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Three Best Colours for your Leather Sofa

By 09/03/2012April 11th, 202126 Comments

Last week when I opened my September Elle Decor magazine I was convinced that Hermes was suddenly selling furniture but clearly, upon searching all over their website, NO.

This ad, located on the very back of the magazine is clearly just lifestyle.

But let that not diminish the point of my point.

Which is when one of the most prestigious leather manufacturers in the world, chose the colour for a chaise lounge in their ads, chose a cognac shade.

Which is one of the three best colours. If we are talking about timeless colours.

Then inside the same magazine, here’s Fendi’s leather sofa. In a lighter, camel, toffee shade. Which is the second best colour. 


The third is white/cream.


If you can wear hot pink and carry a leather bag in a cognac shade, maybe we can do the same with our living room sofa?


Black leather is okay in small doses like a chair. Most black sofas or sectionals are simply too heavy and masculine in general.

Although I must admit I did love that the brown trend had most men buying espresso brown sofa’s instead of black.

Now that Fall is officially here, are you getting inspired to re-decorate?

Related posts:

When to Buy Leather Furniture

White is a Snob

Bright Colour Needs a Healthy Dose of White

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones to learn how to get colour to do what you want.

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

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  • StagerLinda says:

    Absolutely looking forward to decorating for Fall. I’m getting new hardwood floors and my old hardwoods re-stained to match. Also, getting an old, tired Wesley Hall sofa reupholstered–which has led me to find the right fabric for my kitchen window treatments! Hurray! I am excited about my changes.

  • teresa says:

    I do like that first chaise. With the iconic Hermes blanket, it just exudes Fall and makes me want to curl up with a book. Of course, it’s still 90+ degrees with 80% humidity where I am, so I may have a little wait.
    I’m glad you addressed this issue as my BF has an Ecornes Stressless in Butterscotch and a well-known! midcentury chair in black. 1 out of 2 isn’t bad, although I’ve never seen the vintage chair in anything other than black.

  • Hermes actually has a very, very small line of furniture. It’s all (?) reissues of Jean-Michel Frank pieces, and they are exquisite … and exquisitely priced. But I don’t think that they have any sofas? Next time we are in NYC, we’ll go up to the top floor of the Hermes store on Madison and admire it!!

    • Nicole says:

      In France, you can find their furniture line which includes the JMF re-editions from the 30’s plus new pieces from Antonio Citterio (eg the chaise in the ad) and Enzo Mari.

  • PS: Love the three best colors for a leather sofa. My vote is for the lighter butterscotch or the white/cream!

  • Elise says:

    So, what if you need leather because you have young kids etc, but none of these colors work with your house. butterscotch and gray…not picturing that. and white with kids….????

    • Maria Killam says:

      Choose a colour that does work with your decor, that’s definitely priority over a general guideline post like this. Maria

  • Julie from Australia says:

    I’ve had a black leather sofa for nearly 15 years and I still love it. We have wood flooring and I can change rugs and cushions and get a different look with it each time. It is very versatile and the black doesn’t date, and is very practical cleaning wise 😉

  • Debbiecz says:

    I guess I don’t need the Elle style quiz…I’m a traditionalist and yes, I still like brown. There I said it and if I continue with therapy one day I’ll be able to admitit to my friends.

  • Debbiecz says:

    I have a color admission to make…I like brown! My true friends won’t hold this against me or the dark leather chair we just ordered. My second admission…the Hermes couch won’t be in our Irving room (sigh of relief from Visa & hubby)’ the butterscotch color is just not a fave.

  • Why is it that I’m constantly saying “we were just looking at……” when I read your posts? We were JUST looking at leather sofas for our tv room on Friday. My husband insists on leather for that room – I have to allow him one choice in the house. And he gravitated towards the black of course. I’m pushing for brown, almost have him convinced of brown. But now I think I need a cognac sofa!

  • Sara says:

    Was just at Pottery Barn on the weekend, picking up this blanket for our (dark brown! gasp!) leather sofa (albeit, it IS in the TV room). The blanket’s uber-comfy…a requirement for leather sofas. Sales clerk said that EVERYONE was in buying new throws, pillows, drapes, and that Labour Day signals some nesting instinct in us all, despite the temps!

