Fabric Focus: Indoor-Outdoor Fabric

via Kate Jackson Design

via Kate Jackson Design

Summer’s over, but that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to the carefree times you shared with friends and family on the back patio. Bring the fun inside with easygoing indoor-outdoor fabric.

Despite its sturdiness, you don’t need to sacrifice looks with indoor-outdoor fabric. Increasingly harder to distinguish from traditional indoor fabrics, indoor-outdoor fabric comes in many different forms. Wovens, prints, solid or striped, indoor-outdoor fabrics can work for you poolside, at the dinner table, in the bedroom and even as window sheers.

Learn more about the magic behind indoor-outdoor fabric’s tough-as-nails persona, different applications and considerations like cleaning, sewing and cost. Click HERE for the full story…

Fabric Focus: Cozy, Carefree Cotton

Everyone has that go-to pair of broken-in jeans or threadbare T-shirt to wear on lazy weekends. You can thank cotton for that comfort. Soft and easy on the eyes — and your wallet — cotton is everywhere.

And it’s not just for your body. In the home, cotton brings coziness to bedding, towels, upholstery and drapes. Click HERE to learn why you should consider making cotton king in your home décor.

Fabric Focus: What You Need to Know about Leather

Leather is often viewed as the ideal covering for a favorite chair
via Barrie Interior Designers & Decorators Staples Design Group

Leather’s natural beauty and durability have made it one of the most desired furniture coverings. Although technically not a fabric, perhaps no other upholstery bridges traditional and contemporary furniture design better than leather.

Leather comes in hundreds of colors, patterns and finishes that fit a range of styles, from clubby chairs to sleek modern sofas. If you’re considering leather furniture, terms like aniline and full, top and corrected grain may make your head spin. So here’s what to know:

via Jarlath Mellett

Top grain leather.

Top grain leather is made by splitting the underside away top (see split leather below) and sanding the top surface to mask imperfections. The sanding also removes the epidermis and upper dermis of the hide, so it won’t breathe like full grain leather products. This is because they’re heavily pigmented with finish applications to protect the surface and hide blemishes. Top grain leather creates a smooth, uniform finish, like on these chairs. However, it won’t patina with age, like full-grain.

Top grain, while not as strong as full grain, is still quite durable. In fact, most leather furniture is made from top grain leather.

Some benefits of top grain leather include:

  • Uniform appearance, if this is desired
  • More malleable/bendable than full grain because it’s slightly thinner
  • Easy to clean

Split grain leather.

Split grain leather is made by splitting the bottom layer away from the upper top grain layer. Thinner and less durable, split grain is usually used for shoes and handbags, not high quality furniture.

However, some manufacturers may put a split leather on the back and sides of a furniture piece and top-grain  on the cushions and back – still maintaining it’s ‘all-leather’. It’s a sneaky tactic, so make sure you know exactly what you’re buying. Nonetheless, if your budget doesn’t allow for all top or full-grain, this is a way to still have an all-leather piece.

via Heather Lloyd – NV Manufactures

Corrected grain leather.

Corrected grain is a top grain leather with a light faux grain sometimes referred to as ‘pebbling’ embossed on its surface. Pebbling resembles goosebumps, and an example of it is seen here in the dark grey leather in the background. It enables rougher-looking hides to be turned into useful and beautiful product.

via Barbarossa Leather

Embossed leather.

Embossing is a type of corrected leather, but in its own category because it’s specially imprinted with pronounced patterns. Crocodile is a popular pattern, but designs can range from exotic animals to florals to geometrics. Embossed products tends to cost more because it requires more tools and processing to create it. You’ll also need extra material to accommodate pattern matching if you’re having a piece reupholstered. However, the end result can be stunning, like this chair with leather provided by Barbarossa Leather.

via Barbarossa Leather

Aniline dyed leather.

