Decorating Around a Leather Sofa

Hey everyone, it’s the start of a new week! Let’s kick it off with a recent reader submission, an email from Kristin who posed a design dilemma many people (*ahem* ladies) face when decorating their living or family rooms, and today’s focus is on that piece that so many dudes […]

Hey everyone, it’s the start of a new week! Let’s kick it off with a recent reader submission, an email from Kristin who posed a design dilemma many people (*ahem* ladies) face when decorating their living or family rooms, and today’s focus is on that piece that so many dudes love, the leather sofa or sectional. I received this recent email from Kristin:

“Hello! I have been following your blog for years and I share a lot of the same styles but have a dilemma. My husband and I have a decent size house but one living room with a leather furniture set. I love the airy and clean looks of your decorating style, but the leather furniture purchased by my husband is big, dark, and manly.  We don’t have many windows and the walls are a light beige (Latte by SW) and I decorate with a lot of whites, blacks and beiges but I just feel STUCK! Any suggestions for making the room feel more light and feminine?”

Hi Kristin! This is a common dilemma, since many people own leather sofas and sectionals, and pieces upholstered in a traditional dark hide can feel visually heavy in a space. But I think it’s less about making a room feel more feminine and more about creating a room that is balanced with clever layering and accessorizing since (done right) leather sofas can be both attractive and comfortable. Here are five ideas I came up with to decorate around leather sofas.

1.)  Lighten Up.  A traditional leather sofa is dark by nature so the easiest way to balance that out is to accent and/or surround it with plenty of light for desirable contrast. A paler hue on the walls, soft cream or white accent pillows, and/or a light or white coffee table will accomplish just that!

leather sofa painted hive

The Painted Hive

essex leather west elm

West Elm via Apartment Therapy

leather chesterfield white walls

source unknown

leather sofa colorful rugs sfgirlbybay

SF Girl by Bay

   

2) Break It Up.  Another way to minimize the visual weight of a set of leather furniture is to break it up. Keep the sofa and find a place for the other pieces. Supplement with upholstered chairs for a chic and collected look instead of a matchy matchy one.

leather sofa upholstere chair

Apartment 34

   leather sofa upholstered chairs

Room & Board

 

3.) Layer Around It.  A leather sofa sitting all by its lonesome will dominate a space if you let it. So don’t. Take the focus away from leather furniture by layering a room with other furnishings in different finishes from bookcases to console tables to ottomans and end tables. This first image is of two leather chairs and not a sofa, but a great illustration of the technique. Notice how the blue cabinets behind and the striped fabric on the ottoman in front balance the supple leather furniture set in between.

blue cabinets leather chairs bhg

Better Homes & Gardens

Bring in dynamic artwork and living trees. Soften with pale fabrics to add contrast and metallic accents for interesting texture.

leather sectional sean michael design

Sean Michael Design

This image is another example of how to decorate around a dark sofa, even if it’s not leather. The gallery style art, the pale gray walls, and the airy furniture accents combine to balance the visual weight of a dark sofa anchored in the center of the space.

west elm brown sofa

West Elm

 

4.)  Study Retail Styling. Pottery Barn does an exceptional job of styling leather sofas in a room scene – take a cue from the way retail stylists layer with pillows and throw blankets and then surround it with different furniture and artwork with varying colors and textures.

brooklyn sofa pottery barn

Pottery Barn

pottery barn chesterfield

Pottery Barn

crate and barrel leather sofa

Crate + Barrel

 

5.) Embrace It.  There are several ways to detract from a big leather sofa, but there is another reason to love it and that is if it brings comfort to your home. Sure there are tricks to minimizing a leather sofa’s bulk and weight, but at the end of the day if the family loves it, then go with it.

leather sofas in family room

The Vintage Modern

Those throw pillows and blankets help but most importantly if your family or loved ones feel nestled and comforted on its cushions, then embrace the purpose it serves. Don’t forget, leather is family friendly and easy to clean!

leather sofa in family room southern living

Southern Living via My Home Ideas

For those of you who live with leather sofas or chairs, how do you accessorize or decorate around it?

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