How to Design a Warm & Welcoming Apartment Lobby [7+ Tips]

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Jennifer Rives

12 minutes read

The lobby is the first thing anyone sees when they walk into the building, whether they’re potential tenants or residents returning home. 

A welcoming environment is essential to making them feel they belong.

You don't get a second chance at a first impression.

So make it count!

The elements of an apartment lobby — including the colors, lighting, flooring, furnishings, and decor — work together to create a welcoming, warm ambiance for anyone who steps inside. 

Read on to learn how you can best tackle each of these things and more!

Why a Welcoming Apartment Lobby Is Important

The lobby is the most important part of the entire apartment building. It's the first thing people see when they walk through the entryway. 

First impressions mean everything. And, that's true whether they're already residents, thinking about moving in, or visiting someone.

Put yourself in the shoes of a potential tenant instead of looking at it as a property manager.

What would you want to see when you enter your building?

A minimalist style? The New York hotel lobby vibe? A more laidback Los Angeles theme?

An aesthetic lobby design can be the difference between someone deciding to put in a rental application or not. 

Your building’s lobby is the first point of contact when prospective tenants arrive for their in-person tour. So, you want them to feel invited and at home right from the start.

It's also essential to create a welcoming environment for the people who already live there. Who wants to return to a cold, bare, or cluttered lobby after a long day of work or running errands?

Nobody.

This space should feel like home before they step into the elevator or wander through the halls to their unit.

The design of your apartment or elevator lobby says a lot about what it's like to live there. It tells people how much you care about the community and those living inside it.

Creating a warm and welcoming apartment lobby makes a glowing first impression and keeps people happy long after moving day. 

See Also: 7 Proven Tactics for Crafting an Effective Lease Renewal Reminder Letter


Pick the Right Colors 


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Wall colors change the entire mood of a room. 

According to the color psychology of interior design, the wall color can affect how people feel when they spend time in your lobby.

Avoid Harsh Warm Colors

The trouble with warm colors is that they don’t always create a sense of warmth; they tend to be too bright or harsh.

For example, red is intense and brings up the energy of a room. It’s also connected to passion and romance, making it far more at home in a bedroom than a relaxing lobby. 

Similar colors like orange and yellow are also energetic and raise visitors' heart rate rather than slow it down.

Select Warm, Neutral Colors

For a friendly, calming feeling in your apartment lobby, stick to a color palette with warm, neutral colors. Browns, beiges, grays, and off-whites are the best choices for lobby walls. 

… Or Non-Neutral Yet Calming Colors

Green is natural, restful, and a fantastic alternative to the more common neutral shades. It promotes calm and relieves stress. 

Blue is the most soothing color and can lower blood pressure and heart rate. 

Light purples and pinks are also very calming, like most pastel colors.

These colors make great accent colors for decor, artwork, and furniture against neutral walls.

Paint or Wallpaper?

Then there’s the question of using paint or wallpaper in your lobby. 

Paint is cheaper to buy and easier to put up and replace than commercial wallpaper. But make sure to invest in easy-to-wash eggshell paint that requires less repainting.

For that same reason, it’s also important to make sure you love whichever color you choose.

Always test any paint color you’re considering under the lighting in your apartment lobby to make sure it works well. Otherwise, it might look completely different than you were expecting.

Pay Attention to the Lighting

Any space will benefit from layered lighting, including your apartment lobby.

Leaving only harsh overhead lights takes away from the warmth of the space. It could also make the lobby interior feel more like an office building — not a cozy residential building. 

Not to mention it's not very functional. 

Several lights varying between ambient, task, and accent lighting will create the perfect mood.

Ambient Lighting

Start by changing any strong overhead lights out for warmer bulbs. Putting ambient lighting on a dimmer allows you to dim them during the day if your lobby gets a lot of natural lighting.

Task Lighting

Next, you'll need what's considered task lighting to light up specific areas.

If you have a seating area with tables in your lobby, table lamps make the perfect addition. Put these lights in spots where light is essential such as mail areas, front desks, and near elevators.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting brings a punch to any areas or features in your lobby that you want to highlight.

Wall sconces are a great example of accent lights. They're perfect for hanging alongside artwork, elevators, or architectural designs to add a little something extra. 

Not only are they extra lighting, but they also double as decor.

Choose Reliable and Convenient Flooring


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Lobby flooring needs to be able to stand up to heavy traffic, be non-slip, and look great. 

These three qualities may bring carpeting to mind because of the warmth it brings. But carpeting suffers a lot of wear and tear in areas with plenty of foot traffic and requires more frequent cleaning and replacing.

Hard flooring that's easier to clean and doesn't wear as fast is often the best choice for high-traffic areas.

The Best Types of Floors for Apartment Lobbies

Hardwood and laminate flooring is an affordable option that can stand the test of time if you take care of it. 

Stone flooring looks luxurious, but that's because it costs a pretty penny. 

Stained concrete is a style all its own and stands up to wear.

While these options have pros, most people agree that tile flooring is one of the best choices for apartment lobbies. Tiles are budget-friendly and easier to find. They also come in various colors, patterns, textures, and finishes, so no two lobby floors are the same. 

