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Last updated: September 28, 2017

How To Make Your Mark on Your Salon Suite Decor

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It’s a dream come true. You’ve signed the lease on your very own salon suite—and you’re ready to create a beautiful, inviting and private space for all of your clients. Or you’ve had a suite for a while and it’s time for a refresh. Your suite must reflect your style, your personality, your taste. It must be functional and comfortable. It must be on-trend, because after all, you’re in the style business. So… where to start? Here are guidelines from design pros to get you started on the road to designing a suite that’s totally sweet!

Start With a Plan
Before tossing your old furniture or picking up a paintbrush, think about your goals. What kind of clientele are you trying to attract? What feelings do you want your clients to experience while in your chair? Relaxation? Fun and excitement? Figuring out the answers to these questions will help you establish a clear plan for colors and details.

Next, consider the functionality of your space. Will you have enough room for a waiting area? Are there restrictions to where you can place storage? How do the window(s) or door(s) affect your ability to place furniture?


Then there’s the most important question of all—what is your budget? It’s important to be realistic about your finances so you’re not working 14+ hours a day for the next year to pay for the new wall art that you just had to have!


Above all, “Be open to change!” advises Phenix Founder and President, Gina Rivera. “A new look is a great way to motivate yourself to achieve great things!”



That Lovin’ Feeling
Not to be confused with the overall look or theme you want to create, the “feeling” of your space is something less tangible. Yet, it’s just as important to get right; for yourself AND your clients who will be sharing the space. “The right designs can make ordinary tasks pleasurable and everyday surroundings inspirational,” notes Jeff Grissler of Minerva Beauty.


And though the salon is YOUR place of business, remember, “At the end of the day, you are providing a service for a client and the client needs to be the star!” says Jennifer Comfort, a color consultant who often works with Sola Salon Studios.


Creative Color
Color is a huge part of any interior design project, so it merits serious consideration! Start with your limitations. Because you’re renting, be sure you know the rules and restrictions of your space before beginning any project. Is painting the entire room allowed in your rental contract? Is it limited to one wall? Do you have freedom to use any kind of paint you want? Double check these things before touching the swatch book.


Once you get the all-clear, the fun begins! The color palette you choose can have tremendous impact, setting the stage for the theme of your space, creating a feeling or mood. Color can even make a space seem larger or smaller. For most small suites, advises salon designer Massimo, of Gigli & Massimo, “The color scheme should be fresh and clean; dark colors tend to make a space smaller and less inviting.”


Before you roll on that trendy merlot shade, though, remember that color can go out of style quickly, and many shades are hard to remove. Carolyn Collins, Regional Sales Manager at Takara Belmont USA warns, “When hip colors fall out of style, your design will appear dated. You may instead prefer to paint with timeless neutrals, and add accent colors in the form of throw pillows, flower arrangements, equipment, lamp shades, etc. It’s much easier to swap out small accents than four walls!”


And while it’s important to express yourself, keep in mind that you’re still running a business. For example, says Jennifer, “Bright hues are a great tool for self-expression, but they can also be a bit disruptive if used improperly. Avoid acid greens and orange at all costs, because the paint makes it too hard to see true color on finished hair.”



If you absolutely cannot live without your beloved peacock blue or hunter green, try picking one wall to paint as an accent. You’ll get the impact with less of a commitment. Just be sure the wall you choose reflects as little as possible in the mirror in front of the client. You don’t want anything to distort the look of your beautiful haircolor creations!


Not sure which hue is for you? Gina suggests brushing on test swatches before painting an entire wall—or an entire room! Paint stores typically sell small, sample-sized cans of paint that you can test in your space. Try one, or two—or ten!—and see how each color looks and feels with the other components in your suite. And regardless of what you choose, say the pros at Phenix, opt for low VOC paint formulas to reduce offensive vapors that may be unsafe for certain clients.


Take a Seat
As in any small space, every inch counts, so you want to maximize functionality, organization and great style in every piece of furniture! Jeff explains, “The functionality and durability of your equipment are essential.”The Phenix team agrees, adding, “You may love that antique bureau, but if it’s shaky, fragile and the drawers stick, keep looking.”


Keep an eye out for pieces with deep drawers, concealed storage and enough compartments for all of your essential tools. Tables, sinks and stations that do double—or triple—duty as storage containers are great picks when you’re tight on square footage. If all of your supplies have a home, your space will appear clean and uncluttered, and straightening up will be a breeze. One way to do this is by keeping furniture off the floor whenever possible.


“Floating stations and cabinets will open the footprint of your space,” advises Massimo. So place storage on the wall, whenever possible.




Deck the Walls
You’ve nailed your color, your layout and all your major furniture. Now it’s time to tie everything together with the finishing touches. When planning out your decoration and accent elements, think about texture, shape and color…and resist the urge to go overboard!


“Don’t overwhelm your space with an abundance of patterns,” advises Carolyn. “Patterns and textures can create visual contrast within a space, but strive for balance. The correct pattern selection on an accent wall can draw the eye upward for a more open look and feel. Framed wallpaper patterns are a tasteful way to shake-up a dated décor and to introduce popular pattern styles in a non-permanent fashion.”


Even small DIY projects can put a fresh spin on your space. “Restore old frames and turn them into artwork or unique mirrors. Display stickon backsplash tiles for interest. Purchase fresh cut flowers for a sharing atmosphere,” suggests Monique Mahoe of Salon Republic. Just keep it simple!


Mirrors are another way to expand the perception of space. “Don’t stop with the mirrors at your styling stations,” says Massimo. “Cleverly placed, floor-to-ceiling, mirrored panels will give the illusion of a larger space. As the eye is drawn to areas of interest created by color, light, equipment and furniture, the mirrors will multiply the effect of your space.”





Light the Way
Lighting is another crucial element. Massimo notes, “Pendant lighting should be avoided as it obstructs the feeling of the open space, and could actually make your suite seem smaller.” Monique adds, “Sconces create accent lighting and character, without taking up floor space.”


Multidirectional lighting can be used artfully, and natural and artificial light can be reflected off of metal and glass surfaces for a flattering effect. Full-length mirrored stations are space-efficient ways to produce soft, directional lighting that shows off your cuts and color. If possible, make the most of natural light, and always avoid harsh fluorescent lighting, which won’t do your clients’ complexions or haircolor any favors!