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Luxurious leather

Photos by Doug Edmunds

July 2015

When it comes to designing kitchen spaces, installing leather cabinetry isn’t likely to top the list. Generally more enduring materials, such as wood, metals and glass, are considered. Leather, on the other hand, has long been viewed as extravagant or excessive.

Not anymore. The rising popularity of natural surfaces in interior design and enhanced rawhide treatments have made using leather an entirely viable option, even in previously considered risky environments like the kitchen.

It’s not a new concept exactly — leather has been used to don everything from furniture to ceilings and floors throughout the ages — but it is slowly trickling back into mainstream designs, says Ginnie Snook Scott, chief organization officer at California Closets, which has a location in Brookfield.

"Customers are increasingly looking toward luxe finishes," Scott says. "They can select from a variety of rich colors and textures to complement their design and décor preferences."

Those looks can include classic masculine or wild red crocodile, says Christian Madeau, president of EcoDomo, a leather manufacturer in Baltimore, Md.

Though homeowners seem to relish the look and feel of leather, he says customers often misconstrue the level of its upkeep. He says customers shouldn’t worry.

Leather provides a luxe surface for kitchen cabinets and lends and unexpected element to any kitchen

"If you put the right finish on it, it works just as well as hardwood," Madeau says. "The hardest thing is getting people to believe it’s true."

He points to Starbucks, which has more than 2,000 locations with EcoDomo leather interiors, and probably thrice as many coffee spills.

Madeau says the trick is using repurposed pre-consumer leather, which shows greater performance in the kitchen. It is then treated with special finish and several layers of topcoat that results in a leather "that is just as durable as laminate," Madeau says. "It won’t stain with water, or butter, or wine. We called cabinet makers and said, ‘We can do this for you.’"

One of those clients included Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry, a brand sold in several Milwaukee design shops. The company is making leather inserts for kitchen cabinets a standard option this summer, says John Troxell, Wood-Mode director of design.

While homeowners can expect to shell out a little extra for leather, the prices are not out of line with other high-end kitchen materials.

"Leather as an interior surface material has a long history that is associated with luxury homes," Troxell says. "That market seems to be rediscovering the material and embracing it because of its wearability, warm texture and authenticity."

"The leather accent is eye-catching and timeless," adds Scott.



This story ran in the July 2015 issue of: