The Fascinating History of Leather Upholstery

August 17, 2018

Just about everyone loves leather. There’s something about a rich leather couch that adds a dimension of character to any space. But have you ever wondered if leather furniture has always been so popular and how using leather for furniture came about? As a local expert in leather furniture restoration in San Diego, CA, we are fascinated by the history of leather furniture. If you are curious to know how leather furniture gained its popularity as well, here’s what we know.

Earliest days

Leather has always been a symbol of quality and was often only available to the elite. Because of the amount of work involved in making leather for upholstery purposes, leather furniture was reserved for the wealthy. Findings suggest that leather was used as early as the reign of Arabian rulers. Leather was used on the thrones and was considered a sign of privilege, power and wealth.

By the time of the Roman Empire, leather could be found in the homes of the wealthiest and most powerful leaders. In fact, leather also represented a distinction between the sexes. Men would lounge on divans covered in leather, while women would be seated nearby on plain wooden chairs or stools. Throughout the early days of leather furniture, we can see that it was almost always considered a status symbol.

476 A.D. to 18th Century

Starting in medieval times through the Industrial Revolution, we can see the use of leather furniture increasing for several reasons. First, the trade between Europe and Asia created a desire for varying styles of furniture that complemented leather well. Second, trading with the Americas brought new kinds of furs and hides, which increased an interest in leather, since new varieties of leather were becoming available. Despite leather’s growing popularity, however, it was still very time consuming and expensive to make leather furniture. As a result, leather furniture was still a luxury for the wealthy only.

18th to 20th Century

During the industrial revolution, as with everything else, making certain objects became more efficient and cheaper, and leather upholstery was no exception. While some steps of the leather upholstery process still needed to be completed by hand, a majority of the work was streamlined. By the 19th century, leather furniture could be found in many middle class homes.

20th Century to the present

Leather furniture became a staple piece in homes, as technology made the process of making leather furniture even simpler and trade with Europe grew. By the 1960s, leather was not only being used in a wide variety of furniture styles, but it could now be purchased in new colors from white to bright green. Today, leather furniture is still popular in a wide variety of decorating styles and is seen as a luxury piece of furniture.

If you appreciate leather as much as we do, we’re certain that you care about the history and preservation of these unique, quality pieces. If you have leather furniture that ever needs some care or repair, be sure to call Total Leather Care, your source for leather furniture restoration in San Diego, CA.

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