Carson Design Associates and TWG—an Indianapolis-based real estate development company specializing in commercial, market rate, affordable, and senior housing developments—recently wrapped up their project on the new Lockerbie Lofts.
Situated on the corner of E. Michigan Street and N. College Avenue in the historic Lockerbie District, Lockerbie Lofts offers 215 multi-family housing units, ground floor retail space, and below-grade parking garage. Carson Design Associates provided interior design services and furniture selection, working alongside the architect firm DkGr Architects and consultants Enverity Engineering and Officeworks.
Lead interior design project manager, Liz Sutton, expounds on the project below.
What kind of style parameters were you given with your design?
They wanted modern styling in the units because they’re geared toward millennials, to empty nesters who may be downsizing, and everyone in between. With the community room, we had more flexibility. With the encouragement of TWG, we were able to express creativity in the common spaces.
Amenity spaces, like the community room are huge with multi-family housing, especially in downtown Indianapolis. People want to know if they’ll have access to a pool or a bike lock area. Will they have an exercise room or a community room? What are in those spaces? For research, we explored a few multi-family housing projects around the area to get an idea of what they offer.
So when you have to design for such a large demographic, how do you determine what elements need to be in that space?
It is a challenge to design for a large demographic. On this particular project, we didn’t do any games (billiards, Ping-Pong tables or shuffleboard) because they have all this amazing amenity space outside with a pool and giant courtyard. Instead on the interior, we included soft seating, tables for playing games, and big booths for people to gather and socialize.
Speaking of the community room, can you walk through some specific elements you incorporated?
First and foremost, we wanted the tenants to feel like the Community Room was an extension of their home. The intention was to provide a larger space available for gatherings, like baby showers and graduation parties. It all needs to be able to withstand the human elements for the long haul. For instance with the booth seating, we selected vinyl that could easily be washed with water.
We also knew that many people work remotely these days. And not everyone wants to work from home, or walk to and work at a coffee shop. So we created a space with seating options where they could just work at one of the booth tables, sit in front of the sofa, or even sit at the bar.
Talk about the color choices here.
Lockerbie is an historic area, so the Lofts had to comply with the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Council. The IHPC has a lot of say on the building style and the architect works directly with them.
For the interior we didn’t have to work with IHPC directly, but in making our color choices we were inspired by the architectural finishes that had already been established and approved. We looked at the brick, the grays, whites, and orange accent color. And then we chose colors for the interior that complimented that. Plus the building has a great saw-tooth roofline, so we incorporated that as a focal point on the wall—just turned on its side.
We try to take inspiration from the architects’ work on the outside, so the inside doesn’t look like a completely different space.
And the flooring?
There’s a neat story behind that. The carpet’s made with all recycled fibers. Construction waste is one of the biggest percentages of waste in any landfill. And out of that, carpet is always the highest. So knowing that we used carpet that didn’t go to the landfill, just feels good. Now I doubt most of the tenants will ever know that, but TWG felt good about it. As did we!
It was funny, though, with this particular carpet. We knew—based on the sample—that it was going to be linear, but the yarn color is dependent on the scrap fibers available at the time of the run. Fortunately, TWG was not deterred by the unknown accent colors in the carpet and were excited about the sustainability story.
How about some of the artwork selections? What were your thoughts, there?
We selected artwork that wasn’t too specific, because again there’s going to be a wide range of people working, living, and playing at Lockerbie Lofts. So we found things that were fun, like bugs on the wall, a dog with its spots flying off, and prints of tree rings.
All the artwork selections are wrapped canvas. We avoid specifying glass since it’s a high use area and there could be accidental shattering.
And let’s go into the model units. What are the pieces that you specifically selected?
Our role included specifying lighting, finishes, like the wall paint, and the cabinets, granite counter tops and backsplash. And our goal was to make a model unit look livable. That way, when they do tours, potential tenants can imagine themselves living in that model unit. We selected larger furniture pieces—like a full-size sofa and chair—to help people understand just how much of their current furniture would fit. Or just what they might need to create their cozy new home.
We also were intent on making selections that would appeal to men, women, young, old, singles, and couples. I want a bachelor to like it. I want a younger woman to like it. I want an older couple to like it.
We also selected four accent colors that tenants can choose from when moving into a unit—a blue, a coral color, a darker gray, and a lighter gray. Here’s the blue paint color in the bedroom. And that art piece above the bed is made from string and nails. It looks like it’s painted, but it’s three dimensional. By far my favorite thing in the entire unit!
We accomplished what we set out to do! TWG has received a lot of positive feedback on the model units, which prompted them to have a leasing promotion where I got to work with a new tenant to help furnish their space.
And finally there was the courtyard area. You’re used to working on interiors, what did you do there?
We worked with the Landscape Architects plans to select all the exterior furniture. A variety of pieces include giant daybeds, big sofas, rocking chairs, and lounge chairs. And people can gather at tables.
Designing a courtyard space that gives people 20 different places to sit is kind of perfect. They can sit anywhere they want—under an umbrella, in a soft seat, in a rocking chair, in a hammock. That was something I even asked people here in our office, “If you were out by the pool, where would you sit?” Everyone had a different answer, so that helped significantly.
TWG wanted it to be funky, fresh, and swanky. They wanted it to have a completely different feel, because it’s an extension of their community room. That’s another huge reason why people are going to rent from them, because they have this kick-ass outdoor area.