  • mairi says:

    Maria-thanks so much for this topic! I have two pieces of cognac leather furniture. An accent colour that I love to put on them along with white is chartreuse (the mustard side) and also a hint of eggplant. I came across a lovely drapery fabric with these four colours as the jumping off point. I would never have thought to combine these but they work! With chalky white walls planned, I think I will enjoy this simple colour scheme for some time because it seems season-less.

  • Cherie says:

    My confession is that our leather couch is in the living room and that it is none of the above colors. It is a wine color with lots of patina. And along with our Karastan Persian Vase rugs, leather and cloth-bound books, beautiful textured pillows and upholstered chairs, it works! However, if I were to purchase a new couch today, I would close cognac. Still, I’m not planning to replace a $4000.00 couch anytime soon. Still loving and enjoying it.

  • Design & Decor says:

    I have to say Maria, I am very tired of leather. My husband insisted years ago that we buy leather when our children were young..I agreed, and was thankful that we had leather as the cleaning was simple. Our first set was a light almond..Still looks great today. We have retired this set to the family room..We now have an espresso leather set in the living room (husband won the battle).We spent alot more money on this new set so I am guessing it will last a very long time, ugh! Not to mention how large the pieces are.
    I like the look and feel of leather but really would like to have something different for a change..

  • Lisa says:

    Pottery Barn has a chair from their Brooklyn Collection I drool over every time I see it! The shade is toffee, which looks a bit darker than butterscotch…love it! Now where is that extra $1,500 I had lying around…?

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    I think for us women, ( I know there’s guys reading too), but the thing is….a warm colour, because in cool climates, it takes awhile for the sofa to to warm up. Warm colour just gives a more inviting feel. We used to call that cognac one “saddle leather”. Love it!

  • Patrizia Gillespie says:


    Beautiful lines on the sofas but you are correct that the colors are not so easy to work with. If anyone can figure it out you can !! Working on your suggestions with my yellow/butterscotch (love) & maroon sofa (hate) … it is coming along. My next sofas will be light neutral color !! Leather sometimes is a must because of dog hair …

  • Not a big fan of leather to begin with, however will defend it for its practicality. Actually have a sofa and love-seat in a spacious family room (which is open to our kitchen) and both are in ‘black’. Prefer them over and above our off white fabric covered ones we had previously as they are really a no-fuss and tie in much better with our current kitchen appliances not to say though, they may be changed out after our kitchen upgrading. From the pics that you posted, my less favourite is the butterscotch. Though fabulously detailed in design, the colour to me is just a little too ho-hum …. yawn. 🙂

  • rita emilia says:

    Maria, can you suggest a BM color to place against the cognac sofa. This cognac sofa is a “dirty” cognac right? What do you think of pairing such a sofa with Laura Ashly 714 Light Copper. Light Copper is so pretty and from what I have learned from you, this colors appears to have the same yellow undertones as the cognac leather sofa. Have I learned correctly?

    • Maria Killam says:

      HI Rita, I’m sorry I don’t have the Laura Ashely Fan deck, I would try something like 1045 Ladyfinger to go with it. Maria

  • charlotte ivancic says:

    Hi Maria,

    Perfect timing for me, as I am looking for furniture for our newly renovated living room, and I was thinking of that color, but I called it pumpkin! Can you recommend a good place to buy living room furniture- ie .leather sofas and chairs? I’d like something stylish, cozy, and contemporary. I live in Calgary. Thanks!

  • A-L says:

    Is there a reason why you recommend these more “traditional” colors for leather, whereas in fabric couches you seem to recommend people getting one in their favorite color?

    Also, do the lighter colors of leather have issues with dirt/staining?

    • Maria Killam says:

      That is a good question, leather in colours needs to be really high quality (i.e. expensive) before it looks good. And yes you have to clean white/cream all the time! Maria

  • M Wolfe says:

    So, what do you suggest to do with a beautiful black leather chesterfield sofa? My husband bought it for me because I loved chesterfields…. in velvet. Now I’m challenged to make it work even in my mostly gray black and white decor. I have vintage cognac chairs but they seem to make the room too much leather. I love turquoise but it still gets washed out by the BM ozark shadows walls. I keep gravitating towards hot pink or yellow, but whatever I use has to be heavy enough to compliment it instead of being swallowed up. Maybe velvet wing chairs? Any Suggestions?

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