Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

December 10, 2014

Honest Thoughts on the Leather Sofa + Faux Fur Throws

I read a lot of blogs and find myself mesmerized and inspired by so many great ideas, plus I like to think that I'm spending my money more wisely with the benefit of open and honest product reviews.  But every now and then I find myself giving a project or product shill the side eye, and find myself cynically wondering if it was scrapped as soon as the blogger hit "publish".  I decided it might be fun to start providing a little follow-up on my own projects, product reviews and posts.  Don't worry: I won't re-hash the minutiae of every post, but I'll definitely re-visit some biggies, especially things I still really, really, love or things that turned out to be a huge disappointment.  I'll let you know how things have withstood the test of time.  Awhile ago I shared my thoughts on our townhouse bathroom reno and I really enjoyed that look back (ahhh, the magic of hindsight).  If there's something you've been curious about and want me to honestly re-assess, just let me know in the comments, on Instagram (it's so much easier to leave comments there), or shoot me an email (dans.le.townhouse@gmail.com). 

Today I want to re-visit two things: a blog freebie I reviewed a year ago, and our second-hand leather sofa.  I'm normally pretty scrupulous when it comes to reviewing items on the blog.  Items have to be super cool or something already on my "to buy" list.  You might have ascertained that my aesthetic is fairly spartan, so the last thing I want is lots of useless clutter.  Last December I was contacted to review two Guillaume faux fur throws, for sale on The Shopping Channel.  Normally faux fur and polyester aren't my bag, but I was motivated to accept the product by two colliding events: we were broke from carrying two mortgages (and I was craving something shiny and new, because we'd axed luxuries - and some staples - from our budget).  Plus, we were on the verge on facing a harsh Northwestern Ontario winter and I knew that blankets - a copious amount of blankets - would help keep me warm.  Oh yeah, and the designer is Canadian-born!


Somewhat surprisingly, the faux lynx blanket became a favorite and, a year later, it held it's place of honor on our sofa.  (The leopard print, not really my jam, ended up in the truck for emergencies when we need to keep warm).  While Szuka outgrew her chew-all-the-things phase, she does come over to us when we're vegging on the sofa and drop a drool-covered ball in our laps or try to lick crumbs off the blanket.  I'm still very much a fan of the machine wash and tumble dry.  When I was offered another Guillaume faux fur throw this year, in a slightly larger size, I happily accepted.  When the new one came, I realized just how much I'd worn out the old one.  The new one feels so silky and smooth, while the old feels a bit rougher and matted.  I wash it weekly, sometimes twice a week.  It helps my allergies to keep it laundered, but I think it probably isn't intended to be washed quite so much. 


The throws will be a Shopping Channel Showstopper for under $65, which is apparently half the price of similar throws from well-known home decor stores.  The Ivory Snow Lynx is still my favorite pattern (though I did want to try the navy minx or grey leopard, but no such luck!). 


As I was snapping photos of the new throw, I realized our cream leather sofa was embarrassingly dusty (the cream hides dust so well!), so I gave it a wipe down with leather cleaner.  I used to work at Danier Leather and loved their leather conditioner (the leather rejuvenate lotion) - it smells great and does a good job of moisturizing and cleaning leather.  I preferred it to the actual cleaners Danier sells.  We had this gross sales pitch when I worked there about leather goods being like human skin: they need to be cleaned and moisturized to stay supple.  Blech.  But I want my leather goods to last forever, so I faithfully use the lotion on my purses, leather jacket - even our sofa.  I recently ran out so I figured now is a good time to use up the leather furniture cleaner (just on the sofa, not my bags!) that we received for free when we bought our doomed sofa from The Brick.  It doesn't smell as good, but it does the job: I apply a small amount to a cloth and then wipe down the surface.  I follow up with a second clean cloth to remove any excess and let it dry before replacing the pillows and throw.  (Always spot test any new cleaners on a hidden area to ensure that no colour is buffed off).  I was aghast to see how much dirt Szuka had rubbed onto the bottom - lots of little pale muddy splotches!  I think I should be cleaning it more often, because I recently learned that pet saliva is acidic and it can harm leather finish.


