Casco Bay Furniture – A Conversation With the Leather Doctor

Do you have a favorite leather chair that’s been part of the family for many years that needs some TLC, or a leather sofa that met with an unfortunate accident, or damaged from an exuberant family pet? I talked to Sharon Brown, the owner and sole operator of  The Leather Doctor located in Southern California. At Casco Bay Furniture we  think Sharon is one of the best leather tech’s in the country.

Sharon is more than a leather tech, she is an artist. You might even consider her the “plastic surgeon” of leather repair. Among her customers are many celebrities and movie stars. In addition to furniture, Sharon also repairs the interiors of  high end cars, art work, and clothing. She recently repaired the interior of a Bentley  previously owned by Margaret Thatcher.

Sharon grew up in Montana in a self-reliant family, and she learned at an early age how to fix things. It was the kind of environment where, if you wanted a painting, you painted it. Sharon has been an artist for over 30 years, she became involved in leather repair about ten years ago, when a local leather restoration company in LA asked her to restore a delicate oriental painting that was etched into the surface of a very expensive, damaged leather desktop. Sharon restored the painting and stayed on to learn her craft.

She soon branched out on her own. According to Sharon, we all have gifts and talents and her talent is the gift of color. She says she can look at any palette and know what colors are in it.

I asked Sharon about accidental damage to leather furnitureand she said she can repair just about anything. A common complaint is damage from the family pet. She said, unless the leather is very thin, most animal damage is easily repairable to an almost new condition. At Casco Bay Furniture we have had cases of pet damage repaired by Sharon which were undetectable.

Many techs will fill holes in leather with filler, blending the edges to the background and then colorizing the patch to match the surface. Sharon said she prefers to use scraps of leather of similar thickness and texture before sanding and applying her palette of colors. She said not only do you need to match the texture and the color, but you must also match the finish of the surface. “When completed, Sharon says, “my repairs or the repairs of any highly qualified tech are not detectable. You might be interested to know that leather furniture is actually much more repairable than a comparable fabric piece.”

Sharon told me the story of an older couple who she was called on to meet. They had a pair of  leather chairs that they had owned for 60 years. They raised their children and their grandchildren on those chairs.  The chairs were loaded with sentimental value. Over the years, the chairs had developed cracks and a few holes. Most cracks and holes in leather furniture are fully repairable by a skilled technician. Sharon was able to restore the chairs to new condition.

I asked Sharon the best way to care for leather furniture. Her answer: leather should be cleaned and condition about every 6 to 12 months, but not more than that. The overuse of conditoners and cleaners can actually ruin leather, fading the color. She cautioned to follow the directions carefully and test the cleaner and conditioners in an inconspicuous area. Use a cleaner and a conditioner that is appropriate for the leather you have.

At Casco Bay Furniture we do carry conditioners and cleaners which are specifically made for leathers we carry.

In general, Sharon doesn’t recommend using detergents. When she does use a detergent she uses a little ‘Dawn” in water. Sharon’s parting words: with a little care, a well-built piece of leather furniture can last for decades.

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