Today we’re sharing the behind the photos look at Block 24, a recently completed renovation of an apartment building’s leasing office. Part multi-family Interior Design, part corporate office design, this guy is a little different from the Residential Interiors you may typically come around here for. But fear not, there are ideas here that could absolutely translate to home!
The main goal of a Leasing Office at an apartment or condo is to attract really awesome residents. It’s that first impression, the WOW factor that makes you say “I want to live here” rather than the myriad of other options available. It has to look good. And let’s just say, before, it wasn’t looking so good…
Now, I don’t mean to be uppity here. This is some serious Y2K design going on right here that would have been HAPPENING in the early 2000’s when this was finished out. Everyone wanted to live and work at Google around this time. Stainless steel and bold vibrant colors were everything. This was the same time as I was getting out of design school, and there was nary a neutral project in my portfolio. Color was having a moment.
Since Y2K, though, we’ve lived through many other trends as a society. The Pottery Barn Gold + Apothecary Table Earth Tones Trend of the late 2000’s, the All Gray Walls Trend of the 2010-2015 years, never forget the Every House Is A Farmhouse Trend (thanks, Joanna), the All White Walls trend, and currently the Bringing Color Back But We Are Still Kind Of Afraid Of It Trend, plus a few others.
Tip: I say this so that we can all learn a little something here that we can apply at home. Apartment buildings are in the business of being current and relevant, so they build in budgets to be able to refresh every 10 or so years to attract the kind of residents they are after and compete with newer properties. Homeowners do not have that kind of pressure to be on trend. Be inspired by trends, but maybe don’t overthrow your entire design style for them.
Back to Block 24. It’s located in East Richardson (a Dallas TX suburb if you aren’t from around here). In the last few years quite a few new construction multi-story apartment buildings have come up that Block is competing against. In the apartment world, most people think new is better and would rather live somewhere brand spanking new than anything that could be labeled as old or dated. The property owners knew that the leasing office, the all important first impression, wasn’t competing with the newer properties as well as it could. Enter TLD!
Fun Fact – we started this project in late February of 2020. Ring any bells? Oh yes, that whole Pandemic thing. Yep, this entire project was completed during the insanity that was the beginning of COVID. Supply chain issues, material shortages, shipping delays, we had it all!
We had a healthy budget to work with, but not enough that we could just tear it all down and begin again. We needed to be strategic. Our priorities:
Tone down or remove as much of the Y2K doo-dads as humanly possible. That included the squiggle over the built in desk, the desk itself, the bookshelf-thing happening in front of the Internet Café of yore that nobody was using, the bars happening on the curvy wall, and of course the ceiling clouds.
There had also been water damage that ruined the wood floors, so all flooring had to be replaced.
Leave the things that were working. The exposed brick walls, some doors,one cool lamp…that’s about it.
All new furniture.
Knowing the demographic we were trying to reach (young professionals), the style of the exterior of the complex, and with the pieces that were working for us that we were planning to keep (the brick) we quicky leaned into an Industrial Modern aesthetic. Richardson is far less expensive to live in than Dallas, so by bringing in a more urban style we might attract more young professionals who wanted the Dallas lifestyle but without the Dallas price tag. Heck, that’s why I left Dallas and moved to Richardson!
In addition to the brick (have I mentioned the brick enough? Sheesh, but I love the brick) bringing in touches of black, leather, saturated colors, and an eclectic mix of patterns and furniture would help give this leasing office a coffee shop vibe that the youths love (I am one thousand years old).
The floor plan by and large didn’t change, though we did rework the furniture layout and function. The front enclosed room had previously been a private office, but we changed this to be the Closing Room – where you discuss rental agreements and sensitive info, in a room with doors for privacy, rather than out in the open.
The neon sign was a feature we knew we wanted to include right away, and is probably my favorite element in the entire space. ‘Welcome Home’ might not be the most subtle phrase, but it is effective.
Vintage looking area rugs, a concrete and metal table, artful industrial lighting, and bicycle-turned-console help build the eclectic modern industrial vibe right from the start.
Before, the lounge area was just inside the front door, causing you to plop down right as you entered the space rather than moving through it. We wanted to give people a reason to come into the space, rather than linger near the door. We now have 2 leasing desks flanking a central lounge area to draw potential renters in, and a human just inside the door to greet them.
The seating area has intentionally mismatched furniture to feel collected and approachable. Nothing feels to precious to be sat in.
Okay, I know I said the neon sign was my favorite part, but I wasn’t thinking about the MARQUEE LIGHTS hanging from the ceiling! I am now changing my answer to All Lighting being my favorite feature. Talk about a feature that will draw you in! Now your eye moves all the way to the back of the space.
Where there was once a bookshelf hiding the rear internet café style area, we’ve opened it up to create a second lounge area that you can see from the front door. A coffee and beverage center sits back here, giving people another reason to move through the space. Just through this black door is the model apartment that potential renters will tour before they obviously decide to live here, because who wouldn’t want to live here?!
The coffee bar itself was designed to look like a piece of midcentury furniture, further adding to the “residential, eclectic, come stay here awhile” feeling. Also a modern longhorn sculpture, because we are in Texas.
Rounding out the space is the 3rd leasing office desk, nestled underneath the former squiggly blue eyebrow. This alcove feels semi-private with 3 walls and a lowered ceiling. Rather than just painting the walls, we added a subtly patterned wall covering. Durability and personality – a great combo.
And that’s a wrap. Hope you enjoyed the tour of our Modern Industrial Eclectic renovation!