The lobby of one’s building is the first thing a unit owner sees when coming home, and the first part of the building any guest (or prospective buyer) sees. In light of that, it stands to reason that comfortable, appropriate lobby furnishings are a very important part of a condo or co-op’s presentation and appeal.
So it’s important to make lobbies, hallways and other common areas more than just utilitarian transitional spaces, to stay abreast of what’s trending in common area aesthetics, and if necessary, to try a new look.
“The perfect lobby should be comfortable but not overstuffed with furnishings,” says Gia Milazzo-Smith, a Princeton, Massachusetts-based interior decorator and owner of the firm Designs by Gia. “Lobbies should feel warm and really welcoming because it is an entrance to a home but it shouldn’t be so design-specific that it doesn’t welcome everyone.”
Just getting started on a lobby redesign can morph into a nightmare quickly. First, a designer must be selected; since most fancy themselves as experts of interior design, many push for their referrals to do the job. “The selection process can be brutal, because everyone has a friend or a decorator who they recommend,” says Marjorie Hilton of Marjorie Hilton Interiors, and former decorating editor of House Beautiful Magazine. “There’s often a beauty contest of fifty people who are trying out to design the same lobby.”
Other than an interior design death match—which would make good HGTV but probably runs afoul of New England municipal law—how does one whittle down possible candidates? “The easiest thing to do is to choose an outside person who no one has a vested interest in,” Hilton suggests.