The Best Leathers: Our Top Picks for 2021

By Eileen Graham

 One of the most popular questions we get at COCOCOHome is “What is the best leather for furniture?” If it were only that simple. The answer isn’t going to be the same for everyone. Leather is such an individual material – it ranges in depth, color, and sheen. Leather can be thick, and rough-and-tumble, or it can be sophisticated and supple. We’ve put together a list of our favorite, 100% would-choose-for-ourselves leathers to weigh in on the discussion. 

“No question, I’d do my whole house in Ellis.” – Gina

“It’s just so soft and it feels so luxurious, and I like that it has a really heavy hand – unlike some other really soft leathers.” – Anna

WHY WE LOVE IT

A gorgeous neutral colorway, supple feel, and incredible burst make it a great leather for pretty much any piece. You really can’t beat how soft yet substantial this leather is. 

Rustic Leather Roundup

Rustic leathers have wonderfully earthy textures with depth and character. So many of our leathers would fit a rustic profile, but here are our favorite lines. 

Ellis

Brentwood

Wilderness

Cambridge

Colors we love: all of them!

Ellis has the ability to both feel rustic, as it is more on the matte side, and luxurious, due to its softness.

“It’s dreamy soft and has a good pull.” – Lilli

Colors we love: Navy

“I love how hearty and robust it feels. It’s authentic: you see so much variation and imperfections in the hide, every piece comes out a little different.”
– Anna

 

Colors we love: Buttercup

This is a really interesting leather with unique distress that changes color and burnishes. 

“Buttercup is perfect for an ottoman, but it is too heavy for a couch.”

– Steve

Colors we love: Sycamore + Winterpine

Sycamore pretty much goes with anything. And “Winterpine is a fun neutral option; not too bright with subtle color.” – Kari

Sleek or Glossy Leathers

These are some of our most refined leathers, perfect for Chesterfields or other tufted furniture.

Mont Blanc

Absolute

Windsor

Colors we love: Evergreen, Sycamore, Heaven, Emerald… we could go on. 

This is our most popular leather line for good reason. It’s super soft and looks especially great on tailored or tufted pieces. Plus, it comes in 40+ colors!

“It’s a little more upscale and I love the color range.” – Kari

Colors we love: Kiwi or Magenta

You can really go for it in a leather like Absolute. The Absolute line is really more of a patent leather and it will always make a statement. 

Colors we love: Wheat

A little less on the glossy side, more of a satin finish, with even color throughout. If you are into a sort of luxe, Restoration Hardware (RH) look, Windsor is a fantastic option. 

“It’s so soft.” – Anna

Mad for Matte Leather

Brentwood

Harness

Ellis

Berkshire

Most popular color: Tan

Why it’s great: Brentwood is a transitional leather with a modern look, perfect for both refined or rustic spaces.

“I love the colorway and its distressing ability.” – Lilli

 

Most popular colors: Cuero & Black

Why it’s great: Harness is a much drier leather without doing a true suede or nubuck. There is a slightly pebbled texture for dimension. If you want one of the deepest blacks there is, choose Harness Black. 

Most popular colors: Chocolate and Cypress

“I love how soft it is and the clean pull” – Lilli 

Even though it’s the new kid on the block, Ellis is quickly becoming as much of a customer favorite as it is a staff favorite. You get the best of both worlds with this leather – matte sheen and softness. 

Most popular colors: Bourbon and Chestnut

Berkshire is commonly also used by RH (Restoration Hardware) and several other furniture companies. It’s a household name for a reason: it looks great on pretty much anything and it’s family-friendly. 

Classics That Will Never Go Out of Style

Cambridge

Berkshire

Mont Blanc

Why it’s classic: Wonderful neutrals with dimension

Cambridge is made from buffalo hides, and looks like an aged leather, already broken in for you. This leather has wonderful texture and was absolutely made for a chesterfield. 

“It’s got a good vintage look to start, with a bit of distress, but builds its patina from there.” – Lilli 

Why it’s classic: Berkshire looks good on any frame – trendy or traditional – and is great for busy families, despite being on the matte side. 

Kari says she recommends Berkshire as a starting point for something that will wear well over time. “It translates well into a good classic leather in basic neutral colors.” 

Why it’s classic: Not only can Mont Blanc’s colorway not be beat, but Mont Blanc will age and patina with the best of them. 

Mont Blanc is buttery soft and is one of our most easy-to-clean leathers, so you pretty much can’t go wrong here.

Feeling Bold? Our Current Color Crushes

Psssst… here’s our secret:

FUN LEATHER COLOR + TUFTED PIECE = GREAT DECISION. 

Sure, brown and grey go with everything. But we can’t stop staring at these colors. And how many times in your life are you going to choose a brown sofa? Live a little.

If you are into statements and leaving an impression, we are here to guide you every step of the way. Here’s a no-fail way to inject color into your home. Pick a color from a throw pillow, rug, or piece of art in the room, and select a leather color range from that inspiration. For extra pop, go with a color that is not the predominately used color.

Ex: If your Persian rug has lots of rich reds and coppers with a few details of navy blue, you could do a navy blue or lighter blue furniture piece. Tone down the rest of the room by sticking to neutrals + small pops of blue. 

