What happens when you get a furniture showroom store to design your lobby? You get a lobby that looks like a furniture showroom.
That’s what happened at the 152-unit Neptune Towers co-op in Nassau County. “The board was looking to save money,” recalls Diane Logan, a current board member. “They hired a residential furniture company in the area that said they decorated lobbies. They went with this company and basically everything that they picked clashed with the building, both in color and in style.”
It was 2013, and Logan had just joined the lobby redesign committee. She was surprised by what she saw. “The [lobby’s] wallpaper clashed with the existing elements within the building. We have a mid-century modern building and everything that was picked out was a residential traditional format. We have beautiful terrazzo floors that have the browns and the corals. They picked a medium-blue, striped wallpaper that clashed. It looked residential. It looked like something you might do in your own living room.”
On the practical side, the furniture showroom designer hadn’t used the more durable materials typically employed for furnishings and fabrics in public spaces.
Because Logan had so clearly articulated what was wrong with the lobby, the board asked her if she had any ideas on how to rectify the situation. She was soon tapped to supervise the redesign of the redesign. “I was the one who had brought it to everybody’s attention. Once the wallpaper went up, I stopped the whole project. None of the furniture had been [unpacked], so I didn’t want anything touched until I had the opportunity to at least return the furniture and start from square one.”
Logan interviewed eight designers, ultimately hiring Tina Tilzer, a designer and the owner of Arts & Interiors, a local design firm. “She’s amazing,” says Logan. “She came in with a good portfolio. She knew her business. She was located in the area, as well, as opposed to a lot of the designers that I was seeing that were from New York City. I knew I wanted somebody that was local, who could also be on site to do the project management as well as the design of the lobby. That’s how I ended up with Tina. We were very lucky to get her.”
Over a three-week period, Tilzer talked with the committee and ultimately created a new design, with two variations. The design committee placed the designs on display in the lobby, giving the residents ten days to vote on their choices. “It was pretty clear that everyone loved the new design,” Tilzer recalls, “and they were excited to start work again.”
The lobby also has a picture window in the back looking out on a garden. “We worked on landscaping,” Tilzer notes. “It was incorporated within this project; I worked with a landscaper, and we did outdoor benches. We worked with lighting. That was really interesting. But the most fun and the most dramatic change was the artwork that I used. I’m all for art. I love highlighting artwork in public spaces. That really made a huge difference; I used huge pieces. It’s a very big lobby.”
The project, which Logan says cost “anywhere between $110,000 and $150,000,” went smoothly, beginning on April 15 and ending on November 1, 2015. The contractors were Aristocrat Painters and Double R Contracting, which did all the electrical work and woodwork.
That blue-striped wallpaper is already a distant memory.