If you want to invest in leather sofas, be ready to invest. So how do you decide what sofa to buy? The best way to ensure you get the right leather is by doing some ‘sense’ test. These include:

1. Touch: If you touch the leather and it feels rubbery, is cool and looks porous, it is synthetic. Pure leather is warmer when you touch it.

2. Smell: Ensure you can smell an aromatic, deep, musty smell - a smell that hits you when you walk into the section where the seats are. The purer the leather, the more it smells like leather. Inferior quality leather gives off a chemical smell.

3. Sight: The grain of genuine leather has ridges and valleys; it has fat wrinkles and grains that you can easily notice. Real leather also has stitching on the back of the sofa an indicator that a number of pieces were used to get the one piece. Cow hides come in small pieces that you may never get one to cover the entire back of a three-seater sofa. Low quality leather, on the other hand, has a plastic and stiff feel.

4. Hearing: When talking to the salesperson and they tell you the sofa is ‘leather-like’ then it is not genuine. If the fabric has a gauze backing, it is not genuine either. In fact, most manufacturers only cover the front piece of the sofa with leather and vinyl on the rest of it.

Quality: Not all leather furniture is equal; some are of a better quality than others. The quality varies and determines the price. Quality leather comes from cows that have lived quality lives. I have seen sheds on roadsides where ‘leather’ sofas are sold at less than Sh100,000. But if I walk into a furniture store, the prices range from Sh250,000 and above. Quality leather still looks amazing 20 years later, while the inferior grade starts wearing out after a few years or even months, if they are purely synthetic.

Lifestyle: If you have children who may turn the seats into their playground, then your seats may be exposed to a lot of wear and tear. Go for treated leather instead of top quality leather. Treated leather will resist stains and spills, and are easy to clean.

Stability: If you sit on the sofa and feel comfortable, then you are getting it right. Sit on it to feel the strength and quality of the wood and springs used. Remove the seat cushion, if it is loose; if it is heavy, it is good quality. If the sofa has double stitching, you are getting value for your money.

Colour: For those with a young family avoid anything white cream or ivory. Otherwise, you will spend your time cleaning the seats from stains and spills. Go for a dark colour like black or brown. These are versatile and easier to maintain. Otherwise, cream or ivory leather offer a contemporary look when accessorised with colourful throw cushions. Ensure the seat matches with your décor.

Price: Decide on how much you want to spend. Genuine leather is the most expensive and lasts the longest. If you take good care of it, like wine, it gets better with age.