Design Advice: Blending Leather vs. Fabric

culture / furniture / Interesting / news

One of the most common design questions I get asked is a selection of the following:

“Can I mix Leather with Leather?”

“Can I mix Fabric with Fabric?”

“Can I mix Leather with Fabric?”

First off, the answer is yes, to all the above, yes. But as I am sure you are painfully aware, not all upholstery goes together.
Green sometimes goes with white, and sometimes it doesn’t. Tweed sometimes goes with stripes, and sometimes… it definitely doesn’t.

To help guide you, here are two key points worth considering when selecting upholstery combinations:

Undertone: For example, if you have a Grey leather sofa, you musn’t feel the need to pair everything else in the room in the exact same grey leather (gone are the days of the matching sofa sets). Rather, look at the grey and find out what kind of grey it is. Is it a warm grey or a cool grey? If it’s warm, perhaps there are some soft browns you could bring in; and if it’s a cool grey, you may be better suited with something in the ice-white family.

Texture: Imagine your living room as an ocean. A big, beautiful, shimmering ocean; and now add a mountain range, and some trees. Each unique addition to the landscape highlights and balances out the other elements, ultimately creating one cohesive image.
Translating this into design terms: the ocean is your furniture (you with me?) So if you have all leather, or all one texture of fabric, it can come off a bit dull or washed out. But you throw in a tree (new texture) or some mountains (other texture) and bam! you have a well curated, well balanced space. Keep in mind that texture may sometimes be added with accents such as pillows or blankets, but no matter how you achieve it, it must always be considered.

In design, rules are more like loose guidelines, guidelines which are meant to be broken. It seems that the moment a rule is put out there, designers pull together and break it in the most beautiful way.

With that said, if you are just getting your sea legs in design, and would like a rule of thumb for upholstery blending: When in doubt, go with the blend of fabric and leather (or leather alternative), this rule is foolproof in achieving effortless combinations.