Leather versus fabric: choosing your new armchair


Here’s everything you need to know before investing in that new leather or fabric accent piece.


The right armchair can complete a room, offering a point of difference, a stylish accent or practical addition to your living zone. As a separate entity to your sofa, the armchair can be the opportunity to flex your creative muscle, have some fun or splash out on a statement piece. Deciding on the style and look of your armchair is one thing, but choosing the upholstery adds another layer to the process. Which option will last longer, or add the most to your space? We break down the crucial factors.



The first question you need to consider is, who will be using it? If you don’t have any children or pets, this part is easy. However, once you add kids and animals to the equation, things become more complicated. Leather is strong and durable, and can last a lifetime if you invest in quality, and take care of it over the years. It’s easy to keep clean and won’t trap pet hairs, but is susceptible to scratches and stains, which may affect the look of your leather upholstery. Man-made fabrics don’t really have that problem, and are easier to keep clean - however they will absorb smells and hold any pet hair and dander in the fibres more than leather, which isn’t great for allergy sufferers.



Your new armchair should either complement your existing living room setting or match it. Create contrast with a different type of upholstery or pattern - for example, a tan leather sofa with a colourful fabric armchair, or fabric sofa with a brown leather armchair in a striking shape. Avoid contrasting leathers, however, as they will look mismatched. If you choose a matching set, you’ll instantly create a cohesive look - just ensure they are in the same style or shape. If you decide on leather, it’ll only get more beautiful with age - the patina of this natural material requires some upkeep, but it’s worth it for the long-lasting beauty. Fabric, on the other hand, won’t retain clean, fresh appearance forever, and will require professional cleaning annually and perhaps even reupholstery after years of use.



In terms of softness, fabric is more comfortable from the get-go. The cool woven fabric plus the yielding nature of the material make it an instant winner, especially on hot summer days. Leather will be firmer at first, and tends to be less forgiving on those sticky, humid days, however, over time, your leather upholstery will be ‘broken in’, and become softer and more supple.



Leather requires regular upkeep and swift attention to keep it looking its best, with conditioning products required to stop it from drying out and cracking. Similarly, spills on fabric need to be attended to as soon as possible to reduce the impact of stains - but regular vacuuming is all that’s required in normal circumstances. It is usually more responsive to cleaning and washing, especially if you have removable cushion covers. You can relax with freedom’s automatic two-year upholstery warranty and 10-year frame warranty.