Back by popular demand, our industry panel of experts tackles salon today readers’ biggest design dilemmas.

Designers' Challenge (Part 1)

Lucky is the salon owner who completes a renovation
or build-out project without facing a major
challenge. When it comes to construction, problems,
ranging from small headaches to budget-exhausting
catastrophes, seem to be standard.
SALON TODAY recently invited its readers to share
their most pressing questions and we divvied them up
amongst some of the industry top design experts. This
year’s panel includes: Leon Alexander, Ph.D., president
of Eurisko; Andrea Egan, senior designer for Takara
Belmont; Jill Espinosa, salon consultant and designer
for Belvedere; Blair Hopper, president and CEO of
Freestyle Systems; Steve Hughes, regional sales manager
of Takara Belmont; Beth Minardi, co-owner of
Minardi Salon in NYC and one of the founders of Eco
Lite; Julia Stone, salon consultant/designer for Belvedere;
and Lauren Summers, designer for Etopa.

Perhaps their expertise and willingness to answer
the tough questions will help you with your next design

I am building a salon in one of the
historic storefronts in our town’s
charming central square. How can I
pay tribute to the history of the
building while still creating a space
that is modern and inviting?

Designers' Challenge (Part 1)Andrea Egan: Besides respecting the
historical exterior façade, I would suggest
you retain and/or restore the historical elements
of the space such as interior
architectural features, period
moldings, ceiling and window
styles and fireplaces if
they are appropriate to the
building style and period.
If important architectural
features have been removed, I would suggest
restoring them where practical using
modern materials and systems.

An example would be restoring the look
of a wood floor with one of the excellent
commercial floating floor systems. They are
economical, beautiful, comfortable underfoot
and need minimal maintenance. They
resist fading and staining due to chemicals
and hair color while being available
in a wide variety of wood
species, styles and colors. I
would suggest a traditional
plank style in a very contemporary

Within this historical envelope
I would suggest the contrast of welldesigned,
comfortable and modern furnishing
with clean simple lines incorporating the
latest in equipment and utilizing the latest
in easy-to-maintain materials. The space
should be uncluttered with a light, airy feeling.
This can be accomplished by keeping
the colors of the space and all architectural
elements very light. Keep accessories with
clean modern lines or with modern interpretations
of classical styles to a minimum.
Adding the contrast of dark salon furnishing
will create drama, lend a modern inviting
look and be low maintenance. Lighting
fixtures and all hardware should be modern
and contemporary.

Approximately one third of our
salon’s available space is on a
mezzanine level and we’d like to
utilize this, but the cost of installing
an elevator is both cost- and
space-prohibitive. How can we
incorporate that space while still
complying with ADA laws?

Designers' Challenge (Part 1)Julia Stone: City and state
ADA laws vary greatly from
area to area, however, generally
speaking, if you
are utilizing the space
and have a similar area
on the ground floor available
for ADA clients and
employees, you should be
fine. ADA law requires that
no one be denied a service due
to inaccessibility. If you have styling stations
on the accessible floor you will be in
compliance. It is always wise to consult an
architect in your area.

I would like to departmentalize my
new salon. What are some things I
should keep in mind when designing
an area specific to hair color?

Designers' Challenge (Part 1)Beth Minardi:
Lighting is everything
when you
are coloring
hair! That is
why Carmine
and I created
Minardi Color
Perfect Lighting
w i t h E c o L i t e
Products. Our new custommade
LED lights reveal precise hair color,
only using 27 Watts and providing an astonishing
50,000 hours without maintenance.
Our LED lights won the International Beauty
Industry Innovator Award at America’s
Beauty Show in both 2009 and 2010!

To supplement excellent lighting, white
walls and a white ceiling are essential. The
shade of white is also very important:
be sure to use a “Decorator’s White”
or “Painter’s White” rather than a
“Hospital White,” which is too blue.
A semi-matte or matte finish is best when
selecting a paint. If possible, place your
colorists near a window so that the daylight
also makes its way into the room.

I am dedicating 1,000 square feet
in my new salon to retail. How can
I create an exciting shopping
experience, similar to a
high-end department

Designers' Challenge (Part 1)Leon Alexander, Ph.D.:
Merchandising is only one
important component to creating
a strategic retail blueprint
and emulates the best retail
practices of retailers outside
our industry. There are a number
of other foundations that collectively
maximize the potential of retail area. For
example, graphics, furniture, shelf talkers
and lighting are all equally important.
The design of the space plan should
direct and expose the consumer to the
greatest amount of inventory for the longest
period of time. In the states, we are
time poor, not cash poor. The longer the
consumer is in the retail area, the higher
the retail ticket will be.

An accent color at the rear of the area will
lure the consumer to the back. Additionally,
back-illuminated wall units will catch the
consumer’s eye and focus them on the
product. Experiential areas will contribute
to a consumer purchasing. As a result, it
will create an environment that is conducive
to buying.

While I am catering to an upscale,
female demographic with my new
salon, budget is a definite factor in
my design. How can I communicate
an upscale feel, without necessarily
using high-end materials?

Designers' Challenge (Part 1)Lauren Summers: Incorporating natural
materials into the design is a budget-
friendly way to create
an upscale feel. Wood,
especially in rich, dark
stains, can really add to
the overall ambiance.
Stonework, applied in small doses, like an
accent wall, will definitely go a long way
in providing a high-end atmosphere. The
color palette for the space is definitely an
inexpensive way to achieve that “expensive”
vibe. A monochromatic color scheme
using various shades of neutrals will give
any location a chic appearance. Mix this
with the dark-stained furniture for a polished

The best areas to splurge are the retail
and styling area. The retail is typically visible
to people from the streets. If it looks
upscale, it is going to attract that certain
demographic. This is a very effective way
to increase clientele, especially if the space
is within a shopping center with a lot of
foot traffic. The styling area is also essential
because women are in the chair
staring at themselves for an hour or more.
Use furniture and lighting fixtures that are
higher-end. Make sure the lighting is not
only suitable for the stylist to work but also
flattering on the complexion. Women are
more likely to revisit a salon where they
feel good because they look good.

Open color bars are definitely a growing
trend. It’s great because of the visual
interest it creates and because it holds the
colorist accountable for his/her own mixing
habits. Just by having it out in the open,
employees are almost forced to keep a neat area. This open dispensary works best when
set up like a typical restaurant bar. Have a
freestanding counter with the storage hidden
from guest view. Along with this, you would
want a back bar set up approximately three
feet from the freestanding portion, leaving
space for the colorist to work. The back bar
would include cabinetry for storage and a
sink for rinsing. Having specific places for
each of the various supplies will help keep
everything in place, creating a
clean workspace.

Read Part 2 of Designers' Challenge >