Analine, also called ‘pure aniline’ or ‘full aniline’ is a transparent dye made from coal tar that penetrates the entire thickness of the hide. Analine dyed leather does not have a protective coating nor any topical treatments to alter the natural feel of the hide, so the grain and any visible scars or pores are retained. Analine dye gives leather the softest, most luxuriously hand. However, because it is uncoated, it is susceptible to staining and fading. So, analine dyed leather is ideal for pieces with light to moderate use or if you’re okay with staining that will likely occur with use.

via Avon Architects & Building Designers Reed Design Group

Semi-aniline dyed leather.

Semi-analine dye is actually a misnomer. It’s not partially dyed. Rather, it’s first analine dyed then additionally pigmented. Semi-aniline leather is produced through a very similar process to full-aniline, but is taken a few steps further. It has a thin protective top coat added to protect it from wear and staining. This coating may or may not be pigmented with additional color, and can be matte or with a sheen.
With semi-analine dyed leather, you can see some natural markings through the topcoat. It can still stain somewhat, but it is more protected than a pure aniline product and the color is more uniform. It’s good for regularly used pieces. This red sofa is likely upholstered in a semi-analine dyed product.
via Convict Hill Floor Covering & Design, Inc.

Pull-up / distressed leather.

Pull-up is a type of semi-aniline leather with a waxy topcoat added for protection. When it’s ‘pulled’ or stretched, the wax causes the dyes to spread, giving the hide a two-toned marbled effect. Pull-up leather is commonly referred to as “distressed” leather. The wax topcoat easily scratches, but these marks will often be absorbed back into the leather and soften over time.

via Barbarossa Leather

Weight and thickness.

Leather weight is typically measured in ounces per square foot. In an effort to make leather in uniform thicknesses, hides are run through a splitting machine. However, there is always a slight thickness variation throughout the hide. As a benchmark, one ounce of leather equals 1/64th of an inch thickness. So, a weight of 4 to 5 ounces. means the leather is 4/64th to 5/64th of an inch in thickness. This is why leathers are usually shown with a range of thickness, such as 4 to 5 ounces per square foot.

For home decor purposes, most full grain hides vary from 4 to 5 ounces per square foot; most top grains are in the 2 to 3 ounce per square foot range.

via Lake Flato Architects

Thickness and furniture style.

Don’t think that thicker leather is necessarily better. Not every leather will accommodate every style of furniture. Many of the full grain hides are too thick to round corners and are better suited for simple geometric pieces with tight backs. Thick leather is stiffer also a longer time to ‘break in’. For example, these rounded chairs are best complimented in a thinner, more supple that leather that can follow the contouring to create a well-tailored finished piece.

via Barbarossa Leather

Hide yield.

You probably won’t have to fuss over hides if you buy an already upholstered piece of furniture, but if you’re recovering a piece and are selecting leather hides, you’ll need to think about how much leather you need. Unlike fabric, hides are limited in size. David Spunda, sales director at Barabarossa Leather indicates the average cow hide yields 45 to 55 square feet. Sometimes half hides can be purchased, which offer between 18 and 25 square feet.

Also take into consideration the grain you’re buying. Full grain hides typically have fewer defects, thus higher usable square footage and less waste compared to top grain hides. Full grain leathers typically use 80% of the hide while top grains utilize only about 60% of the hide.

via Barbarossa Leather
The number of square feet of leather required for common furniture pieces are shown here. The average arm chair needs between 90 and 100 square feet. Sofas require between 235 and 325 square feet.
via Atherton Interior Designers & Decorators Fannie Allen Design


While leather prices can vary, expect to pay between $8 and $12 per square foot for top grain leather. A general range for full grain leather is $13 to $21 per square foot.

Spunda mentions that embossed leathers cost more because of the extra processing necessary to produce the patterning. Specialized leathers, like weaves,  also cost more.

via Oak Park Interior Designers & Decorators, Kelly Cleveland Interiors


Preventative measures will help your leather furniture last a long time. Here are a few:

  • Keep it out of direct sun, as UV rays will cause fading.
  • Keep indoor humidity levels as stable as possible. Remember that leather is a skin and low humidity can be especially damaging, causing cracking.
  • Be careful to not accidentally overspray other cleaning agents like dust spray.
  • Keep it furniture clean by brushing off loose debris. For cleaning spills, use a clean fabric cloth dampened with clean, distilled water.
  • Do not use wax, polish, saddle soaps, or oil leather cleaners unless specifically directed by the manufacturer because they might remove the finish and / or discolor the leather. If you do use leather conditioning products, be sure they’re advertised as “neutral”.

