I’m going to shame myself in this post, and hope you all learn from my mistakes!

About 8 years ago I bought a sofa set on Craigslist that had seen better days but wasn’t beyond help. I had my team restore it as a training exercise and it took us FOREVER, but it turned out absolutely gorgeous. It was vibrant and soft and supple. Scroll to the bottom for a gallery of the restoration process.

My team and I have done leather care and restoration now for about 10 years, but as a lot of professionals do, I tend to take care of my own stuff last… or not at all in this case.

My home environment is very typical of Marin and San Francisco climate conditions, it’s nice most of the year, gets a little hot in the summer, but nothing extreme. The couch did not live in air-conditioning. I should have cleaned and conditioned my newly restored couch every six months. You can see our recommendations for maintaining your leather here.

I did no such thing. In fact, I did nothing. Below is a beautiful gallery of what happened to my sofa due to my neglect.

  • The leather has dried out and decayed.
  • You can see the deep cracks in the areas that are in the best shape. The pigment has begun to completely flake off where we had done some oil extraction before the restoration.
  • The seat cushions and arms are ripping.

I only expected to get about 10 more years of life out of the sofa following the restoration, but I got only six as this sucker should have been tossed years ago. The real killer is that I love this set, and if I had a choice, I would replace it with the exact same thing!!

So don’t do what I did and kick yourself for not caring for the things that you love. Condition your leather every six months and I promise it will love you back and last and last and last.

And one other juicy tidbit, if you do not care for your leather, it will also never be a candidate for restoration. Leather needs to be in good shape in order for restoration to be effective and long lasting.

Our technicians are all certified in leather cleaning and leather restoration. They can identify all types of leather and recommend the best course of treatment to maintain it as long as possible!

So as a recap:

  • Clean and condition your suede and leather furniture or area rugs every six months.
  • Keep leather top shape, and even as it reaches middle age, it can be restored to its younger glory and last even longer.
  • Neglecting your twice annual cleanings will result in premature cracking, tearing and decay, 100% guaranteed.

Below is a gallery of the restoration process of that piece.

3 Tips for buying used leather furniture:

  1. Buying used leather furniture can be very tricky, because there are so many different grades of leather out there. “Genuine leather” is genuine in the same way as particleboard is “genuine wood.”
  2. Not knowing the origin of the leather means that you risk overpaying for a very low quality grade of leather that hasn’t been maintained well.
  3. If you are able to determine the origin, great! Your next concern is how has it been maintained?
    • I recommend asking the seller what he or she used to clean and condition the piece. It’s a simple question and you are just looking for an answer that means they thought about it.
      • If they don’t know, it means that they didn’t think about it and they either cleaned it with some household soap or they didn’t clean it at all.
      • If they used a household cleaner, it speeds up the aging rather than slowing it down and you can be sure they never conditioned it.
      • If they tell you what product they used, you are in good shape – if they can tell you how often they used it, it is a good deal.