5 Awesome Before-and-After Condo and Apartment Hallway Transformations

By the time a client reaches out to my firm, they’re more than ready for their building to have a facelift. We are lobby interior designers, yes, but some of our most interesting work is upstairs, in the hallways. In fact, condo and apartment hallway transformations are some of our most rewarding (and challenging) projects.

If you live in New York City, you’re more than aware that the majority of apartment building hallways are long, dark and gloomy. Even in some of the most iconic residential buildings, the hallways were an afterthought. My job is to bring light, warmth, and efficiency into those dark windowless corridors – and it’s not always an easy task.

In most of the older buildings, quick alterations were made over the years to accommodate changes in wiring and HVAC systems. This makes hallway design projects particularly interesting work for us because we can combine our design expertise, our technical chops, and clever problem-solving. When residents tell us they feel happy every time they get off the elevators, we know we’ve done our job well.

Here are 5 awesome before and after condo and apartment hallway transformations of which we are particularly proud:

1) From Stuffy To Sophisticated – 45 Sutton Place South




Before: Excessively patterned carpet, fussy traditional furniture, and green elevator doors made this hallway feel like an old-fashioned doctor’s office. The full wall of mirrors across from the elevators magnified that feeling, too. The residents wanted a fresh, new design that at the same time, celebrated the building’s 1958 architecture.

After: We chose to face the elevators in a soft, neutral cream and the walls in a soft copper hue. We replaced the wall of mirrors with a sophisticated round decorative mirror on each floor, not unlike what you would find in an original mid-century hallway. We paired elegant stone flooring with soft, luxurious carpet graced by a strong geometric element. This serves to break up the floor area and eliminate the long, windowless corridor affect. The crown molding draws your eye away from the electric and cable soffits and creates a cozy, homey feeling.

Finally, we did away with the fussy, old-fashioned furniture and instead placed a lovely settee across from the elevator. It’s clean lines dance well with the carpet. And, we sourced graceful, period-appropriate chandeliers, which cast a great deal of light thus eliminating the need for tables and lamps.


2) From Cold To Classy – 203 West 81st St.










Before: When I first laid eyes on this space I was overcome by turquoise! I do love turquoise but in this case, it’s more appropriate for a basement than a residential floor. The overly patterned carpet was a not very successful attempt at making the hallway a little more cheerful. Instead, it just felt claustrophobic.

After: To create an atmosphere of comfort and luxury, we chose a warm and inviting copper for the elevators. We simply adored the existing open staircase so we had the marble treads stripped and polished and let the original marble tell the story. The soft patterned carpet adds subtle interest and is designed to withstand decades of wear and tear and still look great. New lighting creates an open, airy effect. Quite a contrast from where we started, right?


3) From Suffocating To Spacious – 205 East 78th St.

Before: In many prewar buildings, the hallways feel narrow and suffocating, despite the fact that the apartments are often quite large. In addition to updating the walls and flooring, this extensive project also required us to find ways to hide electrical piping and create access panels for cable.

After: We were stuck with narrow hallways but we implemented clever design solutions that make them feel wider. By limiting the scheme to only three colors (chocolate, white and aqua) we were able to create an effect of spaciousness and a décor that is classic and modern at the same time. Our solutions for the electrical piping and cable panels are so integrated into the design that most people don’t even notice them.


4) From Dim To Distinctive – 411 East 53rd St.

Before: The residents of 411 E. 53rd were really tired of their wall of mirrors and bowl-shaped lighting fixtures. Their hallways always felt dim. The old nylon carpet, which was glued directly to the floor (without padding) was hard on the feet. This was not a happy space to come home to.

After: The pillbox-shaped ceiling fixtures (which we adore) cast lots of light, yet are so unobtrusive they’re barely noticeable. We covered the metal apartment doors with decorative casings, which eliminated the office-building mood. We chose luxurious wool/nylon carpeting from Ulster Carpets and used thick padding so residents can comfortably walk to the garbage room in their stocking feet. Hard flooring for the area right outside the elevators imparts the feeling of a foyer and adds to the coziness of the new design.


5) From Blah To Brilliant – Holland House

Before: The residents of Holland House were greeted every day by a long expanse of dull blue carpet which made the hallway feel like an endless road to nowhere.

After: This was modestly-budgeted compared to the majority of projects that come into our firm, but by implementing some simple design tricks we gave this hallway a new and fresh look. We used complimentary patterned carpet where the large carpet medallions in at the elevator landings evoke a foyer feeling the smaller pattern carries the design the same feeling down the hallway. We love the LED fixtures that cast soft, yet bright enough to read light. They look like they’ve always been there. The walls were carefully skimmed and we added wood cable molding for a finished effect. And (this part I particularly love) we repurposed all the old elevator dials – they are now directional signage on each floor!

When working on condo and apartment hallway transformations my team and I take the time to imagine how we want to feel when we step out of the elevator. It’s our goal to improve look, feel and efficiency and create an atmosphere of peace.

Stuck with dim, dingy, and less than welcoming hallways in your building? I would be happy to explore a condo and apartment hallway transformation with you. Please feel free to contact me directly for a consultation about your project.
— Marilyn
[email protected]

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Sygrove Design, Marilyn Sygrove, Concierge Desk Design, Lobby Interior Design, Briar Oaks - Concierge Desk

The Importance of a Well-Designed Concierge Desk and Station

When you live in New York City you constantly interact with doormen and concierges as you go through your day. So, when the lobby of the building you live in is inefficient, out of date, or downright drab, it has a less than joyful impact on your life. Many lobbies simply need some TLC. Some don’t fit into the architectural character of the neighborhood or even the building itself. And sometimes decisions were made during a past lobby renovation that haven’t stood the test of time.