I'm still really pleased with our second-hand score.  It's kept it's shape really well.  The seat cushions look a smidge flatter and I really wish they weren't fixed so I could rotate/flip them. but otherwise it still looks sharp.  While the cream leather has a few tiny marks here and there, it has held up SO well.  I was worried that the light leather would get trashed, especially during the move, but we wrapped it up and it was fine.  Leather is a little cool to the touch in the winter, but that's really nice in the summer (although sweaty skin can stick to it).  Ultimately, we really do love a leather sofa for how easy it is to keep clean and how well it wears.  Broken in leather looks much better than threadbare upholstery!  The mid-century sectional waiting in the wings has been put on the back burner...for now.  I struggle between really wanting to cough up the cash and reupholster that sectional, but then it seems a shame to jettison a perfectly good leather sofa.  More importantly, right now there are so many things we should put our money toward first (closet doors in the bedroom would be a start...), so I think we'll put off that decision for a bit.   

Next time I'm addressing the open shelves in the kitchen.  Do they get dusty?  Are they functional?  Do I still like them?  Such a cliffhanger!  Don't forget: if there's something you want to scoop on - a DIY you thought was suspect, or a product you doubt made the cut, let me know.   If this new series bores you to tears (sorry!), I'll be titling the posts "Honest Thougths on..." so you can easily skip them (I won't know). 
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19 comments

  1. Hurry up on the open shelving post please! We are getting ready to start a kitchen Reno at our cabin and I want open shelving in the kitchen.

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    1. How does Monday sound? I want to snap some new photos this weekend instead of recycling an old one (I've rearranged, too!).

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  2. I'm very interested in hearing how you like open shelves since I've been thinking of putting some up in my dining room. Can't wait to read your post :)

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    1. The open shelves are really polarizing and some people are REALLY against them but others REALLY want them. Hopefully some other folks with them will chime in too! Monday is when I plan to write about them.

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  3. You're funny- titling posts distinctly in case someone wants a pass. I like this idea of revisiting old reviews; sometimes product reviews on other blogs make me go hmmm and I'm sometimes curious how things stand up over time.
    I kinda love that snow leopard blanket- although, I may have an obsession with throws. And I like how cozy that Scandinavian winter styling is, with fur or sheepskin tossed over a chair or bench.
    This may seem gross to some but I recently purchased a vintage fur coat to make pillow covers from. I love the look of the ones that indigo carries but I didn't like the feel of the faux fur- kinda rough and scratchy. I'm a fan of texture and prefer natural materials- wood, leather, wool. Not really a fan of synthetics but still I have a lot of it since it does offer some conveniences when it comes to washability and such.
    Your sofa does look pristine- I had a leather sofa in the same colour but it didn't stand up nearly as well. I thought the same, it would be easy to clean and wear better than fabric- also the dog hair doesn't get imbedded in. My dog wasn't allowed up but she used to sneak up and sleep on it at night. As soon as I'd open my bedroom door in the morning, I'd hear the tell as her feet hit the floor jumping down. She was big and her claws did a number on it. But I never conditioned it and in hindsight it may have at least helped with the cracking where she laid. I used a liquid saddle soap to clean it but probably wasn't often enough to moisturizer it.

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    1. Well, I know folks are busy, lol. And I'm super chatty so I know sometimes my posts are a bit looooong. Shame to read the whole thing if it's super boring to someone! But I'm happy to hear that some re-reviews will interest you. Be sure to let me know if there's something in particular that had you saying "hmmmmm".

      I think it's a great idea to make a pillow cover from a fur coat! It's a great way to recycle and have the look and feel of real fur, in a cruelty-free way (hey, it's already there!). I'm a fan of naturals too. I never thought I'd trade my beautiful wool blankets for polyester. But man, the drool that comes out of that cute face of Szuka's. I can only use wool on the bed now, because it's too high for her to sneeze on (yes, she also sneezes on my things).

