This Interior Design Idea Makes Any Decor Upscale
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This Interior Design Idea Makes Any Decor Upscale

Want to elevate your decorating scheme exponentially? Upholster one of your doors.

By Alice Welsh Doyle
Thu, Mar 31, 2022Grey Clock 3 min

IN THE CALCULUS of amateur decorators, doors are seldom given much thought, but designers look at them differently. They see doors as an opportunity to add colour, detail and distinction to any home whether at the front entrance or even in the design of a lowly closet.

A particularly luxurious trick in designers’ bag of wizardry is the upholstered door—a craftsperson glues a thin layer of cotton batting or Dacron padding to the door, then stretches fabric over it, just as with upholstered furniture. Designer James Shearron of Bories & Shearron Architecture in New York City likes how such doors introduce an intimate, inviting element to any space. “Simply put, upholstered doors are pretty to look at.”

The technique lets you express your personal style and add character to your home, said Tralona Boisne of French Finish Wall Upholstery. “Whether your guests like the design or not, an upholstered door is sure to be a topic of conversation.”

The Appeal

An upholstered door oozes old-school luxury. “The treatment elevates a room in a unique way,” said Alexandra Pappas, of Manhattan’s Pappas Miron Design. The cushioning effect, said Mr. Shearron, “brings warmth and dimension to a hard surface.” He and his professional partner Dick Bories judiciously apply the technique to the inside front door of New York apartments, “so when you are in your beautifully decorated home, you aren’t staring at a fire door.” Their firm swaddled such an ugly metal door in the windowless foyer of a local apartment, studding tomato-red leather with a traditional flourish of brass nails (tacked in the shape of woodwork panels) to suit the space’s prewar DNA. For a touch more pizazz, the client swapped in an octagonal doorknob of chunky green glass.

The Tips

Choose tough textiles such as velvet or leather—faux or real. “While we can stretch any fabric for a door, some react more to inside variations in temperature,” said Ms. Boisne. Linen and silk, for example, are more susceptible to wrinkles or sagging, she said. Added Ms. Pappas, “A fabric like velvet is more forgiving as far as wear and tear because it has natural dark and light moments within the weave, so any marks incurred won’t be as noticeable.”

But don’t clad just any door. Ms. Pappas urges clients to forgo the treatment in any highly trafficked room, “especially if children and pets are in the mix.” Better candidates, she said, include dining rooms, libraries and bedrooms, which don’t welcome bustling crowds.

The right hardware can help spare your material as well. Ms. Pappas’s firm protected the velvet-cosseted closet doors in a Manhattan apartment with C-shaped hardware. “When you open the door you are not touching the fabric itself,” said Ms. Pappas. Though nailheads can highlight upholstery’s subtle billowing character, for this project she forewent the tacking for “a more-contemporary application.” Whimsy, too, can lighten the weight of tradition that padded doors typically bear. For a bathroom door in the aforementioned New York apartment, said Mr. Shearron, “we applied the nailheads in a starburst pattern in the centre.”

The Caveats

Maintaining upholstered doors goes well beyond the occasional wipe-down or a fresh coat of paint. Should a lurching guest spill Merlot on one or a clawing tabby fixate on its velvet, you have to replace the fabric. And manufacture and installation are best left to professionals. “The process is labour intensive, which makes it…pricey,” said Ms. Pappas. At Ms. Boisne’s shop, the cost of labour alone ranges from $1,800 to $2,400. She notes that upholstered doors may require new hardware to fit the extra girth, an additional expense.

Also consider your appetite for the inevitable patina. “Fabrics will fade and leather will scuff,” said Ms. Boisne. But though practicalities may limit where padding will work, aesthetics don’t. “These doors work in every type of interior décor, from traditional to modern—even in a white-box contemporary space,” said Mr. Shearron. “You can use silver nailheads in a geometric design, for example, and the upholstered door will add a layer of interest.”


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In the coastal township of Salamander Bay — nearby to Port Stephens — comes a unique home crafted to take full advantage of unbroken ocean vistas across three levels.

With one-of-a-kind flair, the stunning 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 3-car garage home of 52 Randall Drive Salamander Bay is nestled on a private 577sqm plot, optimised through intelligent design to take advantage of the Port Stephens landscape and lifestyle.

Within the home sees the typically coastal textures of natural oak floor and timber feature walls take hold while stone and tiled adornments add layers of luxury.

The open plan living, kitchen and dining areas incorporate a fireplace and near floor-to-ceiling glass that opens to create a seamless indoor-to-outdoor dining and entertaining space on the home’s top floor.

The heart of this area is the kitchen, centred around a marble-topped island, state-of-the-art European appliances and an attached bar area, with built-in refrigeration, accompanied by a butler’s pantry.

Also here comes a grand outdoor spa, central to the balcony, while another outdoor entertaining area with a pizza oven is found on the middle floor.

Downstairs once again comes a second living space replete with the perfect wine cellar — cooled by the natural rock foundation of the home — offering an array of entertaining options

Of the home’s accommodation comes a private and luxurious master retreat with expansive ocean views, a walk-in wardrobe and an ensuite, here, speckled with grey terrazzo tiling and timber joinery vanities.  A further four bedrooms are found throughout the home along with two family bathrooms rounding out the offering.

Less than a five-minute walk from nearby amenities of shops, restaurants, cafes and beaches the home offers the best of the Port Stephens area.

The listing is with PRD Port Stephens’ Dane Queenan (+61 412 351 819) and Erin Sharp (+61 499 912 311) and is heading to auction;