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, 2022 11:23amGrey 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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Why Prices of the World’s Most Expensive Handbags Keep Rising

Designers are charging more for their most recognisable bags to maintain the appearance of exclusivity as the industry balloons

By CAROL RYAN
Tue, Mar 5, 2024 3 min

The price of a basic Hermès Birkin handbag has jumped $1,000. This first-world problem for fashionistas is a sign that luxury brands are playing harder to get with their most sought-after products.

Hermès recently raised the cost of a basic Birkin 25-centimeter handbag in its U.S. stores by 10% to $11,400 before sales tax, according to data from luxury handbag forum PurseBop. Rarer Birkins made with exotic skins such as crocodile have jumped more than 20%. The Paris brand says it only increases prices to offset higher manufacturing costs, but this year’s increase is its largest in at least a decade.

The brand may feel under pressure to defend its reputation as the maker of the world’s most expensive handbags. The “Birkin premium”—the price difference between the Hermès bag and its closest competitor , the Chanel Classic Flap in medium—shrank from 70% in 2019 to 2% last year, according to PurseBop founder Monika Arora. Privately owned Chanel has jacked up the price of its most popular handbag by 75% since before the pandemic.

Eye-watering price increases on luxury brands’ benchmark products are a wider trend. Prada ’s Galleria bag will set shoppers back a cool $4,600—85% more than in 2019, according to the Wayback Machine internet archive. Christian Dior ’s Lady Dior bag and the Louis Vuitton Neverfull are both 45% more expensive, PurseBop data show.

With the U.S. consumer-price index up a fifth since 2019, luxury brands do need to offset higher wage and materials costs. But the inflation-beating increases are also a way to manage the challenge presented by their own success: how to maintain an aura of exclusivity at the same time as strong sales.

Luxury brands have grown enormously in recent years, helped by the Covid-19 lockdowns, when consumers had fewer outlets for spending. LVMH ’s fashion and leather goods division alone has almost doubled in size since 2019, with €42.2 billion in sales last year, equivalent to $45.8 billion at current exchange rates. Gucci, Chanel and Hermès all make more than $10 billion in sales a year. One way to avoid overexposure is to sell fewer items at much higher prices.

Many aspirational shoppers can no longer afford the handbags, but luxury brands can’t risk alienating them altogether. This may explain why labels such as Hermès and Prada have launched makeup lines and Gucci’s owner Kering is pushing deeper into eyewear. These cheaper categories can be a kind of consolation prize. They can also be sold in the tens of millions without saturating the market.

“Cosmetics are invisible—unless you catch someone applying lipstick and see the logo, you can’t tell the brand,” says Luca Solca, luxury analyst at Bernstein.

Most of the luxury industry’s growth in 2024 will come from price increases. Sales are expected to rise by 7% this year, according to Bernstein estimates, even as brands only sell 1% to 2% more stuff.

Limiting volume growth this way only works if a brand is so popular that shoppers won’t balk at climbing prices and defect to another label. Some companies may have pushed prices beyond what consumers think they are worth. Sales of Prada’s handbags rose a meagre 1% in its last quarter and the group’s cheaper sister label Miu Miu is growing faster.

Ramping up prices can invite unflattering comparisons. At more than $2,000, Burberry ’s small Lola bag is around 40% more expensive today than it was a few years ago. Luxury shoppers may decide that tried and tested styles such as Louis Vuitton’s Neverfull bag, which is now a little cheaper than the Burberry bag, are a better buy—especially as Louis Vuitton bags hold their value better in the resale market.

Aggressive price increases can also drive shoppers to secondhand websites. If a barely used Prada Galleria bag in excellent condition can be picked up for $1,500 on luxury resale website The Real Real, it is less appealing to pay three times that amount for the bag brand new.

The strategy won’t help everyone, but for the best luxury brands, stretching the price spectrum can keep the risks of growth in check.

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