Interior design in Florida homes has its own flavor: colors are lighter, shapes are airier, and the feeling is generally one that inspires cool thinking. Unlike northern climates, the coziness of a cold winter is rarely found in Jacksonville. With 90 degree days for much of the year, cozy turns into uncomfortable too quickly.
When it comes to upholstery, choices follow Florida flavor in terms of color and texture. Leather furniture may seem the worst choice possible, but it’s actually an almost perfect covering for sofas and other serious pieces. The secret is in choosing the right kind of leather furniture.
Furniture-grade leather comes in three varieties: aniline, semi-aniline, and pigmented. Aniline leather is drum-dyed, with the pigment going all through the leather. It is a very fine grade of leather, so no special coatings or treatments are put on the leather after dying. Its natural surface adds beauty to the piece. Semi-aniline leather is dyed the same way, except it can be buffed and sanded, and a protective coating is added. It feels almost as fine as an aniline piece, but the surface can withstand tougher treatment. Pigmented leather is surface dyed with a great amount of protective coatings.
The finish you choose depends on the daily use you demand from the piece. For a side chair that might see occasional use, aniline leather will be a supple and luxurious choice. If you have children or will use the piece daily, go for the protected semi-aniline. Pigmented leather is good for covering footstools or sofas and for other pieces that will see tough use.
It’s often thought that leather furniture makes you hot when you sit on it so it’s not appropriate for Southern use. Actually, leather conforms to your body heat about 10 seconds after you sit down, so it’s comfortable any time of the year. What can affect your personal feeling of comfort is the color of the leather. Psychologically, some colors read cooler than others. We feel cool and airy in rooms with lighter colors and warm and cozy in darker ones. Think of an English library versus a beach gazebo, and you’ll see the difference. The same concept works with your leather furniture.
Throw away your visions of chocolate brown leather. It will fill your room with a heavy feeling and make it seem hotter. The same goes for black leather, no matter now modern it may look. There is a world of colored leather that fits in perfectly with a Jacksonville lifestyle. Look for buttery caramels and pale yellow, tan, and beige. Use a pop of tropical bright color on an accent piece. If you’ve ever dreamed of having a bright red couch, this is the place to do it.
While color is important, the right color on a heavy, stuffy piece will still fill the room with a warm and heavy feeling. Look for modern designs with clean lines, unadorned long legs, and exposed lighter wood. Think modern art or even a variation of the classic Danish modern as opposed to the old chesterfield sofas of days gone by. If it looks like it belongs in a modern art showroom, you’re on the right track.