temperature in just a few minutes of sitting.

Omnia sofas are California made. The turn around time is 6 to 8 weeks, and the quality of the product is unsurpassed.  The engineering that goes into each and every Omnia piece is phenomenal. This attention to detail affords a comfortable sit for every item of furniture that they manufacture. They feature kiln dried hardwood frames and are supported with a sinuous spring system. They carry a lifetime warranty. We are proud to carry Omnia Leather, and welcome you to come down and give them a sit.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Has Sprung!! ( Almost!)

It's just a couple of days away from Apple Blossom Time and and we just recieved an early spring bouquet of garden worthy prints from our partners at Lexington Home Brands. Wouldn't these be grand on an adorable accent chair?


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fifty Shades Of Grey...

According to Furniture Today and to customer demand, grey is the new neutral! Shades such as pewter, slate, smoke, fog, and dove now dominate customer requests for upholstery fabric. At Sofa Outlet, we have lots of great choices in the new neutral: linens. microfiber suede, microfiber velvet,  heathered textures, and snazzy tweeds in cleanable polysester. To compliment these lovely new fabrics, we have a whole host of contemporary prints for pillows and accent chairs. The vignette below depicts a lovely way to use subtle tones of grey to create a peaceful, elegant environment.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Just in time for St. Patty's Day! Emerald Green Named Color of the Year!

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go!

Irish well wishes to you and yours from all of us at Sofa Outlet! May the luck of the Emerald Isle be with you and may all your sofas be Green. Ok, maybe not all your sofas, but check out some of the beautiful accessories available now at Sofa Outlet!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

First Impressions are Lasting Impressions

Often the first glimpse that anyone gets of our design style is the entry way into our homes. Whether it be the front stoop, a small hallway, or a grand foyer, the entry way says a lot about how we want to welcome our guests into our homes, and about the impression we want to make. The entry way sets the tone for our personal style vibe. The following images are not just configurations of furniture pieces and accessories, they are ideas and creativity in abundance.

Welcoming Lighting
Brilliant Wall Decor
                                                             Fanciful Wall Displays

Colorful Accent Pieces
Interesting Furniture
A Grand Entrance!
All featured pieces are available to be ordered at Sofa Outlet, or choose from a wide selection of wonderful pieces available in our showroom for instant gratification.
Be sure to visit us at 25 W. 43rd Avenue, San Mateo,CA 94403

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bling It ON!


There are lots of interesting choices to jazz up your furniture purchase. Nailheads can be glitzy, rustic, simple or va-va-va-voom!