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Is a Cognac Leather Sofa Timeless or Trendy: Yay or Nay

By 08/16/2020February 15th, 202233 Comments

Are you noticing more cognac leather in interior design? Do you find it timeless or trendy? Let me explain that while this colour is trending, it is still a timeless choice for a sofa.

When my CTO Terrence Murtagh (below), checked into this Air B&B in Tucson, he sent me a photo with this question “Is this look trending right now?”

I replied, “It certainly is.”

And he said, “All the Air B&B’s we were looking at, had this decor.”

Terrence Murtagh

First I just have to say, when I’m looking for an Air B&B in Canada, pretty much most of the decorating here, is the world of espresso or black puffy and overstuffed leather furniture–those of you who follow me on Instagram stories would have had a glimpse of the vintage, original 70s house Terreeia and I rented on Vancouver Island a couple weeks ago. 

And one of the big reasons, is because ya’ll in the US just have so much more access to affordable home decor. By the time it gets here from the US with duty, exchange and shipping added, it’s expensive. Renovations cost way more here as well so they just don’t happen with the same frequency.

I’m so envious when I see an Air B&B with this kind of decorating. Granted, it’s desert style too, I get it, but it’s also really pretty and is rare where I live.

Is Cognac Leather Timeless or Trendy?

Do you notice a predominant colour here? Why yes I’m sure you do, it’s cognac.

Cognac is a colour that has been trending for a few years now but I would say cognac is the new charcoal. 

So, is a cognac sofa a timeless or trendy colour?

Yes –  it is a timeless sofa colour.

It just happens to be trending. Just like during the grey trend when white subway tile was trending. I received constant emails asking me when subway tile would be OUT. 

Read more: Are you wondering how soon your farmhouse kitchen will look dated?

Twelve years ago when I started writing this blog, one of the first posts I wrote was about was leather furniture and which colour I thought was the most timeless.

I also love that it’s so available in fashion right now as well. Like these – the MOST comfortable sandals (ever) that I bought when I was on the Sunshine Coast with my Mom a few weeks ago. I must admit, I’m kinda over stylish summer shoes that are completely flat and hard (which soooo many of them are).

These are so comfortable I’ve been walking around the house with them instead of the flip flops I normally wear in the summer.

Shop Cognac Sandals

Cognac Leather is Timeless and Classic

Anyway, back to the point of this post.

Years ago, when my sister Lea and her husband were looking to buy new leather furniture, I told her to skip the dark espresso shade that was so cheaply and widely available at the time and order their sofa upholstered in a custom cognac colour instead.

Now that brown has come and gone in the world of trends, they are very happy that they did.

To be clear. There is nothing wrong with brown leather furniture. In fact brown is back as a colour being used in decorating (but it was out for the last 11 years while the grey trend was in full swing). It’s the general overuse of brown that technically makes your house look dated.

I first talked about how cognac was the perfect ‘neutral’ to warm up charcoal grey back in 2015 (below) when I was in Chicago leading one of my live events.

Not only does cognac create a great balance of warm and cool in a grey/charcoal palette but in addition to being shown in sofas (below) it’s also being repeated in wood stains like the furniture in this restaurant (above).

Jeff Herr

Shop Cognac Sofas

Plus it looks great with so many bright and happy colours, as I mentioned in this post in 2014.

Not only that, but while we’re at it, cognac colour warms up the black and white trend nicely as well.

Read more: Should you buy a black sofa?

Pottery Barn

Get the Look

If you’re shopping for a new sofa, here are some of my favorite timeless cognac leather sofa options.

1 Lulu & Georgia | 2 Potterybarn | 3 Crate & Barrel | 4 Home Depot | 5 West Elm | 6 Wayfair 

Anyone else tired of all-white decor?

Can we say STOP to the ‘too much white’ trend already though? I literally just picked up a Shelter magazine and flipped through it in five minutes because it was primarily white interiors with a small dose of black.


In fact last month’s shelter magazine featured an entire house that was so white it was actually hard to see where the white walls ended and the white furniture began.

I recently had a conversation with a colleague in LA ,who confided she had spoken with two designers who are doing the same colour palette – grey, black and white – look over and over again and both confessed the following:

 “I hope colour never comes back because I don’t know how to do it.”

Again. There’s nothing wrong with white or black, but please, consider your favourite colour or at the very least cognac if you’re shopping for a new sofa.

Over to you my lovelies, do you agree with me on cognac being a timeless sofa colour?

And while we’re at it, who’s in the ‘I hope colour never comes back’ camp 🙂

Colour is timeless and colour is happy! 

Hope you are enjoying these last few days of summer! 

