5 Questions To Ask When Buying Leather Furniture

Custom Leather Bench from Rustic ArtistryThis is a guest post from Carole of Rustic Artistry, she is here give us insight about purchasing leather furniture and help us shop smarter and identify quality furniture. 

Before you purchase a leather sofa, chair or ottoman, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. There are wide differences in quality, and even two pieces that may look very similar at first glance can, in fact, bear very little resemblance to each other once their true construction and materials are revealed.

Whether you shop at your local furniture store or online, make sure the seller can provide you with answers to each of these questions before you open your wallet.

5 Questions You Must Ask When Buying Leather Furniture

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1) What Kind Of Leather Is It?

You can find leather furniture made with everything from top of the line leather –called full grain or top grain – to bonded leather, which is made from pulverized scraps mixed with glue. If you aren’t familiar with the various grades (and most people aren’t), and there aren’t samples available for side-by-side comparison, you might think that a bonded leather sofa looks just fine. The difference in quality is actually quite significant.


The best furniture leathers are full grain and top grain. Both are taken from the outermost layer of the hide just below the hair.

Full grain is the strongest and most durable leather available. The grain pattern is very tight and prominent, which is why it’s called full grain. It is very resistant to moisture and develops a lovely patina over time.

Top grain is taken from the same section of hide, but a few millimeters of the top surface are sanded off to remove blemishes, such as scratches, barbed wire nicks, brands and other imperfections. This gives top grain leather a very consistent overall appearance. Top grain leather feels luxuriously soft to the touch because its surface has been buffed and smoothed. It is, however, slightly less durable than full grain leather, so there is a tradeoff between having leather that shows natural markings and nicks versus one that is free of imperfections. Either one will withstand many years of use so it’s a matter of which look you prefer.

Another reason to choose full or top grain leather is its ability to acclimate to your body temperature. Because they contain 12-14% water, even leather that feels cold at first will warm to your body temperature in 10-15 seconds.

– Next on the quality scale is Split leather, which comes from the middle layer of the hide. It starts out fuzzy on both sides, then gets processed to flatten the texture and is often imprinted with a pattern to simulate the natural texture of full grain. Due to the processing it is not as durable as full or top grain.

Bonded leather is full grain leather’s wayward cousin. It is made from the scraps left behind after large pattern are cut from full hides. They are then ground, died and affixed to a synthetic under layer. Bonded leather is only required to contain 17% actual leather. Its plastic coating means that it doesn’t breathe like 100% leather, so it can be uncomfortable to sit on after a while. It does, however, repel spills and stains very well.


2) How is the leather dyed?

Pure Aniline (a type of dye) signifies hides that are dyed in large spinning drums, which allows the dye to soak completely through for a rich, deep color. Aniline dyes are transparent so all of the natural markings of the hide, such as scratches, skin folds and brands, remain visible. No protective coating is added, which leaves the leather incredibly supple and soft to the touch. The downside is that it is susceptible to stains and fading. It’s best reserved for furniture that will not get much actual use and is kept out of direct sunlight.

Semi-aniline (also called protected aniline) is much more versatile for upholstery leather. It is also dyed in a drum, but it has a thin layer of coating applied, which gives it better protection against stains and fading than pure aniline leather. The markings and grain are still visible, allowing the leather to retain its natural look.

Pigmented refers to a finished leather that has an additional layer of opaque color applied to the surface. The pigmented coating is formulated specifically for leather so that it can flex and allow the leather to breathe. A clear coat is then applied for protection and to impart various sheens from matte to gloss. Pigmented leather may not feel as soft and supple as aniline or semi-aniline, but it will be able to withstand the rigors of children and pets. It doesn’t show stains as readily, it’s easier to clean, and fades very slowly. Car upholstery is a good example of a pigmented leather application.


3) How much of the furniture is covered with real leather?

Some manufacturers cut corners by using real leather only on the contact areas: those sections that your body touches such as the seat, arm rests and seat back. They use lower grade materials such as bonded leather or vinyl for the outside arms and back side. The problem with this is that the various sections will age differently, eventually resulting in an unattractive two-tone chair or sofa.

