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I raised my children in Manhattan during an era when the sight of a parent with a stroller was rare. But, as the city became cleaner and safer, new parents began to discover the joys of raising children here, as opposed to leaving for the suburbs (as their parents likely did).

Today, New York is a virtual mecca for young families. Stroller traffic on the sidewalk is almost as bad as car traffic on the street. Perhaps a congestion pricing program for strollers is in order, right?

While many new residential towers are well-equipped for sticky fingers and muddy shoes, older structures, which represent the majority of the apartment buildings in New York, are trying to play catch-up in the kid-proofing department.

New York City residents have hired Sygrove to re-do their lobbies and hallways for over three decades. Their needs always reflect how life in the city is constantly changing. Case in point, requests for expanded package storage space and lobby refrigerators are routine.

When young children live in a building it’s a unique type of challenge. Kids can make mincemeat out of lobby furniture, wall coverings, flooring, and artwork. And, despite being the unique creatures we like to call “city kids,” they behave the same way kids do everywhere…

That is, they run around like lunatics and touch everything in sight!

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An Example of How to Kid-Proof a Lobby and Keep it Beautiful

Currently, my team is in the final stages of a spectacular lobby project. This final stage involves the installation of floor-to-ceiling artworks on canvas – a design element that everyone involved is very excited about.

But…there’s a problem. Quite a few young families live in this building. How do we stick to our original plan but do it in a way that keeps the art protected from the ravages of dirty hands and tricycles careening through the lobby like Evil Knievel?

One thing that you should know about Sygrove. We work with many different specialists on each project. So, in anticipation of this very problem, we discussed the issue with our go-to art consultant, Marlaina Deppe of NovoArts. She recommended that the canvases be mounted onto rigid plywood, so the texture is preserved, but the risk of the art being pierced is eliminated.

Next, we pulled together three options at three different price points to present to the Board. (We are ever mindful of the limitations of our clients’ budgets).

Three Artwork Options:

Option 1: Original artwork executed in acrylics or oils, painted on canvas, then mounted on plywood. Although this is the most expensive option, it’s the most impressive, durable, washable, and repairable.

Option 2: Artwork printed on canvas, embellished with hand-painting, and mounted on plywood. This option is moderately priced and has an authentic look and feel. However, it’s harder to repair than Option 1.

Option 3: Artwork printed on canvas without hand-painting. This is the least expensive option but the costliest to maintain. Artwork produced this way cannot be cleaned or repaired, so when it gets dirty or damaged, it must be replaced.

These three solutions give our clients the opportunity to choose what will work within their budget, be proactive about the future, and still have the beautiful outcome they desire.

Sygrove's Lobby Design for Carnegie Hall in NYC

More Lobby Kid-Proofing Techniques We Love

Furniture: There are many wonderful options in furniture upholstery that holds up to hard wear. Today, we can choose from a vast assortment of materials and fabrics that are washable fabrics and many come with a protective coating that makes them super easy to keep clean.

Walls: We love wood or marble walls in lobbies because they’re so textural and available in a wide assortment of colors and hues. They’re also relatively child-proof. To maintain the beautiful finish of their wood or marble walls, we make sure our clients understand they must keep up with routine professional maintenance.

Flooring: Kids are particularly hard on flooring, and that’s why it’s necessary to help our clients make the right choices. High-quality porcelain tile is fantastic for kid-friendly buildings – it needs only a damp mop to keep it clean. We also know which types of carpets to recommend that will withstand wear and tear – and even which colors and patterns will stay fresh-looking the longest. Laminate wood flooring is really popular, too – it looks like real wood but, when regularly mopped with vinegar and water, stays new-looking for an extended period of time.

(We have many other tricks up our sleeves, too.)

So, if your kid-friendly building needs a lobby or hallway upgrade, choose the professionals who know what they’re doing – after all, we’ve successfully completed over 350 projects in New York City alone!

Want to chat about your building? Feel free to call me at 212.757.0631 or email me at

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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