Ronda Kaysen in Board Operations on August 1, 2013
And make no mistake: It's not just aesthetics but economics that compels boards to re-do their lobbies. "The lobby really is the introduction to your building's interior," says Susan Lauren, president of Lauren & Chase Design Group, an interior design firm. "It's the first impression and it speaks a lot about the maintenance and the character of the building. Sales are either won or lost before a buyer even enters the apartment."
Work With What You've Got
The most affordable lobby upgrades tend to be the ones where the building takes on cosmetic improvements like replacing the lighting or wallpaper, or refinishing the floors. Replacing floors can cost far more than buffing a dull surface.
In many cases, buildings have lovely pieces of artwork or interesting details that have been ignored. Moving a sculpture to a new location, for example, can breathe new life into it.
Forbes-Ergas Design Associates took artwork that was scattered in different parts of the lobby at 165 East 72nd Street and brought them together on a single wall, creating an art wall without spending money on new art. The designer also moved a sculpture that was too small for the lobby to the end of a hallway, making it the focal point of the hallway. By moving existing pieces of art around or giving them new frames, a building can add new life to an existing piece of work at a lower cost.
The Light Fantastic
Adding entirely new lighting can be expensive and may require an electrician to open up a wall. To keep costs down, a building can replace existing lights with new fixtures or add affordable table lamps.
"If you have a beautiful lamp with a shredded light shade and you just change the shade, all of a sudden the lamp looks like a treasure," says Marilyn Z. Sygrove, president of Sygrove Associates Design Group, which designed the lobby for the co-op at 1150 Park Avenue. (See before-and-after-pictures at right; click to enlarge.)
Adding something as simple as plants can make a space look fresh and inviting. If the lobby is too dark for plants, consider silk — seriously.
"I had a client on Park Avenue who wanted plants," recalls interior designer Liz Morehouse, president of Morehouse Design Associates. "There is a source that makes ficus and palms that are artificial. They use the real bark of the trunk. You really can't tell the difference — it looks so good."
Photos courtesy Sygrove Associates Design Group; click to enlarge
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