Make sure the furniture is made with real leather throughout, and be on the lookout for labels that say leather faced, leather match or faux leather. As an example, a Google search for a “leather chair” turned up one that listed the material as leather, but actually is 20% recycled leather and 60% polyerfaine. A full size armchair that’s only several hundred dollars is unlikely to be 100% real leather throughout.

Chairs Being Bolted Together

Chairs being bolted together. 

4) How are the frame and cushions constructed?

A sofa or chair that is beautiful on the outside will have a short life if the frame it’s built on is not properly constructed. Signs of a quality frame include:

– Kiln dried hardwood – Kiln drying removes all moisture from the wood, enabling it to retain its shape and stability over a long period of time. Plywood or particleboard frames may warp over time. A good quality sofa or chair will be heavy due to its dense hardwood frame.

– Well-formed joints – In a good quality frame, the joints are glued, dowelled and screwed and the corners are further strengthened by the addition of reinforcing blocks. Lesser quality furniture is fastened with staples, which will not provide long-lasting stability.

– 8-way hand tied coils and no-sag inner springs – This means that each spring is attached to the adjoining spring with strong twine. The twine is threaded front to back, side to side and then diagonally in both directions resulting in very securely tied springs.

– High-density collapse-resistant cushions – The higher the density the firmer the cushion will be. A density rating of 1.8 signifies excellent quality. Lower density foam cushions will lose their shape and start to break down quickly. High-density foam can be wrapped with a soft material such as cotton or down to provide longevity while still having a very soft feel. Avoid foam wrapped in Dacron. It is less expensive, but it won’t last as long.


4) What is the warranty?

– A quality furniture maker will have no hesitation in offering a generous warranty. Look for a lifetime warranty on the frame and cushions. Leather is a natural material and will wear over time, but you should expect that the color won’t rub off or crack.


One last thing to consider when purchasing leather seating is if it can be customized for the height or weight of the people who will be sitting on it. Adding a few inches to the seat depth or height will make a big difference in comfort for a tall person. Likewise if the piece will primarily be used by someone who is petite, reducing those dimensions means no one’s feet will dangle above the floor. If the homeowner is more than 250 pounds it’s beneficial to have some extra bracing built into the frame to ensure long-term stability.

Leather furniture is a purchase where you definitely get what you pay for. Top quality sofas, chairs, benches and ottomans are an investment that will pay you back with many years of enjoyment and comfortable use.

Western Leather Chairs from Rustic Artistry

Thank you Carole for this awesome information, interested in any of the furniture pictured here? Visit Rustic Artistry online > 


2015 Wings Of The Journey Boots


2015 Lagrange Leather Limited Edition Wings of The Journey Boots

The 2015 Wings Of The Journey boots from Lagrange Leather are available now for pre-order! This is the 8th limited edition design cancer awareness boots from Lagrange. The boots will not arrive until August but they always sell out so don’t delay in ordering if you want a pair. I featured the 2013 Wings Of An Angel boots and the 2014 Wings Of Hope boots and they were both very popular.

100% of the profits will be donated to Nellie’s Catwalk For Kids, each pair of boots will be signed and numbered by Babs (designer and creator) .

2015 Wings of The Journey Limited Edition Boots by Lagrange Leather

The boots feature an 11 inch tops, antiqued leather and embroidered pink ribbons and wings. Hurry up and order your boots today because once they are gone, they are not going to be made again!

Pre-order online at Lagrange Leather > 

Stable Style: Tack Room Envy

White tack room with metal storage and hooks

A nice tack room for a horse person gives the same joy as a beautiful shoe closet does for the fashionista. Per usual I am drooling over these beautiful tack rooms that I just had to share. Also be sure to check out Stable Style: 8 Tack Rooms to Inspire for more stunning tack rooms.

The tack room above features bright white walls and modern metal racks and lots of storage.

Photo source > 

Tack room with mounted saddle racks

Gorgeous wooden flooring, cabinets and big beautiful saddle racks. Seriously, how pretty are those saddle racks?

