As a New York City lobby and hallway designer, I am often called in to evaluate not only the functional needs of a lobby but also ways to make a lobby appear outstanding and memorable in order to distinguish a given building from others.  

Essentially, a lobby should be filled with items that are aesthetically pleasing but non controversial. To help you get started selecting accents that will shine in your lobby, I’ve put together some guidelines to reference during the design process. 

 Probably the toughest thing to select and finalize in any lobby setting is artwork.  Artwork is the most common finishing touch of any lobby installation, the last item to go in. 

1. Artwork

Painted canvases and sculptures are commonly seen in NYC apartment lobbies. I advise staying away from genre pieces, like pieces with people, and instead have opted for universally calming landscapes, depictions of architectural elements, and photographs. I always work to avoid art that is readily available in the marketplace—a cookie cutter solution is not the advisable choice here. 

Instead, I advise sourcing images that complement the building’s architecture, pay a nod to its history, or reference a place in the neighborhood.  

Looking to go in another direction? Try an eye-catching wall treatment. In the lobby shown here, this was done with a wood veneer wallcovering installed in a starburst pattern. The visual is powerful yet neutral enough to avoid being the subject of criticism.

2. Living Wall or Interior Garden

There are many products on the market that can be used to bring a natural or organic feel to any lobby. The living wall is becoming more popular because it is more accessible, artful, and unexpected. It also serves as a tie between the indoors and out. That said, a living wall will require maintenance, but this care pays off—with proper care, a living wall will last for four to six years on end. Additionally, live plants are associated with a slew of benefits, ranging from increased oxygen levels to an overall feeling of ease.

3. Statement Flowers

Have you ever visited a wonderful restaurant or hotel with striking flower arrangements? Why not include this type of element in your NYC apartment lobby in the form of fresh flower arrangements or potted plants such as orchids? As with the living wall, live plants boost people’s moods—and who doesn’t want to feel a little less stressed when arriving home at the end of a long day?

4. Statement Lighting

The light fixture over your vestibule, doorman station, or seating area should be classic, suitable in scale for the space, boast LED for energy savings, and keep with the overall building design.   Lighting is generally a larger ticket, investment item and can make all the difference in adding oomph to a space. Take your time when selecting lobby lighting, though. Include a variety of fixtures: table lamps, floor lamps, pendants, and sconces are all fair game.

5. Water Wall

I have always admired water walls; a fountain is always a wonderful focal point for a lobby. There is little water needed because a pump re-circulates the water, and if properly constructed, there is zero to little issue over time. Plus, the sound can drown out unpleasant street sounds, which is always a plus in New York City. Best of all, a water wall doesn’t need to be large to make an impact and brings a calming and spa-like quality to your lobby.

While some of the options outlined above involve a one-time cost and others require a bit of maintenance, they all make an impact in a NYC lobby. Consult with your Board to determine what is accessible within your building’s budget; you cannot go wrong with any of these additions.

Sygrove Interior Design Services

Sygrove Associates Design Group is an NYC interior design company. Our company’s founder Marilyn Sygrove is the lead interior designer on all projects. And she’s as tough as you are when it comes to quality, aesthetics, and coming in on time and on budget.

It all starts with a design consultation with Marilyn. She takes the time to thoroughly understand your design needs then personally directs all interior design, planning, and installation activities. Her work has been delighting clients, co-op and condo boards, and homeowners for over 30 years.

You can reach Marilyn by email at or call her directly at 212.757.0631.

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