Sharing Spaces Common Areas That Work

 For the residents of a co-op or condo building, the building's lobby and common  areas function much as a front porch or entry hall might in a single-family  home; they're a spot to meet guests, get mail and packages, or to stop and chat  with friends and neighbors. At least that's the idea. A successful common area’s style, comfort level and accessibility meets the needs and expectations of  building residents; one that doesn't meet the mark is likely to be underused by  residents—and maybe even avoided entirely.  

 By definition, a common area is nearly any part of a multifamily building that's  not owned by individual shareholders or unit owners—that could include spaces such as lobbies, hallways, recreation rooms, laundry  and basement storage areas, courtyards, gardens, and fitness centers. Whether  or not a common space is well utilized and enjoyed by residents depends upon  the functionality, style and feeling of the space.  

 For example, a lobby is one of the first impressions a visitor has of a  building, but an outdated, threadbare, or just plain poorly designed lobby can  give an inaccurate impression of the building's inhabitants, or even reflect  poorly on their commitment to its maintenance. So the question of what makes a  common area a pleasant, inviting asset to a community, rather than a wasted  space nobody spends time in, is definitely something for conscientious boards  and managers to consider.  

 Defining Spaces

 A common area—be it a lobby, community room, or outdoor space—can be considered successful when it is well-used and well-liked by residents.  The building is their home, and they need to feel comfortable in it; decrepit décor and threadbare furnishings give an uncomfortable, downtrodden feeling, and a  cold, institutional-looking lobby or entryway can be downright depressing.  

 That being said, a condo or co-op's lobby should not feel too comfortable—it's not a living room, after all—but it should feel transitional as well as being attractive, says Marjorie  Hilton, owner of Marjorie Hilton Interiors in Manhattan. “People ultimately need a place to sit, even if it’s for a moment. Successful [common spaces] have a spot to sit comfortably for  five or 10 minutes.”  


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  • Our condo residents would like to add decor to their hallways. All 19 floors have recently been updated with paint, carpet and new lighting. The hallways are bear, however, and some residents want to add their own artwork, a chair, table, or plant, etc. Does anyone have experience with this. Some rules must be established, cost must be minimal, and agreement for each floor must be obtained. Suggestions are welcome! Thanks.