Photo source > 

Charming tack room

This might actually just be a mud room but it’s the perfect place for boots and riding accessories.

Photo source > 

Bright and spacious light wood tack room

Tack room with washer and dryerA tack room with a washer and dryer is definitely a bonus.

Photo sources > 

Western tack room

Western tack room with lots of good natural light.

Photo source > 

Spacious and stunning wooden tack room

A spacious tack room.

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Tack room with ribbons on the wall

This space has nice high ceilings.

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Stunning wooden two story tack room

I saved my favorite for last…

Stunning wooden tack room filled with western saddles

The tack room is perfection and how cool is this antler saddle rack? Ps. don’t forget to check out the rest of this facility, it’s amazing.

Photo sources > 

And remember to check out Stable Style: 8 Tack Rooms to Inspire for more stunning tack rooms.

Summer Albacore Tuna Sliders: 2 Ways

Albacore Tuna Sliders, 2 Ways

Looking for a quick and easy dinner or lunch this summer? Tuna burgers can be made quickly and the best part is you usually have all of the ingredients in stock in your pantry. Canned tuna, eggs, bread crumbs… all very basic kitchen food items. Top them with fresh vegetables, cheese and homemade sauces, and you have a great meal.

I opted to make cute and adorable sliders for dinner instead of burgers so I could create a couple different options; a Mediterranean Slider and a Candied Jalapeno Slider. Both of my sliders were created using Bumble Bee® Prime Fillet® Pouches.

Bumble Bee® Prime Fillet® Gourmet Flavors Albacore Tuna combines the highest quality albacore tuna with the best, flavorful restaurant-inspired ingredients. Tuna like this is convenient and nutritious, you can find it in 2.5oz pouches (single serving) or 5oz cans. It’s perfect for making quick meals or great for traveling. You can also try Bumble Bee Sensations® lightly marinated premium tuna. It’s available in 3.6oz kits or 4oz cans. I love all of the flavored options, you can check out the lineup online.

Bumble Bee Albacore Tuna with Sundried Tomatoes and Olive Oil

The Mediterranean Slider used Bumble Bee® Prime Fillet® Albacore Tuna with Sundried Tomatoes & Olive Oil. I topped them with a homemade yogurt dill sauce, cucumber slices and feta cheese.

Mediterranean Albacore Tuna Sliders with Cucumber and Dill Yogurt Sauce

The Candied Jalapeno Slider was made from Bumble Bee® Prime Fillet® Albacore Tuna with Jalapeños & Olive Oil. I topped the mini burgers with candied jalapenos, a zesty seasoned sour cream and pepper jack cheese. Sliders go great with fries, salads or are the perfect size for snacking.

Bumble Bee Albacore Tuna with Jalapenos and Olive Oil

Albacore Tuna Sliders with Pepper Jack Cheese, Candied Jalapenos and Zesty Sour Cream

The best part about these tuna sliders is you don’t have to add in additional herbs and spices because the tuna is already flavored to perfection. Just add in eggs, bread crumbs, garlic and some red onions. These go together quickly and with minimal effort.

Summer Albacore Tuna Sliders: 2 Ways

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 12 burgers

Flavorful Mediterranean Albacore Tuna Sliders and Sweet Candied Jalapeno Albacore Tuna Sliders.


    Mediterranean Albacore Tuna Sliders: (makes 6 sliders):
  1. 2 2.5 ounce pouches Bumble Bee® Prime Fillet® Albacore Tuna with Sundried Tomatoes & Olive Oil
  2. 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 tablespoon diced red onion
  5. 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  6. 6 slider buns
  7. 12 cucumber slices (2 per sandwich)
  8. Feta cheese
  9. Yogurt Dill Sauce:
  10. 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  11. ½ teaspoon dill seed
  12. ½ teaspoon dill weed
  13. 1 tablespoon chopped cucumber
  14. 1 clove minced garlic
  15. Candied Jalapeno Albacore Tuna Sliders (makes 6 sliders):
  16. 2 2.5 ounce pouches Bumble Bee® Prime Fillet® Albacore Tuna with Jalapeños & Olive Oil
  17. 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  18. 1 egg
  19. 1 tablespoon diced red onion
  20. 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  21. 6 slider buns
  22. Candied Jalapenos (2-3 slices per burger)
  23. 6 slices pepper jack cheese
  24. Zesty Sour Cream :
  25. 2 tablespoons sour cream
  26. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  27. 1 teaspoon srircha hot sauce