A happy staff makes for a happy building and with that in mind, concierge desk design is an important part of what we do as part of the lobby renovation projects we take on. Residents, their guests, and the entire building staff all benefit from thoughtful lobby interior design.

We work on lobby interior design projects in New York City that include concierge desk design. Here are some examples.

6 Concierge Desk Design
Examples We’re Proud Of:

1) 300 Riverside Drive, Manhattan

The best way to describe this lobby is “drop dead gorgeous”. However, when we first encountered it we were met by what can only be described as a dungeon. Although much of the incredible coffered ceiling, diamond patterned flooring, and Bottocino marble walls were still intact – they were hardly noticeable through the accumulated dirt and grime of past decades. Some of the tiles and architectural details were broken or missing, but there was enough in good shape that we could maintain the rich 1920’s look and feel, on which the residents insisted. And I don’t blame them. When you’re lucky enough to live in such a gem you want to celebrate it.

My team and I painstakingly considered every inch of this lobby, from ceiling to floor. The concierge desk design was inspired by one of the original pieces of lobby furniture – a console table with carved turning legs. The new desk has all the technology needed to run a modern building, yet perfectly complements the incredible architectural details of the lobby.

We are particularly proud of this project, as are the residents who enjoy it every day.

NYC Concierge Deskn Designer

2) Briar Oaks, Riverdale

In the 1950’s New York City was experiencing a housing crisis. Newly returned GI’s were getting married by the thousands and those young couples needed apartments. Riverdale, a residential enclave in the Bronx with low population density, was a perfect spot for developers to take advantage of the demand. A building boom of high-rise apartment buildings was the result. Unfortunately, many of the structures erected during that era lack the kind of architectural detail we see in older New York neighborhoods. The lobbies, however, are often large, bright, and sometimes contain finishes that just need some TLC to bring out their luxurious character. Briar Oaks, built in 1953, has one such lobby.

The first thing I noticed about Briar Oak’s lobby was its elegant zigzag terrazzo flooring. It was definitely worth saving and was the most interesting feature. Everything we chose thereafter complements and enhances that spectacular floor – from the rich wood paneling to the luscious stone accents. The concierge desk design includes a gracefully proportioned stone top and a highly textured backdrop. The backdrop is like a piece of artwork that makes a striking contrast with the smooth and geometric lines of the floor.

The Briar Oaks lobby is truly an example of how carefully selected finishes can transform blah and boring into chic and elegant.


3) The Ellington, Manhattan

Built in 1987, The Ellington is a remarkably handsome red brick residential building that features clean, spare lines and upscale finishes. The Ellington has both a doorman station and a concierge desk, which is common in New York’s newer large apartment buildings. (The Ellington has 214 units.)

The challenge for my team was to create an elegant lobby at the same time ensure that both desk areas would hold up to the extreme wear and tear that’s common in such a large, busy building. One way we met that challenge was to source incredibly resilient materials that are at the same time elegant and luxurious. Once such material is Aquasol, a gorgeous, natural, pewter-colored stone known for its durability. We used Aquasol for both the concierge desk design and the doorman station. It will endure many years of rough treatment by strollers, shopping carts, and UPS hand trucks and still look great.

Concierge Desk Design












4) 50 Park Avenue, Manhattan

It was love at first sight when I walked into this lobby. It’s very unusual for a 1940’s building to have so much original wood paneling still intact. But sadly, the paneling was finished in an outdated deep red mahogany, which made the lobby feel dark and foreboding. There was no concierge desk, either. Instead, the staff used a cheesy podium, which had been purchased years earlier at an office furniture store!

Our job was to transform the lobby into a brighter, more inviting space and at the same time retain as much of the original wood paneling as we could. First, we had the dark finish stripped off to let the scrumptious beauty of the natural wood emerge. For the concierge desk design we chose a wood veneer that perfectly matches the golden hue and rich textures of the walls. It fits in so well it looks as if was original.

Today, the residents 50 Park (and their guests) are greeted by this warmth and richness every time they enter the building. They just love it!

Concierge-desk-designer-NYC5) 123 East 75th St., Manhattan

123 East 75th is a post-war building surrounded by Park Avenue pre-war buildings in the silk stocking district of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. We designed a new, period-inspired limestone and granite façade to give the building to better fit into the neighborhood. The owners wanted the lobby to be a continuation of that feeling. In order to make it happen, we chose rich walnut veneer and geometric lines for the lobby and concierge desk design. The result is harmony with the entrance and with the neighborhood – yet it has a clean and modern appearance.


6) The Bel Air, Forest Hills, Queens

The dramatic sweeping curved lines effect of this spectacular 1965 apartment building in Queens reflects the space-age architecture of the 1964 World’s Fair. To stay true to it’s “less is more” character we made sure that the lobby remained a delightfully effortless transition from the street into the living space. We created a concierge desk design that accommodates all the new equipment the staff needs to keep the building running efficiently: Monitors, keyboard, alarms, intercom…the works! Yet it looks as if it’s always been there.

Those are just a few examples where thoughtful concierge desk design enables New York City apartment dwellers to enjoy the benefits of an elegant and well functioning lobby. You can view more photographs of our lobby interior design projects here.


Thanks for reading.

Marilyn Sygrove