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-MAY 2021     
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of Ethelind Coblin Architect, a New York  
City-based design and architecture firm with  
clients throughout the Northeast, says, “To  
‘lift’ the space, we incorporate light  metal- 
lic finishes in the upper tray.  Generally, our  
use of color is spare and restrained, minimally  
incorporating it in artwork and accents, such  
as pillows, etc. Our goal is creating timeless  
public spaces such as lobbies, halls, commu- 
nity spaces, instilling a sense of restraint and  
Influencing Factors 
In  addition  to location and population,  
the very type of construction and the age of  
a building can have outsized effects on design  
considerations. Some color combinations and  
textures work well in prewar buildings, while  
others are preferable for postwar structures,  
and the newest, most modern buildings may  
require a whole different approach. 
“Each building, each location, each period  
of architecture, and each building’s popula- 
tion are different  and  deserve to celebrate  
those differences,” says Sygrove. “We work  
very hard to individualize each building and  
not fall into the ‘cookie-cutter’ category, or to  
offer only one particular designer’s ‘signature’  
look.  We  design  each  property  individually  
continued from page 1 
but stress the commonality of the residents in  
their selection of their building in its specific  
location. This is the first layer of ‘glue’ to any  
project. We then design from there based on  
color preferences from the population or our  
recommendations.  Every  one  of  our  clients  
wants something that looks timeless, classic,  
clean, durable, and easy to maintain. These  
factors are the core requirements. 
“Often,”  explains Sygrove, “prewar  
buildings have wonderful, amazing ‘bones’  
for us to work with — natural marble, mo- 
saics, tiles, metal finishes, grillwork. Many  
already are a neutral color shell, and we  
can add discreet pops of color in a chair or  
bench that give it an interesting yet elegant  
twist. By the use of color and clean lines,  
we can make a prewar building appealing  
to younger buyers. When working in more  
modern buildings, it is all about simplicity  
and the elegance and perceived value of the  
materials used and the richness of color.  
We would either embrace a large bold pat- 
tern as a focal point, or a deep rich color to  
contrast with light-colored, easily-cleaned  
Coblin adds that “generally, prewar  
buildings have higher-end finishes, so we  
generally choose to enhance those terrazzo,  
stone, and panelized finishes. It’s a fine jug- 
gle to update these already highly-designed  
spaces. Postwar structures actually allow  
designers a bit more freedom. Often, they  
are in poor shape, have a mix of classical  
and 1960s detailing, and are in grave need  
of a new design aesthetic. We see postwar  
buildings, with their modern exterior and  
structure, as a chance to develop an equally  
contemporary interior.” 
Sygrove also suggests that regardless  
of building type or vintage, organic com- 
binations are very popular now — natu- 
ral woods, textures, stone references, and  
overall organic patterns. Also, fresh up- 
dates to period buildings with art deco,  
mid-century modern and neoclassical ar- 
chitecture are now paired with modern in- 
terpretations of these styles and colors that  
are fresh, while still respecting the architec- 
ture of the building, either embracing it or  
playing with it for a contemporary spin. 
Working with the Board 
“We spend a lot of time with our boards  
and design committees,” says Coblin.  “These  
spaces we are designing are their public spac- 
es, individual to them. It’s important that they  
understand the design approach we are using,  
and the related color and finish options. The  
board and residents need to buy into the aes- 
thetics as uniquely theirs. That is why each of  
our designs is exclusive.” 
 “We have an organized and efficient ap- 
proach to interface with the board and the  
resident population when designing for  
them,” concurs Sygrove. “We not only listen to  
the board, but also help the board listen to the  
shareholders or unit owners so that everyone  
has a voice in the project. The bottom line is  
that we listen, and that can take many forms  
to get to the right place. We know that not ev- 
continued on page 18 
continued from page 17 
Milazzo Smith agrees: “I think any time  
that you spend time  at your  home, you  
should be inspired, and you should be nour- 
ished and you should be uplifted. And I think  
there’s never been a time in my lifetime that I  
remember really needing that so much, and  
everyone around you needing that so much.  
Your environment has a psychological effect  
on you—the colors that you choose and the  
finishes that you choose to surround yourself  
with can really be uplifting. Of course, we  
don’t know what our future holds as far as the  
pandemic, but I do see people nestling into  
their homes a little bit more, and getting used  
to that idea of being able to really, really get  
inspired by their home as well.”  
Rodriguez also has a similar perspective.  
“Wellness is really the focus now for design- 
ers, developers, owner/operators, and resi- 
dents alike,” she muses. “Many of the shifts  
and trends we’ve seen in the past year reflect  
a growing recognition that our homes need  
to support our physical health and our emo- 
tional wellbeing.” 
Perhaps Mullendore sums it up best when  
he says, “I have seen families rediscover the  
joy of being at home, and being with each  
other, and this has prompted them to start  
paying more attention to the wellbeing and  
enjoyment of their most important space:  
Darcey  Gerstein  is Associate Editor and  
Staff Writer for New England Condominium.
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