How to Decorate a Leather Sofa

Wondering how to decorate a leather sofa? Don’t miss these decorating ideas for Brown leather couches!

tan leather sofa in white living room | Maison de Pax
tan leather couch sectional with overlay: how to decorate leather sofas | Maison de Pax

For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived with leather sofas. As a kid, we had a navy leather couch which survived me and all three of my brothers – plus the four dogs – for almost two decades. In fact, other than the time my youngest brother carved my middle brother’s name into it (he was smarter than to sign his handiwork with his own name… but the backwards J gave him away), that sofa held up beautifully. And now, with four kids of my own, I’m still choosing brown leather couches for their longevity (and psst… you can read about how I care for and clean my leather furniture here).

White living room with brown leather couch | Maison de Pax

I actually adore the look of our newest leather sofa (read all about it here if you’re interested), but most of my years of brown leather sofas have been spent trying to minimize their presence in the room. I think leather is having a come back (especially streamlined beauties like our new leather sectional at the ranch), but big brown beasts can be tricky to decorate either way. So I thought I’d share some simple tips for decorating leather couches in case you’re in the same boat.

rustic beams, white walls, tan leather sectional | Maison de Pax

how to decorate a leather sofa

Until the fabric sectional we got in our family room last year, I’ve had only dark leather sofas for as long as I can remember (and I actually still have one in our formal living room at our house).  And as I confessed recently, I kind of miss the low-maintenance of leather in our family room. But although I find fabric easier to decorate than leather, I’ve gathered a few brown leather couch decorating suggestions along the way.

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Lighten it Up

Brown, navy, and black leather sofas are dark, heavy pieces in any living room. I have painted the walls light gray or white in both our living rooms to offset the brown leather furniture, but you could also choose to lighten it up with lighter colored accents: throw pillows, throw blankets, rugs, chairs, curtains, and more.

brown leather couch with light gray walls | Maison de Pax


Add pillows

Just because it’s leather furniture doesn’t mean you can’t have some fabric, and throw pillows are a wonderful way to bring in color and softness.  One word of advice: avoid super slick pillow covers (like a sateen finish) as it will drive you bananas trying to keep them in place on the smooth leather. Thicker, highly textured fabrics make the best throw pillows for leather couches. In our new ranch living room, I decorated the leather sectional and accent chairs with velvet pillows, linen pillows, and a patterned one from Pottery Barn.

light blue rug with tan leather sectional sofa | Maison de Pax


Compliment with softer textiles

Speaking of throw pillows, soft textiles are a wonderful way to provide the cozy comfort that some people miss with leather furniture.  I love using velvet, linens, and heftier cotton blends for throw pillows; they provide great textural contrast while still staying put on the sofa or chair fairly well.  I also bring lots of throw blankets and a texture-rich rug into the space, all adding to the cozy factor.

traditional boho chic living room with brown leather sofa | Maison de Pax


Balance the weightiness of the sofa

It could be a full bookcase beside a dramatic fireplace…

brown leather couch with white fireplace and colorful bookcase | Maison de Pax

Or a huge, simple mirror… or a dramatic black and white gallery wall. But whatever you decide, don’t under-scale the other things in the room or your huge leather beast will feel too heavy.

leather living room furniture with patterned rug | Maison de Pax

Bring in pattern

Along the same vein, leather furniture can sometimes feel rather stark or monotonous, especially when you have a leather sofa and leather chairs. So bringing in patterns – in throw pillows, rugs (and yes, I’ve been playing some musical rugs lately ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), or even artwork – can help break up the solids and add interest.

rustic modern farmhouse living room with leather sectional | Maison de Pax

Leather Living Room Furniture

So what do you think?  Do you have a leather sofa? How do you decorate it?

Don’t forget to pin this for later!

tan leather sofa with overlay: how to decorate leather sofas | Maison de Pax

Sources for living rooms with leather couches:

Ranch living room:
walls – Silos White by Magnolia Kilz
sofa – Sven sectional in Charme Tan
chairs – Lento lounge chairs
frames – IKEA
coffee table (diy tutorial)
other items:

Formal living room:
walls – Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams
sofa – 20 years old from a local store (yay for leather’s longevity!)
chairs – Lorraine chair in Fog
other items:

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  1. Where did you get your wingback chairs. I really like them. The link you have takes you to Wayfair but the chairs that are shown are not upholstered all the way around like yours are. I like yours much better.

    1. They were originally from Restoration Hardware and I don’t think they are available anymore so I tried to find a similar look. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Where’d you get your dining room light fixture? I must have missed the post where you told that. TY!

  3. I love the multicolored rug with the blues and rust tones! Can you tell me where you purchased it? This is so helpful! I’m struggling with my much loved brown leather sofas.

  4. We just ordered the same Sven Sectional in Oxford Blue leather! I loved yours so much, but it had to be navy to fit into my decor! This article has come just in time for me! I am terrified of making a “leather mistake” because we cannot afford to make this purchase again any time soon.Perhaps, after it is delivered and I have things set up, I can take a pic or two to send you, and see what you think about my choice! Any input would be helpful!

    1. 1wish I had seen this before I made my accent cushions! Mine are slippery and slidi ng down but I love the fabric. Any ideas how to keep them from doing this?

      1. I’m sorry, Sandra, but after years of leather sofas, I still haven’t found a perfect solution! You could try a smaller lumbar pillow of a less slippery fabric to set in front of the slippery ones to see if that helps hold them in place, but that’s no guarantee.

  5. we just recently purchased another leather sofa… Hooker-Esme in the chocolate.. and a Beautiful rug to go with it. I’m having difficulty finding a wall color… i used repose gray previously but in our lighting it looks greenish.. We have smaller windows (our house built in 1954) and we face North, so the room is naturally a little darker due to the roof pitch and window size. I used white linen drapes from Pottery Barn… Any suggestions on Paint colors ? I like neutrals but i have such a hard time picking paint it never looks like i think it will ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. i was thinking about the Agreeable Gray… I will check out your link. and thanks so much for responding.. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Christine! The rust color is the the one from Target (however, it may not be available as I purchased this a few years ago).

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