Wondering how to decorate a leather sofa? Don’t miss these decorating ideas for Brown leather couches!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived with leather sofas. As a kid, we had a navy leather couch which survived me and all three of my brothers – plus the four dogs – for almost two decades. In fact, other than the time my youngest brother carved my middle brother’s name into it (he was smarter than to sign his handiwork with his own name… but the backwards J gave him away), that sofa held up beautifully. And now, with four kids of my own, I’m still choosing brown leather couches for their longevity (and psst… you can read about how I care for and clean my leather furniture here).

I actually adore the look of our newest leather sofa (read all about it here if you’re interested), but most of my years of brown leather sofas have been spent trying to minimize their presence in the room. I think leather is having a come back (especially streamlined beauties like our new leather sectional at the ranch), but big brown beasts can be tricky to decorate either way. So I thought I’d share some simple tips for decorating leather couches in case you’re in the same boat.

HOW TO DECORATE A LEATHER SOFA

Until the fabric sectional we got in our family room last year, I’ve had only dark leather sofas for as long as I can remember (and I actually still have one in our formal living room at our house).  And as I confessed recently, I kind of miss the low-maintenance of leather in our family room. But although I find fabric easier to decorate than leather, I’ve gathered a few brown leather couch decorating suggestions along the way.

LIGHTEN IT UP

Brown, navy, and black leather sofas are dark, heavy pieces in any living room. I have painted the walls light gray or white in both our living rooms to offset the brown leather furniture, but you could also choose to lighten it up with lighter colored accents: throw pillows, throw blankets, rugs, chairs, curtains, and more.

ADD PILLOWS

Just because it’s leather furniture doesn’t mean you can’t have some fabric, and throw pillows are a wonderful way to bring in color and softness.  One word of advice: avoid super slick pillow covers (like a sateen finish) as it will drive you bananas trying to keep them in place on the smooth leather. Thicker, highly textured fabrics make the best throw pillows for leather couches. In our new ranch living room, I decorated the leather sectional and accent chairs with velvet pillows, linen pillows, and a patterned one from Pottery Barn.

COMPLIMENT WITH SOFTER TEXTILES

Speaking of throw pillows, soft textiles are a wonderful way to provide the cozy comfort that some people miss with leather furniture.  I love using velvet, linens, and heftier cotton blends for throw pillows; they provide great textural contrast while still staying put on the sofa or chair fairly well.  I also bring lots of throw blankets and a texture-rich rug into the space, all adding to the cozy factor.

BALANCE THE WEIGHTINESS OF THE SOFA

It could be a full bookcase beside a dramatic fireplace…


Or a huge, simple mirror… or a dramatic black and white gallery wall. But whatever you decide, don’t under-scale the other things in the room or your huge leather beast will feel too heavy.

BRING IN PATTERN

Along the same vein, leather furniture can sometimes feel rather stark or monotonous, especially when you have a leather sofa and leather chairs. So bringing in patterns – in throw pillows, rugs (and yes, I’ve been playing some musical rugs lately  ), or even artwork – can help break up the solids and add interest.

LEATHER LIVING ROOM FURNITURE

So what do you think?  Do you have a leather sofa? How do you decorate it?

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