Fabric Focus: Wool

Wool usually makes people think of winter sweaters and heavy blankets, but it’s a versatile decor fabric for the cooler seasons too. Here’s what you need to know about this cozy, environmentally friendly fabric, including its many benefits and some disadvantages to watch out for. Click HERE for the full story.



Fabric Focus: Damask

via Camilla Molders Design

via Camilla Molders Design

You might know damask as a large-scale pattern of swirling, scrolling leafy foliage. But you might be surprised to learn that true damask isn’t a pattern, but rather a type of fabric.

Damask might seem heavy on the history side, but it’s not just for traditional spaces. Click HERE for the full story on using damask in your home.

Fabric Focus: Silk

via Anne Hauck Art Deco

via Anne Hauck Art Deco

Silk is probably the most revered fabric in the world. With its smooth hand and shimmery good looks, silk is elegant, natural and classic. Its understated sheen is delightfully lustrous without the garish shine found on some synthetics.

But if you thought silk was only for fancy spaces, you may be surprised. Learn more about this special fabric and how and where you might use a touch of it in your home. Click HERE for the full story!

Fabric Focus: Linen

Linen sofa

via Cezign

Linen is not just old, it’s ancient. Thousands of years ago, Egyptians wrapped mummies in it, and dyed-linen fibers have been found in prehistoric caves. The ancient Romans had a poetic name for linen, textus ventilus, meaning “woven wind.”

Though probably the world’s oldest fabric, linen is still kicking it in the 21st century. Its classic texture makes it a hot commodity in home decor. Want to know about using this comfy fabric in your home? Click HERE for the full story…

Fabric Focus: Matelasse

Matelasse can fit equally well in traditional and contemporary interiors

via Story & Space Interior Design and Color Guidance

Matelasse is a thick fabric with a quilted appearance. But unlike a quilt, which pieces together two layers of cloth with a central batting, matelasse is a single piece of fabric made on a jacquard loom. It gets its puckered look from an additional set of yarns made of coarse cotton, sometimes called crepe, that are shrunk during the finishing process. Click HERE to read more about matelasse and some different ways to use it in your home.

Fabric Focus: Crewel

via Angela Todd Designs

Crewel fabric, sometimes called crewelwork or crewel-embroidered fabric, is a hand-embroidered decorative fabric made with wool yarn on a firm cotton, linen or jute base. Designs are typically graphic, bold and colorful renditions of foliage, flowers or wildlife. The Tree of Life is a standard motif.

Crewel has been around about a thousand years and its roots are worldwide, having ties to India, Greece and Mongolia, among others. Today, most crewel is made in northern India in the Kashmir Valley. It reached its heyday in 17th-century England and was popular during the Jacobean period for bed drapery and wall hangings.

While crewel never went out of style, it seems to be gaining popularity again. Learn more about this venerable handicraft and where you might want to use it in your home. Click HERE for the full story…

What to Know About Switching to LED Lightbulbs

Swapping out incandescent for LED lightbulbs has several benefits. These include saving money on your electric bill, superior light quality, less impact on the environment and replacing bulbs once every decade or two instead of every few months.

But shopping for LEDs can be a dizzying experience. Aside from the bevy of bulb shapes to choose from, there are terms you’ve probably heard before, such as lumens and Kelvin, but don’t exactly understand. On top of that, there’s a seemingly endless array of light types and colors, such as daylight, warm white and so on. When you just need a couple of lightbulbs to replace, it all can be overwhelming.

If you’re thinking of making the switch, here’s what you should know about LEDs and selecting the best replacements. Click HERE for the full story.