Related post:

Why a Colourful Sofa is as Timeless as Subway Tile

Is Cognac Leather Furniture as Neutral as Denim?

Don’t Make this Common Mistake When Choosing an Accent Colour

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  • Lorri says:

    I feel like a weirdo because most houses don’t have nearly enough color for me. I’m definitely in the minority these days!

  • Lynne says:

    I know I’m in the minority but I love warm, earthy tones paired with saturated warm jewel colours and have absolutely hated the long-drawn out (to me) gray trend. I’ve been impatiently waiting for soft brown tones to reappear so that I can get some advice and inspiration on how to colour match and style it. I did cover my bases by going for a charcoal sofa with a brown undertone though 😊.

  • sandi davis says:

    Yes! I agree that Cognac is a timeless sofa color!!

  • Thanks for writing about this- this question has come to mind several times in the last few months! I think cognac seems like a great, warm, timeless option for leather, but I’m never sure when I’m just being influenced by trends.

    And white interiors- they are so beautiful and pristine for photos…but nothing in my house stays white with two dogs and Pacific Northwest mud season!

  • I just replaced my tuscan brown microsuede accent chair with a midcentury cognac one. My husband said “I thought you were getting a white one”? Well with the red wine spilling from his glass and the food flying, another white accent chair is not an option. I do not let him sit on my off white wing back chair…. just saying, he is not a neat freak!

  • MB says:

    Does this mean my Cognac maple kitchen cabinets are trending, too? That would sure make my life a whole lot easier!!

  • Lynne says:

    I bought leather furniture last year, but since I still have stained woodwork, the popular grey leathers showing in most in stores did not work. I ended up with custom ordered leather called smoke — neither gray nor brown, but somewhere in the middle. Does choosing a color that is neither trendy nor “out” make it classic? No one will be able to pinpoint the year you bought it. I also like the cognac color. It is trending now on the west coast but I’m not sure that it really ever went out of style. Especially in a masculine rooms such as a study or library — making cognac a classic in my opinion.

  • Norma Fournier says:

    I bought two cognac leather sofas a few years ago and love them. At first I had gray tweed chairs and a gray/off white rug. Those got worn looking. I replaced them with blue instead in chairs and rug and art. The cognac is so versatile. It would look equally good with deep greens instead of blues. I also have lots of white in trim and fireplace and some in the rug. The cognac is perfect with everything! I can’t see it ever looking dated!

  • Karen Hattan says:

    I agree that Cognac is timeless! And I am Team Color all the way!

  • Joanne says:

    Love the cognac sofa! We live in the Southwest, Scottsdale, AZ, and earth tones seem to rule, but I love this color because it can work with so many palettes. I love your blog, Maria.

  • Keri says:

    Cognac all the way! I started a Pinterest board a few years ago called ‘my future leather couch’ and it’s chock full of cognac leather couches. Divine!

  • Mid America Mom says:

    I think it has always had a place. In my house – nope!

  • Liz in Oregon says:

    I think cognac is pretty timeless in the right context, like a man cave or study. I’m not sure I’d want it in my living room though. It seems bossy, and personally, I’d get tired of it. I’m definitely someone who has to have color and I’m not afraid of it. In fact, I’m pretty bold. 😀 My new dark purple bedspread makes me smile, with its magenta and torquoise pillows with a splash of orange that pick up the colors of the painting over our bed.

  • Aussie Girl says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for so long I recall the first posts about particular decorating tips. I’m on team Cognac leather and team Colour. I am also never without cognac shoes and handbag in my wardrobe, soooo versatile. It’s not only the design magazines full of white, but also it dominates decorating apps. I also note it’s a trend in photography too, both for portraiture and decorating. I am so over it.

  • Leanne says:

    I’d love a cognac leather sofa but I have cats and am afraid they’ll scratch it, even if it’s only accidental. Would cognac velvet be as timeless? It doesn’t have the same look and feel but more cat friendly. I love the desert modern look. I’m in Los Angeles but thinking of moving to Joshua Tree. I’m currently stuck with a heathered charcoal bouclé sofa until I’m ready for a new one but am thinking of using cognac in throw pillows and / or a cognac leather pouf / ottoman. I’m willing to risk that with the cats. But my art is mostly black white & red. Maybe I need to get new art.

