There's nothing quite as cozy and luxurious as a new leather sofa or chair. Not only does the supple upholstery add rich color and character to any room, but the natural leather also provides an upscale seating surface that adapts to indoor temperatures.

Care for your leather from the start by conditioning and maintaining each piece of furniture properly. Follow the four tips below to treat your leather right.

Welcome Your Leather Sofa With a Nice Massage

Leather is basically animal skin. Even treated leather, including aniline-dyed leather, will get flaky when it's too dry—just like your skin. Leather dries out really fast if it's placed in an arid environment with no added moisture. To avoid cracked leather, condition your leather furnishings with a product recommended by the manufacturer.

Conditioning is easy to do. First, wipe down the entire piece of furniture with a dry, soft cloth to remove any dust or debris. Next, shake up the product you're using to mix it well. Pour a bit onto a soft cloth and rub the conditioning product into the leather. Apply the conditioner evenly in small sections and work it in with circular motions.

Let the conditioner dry for eight to ten hours, and then wipe any excess conditioner up with a clean, soft cloth. You'll notice a new sheen to the leather.

Be aware that many products claim to be leather conditioners. There are also a variety of recipes for homemade conditioners made from everyday household products. Before using any of these products on your leather furniture, consult the manufacturer of the piece. Using the wrong product may damage the leather and void any warranties.

Treat All Stains Like Individuals

Every stain is different and will react with the leather in its own way. The impact of any stain depends on how large the spill is and the substance that was spilled. Remember that conditioned leather is more likely to repel stains than unconditioned leather. If you treat your leather every six to twelve months, you’ll help protect the finish of the upholstery from stains.

For most stains, the best approach is to use a clean cloth to blot up as much of the substance as you can without rubbing it into the leather. If a stain persists, you should never attempt to use solvents, wood polish, ammonia, bleach, harsh cleaners, or detergents to remove the mark. Don't use products designed for use on leather auto seats or leather clothing.

Follow the manufacturer's advice on the best way to handle wine, blood, and other dark stains. Some experts recommend using distilled water and a soft cloth with mild soap made for people. A gentle cold-cream, baby, or facial soap may work, but never use saddle soap or shoe-leather soap.

After gently cleaning the stain away with soap and water, very lightly wet the remaining leather on the cushion, armrest, or other portion of the upholstery. Blot up the excess water and let the leather dry. The piece may darken slightly, but the cleaned stain will be less noticeable.

Treat Fatty, Oily Stains With Light Hands

If butter, animal fat, oil, or any other fatty substance lands on the leather, remove as much of the spill as you can without spreading the oils. Blot away the excess without rubbing it in. Then let the stain sit for a day or two. Over time, the oils may simply be absorbed into the surface of the leather.

If you find that an oil stain persists, contact a leather-cleaning professional. These experts can sometimes completely remove ink, food, and other stains.

Some cleaning pros will come to your home to refresh your leather; other leather-cleaning professionals ask that you deliver stained furniture to their shops for cleaning. If only one cushion is affected by a stain, you may want to have all of the cushions cleaned at the same time to keep a matching look.

Treat Leather Furniture Like a Friend

No two pieces of leather are exactly alike. Each bears its own patterns and textural elements, and scratches, nicks, and marks are part of the charm of leather. These imperfections confirm that a piece of furniture is authentic and well made.

Embrace your leather furniture and its minor flaws like you would a friend, and be a good host to the natural seating. Place leather seating out of direct sunlight. Leather will dry out and fade with too much UV exposure.

Make sure leather furnishings are kept at least three feet away from fireplaces, air-conditioning units, portable heaters, and heating vents. Avoid using electric blankets and other hot appliances on the leather sofa. By treating your leather well, you will help the surface develop into a lovely patina with no cracks or flaking.

Find your perfect leather furnishings from the selection at Visions in Contemporary Living, which includes leather pieces for the living room, dining room, and bedroom. We also offer leather theater seating, recliners, and occasional tables in upscale, modern designs so you can create the home of your dreams.