The lobby of a resident’s building is the first thing a shareholder, unit owner, guest or prospective buyer notices when they come through the front door. That said, it stands to reason that comfortable, appropriate lobby furnishings are a very important part of a co-op, condo or homeowner association’s presentation and appeal.
Lobbies, hallways, and other common areas are, of course, more than just utilitarian transitional spaces. Boards are best suited to stay abreast of what’s trending in common area aesthetics; after all, from time to time, an update to a lobby’s appearance must occur.
This process can morph into a nightmare quickly. First, a designer must be selected; since most fancy themselves as experts of interior design, many push for their referrals to do the job. “The selection process can be brutal, because everyone has a friend or a decorator who they recommend,” says Marjorie Hilton, a designer and owner of Manhattan-based Marjorie Hilton Interiors, and former decorating editor of House Beautiful Magazine. “There’s often a beauty contest of fifty people who are trying out to design the same lobby.”
Other than an interior design death match, which would make good HGTV but probably runs afoul of New Jersey municipal law, how does one whittle down possible candidates? “The easiest thing to do is to choose an outside person who no one has a vested interest in,” Hilton suggests.
There’s the question of who will decide on a final candidate, as well. Smaller boards will make the decision themselves; larger ones are advised to form a committee for this purpose. Word to the wise, however, is to keep that committee at a manageable size.