  • Sheree L says:

    I have a cognac leather sofa in my family room and a sort of camel colored leather sofa in my living room. I like them both! Very versatile, because so many different colors go with them. I live in a desert southwest home, so they also blend well with that aesthetic. And I do love color, but I most of my furniture and walls are neutral. I just add color with art, pillows, and other accents. That said, I admire your home so much with a more bold use of color! I would have to hire someone to get a look like that, because I’d probably mess it up 🙂

  • Mary says:

    Our leather furniture is cognac and it is over 15 years old. At the time, we purchased it because we liked the color – we had no clue that it was a timeless choice. We’ve wised up over the years and are still so happy with our slightly out of date style but timeless color. Thanks for your post!

  • margret says:

    Last year I asked Maria for advice on the color selection for a leather sofa, and she recommended Cognac. I am VERY happy that I took her advice, as I was heading toward gray and now understand that would have date stamped our eclectic living room. However, be aware that there are a lot of variations on Cognac- the range of colors we found labeled Cognac was incredible, and ranged from red- brown to almost an orange-yellow. Our final selection was what might be called a light golden brown cognac.

  • Miller says:

    Yes, cognac is timeless and works with so many palettes. One of my clients from 10 years ago had two cognac leather chairs. I fell in love with it then!
    And I like color in a room whether it’s in the furniture or in the decorative accessories and art!

  • Lucy says:

    White looks so refreshing at first until you realize that everthing is white and you feel like you are in the middle of a blizzzard. There is nothing exciting to see but maybe an occasional picture with color that hardly ever gets repeated. As I have said before, many designers need your course. The end!

  • Lucy says:

    P.S. Many showrooms are featuring Cognac so it is now a trend. I do believe that it is a staple that cccn be incorporated into many styles and colors. As usual you are spot on!

  • reality check says:

    Y’all can call it cognac to make it sound fancy, but it is really just an ugly orange. I despise it. And i do not understand why anyone thinks this orange looks good with other colors. The fact that Maria says ognac is timeless makes me want to rethink all of her advice. Why not choose avocado green appliances? It is practically the same to me.

  • Nessielou says:

    I think cognac is timeless – that’s why I bought a sofa in that colour! It replaced a horrendous overstuffed brown microfiber hand-me-down. I hope to enjoy it for years to come – if the cat doesn’t destroy it first! 🙄

    • Leanne says:

      I have cats too and am afraid to get a leather sofa. I’d like to know how yours does with the cat over time. I’m not sure how to find out since it isn’t wise for us to post our emails publicly. Maybe I can check back here in a month or two. How long have you had the new sofa?

      • Annie says:

        I feel ya on the cats and furniture. Grew up with a cat that woke me by clawing my head full of long hair. Don’t have one now but my leather sofa has survived 3 kids (and a few dogs, shhh, don’t tell my husband) who are “hard” on stuff and I liken the lived in look as similar to the patina that happens over time on a marble countertop. I didn’t want marble but the quartz I wanted was sold out and I loved the veining on this slab. At first I felt crazy over the wear and tear but now I view it as evidence of my family, my kids and their friends laughing and cooking in the kitchen. Back to the sofa, there are also care products you can buy to keep your leather looking fresher and many leather shops have lifetime warranties and will replace inserts, etc. I have sometimes longed for the look of the uncluttered pottery barn catalog photo but I realized that no one actually lives there 🤷‍♀️

    • Annie says:

      We have a condo on a lake we share with my husband’s family and he decided to replace the sofa (I hated it too) his mom bought. But he bought a similar sounding overstuffed cheap, dark brown leather sofa. Your comment spoke to me and I’m picturing cognac in that space now. Hmmm… and then repaint with the colors Maria suggested 3 years ago that I have not been able to get to. Hello spring project! Thanks!

  • Dunja says:

    Love cognac and earthy, dirty colors in general! And have been over the all-white look for a few years now… Also, grey is starting to look so dated, it’s the new Tuscan.

  • Diane Kipp says:

    I really like the cognac, it reminds me of a good quality handbag or watchband. And I’m glad to hear it’s classic, not trendy. But the cognac color also reminds me of my maple kitchen cabinets and they definitely look dated. Why the difference in perception between furniture and cabinets?

  • annie says:

    That’s it, I’m calling my Tuscan tile floors cognac and leaving them lie. But really, I do love the warms tones with the white and feel that is the natural progression away from all white interiors… And now I’m off to finishing painting my walls light cream.

  • Nancy says:

    I love cognac with white and black
    Actually almost anything
    I agree it’s timeless

  • Betty says:

    I have always used cognac as my go to color in leather goids in fashion and in home decor. The warmth is undeniable and it always looks classy. Glad to know it is as timeless as I am.

  • Stephanie Brown says:

    I’m obsessed with this rug! Can anyone tell me where I can find one similar? I’m designing a room for my boyfriend and it will go perfect with his leather couch!

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