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.