85x42 Chesterfield Leather Mont Blanc Emerald
Mont Blanc "Emerald"
Mont Blanc "Amethyst" on a King Size Chesterfield bed frame
Mont Blanc "Amethyst"
Classic Chesterfield in Mont Blanc Heaven
Mont Blanc "Heaven"
JB Martin's Mont Blanc "Tangier" leather on a Biltmore Chesterfield loveseat
Mont Blanc "Tangier"
Slope Arm Tight Back Loveseat 60x38 Leather Mont Blanc Bermuda Legs Square Taper Walnut Finish 9333 2 scaled ow8wms5rljqus8gnru2jsbfjyrohpq31c69tfm6rlg
Mont Blanc "Bermuda"
Clark Sofa in Absolute Kiwi Leather
Absolute "Kiwi"

Family-Friendly & Pet-Friendly Leather

We get it – you want real leather, but you also will probably eat on the couch from time to time.  No one wants to fuss over guests spilling a drink accidentally, or marks from the dog’s nails. Most of our clients are busy families in households with furry friends, wanting to know which are the best pet-friendly leathers or low-maintenance leathers. Here are our top-choices for leathers that can handle spills, scratches, being beaten up, and still look great. The wonderful thing about each of these leathers is that they will still age, and develop character and patina, while also being durable and fairly low-maintenance.

Mont Blanc

Berkshire

Cambridge

Why it works for families: “People assume you need a protected leather for kids and pets but that’s not always the case,” Jennifer says. “With Mont Blanc, you still get age and patina but it’s got a little more protection.” See examples of Mont Blanc above in our color crush section.

One of our top-selling leathers for a reason, Mont Blanc is fantastic for families with pets and kids. You’re gonna want to watch this video and see how easy it is. 

Why it works for families: With a thick, rustic, lived-in texture, Berkshire has a neutral colorway that can be dressed up or down. Scratches from pets don’t look out of place, it adds to the character. Berkshire is a type of leather that actually looks great “beat up.” 

“This one holds up pretty well and is low-maintenance.” – Kari 

“I love how much variation you get and natural character you get with Cambridge. When a dog jumps up and marks it, it just blends in.” – Anna

Why it works for families: Cambridge is already made to look like an aged leather, made from thick buffalo hides with a hearty grain. The waxed finish provides protection, but this antiqued leather will continue to accept abuse. 

Leather That Won't Scratch? Semi-Aniline Protected Leather

We often get asked about “leather that won’t scratch.” While leather is the most durable upholstery material out there, the short answer to that query is, that doesn’t exist. Leather is skin, after all, and skin will get scratched. But if small surface marks will drive you absolutely bonkers, semi-aniline is the way to go.  

Pros: Semi-aniline leathers will withstand a good amount of surface scratches and stains with a higher degree of protection, much like pigmented leather on a purse, or the leather on a car seat. Superficial marks and scratches from fingernails or a dog jumping on the sofa won’t appear at all. Semi-aniline leather also resists fading and is well-suited for commercial applications as well as busy households. This is a very low-maintenance leather. 

Cons: If this protective finish is penetrated by a deep scratch, it cannot be restored or buffed out. Semi-aniline leather is a fantastically low-maintenance, affordable material, but it will often sacrifice authenticity, dimension, and the opportunity for the leather to develop an attractive patina over time. We like to say these semi-aniline leathers are “frozen in time” because they will not change. We encourage our customers to weigh what is the most important to them when considering semi-aniline vs. aniline leather. 

Watch to learn more from Carroll Leathers:

Below are some of our favorite semi-aniline leather options. 

Williamsburg "Cobblestone"

Saloon "Luna"

Belmont

Childs Play

Our staff is pretty united on this: Williamsburg in the color “Cobblestone” is one most authentic-looking semi-anilines we carry. The sheen, dimension, and overall effect make it one of the more passable leathers as a full aniline, rather than a semi-aniline. And beyond that, it’s a fabulous neutral color that will work for most homes. 

Anna recommends Saloon leather in the color Luna.”If you’re going for a really light leather it’s better to choose protected, since a really light leather in a full aniline could look dingy after a while,” she says. Tough stains and ink transfers will be much easier to clean off a leather like this. 

Belmont is a full-aniline leather by Crest Leathers that has been “slightly corrected.” Belmont has a two-toned finish that will age and a soft hand, while also carrying the protective characteristics of a semi-aniline leather. This leather acts as a hybrid semi-aniline & full-aniline. 

Kari says she chose Childs Play from Carroll Leathers because it’s “a good neutral finish in a decent colorway.” We love the color “Kid Ink” which is a gray-blue and “Discovery Grey” which is a neutral gray color. 

Can you tell we love leather? We could do this all day. Give us a call at 704-892-6680 and ask for a swatch of any of the leathers highlighted here. 

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Cornelius Showroom
North Carolina

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Charlotte, our Cornelius showroom is worth the drive. Come see our latest collections in a beautifully restored cotton mill. Look through hundreds of leathers and fabrics and work with our dedicated team to get the details “just right”.

Exterior of COCOCO Home Charlotte
19725 Oak St #5
Cornelius, NC 28031
+1 (704) 892-6680
[email protected]

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