It’s starting…the forecast is for rain, sleet, snow and if you are really lucky…all three!!! So out come your heavier coats, umbrellas, gloves and waterproof boots. Before you step out of your snug and warm homes you are already braced for the mess that you are about to face outside.

But what about your building’s lobby? What protection does it have against the elements that are dragged inside, such as moisture and salt?

Start outside!

Sidewalk Heating Elements

While making a treacherous sidewalk surface melt away, there is no better way to preserve your lobby than installing a heating element under your side walk. No need to shovel or use salts that are tracked inside your lobby (never mind how it pains your pooch!) Read more about it here. Even developers of new residential buildings are looking at this as a “building amenity.” So why be left behind?

Rain Runners aka Bad Weather Mats

Mats used correctly make for safe lobbies. Wet floors are a slippery hazard but bad weather mats are not intended to be down 100% of the time except where there are insets in the vestibule. Good weather watching practices allow staff to lay mats down at the appropriate times. The good news is that there are a variety of mats to choose from.

Here are some things to consider when choosing mats:

1. High + Low Nylon Textured Patterns:

  • The best type of mats to remove moisture, salt and grit have both a high and a low pile pattern. The height of the pile dries your foot covering. Grit scraps off and falls to the lower level.
  • These mats can be vacuumed and hosed down.
  • They can include your logo, addresses and sport interesting borders
  • They are available in a variety of colors

2. Cocoa Mats:

  • Cocoa Mats are made from all natural material, they look great but don’t wear as well as nylon mats.
  • Synthetic “cocoa” mats are available. They will wear better over time than natural mats but do not even come close in appearance
  • Can be used in conjunction with other matting

3. Inset Mats Versus “As Needed” Runners:

  • If your lobby is designed with recessed vestibule mats – be mindful of heights and thicknesses when replacing.
  • Runners should be selected based on the shapes, sizes and colors that compliment the interior.

4. Size, Weight + Backing:

  • Rubber-backed mats are lighter in weight than vinyl mats and can be more easily customized by size and color than vinyl mats
  • Vinyl backed mats are heavier than rubber-backed mats and are only available in specific sizes. They are generally less expensive than rubber mats
  • Mats can be specified with “pins” integrated into the backing for use over existing rugs or carpeting.

Tips on Umbrella Stands

Umbrella stands, though widely overlooked, are an important part of any lobby to avoid slipping accidents and water damage.

1. Make sure the stand is large enough to handle three to four umbrellas (some umbrellas have “legs”). Large golf umbrellas eat up space, so make sure the stand can accommodate them without tipping over.

2. Locate the umbrella stand away from existing wall covering and wood paneling yet convenient enough to entry doors. Moisture from umbrellas can damage wall surfaces. Keeping it close to the doorway will eliminate dangerous puddles all the way to the package closet where umbrellas are typically stored!

3. Attractive umbrella stands not only contain puddles but also give you another opportunity to accessorize your lobby for a more residential feel. Take a look at Houzz for stylish options.

Water Resistant Upholstery

Often at or near the building entry door is a bench so residents can wait comfortably for a cab or school bus. This bench is a vulnerable site for wet umbrellas and rain gear so plan in advance for this possibility. Here is a list of water resistant materials for your consideration:

1. Pleather: Pleather is a vinyl that is made to look like leather and requires little maintenance. This is perfect for lobby seating because it is water resistant and durable.

2. Upholstery Fabric: It is important to make sure your upholstery fabrics are easy to clean and have a protective barrier against water.

Now that you are armed with ways to protect your lobby from the mess of the season – Enjoy Your Winter Wonderland!

Some of our favorite mat resources:
Mats Inc.,  Van GelderProformRobert M. Weiss & Co.

For Pleather upholstery:
UltrafabricsKravetArc Com

For Upholstery Fabric:

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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