Category Archives: Residential Interior Design

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.

 

NYC-Hallway-design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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-and-after-lobby-designs

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-and-after-lobby-design-NYC

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]
212-757-0631

Residential-interior-designer

The New Trends to Watch For in Residential Interior Design for Family Apartments

If you’ve ever wondered how New York City got to be known as “The City That Never Sleeps,” you’d have to venture back to the 1970’s and listen to John Kander and Fred Ebb’s song “New York, New York.” Ironically, however, parents in the modern day are bringing a new meaning to the moniker—as people are choosing to raise their kids in the city.

Couples are moving into large apartments (or, combining apartments) and even restoring full brownstones to accommodate their growing families. These urban parents want the newest trends in residential interior design but they also want homes that are child-friendly.

In this staircase area I chose carpet treated with a special finish that makes water bead up and keeps soil on that top for easy cleaning. The seat cushion is vinylized fabric so it wipes off easily. All the painted finishes can be wiped down.

As anyone who has ever worked with small kids may know, “trendy” and “child-proof” are two realities that rarely (if ever) mesh together. But just because you have kids it doesn’t mean you can’t update your home with an eye to the newest trends in interior design.

So, if the above scenario speaks to you and:

  • You want to reduce the wear and tear on your furniture and flooring
  • You want to entertain guests in your home without it looking like a medieval war zone
  • You want to incorporate the newest trends in interior design and create a safe place for your kids, too

. . . then an interior designer who is familiar with creating high-traffic environments that withstand the brutal forces of human nature is a great choice. Over the years I’ve discovered that what I’ve learned as a lobby interior designer enables me to create family oases in the city that stand the test of time.

To mesh the newest trends in residential interior design and with the needs of a growing family, I focus on the three most important elements of the interior design process:

     1. Choosing The Right Fabrics

When designing residential spaces I look for colors and patterns that will maintain their allure while also being able to hide soil. For you parents out there, this is a huge stress reliever because your furniture will require cleaning less often (and you won’t be embarrassed when you have guests!).

Living-room-designer

In this gorgeous yet kid-friendly family room, I selected concrete tables that are super durable and a snap to clean. All the fabrics I used have a finish that makes liquids bead up and soil stay on the top for easy cleaning.

If your apartment is really bright, I choose fabrics that resist fading (fading is a big problem in lobbies). But, if your family can’t give up that favorite couch, then we can add a film to the windows to reduce the intensity of direct sunlight.

One of my other tried and true tricks is to use fabrics manufactured with non-toxic surface protection that makes them easy to clean. So, if your child (or, your partner) has a knack for plastering peanut butter on the couch, these fabrics are phenomenal.

      2. The Latest in Traffic Patterns and Flooring

Furniture is always about placement, placement, placement. For example, I wouldn’t locate a valuable lamp right next to the kitchen. I’m sure you would hate to see it knocked over by a running child before dinnertime!

Domestic-interior-design

I used stone top and limestone floors have been sealed with a “bullet sealer” preventing stains in this family kitchen. The bar stools are a covered with vinylized patterned fabric that easily wipes clean.

And the process I use to analyze traffic patterns in a child-friendly interior design plan is nearly identical to what I use for lobby interior design projects. If your living space sometimes feels like Grand Central, then listen up:

Your high traffic areas should have hard flooring because it can be easily cleaned. Your low traffic areas are where you will use your carpet or rugs. Keeping this in mind makes floor cleanup a breeze and helps preserve your valuable carpet and rugs.

One piece of advice to bear in mind about carpet and rugs is that natural materials are often easier to maintain that their synthetic counterparts (i.e. wool vs. nylon). One of the newest trends in residential interior design is custom Rug installations. These are available from local Rug manufacturers I have built relationships with over the years for lobby project. I’ve ordered custom rugs from them for various apartment interior designs – all which are durable and easy to clean.

      3.  Types of Wall Coverings

For adult apartments, paper and fabric wall coverings are spectacular, but they’re not easy to keep clean. A design trick I learned as a lobby interior designer is to select wall coverings that look just like fabric, but are made of vinyl, instead. These are remarkably easy to clean (sticky hands, we’re looking at you!), don’t require a special application of surface protection (whereas expensive wall coverings usually do), and because there are so many choices I can usually spot when a new interior design trend is starting.

But, if you’re not in love with the idea of vinyl, there are some lovely options in fabrics coated with a really powerful stain and spot resistant. They can be quite costly but are worth it if your budget allows.

In closing, if you are raising kids in the “City That Never Sleeps”, focus on durability, easy maintenance, and easy wear. You deserve a home that withstands the onslaught of your kids and the other members of the traveling circus, while still incorporating some of the newest and interior design trends.

—Marilyn