      Ah yes, keeping Szuka off the furniture has probably helped the sofa immensely. I was reading the other day that leather just isn't tough enough to withstand animal claws. For some reason I figured it would be (we just don't let her up because she's stinky). The cracking may have been prevented with moisturizing lotion. But then, you never know! Sometimes things just can't stand up to real life.

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  4. I like this post- I always appreciate when posts are revisited (ie- I've yet to read a follow-up on DIY concrete counter tops that still sings its praises.)

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    1. Oh really? The concrete counter tops didn't hold up? I thought A Beautiful Mess reported that their counter is still awesomesauce. That is very good to know, because I've been tempted by that project myself.

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    2. Oh I don't read that blog... have your read Sarah's Big Idea? She's got a few dogs that have left a some scratch marks from jumping up and counter surfing. So where I have 3 cats and a dog I think that might not work well in my house. I think YHL ended up not being super crazy about them too, because they didn't seal evenly and perfectionist-y personalities might have trouble with the inconsistency of color.

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    3. I highly recommend A Beautiful Mess - they bought an old house and turned it into a studio and it's just beautiful room after beautiful room, plus home tours, crafts, etc. I'm mildly obsessed (plus they featured the townhouse awhile back, so yay!). I'm going to check out Sarah's Big Idea. It makes sense that the concrete would scratch from counter surfing. What a shame! It seems like such a cool idea.

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  5. Like you, I too have a creamy white leather sofa and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Love that clean modern look (though you're right, more frequent cleaning is required when you have dogs around). Yours still looks so lovely and indeed it was an awesome score! While fur-look throws can be enticing, their looks don't hold up to the test of time. I'm more of a wool girl I think-soft and warm...what could be better on a cold snowy day? ;)

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    1. I definitely love wool. I have a whole army of wool blankets, ready to keep me warm. But in our living room, at least, they won't survive. After a bath one day, Szuka pulled down the faux fur blanket from the back of the couch and curled up on it. I realized maybe she was cold! I didn't have the heart to take it away, and was super glad it wasn't the one my grandma crocheted or my Marimekko splurge, lol. I will think of you on cold, snowy days, bundle in a wool blanket. I'll be a smidge jealous, haha!

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  6. I like the durability and look of leather but it's too hot and sticky for me. I like the breath-ability of fabric. But that throw......*drool*.....so purdy and cozy looking. I do like this topic, there are many times I wonder about past projects and if they held up, or the blogger still likes them etc etc.

    I do have a couple posts of yours that are a little suspect to me...but they are recent and may involve a partnership so I don't want to be specific so you don't have to comment on it and maybe jeopardize that working relationship.......doesn't make them any less of a good project though ;o)

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    1. The leather was a bit sticky when we lived it humid Ottawa and wore skimpy summer clothes. But last summer I used my fancy faux fur throw every night so all of a sudden I didn't think about the stickiness. If we ever have a hot summer again, I might be singing a different tune. There are so many fabric sofas I love (VELVET!!) but I worry about stain resistance. We use our chairs, but the sofa most. I'm scared on non-leather....

      Hey, I am totally fine with you asking about a recent post - even if it's sponsored! If there's something that seems a little fishy, I want to know. I try to be as honest as possible in my original assessments, but whether I've paid for something, made it, or gotten it for free, there's always a possibility of changing my tune. Some things don't age well. So ask away!

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    2. It's not that I think some things were fishy (that sounds like I mean they are a scam or something), I just think they weren't things you'd actually put up in your house (from my little knowledge of you that I get just from your blog lol). It was the holiday decorating with Canadian Tire products. I know it was generic "holiday" decorating but I know you don't celebrate xmas and it was very xmas-y decorating. Even if it is just generic holiday decorating it seems too fussy for you from what I know of your decorating taste from past blog posts. And just for the record, these were the only posts I have ever questioned were put into actual use on your blog and I think I have read pretty much all of them. And again, it doesn't mean they weren't great decorating ideas either. I personally loved the frames and ladder with the hanging ornaments.

