Making an entrance

Why not step into Spring 2016 with a fresh new look for your block’s common parts. Over the next few pages we have put together some ideas to help you breathe new life into that lacklustre lobby or retro reception area. Here, rooftop developer First Penthouse starts us off with their guide to transforming your communal spaces from tired and dated to welcoming and modern - without breaking the bank.

It is not uncommon for the shared areas in your property, particularly the entrance hall and landings to be overlooked for long periods of time. Carpets grow more worn, painted walls get scuffed and light fittings become dated and less energy efficient. Knowing where to start can be the hardest part of any upgrade project but by making a few small changes you can make a big difference to your block and quickly create a more inviting first impression.

As part of a recent rooftop development in Chelsea (see Flat Living issues 20 and 21) First Penthouse upgraded the common parts of the building. The entrance hall and landings were time-worn, poorly lit and uninviting. Looking at the key considerations of renovation for this project, here are some useful tips to help get you thinking about your own common parts upgrade.

Make a start

The entrance to any block serves a functional purpose, so in most cases there is no need to completely re-design this space. Instead a good starting point is to simply assess whether or not there is an opportunity to create a key focus area to make the space more welcoming and give a great first impression to residents and their visitors. Ideas could include:

  • Hanging a feature mirror on a prominent wall
  • Adding a stylish table and chair

  • Upgrading the porter’s desk to complement the style of the building and de-clutter paperwork

  • Making space for plants (low maintenance varieties such as Ficus, Pothos and Peace Lily are ideal for reception areas) 

Paint

A lick of paint is one of the quickest ways to spruce up and change a space. Although it may not make a bold statement, sticking to light and neutral shades of wall colour will make your entrance hall appear larger and brighter. An unassuming colour palette will also help to comply with the varying tastes and personal preferences of the residents in your block.

For the recent Chelsea project, the skirting board in the entrance hall was painted a contrasting soft grey shade to the walls, to help draw the eye down the length of the hallway towards the wider open space by the lift. This simple technique, using two neutral but complimentary shades was easy to achieve and very effective.

Lights

Lighting can make a big difference to the ambience and feel of a space. It is common for an entrance hall to be devoid of natural light, so it is important to compensate with illuminating and energy efficient light sources.

Low ceilings will always benefit aesthetically from flush ceiling lights, however if your block is blessed with high ceilings then why not make a feature of this by choosing striking pendant lights or chandeliers for a grand gesture.

The annual cost of lighting your property can become astronomically high if light fittings and bulbs are 10 years old or more. As part of an entrance hall upgrade it is worth considering the following:

  • LED Exit signs

  • Fluorescent lamps - changing your bulbs from T12 to T8 will still provide your hallways with equal light but will save 25% on operating costs

  • Install lights with motion sensors for entrance areas and landings

  • Set wall lights and up-lights on a timer switch

Flooring

Changing the flooring in your communal areas can be costly, but on a budget there are some cheaper alternatives to help improve the carpets in these heavy traffic areas.

Dry and steam carpet cleaning services are readily available nationwide and this is a simple solution to quickly and easily spruce up your entrance hall and landing areas. Professional carpet cleaning can deodorise and extract the dirt, stains and pollutants stuck on your carpet, typically in a single day. Most companies will carry out a complimentary site visit to assess the carpets in your block and will be able to advise you further.

In the First Penthouse Chelsea project, carpets were steam cleaned and stretched and patches of carpet were replaced with spare off-cuts to reinstate a smooth, fresh and colourful carpet.

Furniture

The furniture in your entrance hall should ideally be minimal to allow the space to remain a functional walk-through area. Updating the porter’s desk to tie in with the new entrance design, or reflect the buildings aesthetics can make a positive impact. Although a console table and waiting chair are typically the best way to complement the space without drawing your eye away from your key focus areas.

Security

During the Chelsea project, the residents had expressed their concerns with security at the property and wanted to ensure that certain measures were put in place to improve the front door and entry system. A bespoke door was designed, using a strengthened solid stained oak frame, with a handcrafted metal chevron detail. Reinforced frosted glass window panes allowed the residents to see if someone was outside in the doorway, while still maintaining the upmost privacy to the internal areas of the entrance hall. 

Don’t forget the little things

A simple but effective change can be to replace the entrance hall mat. A bespoke jute, coconut, or coir mat can include the buildings name or number for a professional and sophisticated sense of arrival. A new radiator can help tie in the style of the building aesthetics, particularly if your block is a period property. If possible, radiator covers are best avoided as they do not distribute heat well, despite their aesthetic appeal.