The 5 Worst Interior Design Mistakes, According To An Expert
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The 5 Worst Interior Design Mistakes, According To An Expert

Interior designer Thomas Hamel on where it goes wrong in so many homes.

By Thomas Hamel
Thu, Jun 23, 2022 6:00amGrey Clock 3 min

Specialising in residential design, Thomas Hamel and his eponymous design firm, Thomas Hamel & Associates, has built a heady reputation for blending elements of design to create timeless interiors for modern living.

We recently asked Hamel, what are the biggest design mistakes that you want to avoid when decorating or updating interiors.

Here – 5 mistakes to avoid and rules to live by:

1. Don’t ignore the interior architecture

Some houses or rooms have what we call “good bones”. Others, however, do not, and that is when it is important, rather than diving straight in to the fabrics and furnishings, for the interior architecture to be considered as a priority, to give a room a better sense of presence. Heights of door frames can be “tweaked” through window treatments and mouldings/panelling to add scale and “wow” factor to a room. Rooms can be opened up to adjoining rooms or to an outdoor area, doorways enlarged for greater flow, and mouldings and panelling incorporated to give a room more presence. These fairly easy design touches can give a room “good bones” and often without a huge cost outlay. It is a good idea to have your interior designer work in tandem with the architect, as well as the landscape designer in advance of embarking on the more decorative aspect of the project.

2. Never overlook the importance of area rugs 

At Thomas Hamel & Associates, we prioritise a room’s rugs before moving on to select the fabrics, lighting or decorative pieces. A rug truly anchors a room and informs the overall feel and aesthetic. This important starting point leads to our choices of fabrics, furnishings, and paint colours. The rug is the first port of call. It is essential to choose the correct rug sizing, as this is closely linked to the proportions of the furniture pieces and light fixtures. We often custom design rugs for our clients, with the help of specialist rug dealers like Behruz in Melbourne.

3. Don’t Match Everything

It is important to avoid the ‘everything has to match’ syndrome. No great room ever felt or looked ‘cookie cutter’! We prefer to combine a variety of different styles. Clients may live in a contemporary house, but if they fall in love with an antique piece of furniture or traditional work of art, we say “go for it”. Integrating a range of periods and styles tells the story of who lives there and adds personality to a house. No one wants to live in a design showroom, and nor should they.

4. Not considering your location 

The best homes/rooms have a true “ sense of place”, so consider your location before embarking on a design scheme. While Tuscan houses look great in the Italian countryside, they are not so appropriate in Queensland. Likewise, it’s best to leave the “ Hamptons style” in Long Island, rather than trying to recreate it in urban Melbourne, A home should be true to its setting. In Australia, that may mean making the most of our warm climate by incorporating opportunities for indoor/outdoor living. Or in Sydney, playing to the view if you are lucky enough to live on the harbour. In Melbourne, it may be a garden that forms the focus of a room’s outlook.

5. Always allow space for art and objects

Memorable rooms are often filled with an owner’s favourite objects, collected over time from travels, a gallery visit, or perhaps passed down through families over generations. Avoid the notion and temptation that everything for your interior should be bought at once, or feel that the house is “done” when the interior design scheme is completed. Collecting is fun and the stories that objects and art tell about the owner are what makes a house truly special.

thomashamel.com



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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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