June 2008

Salon Design on a Dime

by Joe Serna

ladderWe all want a beautiful salon to call our second home. But when time and budget are limited, we must use our creativity to create beyond our means.

When designing on a dime, you must step back and study the salon space carefully to determine which areas will have the greatest impact. It is a good idea to stand at the front door and see what your clients see. What will they see first? This area will create their first impression. Then ask yourself what is most important to you, your retail products, your logo or perhaps creating salon-environment elements that will that will set you apart?

There are several key elements to remember when designing your space: visual impact, focal points and proportions.

Visual impact—this is what your clients will remember. Does your space create a lasting impression, or does it look like all the other salons? You can easily create visual impact by identifying your style and adding a reinforcing element.

Focal points—these are specific places that draw the eye. If you want to communicate peace and harmony, warm colors and a waterfall might do the trick. If excitement and energy is what drives you, use vibrant colors, plenty of lighting and speakers where appropriate. If you are from the iPod generation, you can paint everything white, add a splash of color and consider adding a giant video screen. You can easily do this by painting a white wall and installing a high power projector.

Proportion—perhaps the most abused element in interior design. Proportion is the key to design harmony. The ceilings heights, the length of walls, the size and spacing of picture frames; they all contribute to the feel of the space. You must step back and see what others see.

Everyone has a budget, and it does not matter how low or how high it is, what matters is getting the most bang for your buck. Focus on your first impression; make sure it’s a lasting one and then work towards the back of the space.

Ideas on a budget:

Paint is probably the easiest, most cost effective way to add impact to a space. Painting the walls will bring new life to any room. Use a stronger color for accent on one or two walls. Be careful not to overdue it. Painting the ceilings can spice up the look and can visually separate work zones. There’s a popular coffee shop who paints their ceilings in very interesting tones and they do it with great success. This is a simple and very effective way to add drama with minimal damage to your wallet.

Use existing items in a new way. Paint a picture frame, add rocks to an existing planter, move things around. You’ll be surprised what happens when you put things in the right places.

Find or create extraordinary items that would normally not be used in a salon environment. When things (or people for that matter) are out of their element, it creates a different effect on others. An antique chandelier coated in bright red might be a great focal point. A desktop made from a reclaimed entry door with a polished glass top can be the perfect conversation piece. Antique shops have wonderful treasures that you can creatively place in your salon. A vintage hair dryer on a stand for example, might be the ideal accessory for a shiny and sleek modern salon.

One very effective way of changing your space is to talk to local artists. Most are eager to show off their work on your walls. Some will even come in and change it for you every few months. You give them a chance to sell their work and you get beautiful one-of-a-kind art for your salon.

A well-designed space must be functional. This is a very critical part of the design. It is amazing how many people compromise on function. You must carefully study how the space will be used and find ways to make the best use of your environment. Every square inch counts.

Your workspace is where you spend most of your days so don’t let a small budget get in the way of communicating who you are. Get out there and do it. You are in the beauty business; you already have creativity in your DNA.

Joe Serna has been designing salons for over 16 years from national chain brands to award-winning exclusive salons and spas. He has also produced trade show exhibits, retail fixtures and product displays. His educational background includes interiors, architectural and industrial design. You can contact Joe at 949-294-3373.