Design Tips

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Family Friendly Leather

In a previous tip, I talked about choosing the best fabric for active households. Now, on to the topic of leather and how to choose and care for it, and to dispel some common myths as well.

Unlike fabric upholstery, leather wears well and ages beautifully, acquiring a rich “patina” that becomes more supple with each passing year. It stretches and retains its shape without sagging, and will not peel or crack if cared for properly. And because leather “breathes” it will keep you and your family comfortable no matter what the season. Leather’s ability to absorb up to 25% of its own weight in humidity, means you’ll feel cool, never hot and sticky.

Compared to fabric, leather is elastic and strong with high ripping resistance. You’ll also appreciate its’ tight, strong fiber construction which prevents animal hair from penetrating. These characteristics make leather upholstery the ideal choice for family rooms, dens and great rooms where family and friends gather to entertain. All of the leathers we offer are free of lead and chemicals, so no worries about being environmentally safe and kid and pet friendly. Leather-the modern, practical choice for consumers who demand high performance, as well as beauty and durability.

Leather Care and Cleaning Codes

Code “A” Care Method
Aniline leather. Natural looking leather will feature noticeable range marks, barbed wire scars, wrinkles, scratches and brands. Subtle color and shading variations will exist from hide to hide and even within a hide. Keep leather clean by dusting frequently with a soft, clean cloth or by vacuuming with a soft brush attachment.

Code “P” Care Method (Often called Protected leather, this is what we recommend for active households)
Pigmented or aniline-plus leather. This leather has been treated to enhance stain resistance. It is more uniform in color and texture than aniline leather and will have fewer noticeable range markings. Keep leather clean by dusting frequently with a soft, clean cloth or by vacuuming with a soft brush attachment.

Code “N” Care Method
Nubuck leather. This leather has been buffed to a velvety, suede-like nap. It is more likely to fade and stain and will feature noticeable range markings. Keep leather clean by dusting frequently with a soft, clean cloth or by vacuuming with a soft brush attachment.

Note: No cleaning method will remove every stain, and some stains can cause permanent discoloration even after the stain is removed. Keep your furniture clean, do your best to prevent accidental spills and give any stain prompt attention to maximize cleaning results.

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Caring for your upholstery

A question we always ask customers when buying upholstery is, “how will it be used?” One of the reasons we ask, is to determine what fabric or leather will be appropriate for the environment and type of use it will get, i.e.; we wouldn’t suggest an open weave if you have cats with claws! Likewise, it is important to choose a fabric with an appropriate cleaning code.

There are 3 cleaning codes to look for (these are marked on all of our fabric swatches and we always point them out).

S – Spot clean only with a water-free dry cleaning solvent. Pretest a small, inconspicuous area before proceeding. Do not saturate. DO NOT USE WATER. Pile fabrics may require brushing with a non-metallic, stiff bristle brush to restore appearance. Cushion covers should not be removed and dry cleaned. To prevent overall soiling, frequent vacuuming or light brushing with a non-metallic, stiff bristle brush to remove dust and grime is recommended. When cleaning a spill, blot immediately to remove spilled material. Clean spots or stains from the outside to the middle of the affected area to prevent circling. Overall cleaning by a professional furniture cleaning service only is recommended.

W – Spot clean only with water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner. Pretest for color loss and fabric compatibility. Do not over wet. Use professional upholstery cleaning service for overall soiling.

WS – Spot clean with upholstery shampoo, foam from a mild detergent, or mild dry cleaning solvent. Pretest a small, inconspicuous area before proceeding. Do not saturate. Pile fabrics may require brushing with a non-metallic, stiff bristle brush to restore appearance. Hot water extraction of steam cleaning is not a recommenced cleaning method. Cushions casings should not be removed and laundered or dry cleaned. To prevent overall soiling, frequent vacuuming or light brushing with a non-metallic, stiff bristle brush to remove dust and grime is recommended. When cleaning a spill, blot immediately to remove spilled material. Clean spots or stains from the outside to the middle of affected area to prevent circling. Use a professional furniture cleaning service when an overall soiled condition has been reached.

X – Cleaning only by vacuuming or light brushing with a non-metallic, stiff bristle brush. DO NOT USE ANY WATER OR SOLVENT BASED CLEANER.

W and W/S fabrics are the best choices for active environments, (kids and pets and).

Of course, we always suggest regular vacuuming and periodic rotation of loose seat and back cushions for even wear. You might also want to consider having us apply fabric protection for added piece of mind. And finally…as with anything you use frequently and wish to prolong the life of, “Take care of it, and it will take care of you.”

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Protecting your floors

I’m often asked how to protect wood or tile floors from potential damage caused by bar stools or chairs; here’s my favorite quick fix in lieu of using the bulky pads you find at hardware stores.

I like to use Dr. Scholl’s’ Moleskin.

It is a flesh colored felt with adhesive on the back, that comes in thin rolled sheets. Often used by dancers on their feet to protect against abrasion, it can be cut to exact size and easily placed on the bottom of chairs or barstools.

Best of all, it is invisible to the eye, does not raise the height and stays put. You can find Moleskin, in the foot care section of your drug or grocery store.

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Lighting the perfect scene

If you’re a classic film nut like I am, have you ever noticed how great some of the legendary actresses from that era look onscreen and in publicity stills? They had a little known and powerful trick in their arsenal that made them look so amazing under a variety of conditions, a great cameraman who knew how to light them properly.

Great lighting and an understanding of how to use it, can enhance the look of (and in some cases conceal the flaws), of a room. Lighting is often the forgotten piece of the puzzle when finishing a space, a properly placed table or floor lamp can set the tone, day or night. It can also be practical and beautiful like a work of art.

My favorite quick fix is an inexpensive can lamp for the floor. It can provide just the right amount of drama and mood, especially at night. If you’re unsure what to do about lighting, consult an expert for help. And, don’t forget about dimmers and great switch plates for either new or existing lighting. They can make a big difference for very little labor and cost!

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Don’t forget to measure!

First, take a moment before you leave your home to go shopping and measure your room. Many times, people fall in love with a piece of furniture, only later, to find out that it won’t fit.

Second, use blue Scotch painter’s tape to lay out the actual size and shape of the furniture on the floor. This way, you can see if it will fit in the room and it will show you how it will look. You may love the shape of the furniture in the store, but when you see it on the floor of your room, you may not. Of course, if you have any questions, just ask Dan!