  1. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare the tuna sliders:
  3. Grab two medium sized bowls and add the ingredients for each slider into them - 2 pouches of tuna, bread crumbs, egg, red onion and garlic per bowl.
  4. Mix up well with a spoon or your hands and divide into six equal parts.
  5. Flatten and place on a nonstick baking sheet, you should have 12 sliders (6 of each kind).
  6. Bake for 15 minutes on one side, flip and bake for an additional 10 minutes on the other side.
  7. Prepare the slider toppings:
  8. Slice buns, and cucumbers for the Mediterranean sliders and set aside.
  9. Add yogurt, dill seed, dill weed, cucumber and garlic to a small bowl and mix well.
  10. Slice pepper jack cheese for the Candied Jalapeño Burgers and set aside.
  11. Add sour cream, cumin and srircha to a small bowl and mix well.
  12. Assemble the sliders:
  13. Once the tuna sliders are finished baking, put them together.
  14. Add the sun dried tomato tuna slider to a bun with a couple slices of cucumber, pieces of feta and the yogurt sauce.
  15. Add the jalapeño tuna slider to a bun with a few candied jalapeños, a thick slice of pepper jack cheese and zesty sour cream.


You can find candied jalapeños at a grocery store or make your own at home. If you need help with a good recipe for candied jalapeños just ask.


I was satisfied after two sliders so if you are planning a party or dinner figure about 2-3 sliders per person.These sliders also make awesome leftovers.

Albacore Tuna Sliders

You can find Bumble Bee® tuna products at your local grocery store and they also have a handy store product locater online.

Albacore Tuna Sliders for Lunch

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Red, White and Boho

Red, White and Boho Look 1 | Horses & HeelsIt’s been a while since I shared a look created here on Polyvore so I thought I would leave you with a little 4th of July outfit inspiration. I call these outfits “red, white and boho” boots, paired with funky accessories and a little bit of fringe.To get any of the outfit details, visit Horses & Heels on Polyvore.

What are you wearing on July 4th?

Red, White and Boho Look 2 | Horses & Heels

Lots of fringe is always a do!

Red, White and Boho Look 3 | Horses & Heels
Try a maxi skirt and a crop top.
Red, White and Boho Look 4 | Horses & Heels
Or a detailed denim dress.

Introducing ManeJane Spur Straps

English riding accessories and an introduction to ManeJane spur straps


ManeJane is making turquoise, red, orange, green, pink, and bling the new black.” The addition of color to an english rider’s attire has been a slow and steady change throughout the industry and Horses & Heels fully supports it! Just a week before being contacted by Shelby, ManeJane’s creator I saw the straps in store at Gee Gee Equine Equestrian Boutique and LOVED them!

Colorful ManeJane Spur Straps

The straps are made locally in California (right near San Diego) with the finest quality leather. Shelby sent me a pair of straps to review and I was happily up for the challenge. The leather is strong, soft, supple and smells amazing. Each pair of straps features an adorable pair of charms and these straps look good in and out of the show ring.

ManeJane Turquoise Spur Straps

ManeJane’s packaging is fun, the leopard bag is well suited for the brand.

Introducing ManeJane Spur Straps for the Discerning Equestrian

You can shop online for ManeJane spur straps or visit a local retailer.

If you don’t see something you like, request a custom order and be the designer.

ManeJane Spur Straps Close Up

Ps. for those of you who can’t seem to get into color, never fear ManeJane offers brown and black straps too.

ManeJane Spur Straps, Turquoise is the new Black

See the rest of the collection online at ManeJane.com

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