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  • Writer's picturePat Browne

Designing a new first impression

Savoy updates its interior public spaces

First impressions count and in real estate they can make a huge difference on value (up to 20%). Designers will always tell you it’s best to begin with areas that look old and tired —especially upon entry. With this in mind, the condo board at the Savoy instituted a design plan for updating the public spaces of the condo (hallways and lobby).

After an exhaustive search, the Savoy chose Clinton Design to lead the design process and JCO and Associated, Condominium Refurbishment as contractors to implement the changes.

Without totally rejecting what was in place at the Savoy, the designers at Clinton Design worked on a plan that maximized what could be reused from the existing space in the new design (i.e. granite floors in the lobby and millwork throughout), and what needed to be replaced to achieve the new look. A colour palette of grey, warm taupe and black was used throughout to create an elegant, yet modern look.

Clinton advises managers to make thoughtful decisions with their design elements. Everything that is chosen has to have a reason for being there, she says. “It needs to look like it belongs there. Some people may not notice, but others will. A well-designed space impresses newcomers, visitors and potential buyers, and appeals to those who live there to use those spaces.”

The redesign started in the lobby for a first impression as you enter the building. Tired features such as the fireplace mantel and wall sconces were upgraded. Wallpaper was removed, walls re-plastered and re-painted and new wallpaper was used as a design element within trim spaces. The overall palate was lightened. The lobby furniture replaced and new art is now featured throughout. Even the notice board in the mailroom got an upgrade.

Clinton champions light. “Darkness is not a good thing. It makes spaces appear smaller and ceilings lower,” she says. “Making spaces inviting requires the right light. If the lighting is not right, you could have a beautiful carpet and great wall art, but if nobody sees it, you’ve waisted your money. Light makes all the difference, and it can be duplicated on each floor for uniformity.”

The design plan included removing popcorn ceilings in the hallways and replacing drop light fixtures with new recessed LED pot lights. Old wallpaper was removed, walls were re-plastered and re-papered. All doors and trim were re-painted, and the carpet was replaced.

Eventually the door hardware will also be replaced with brushed nickel to match the overall design.

On each floor, the elevator lobbies got an upgrade. Feature walls were designed in front of the elevator doors with displays of original art unique to each floor. Directional signs in brushed nickel were added. The very tired carpets were replaced with modern industrial grade carpet and chic solid surface tile.

A final addition following the hallway refurbishment was a full view security system on all floors and in the elevators. Elevator interior renovations are also in the plans.

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