Living in a prewar building is quite appealing to many young buyers for a slew of reasons. A pre-war apartment refers to a unit built before World War II, generally during the time period between 1900 and 1939. Pre-war buildings are known for the generous size of their apartments and beautiful 20th century architecture. Pre-war buildings often include features such as marble slab walls, mosaic flooring, elaborate plasterwork ceilings, and moldings.


That said, as a New York City lobby and hallway designer, I’ve learned that young buyers want to see something fresh and modern in their buildings, too. And before you fear that adding contemporary touches will interfere with a building’s original charm don’t worry. There are many ways to add modern influences to a space without compromising character. Below, I’ve listed a few solutions.

Tackle the doorman’s desk.

Bring wow-factor to the lobby with a well-designed doorman’s desk that is minimalistic and features state of the art technology. For example, iPad technology can be used to manage package retrieval and other essential functions. This will help bring even the most storied building into the 21st century.

Care for existing finishes.

Meticulously maintained existing finishes are key to ensure that the building stays looking elegant and sleek. Polished existing marble walls and floors, restored or even simplified plaster details, shiny clean surfaces indicate excellent maintenance.

Think about lighting.

Adding cove lighting where appropriate is a modern touch that is subtle enough to work in a traditional space.

Get artful.

Try some modern art with pops of color and opt for slightly oversized scale pieces. This helps emphasize their importance and presence

Incorporate family-friendly touches.

As a hallway designer, I’ve kept note of what those looking to start a family notice when touring buildings. This includes: kid friendly upholstery fabric that is easily cleaned to avoid the “oops” factor when accidents happen, package space designed to accommodate scooters, tricycles, and strollers and car seats, and furniture with soft, rounded ages that are safe for little ones wandering around.

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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