Sometimes we get a call from a COCOCO customer who is concerned that his or her sofa is damaged. One common cause of concern is new leather sofa winkles or ripples on a seat cushion. Maybe it seems messy or unfinished to you. Often this wrinkling may happen a few days after the sofa arrives at your home. The leather or fabric will stretch some in the first few days of the life of the sofa and is completely normal.
We assure you this is extremely common and actually necessary for your comfort. In fact, these are called “comfort wrinkles” or puddling. This is not a defect. You should expect some new leather sofa creasing or wrinkling on a high-quality leather or fabric sofa, as we are stretching upholstery over a squishy surface. But to be completely taut would be a sign of a cheaper, uncomfortable couch.
When you have a tighter upholstered finish on a seat cushion, there leaves no room for a soft crowning effect from down or trillium fiber on the cushion. All you would be left with is a very hard foam, with no extra fill, and an inferior sitting experience. We could do that of course, but we wouldn’t be called The Comfortable Couch Company anymore. You could choose a tightly woven fabric to produce a firmer “sit” and less wrinkle.
To demonstrate how common this is, let’s look at some images from other designers:
Each of these sofas is inviting, soft-looking and decidedly luxe.
Look a little closer. Very often on closer examination, you can see some changes in the texture of the hide. We’ll ask a for a photo or two to get a better look, but it is likely a scar from the cow brushing against barbed wire, often appearing remarkably like a pen stroke.
All aniline leather is natural, not color corrected, and will show marks that are inherent to the hide. These marks include scars, brands, healed bug bites, fat lines, beauty marks, and freckles. Hides are made from skin, after all, and Photoshop does not exist in our analog lives.
Check out the photos below of pieces from one of our showrooms:
How cool are these ripples?!
Maybe you didn’t notice them when you were in our showroom but marks like these are on all of our showroom aniline pieces. In fact, these photos were taken in the Nashville showroom and on my own sofa.
At COCOCO Home, we actually think a lot of these marks are crazy cool. You can actually see evidence of the life of the hide on display, an authenticity that only comes from aniline leather, lending to its depth and richness. Even better, you know that your piece will not look exactly like anyone else’s! Who wants mass-produced cognac leather? Don’t you get enough of that in the market? It’s just way more interesting. Much like how a patinaed vintage sofa increases in value, so does a sofa with authentic markings like these.
That said, we do offer leathers that are typically very “clean” hides, which means that they have minimal scarring and imperfections but usually come at a higher price. Ellis, Valhalla, and Virtue would fall under a very “clean” hide category.
Eastwood and Telluride would be examples of a “dirty” hide with scars more commonly found.
Perfectly matched upholstery depends mostly on the material choice. We prefer our customers to call us before making a purchase to understand what it is they are ordering so expectations are met.
If we are talking about semi-aniline leather such as Saloon or Bronx, it is very unusual for leather cushions and back pillows to not be uniform in color. After all, semi-aniline is a color-corrected leather. If this were the case, it would probably never reach you as we would have reached out to the leather company for a different batch before completing the piece.
It is also very uncommon for fabric to not match color piece to piece. However, sometimes the dye lot is odd. Usually, these issues are discovered in the cut-and-sew phase of manufacturing, where it becomes more obvious, and material may have to be re-ordered.
Aniline leather is leather that has been dyed all the way through. Aniline leather allows one to see all the beautiful natural characteristics of a unique hide. What we see more often when it comes to “not matching” is a variation in each hide within the same dye batch and even within the same hide for aniline leather.
Most important to note: The more “pull” a leather has, the more chance for variation. To test for pull on your swatches, stretch the leather, and run your finger underneath the leather to see if a lighter pop of color shows through. This is pull. Leathers that have a lot of pull have a burst of color, may appear lighter or darker on seams and folds, shown best in something like a chesterfield sofa. Some very saturated colors will not have much pull at all. Semi-aniline leathers and fabrics don’t have pull so that’s why this doesn’t occur with those materials.
One end of the hide may be darker than the other end of the exact same hide. This is dependent on natural characteristics of the leather and how it took the dye, though our upholsterers do their best to thoughtfully place darker hides in areas where the material will stretch and lighten to better match the other pieces.
Some years a leather color will be dark and others lighter, such as what we have seen with a popular color like Mont Blanc “Caramel.” 2020 batches of Caramel have been darker than previous years. Your swatch may be a few shades lighter or darker than your piece is after upholstery, as the swatch is from a different batch than your piece, and the leather will be pulled in upholstery.
In the case that there tends to be unpredictable variation (with Mont Blanc “Riviera” and Echo “Cognac” this happens frequently) we would request a CFA or a “Cutting For Approval”. This means we request a preview from the leather company. They then mail you a cutting from the current dye batch of your aniline leather for your approval. If all looks great, then we will order that batch for your piece. If it is not to your liking, we will source from the next batch. CFAs can delay the production process, but are worth it if you are after a very specific color.
Your upholstery choice and the piece’s frame both have a lot to do with furniture’s longevity, durability, and comfort. On a sofa with a long bench cushion, the cushion will wear out faster than a sofa with multiple cushions that can be rotated and flipped. Similarly, tight-back and tight-seat pieces such as the Arden or the Chelsea Chesterfield will always be stretched more than a pillow-back sofa like the Monroe. This means that the Chelsea Chesterfield in the same leather upholstered on a Monroe may appear lighter due to more stretching. The Chelsea will also maintain its shape longer, due to being tufted all over.
We understand that customers are looking for a range of looks from more organic and lived-in, to more refined. Before placing a furniture order, it is always best to consult your COCOCO Home designer with any questions about new leather sofa wrinkles, creasing, or any other concerns about the final product.