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  • robertolugo73

What To Do When You Can't Start From Scratch

Updated: Mar 9, 2023


I was recently hired to give a facelift to the Lobby of the building where I reside in Armenia, Colombia. It is a residential building with 105 units.

In my initial conversation with the board I was informed that they wanted the end result to be a more welcoming and brighter lobby and that I would have creative license BUT, I would have to work around the existing tile (both floor and walls), existing wood paneling, signage, reception desk and footprint (alas - I couldn't knock down any pesky walls). They also mentioned reupholstering the existing furniture and perhaps leaving the artwork intact until a future date.

At first, I was somewhat taken aback. It seemed to me that what they were asking me to do was to pick out a couple of different paint colors that would make the lobby look good and call it a day, which initially, seemed to me an impossibility. As you can see by the photos, the lobby is underlit, the colors somber and unappealing, the furniture inadequate (note the lounge chair of the sectional - it is for a residential, not a commercial space) and under-scaled and because of this, the space feels cavernous and depressing.

Undaunted, I decided to look at the project as an opportunity to work within the confines of the board's directives and use my vision to create the experience of entering a new space. With that in mind, I decided that before I sat down to create the Design Proposal I would go down to the lobby and look at it from all different angles, looking not as a unit-owner but as an interior designer.

Doing that gave me the inspiration I needed. I turned my attention from what I didn't like to what could be done to make the entire space better lit, with better flow and more cohesive in aesthetics. Clear on what my Design Proposal would include, I went back upstairs and created it for my presentation the next day.

At the presentation I immediately informed the board that what they wanted was not possible. I COULD work around the fixed installations like the signage, the tile, the wood and the reception desk, but that I did NOT recommend just slapping some new paint colors on the walls and ceilings and reupholstering the existing furniture. To me, that was just a waste of money and would not achieve their end result of a more appealing space. More importantly, I emphasized the point that if they maintained basic upkeep of the existing lobby, it would drastically alter the space that they already have.

From there I ensued with my proposal that included lighting, painting, new furniture and new artwork, executed in three phases; electrical & painting, new furniture and artwork. I gave them recommendations that considered their budget but also resolved the very issues that needed to be resolved in a timely manner. Excited at the vision I was proposing, satisfied that I proposed it in phases and clear that it was within the confines of the fixed installations, they approved my proposal.

When looking at updating a space in your home or work, it's always important to consider that a new or fresh pair of eyes will almost always get you to think outside the box. Collaborating with someone who has some knowledge and/or skill of/with space design is a great tool for reinventing spaces. Sometimes, we get so used to where we live or work such that we find it hard to envision it in some other way.

And, that if you have fixed elements that cannot easily be relocated (or removed completely), there are different ways in which you can integrate those fixed elements such that they become an intentional part of the final vision, rather than something you had to work around.

Be on the lookout for photos of the execution of Phase 1 (sometime in mid-April) under the Project. To see all the before photos click below:

Bonus question: See if you can guess what I recommended in terms of paint, lighting and furniture. Write your comments below.

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2 comentários


tish.mejias
05 de mar. de 2023

Mirrors to reflect light? Directional lights to illuminate dark corners?

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robertolugo73
09 de mar. de 2023
Respondendo a

Hmmm...great guesses! You're very warm. Clearly, you have a designer's eye 😎

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