Church Lobby Design Ideas: Here’s Where To Start — Jillian Design Co (2024)

Written By Jillian Lawson

When you think about designing a space in your home, you might start with a Pinterest board and collect dozens and dozens of images you like. These photos create the feeling you want to evoke when you are in that space, whether it is a bedroom, kitchen, or living area. Then, you cull down the images to 1 or a few, or maybe “Frankenstein” different parts of your photos together into one grand vision. You work from that vision, perhaps calling on the services of a professional designer. If you go the DIY route, you will spend time measuring, maybe sketching or looking at swatches, and painting and sourcing items. Then comes my favorite, clicking “add to cart” after finding the perfect pieces to fill the space. Your personal taste is really specific to your personality, your history, who you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re headed. And most of our homes reflect that about us.

But whose taste does your church lobby reflect? And whose should it reflect? If you’re making that emoji face with the fake smile (you know the one I’m talking about - this one: 😬), then you know this is a very touchy subject. Taste and style are both very subjective and personal. One person’s cup of tea can be another’s style 9-1-1. That’s why it helps to clarify a few basic principles upon which you’ll design so that you can start with a solid foundation before you get started on a space in your church. This can be helpful, especially if you work with a committee to approve design decisions. Everyone is different, and everyone has differing opinions. But if you can start on the same foundation and build from there, you’ll find your decisions easier to make as you go.

When you’re making an interior design plan for your church lobby, ask yourself these questions:

Who is this space for?

Who are you designing for? Who this space intended to serve? Are you designing for existing church attendees? Are you designing to attract new people? What age group will use it? Are you designing for youth and young families? Or is this aimed at making older churchgoers comfortable?

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Get really honest, and then course-correct if your design plans don’t line up with your vision. If you have a vision for your church to be full of younger families, gear your design towards them (I have a blog about designing to attract Gen Z & Millennial families here that can be a great resource).

If you can pin down who you’re designing for, it’s easier to be ok with not personally liking some of the design choices when you know they will appeal to the people who they’re intended for.When I know, “Hey, young people are going to feel comfortable here and come meet Jesus in this space,” I can willingly lay down my own likes and dislikes.

Why is this here?

Just like we can become nose blind to certain scents in our environment, we sometimes become blind to things in our environment after we become familiar with them. That chair has always been there. The painting on the wall has become a part of the structure.

Consider emptying your lobby completely. Take everything off the walls and surfaces and remove all of the furniture, especially if it is filled with mismatched hand-me-downs. Give it a good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint. Change out the lightbulbs from yellow to natural white light. Then, walk around your empty space. Before adding anything back in, live with a bright, clean space for a few days and see how you feel. You may not need to bring back as much into the space as you think you do!

What do I see first?

While your space is empty, walk into the main point of entry. What do you see first? Where is your eye drawn? THIS IS IMPORTANT. You want to capitalize on this. Consider creating a singular focal point here that you want your people to connect with. Maybe add your mission statement, or create a feature wall with your branding. Whatever it is, this place that your eye is drawn to is a key place that should not be overlooked. And it shouldn’t be thrown away on something that isn’t important, like a random piece of furniture with no function, a piece of art with no significance or meaning, or a free-standing trash can.

Where do I go?

Put on your “first-time visitor hat” and walk through the main entry point. You’ve never been to this church before and don't know where to go. Where does your eye naturally look in the room to find signage? That’s where the signage should go.If it’s not already in that place, then I suggest moving it.

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If you have existing signage, does it cover the basic necessities like:

  • Auditorium location

  • Children’s check-in

  • Children’s classrooms

  • Restrooms

  • Information

Put yourself in a visitor’s shoes and help reduce their uncertainty by making it easy for them to navigate your space without asking someone for help.

Let Your Branding Decide The Design

Okay, so now back to the big question we asked at the beginning of this blog: whose taste reigns in the church design process? Who gets to determine which style you go with? If you’ve been through a branding process, then your church has probably spent time working with a designer to ensure your branding reflects who you are as a church. (If you have not been through a branding process, start there. It’s the #1 most important piece to your puzzle.)

Rather than let the design of your church fall to differing tastes or styles of people on a committee, let the branding determine the design and decor of your church lobby (or rather, any part of your church). The branding process has done the hard work of defining who you are as a church. The design process can then build on that. If your brand is highly modern, you’re not going to go with traditional fixtures and finishes. The brand has decided for you. If your brand is a blend of modern with touches of traditional, I bet you can guess what I’m going to say here… yep, let your interiors reflect the same.

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And (yes, I have a vested interest in saying this, but) hiring a designer can be highly beneficial in situations where the team has challenges matching the branding with the decor, or when the committee can’t see beyond their opinions and tastes to settle on a final design plan. A designer can be the best investment you make in your church design process because of the experience and eye they bring to the tables, as well as the outsider’s perspective on your church building.

I have a great resource for you if you’re interested in five simple ways to improve your church lobby. Developed from my experience designing for church spaces, this guide has simple, actionable, and affordable steps to implement before service this Sunday.

church interiors

Jillian Lawson

Church Lobby Design Ideas: Here’s Where To Start — Jillian Design Co (2024)
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