Tile stands up to traffic and is easy to keep clean. 

Stay away from pure white or black tiles that show dirt. Instead, opt for a medium color to hide dirt and debris between cleanings.

Add Mats and Rugs 

No matter what type of flooring you go with, mats and rugs are pretty much non-negotiable. 

A large mat in front of the door catches dirt and water on people's footwear as they come inside. Mats will keep your floors cleaner, keep people from slipping, and add to the style of your lobby.

Rugs are also crucial to creating a warm and welcoming feeling in your lobby.

An area rug under your seating area ties all the furniture together. But, of course, it also makes the place feel cozier, bringing more style and color to your floors.

When picking out mats and rugs, go for higher quality with colors or patterns that match the rest of your lobby. Even functional pieces should blend flawlessly into your design scheme.

Fix it Up With Furnishings

For larger lobbies, incorporate a seating area for your guests and residents to use while they're waiting. 

Modern furniture is sleek and creates a more open space than chunky traditional living room furniture. That's especially true if the walls have mirrored surfaces.

Yet, if your apartments are in an older building or your theme is vintage, classic furniture will suit it better.

Go for good-sized, comfy chairs instead of couches to make people feel like they still have a sense of privacy while they socialize.

If your lobby space is too small for a proper seating area, even two chairs for guests to wait in is better than nothing. They're more likely to feel welcome if they have the choice to take a seat rather than stand.

Related: The 9 Core Responsibilities of a Condominium Property Manager

Don’t Skimp on Decor 

The small details are just as impactful as the big ones when it comes to making your apartment lobby warm and welcoming.

Think of the decor as the jewelry on top of a fabulous outfit.

It brings everything together and gives it that little extra push it needs to feel like a place you can call home. Even a few items placed on the walls make a big difference.

Mirrors and Artwork

Mirrors are great for smaller lobbies, hallways, and elevators because they offer the illusion of size.

Artwork is a big favorite for lobby walls. Make sure it ties in with the colors you choose for the room, whether you decide on landscapes or something more abstract.

Are you having trouble choosing artwork? 

If so, you can always feature local artists and change the artwork out every few months so that your residents have something new to see.

Indoor Plants

Indoor plants — real or fake — bring a natural feel to a lobby. Plants have a calming effect, reduce stress, and lower anxiety.

Decor is a great way to bring in accent colors and metallic accents to add pops of color and make the room feel more welcoming.

Keep Your Guests Entertained


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Lobbies aren’t always the most exciting places to visit. 

Residents may hang around waiting for their guests to arrive. Guests might sit down and wait for a resident to come down. Or a potential tenant could spend a few minutes in your lobby while waiting for a tour.

There are a few great ways to make everyone feel more at ease by keeping them entertained.

For instance, you can install a speaker to play soft background music throughout the lobby. Much like elevator music, it’ll drown out any awkward silences. 

Or mount a TV on the wall that’s playing the weather channel on mute. Or include a charging station where anyone can charge up their devices while they’re waiting.

Keep It Clean and Updated

One of the best ways to make your lobby feel welcoming and warm is to make sure it stays clean and uncluttered. 

Everything in your lobby should have a purpose. Likewise, there should never be trash or anything else sitting around that doesn’t belong there. 

This also means cleaning the floors, changing burnt-out bulbs in the chandeliers, and removing any stains on the walls.

Your lobby’s appearance needs to remain up to date, too. That could mean changing color schemes, switching furniture, or updating the flooring.

Of course, there’s no reason to follow trends that change like the wind. 

But if your furniture starts to look a bit scruffy or the walls are getting dingy, there's nothing wrong with a fresh update. Even small changes can transform the look from depressing back to warm and welcoming.

A well-maintained property doesn’t exist without a team of skilled maintenance technicians. Read How to Find the Perfect Apartment Maintenance Technician.

Create a Sense of Familiarity

If you have staff attending to your apartment lobby, such as a front desk receptionist, concierge, or a doorman, have them greet residents by name. 

While simple, this greeting helps residents feel welcome and at home when they walk through the front door.

It's small touches like this that show people you care about them while they're living in one of your apartments. Nothing could be warmer and more inviting than that.

Conclusion

Putting some thought into the feeling of your apartment lobby can mean the difference between a good or bad first impression. And that can make a potential resident's decision for them before they even see any apartments.

Investing time, energy, and money in your lobby now is putting an investment in your residents for the long term.

Everything from the shade of the walls to the wall decor will affect how your lobby looks and feels. It's not something you can throw together last minute. 

Yet, with a bit of care (and a little browsing on Pinterest), you can design an apartment lobby that makes everyone feel warm and welcome. 

Now that you have the perfect lobby, it’s time to fill the rest of your units with residents who will enjoy it!


Schedule a LeaseLeads demo to learn how adding our 24/7 virtual leasing agent widget to your website can fill vacant units with great tenants.

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Jennifer Rives

Leads Leads Wirter and Cheief Editor for over 6 years. Growing Apartments and content for the multi-family space is my goal and passion. Let me know how I did by a quick email.

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