Choosing between a leather and a fabric sofa is one of the biggest decisions for any homeowner, and it might also be one of the hardest. When we polled almost 400 people on what material they would choose, the results were pretty evenly divided, with leather sofas winning over fabric sofas by a slight margin.
But a choice like this is a subjective one, and what the majority of people think might not be what’s best for you. There are plenty of things to be taken into consideration when shopping for a new sofa: Do you have pets? Do you love napping after Netflix? Do you often have TV dinners? And if so, do they involve a lot of spaghetti bolognese?
Below, we pit leather sofas versus fabric sofas across 4 main categories: comfort, aesthetics, price, and maintenance to determine which is the best option for Singaporean homes.
Leather sofas vs fabric sofas in Singapore
When it comes to choosing the type of sofa to dominate your living room, the level of comfort will be one of the first things anyone considers. At the same time, this is also highly subjective. So I asked my family, friends, and colleagues if they prefer the comfort of a leather sofa or a fabric sofa. And unlike the results of the Telegram poll, fabric was the crowd favourite by a mile.
A white fabric sofa from Knocknock.
“It’s like sitting on your bed since it’s fabric,” Nicole said, and her sentiment was echoed by plenty of others. “It can also be used as a bed, plus your legs don’t stick to the couch on hotter days,” Isabel said, adding that fabric couches don’t have the “weird squelching sound” when you move around.
According to upholstery experts Blafink, fabric sofas also keep cooler for longer compared to genuine and faux leather. “We didn’t expect leather to reflect a higher temperature than the fabric upholstery at the start of our experiment,” Ashley Choo, founder of Blafink, told us. She too, recommended fabric sofas over leather for their comfort, especially in a local environment.
“Leather sofas get warm after awhile – it’s like hugging a person,” Ashley said. I also personally prefer the feel and comfort of fabric sofas, especially having had both at home. However, there’s a world of difference between a high-quality fabric couch and a cheap one, so just take heed.
The Grey & Sanders Reilly sofa in full-grain jethro leather.
Another important consideration when shopping for a sofa is its aesthetic. It’s not only crucial that you love looking at your sofa, but it also has to complement the rest of the space. For example, an oversized leather Chesterfield sofa would look out of place if placed in the middle of a minimalistic, Japandi-themed living room.
The main difference between leather and fabric on a surface level is that leather will always give off a more elegant and luxurious impression. A tan, full-grain leather sofa will instantly elevate the formality of any space, and its patina will add character as the years go by. However, Ashley disagreed, saying that patina is just “a fancy excuse for deterioration.”
That’s not to say fabric sofas don’t look good. Materials like suede and velvet can easily uplift the vibes of a fabric sofa in a room. In the same vein, linen and cotton have a more cosy, inviting feel. There are also more textures available in fabric options when compared to leather.
A green velvet sofa from Knocknock.
One thing that both leather and fabric sofas have in common is that they aren’t fans of direct sunlight, so it’s best to keep your blinds closed or place them in some shade, otherwise you’ll have a bleached and faded sofa after a few years.
Winner: Leather (by a little bit)
The Portage leather sofa from Grey & Sanders.
If you’re under the impression that fabric sofas are more affordable than leather sofas, you would be absolutely correct. The Portage sofa from Grey & Sanders is available in both materials, but the fabric version is only $2,799 compared to the leather version’s $4,699. That’s almost twice the price, and we aren’t even talking about the top-shelf leather types.
But that doesn’t mean fabric sofas are cheap. High-quality fabric sofas with qualities like water repellency, stain repellency, and pet resistance can cost a pretty penny. Sofas that have become iconic pieces of furniture like Restoration Hardware’s Cloud Couch can even fetch prices from US$6,295 (S$8,259) for a 2-seat option.
Budget-friendly/affordable sofas under $1,000
Here are some furniture stores selling affordable leather and fabric sofas:
Mid-tier sofas priced between $1,000-$5,000
Here are some furniture stores selling leather and fabric sofas in the middle tier:
Ultra-luxe sofas priced an upwards of $5,000
For those with bigger budgets, here are some furniture stores offering high-end leather and fabric sofas:
An often-overlooked aspect of sofas is its maintenance. From food stains to pet scratches and fading colours, the deterioration of sofas is an inevitable part of homeownership. But there are plenty of ways to slow it down with regular care and maintenance.
Leather sofas are much easier to handle on the regular. A wipe-down with a damp cloth should be done once every 2-4 weeks, and the application of leather conditioner should be done once a year. Stains are also easily manageable on leather sofas as it’s less porous than fabric
A cracked leather armchair.
Image credit: Blafink
Regular conditioning of the leather will also help it not crack and weather as it’s still a natural material. Lower-quality leather like genuine leather will also be more prone to cracking as it ages, unlike full-grain leather which will patina over time.
Fabric sofas, on the other hand, are a little more complicated to maintain. If you own a pet, you can bet that their fur and dander will be all over the sofa which means you’ll have to vacuum it at least once a week. Fabric is also more prone to scratches from animals, although big strides have been made in scratch-resistant fabric.
A curvy sofa upholstered with soft blue velvet.
One example is Blafink’s pet-resistant fabric. Ashley shared that her clients who have cats at home will go for that option which has been constructed with an additional layer to prevent claws from snagging. The material’s surface is also smooth enough that fur and hair can be cleaned off easily.
But at the end of the day, all it takes is one accidental spill of some red wine onto a white fabric couch. Pet or no pet, that’s one oopsie anyone with a fabric sofa would want to avoid at all costs, which is why we think that leather sofas win out just so slightly in this category.
P.S. Read our guide on how to remove common stains and spills.
Leather sofas & fabric sofas in Singapore
The Isaac leather couch from Castlery.
For all that has been said above, there will be no true victor in the great discourse of leather versus fabric sofas; it all depends on what you prioritise at home. Those who prize a sofa’s comfort and affordability the most will fare well with fabric sofas. Others who rate aesthetics and easy maintenance over the rest are fated for leather sofas.
|Leather Sofa||Fabric Sofa|
Read other comparison articles here:
Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.