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    3. I struggled with saying "yes" to the Canadian Tire projects at first, because I don't celebrate Christmas, but at one time I did so I felt a little more comfortable with it. It was an exciting opportunity and may have opened more doors for me. I saw it as a way to produce more fun blog content - all of the ideas were 100% mine, right down to the choice of which products to use. I was tasked with finding neat ways to use ornaments, thought, so there was that parameter. They were very cool about letting the bloggers shine and not coaxing us or prompting us.

      On my end, I figured it was a way to showcase some ideas - even if I wasn't necessarily decorating for the holidays myself. It was a bit of a departure from my usual "reality blogging" but it was so much fun. I had been feeling blah about blogging and considered closing up shop on my blogiversary Nov 16, but after the Can Tire projects I felt a renewed sense of interest and inspiration. It felt good to create products just because, and not worry about where to put them, do I have the budget, is this a priority? I'm not so crafty anymore, because I'm saving up for big, boring projects. This made me realize that I need a little more crafting in my life.

      It's hard to say how I would really decorate for Christmas. I will say that the little flocked trees are totally awesome and I would definitely put those up. The LED sign is another one I'd use for parties. I'd been wanting to make something like that. The curtain of ornaments, yes. I'd definitely use that. The ladder was awesome but I'm not sure in real life I'd put it up with the framed ornaments - it was a bit much on the one wall at once and I'm more of a minimalist. In real life I'd re-do the Scandi tree and make it smaller and lean it on the Ikea credenza. And less wonky, lol. I think if I'm looking at them honestly, I liked each one but I wouldn't put them all together at once. I might do a small traditional tree, the LED sign, and maybe the window baubles and be done. But if I were still living in an apartment, I'd so the Scandi tree for sure - but smaller, and cuter. I kind of wanted to keep the ladder up permanently, without the ornaments, but I feared a major accident with Szuka tromping around.

      I should have been more clear that these were ideas of mine (not Canadian Tire's), but that they were meant to inspire/entertain and not necessarily be reflective of my own decorating for the holidays. I was a DIYer for hire, lol. And it was a ton of fun.

      I can totally see, though, how they might have seemed out of step with my usual stuff. It was a unique opportunity and I know it seemed a little random. But I'm happy to hear you liked some of the ideas! They proved to be really popular, which was cool. If I had the opportunity to do it again, I definitely would. I met knew people and feel like I stretched my creative muscles. And, weirdly, I have way more Christmassy ideas.

      I'm so happy you asked about this. Was my answer okay?

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    4. I kind of assumed that is why you did them, because it was an awesome opportunity..... which could lead to more in the future (any why I didn't want to say anything). While I do remember you saying you used to celebrate xmas I was pretty sure I had never seen an xmas post besides the tree spider. I completely understand how you wanted to mix things up. Running out of ideas, money for projects, or just losing my interest to post anymore is kind of one the reason I still haven't started a blog. I tend to get really excited about something, go over board and do it for a while and then move on to the next because I am tired of it. I'm glad you got your groove back....more crafts in one's life is never a bad thing.

      No, you were clear that they were your ideas, I didn't think they were Canadian Tire's. I just assumed you'd have put them all up at once but that does make sense that you wouldn't which would be more what I think your style to be. And of course to inspire is a good thing, but again, just because you never posted any xmas ideas before it just seemed off......but I get it and it's kind of what I thought.

      Of course your answer is ok, there is no right or wrong. I didn't think you were doing anything wrong, just out of the normal and that is what stood out the most to me. When opportunity knocks you have to answer the door :o)

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  7. i reallllllllly love the throw! It would be my go to blanket. It's funny when you get the same thing new you realize how much you REALLY loved it!

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    1. You're so right: I realized when the crisp new one came how LOVED my hold one is. Is it weird that now I want to "save" the new one for good?

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