AS THE SAYING GOES, “Good things come to those who wait,” and for our 2010 SALONS OF THE YEAR grandprize winner, that waiting period was more than 30 months. With tremendous vision and more than $3 million, Dominick Sansevero and Richard Cronk transformed a 19th century Masonic temple in Montclair, New Jersey, into Bangz Salon and Wellness Spa— preserving the historical authenticity of the space while creating a contemporary sanctuary for clientele.
Since the owners were restricted from altering the footprint of the building, or changing its stained glass, intricate masonry or slate roof, the only option for gaining more space was to build down, literally excavating 22 tons of dirt from the basement and underpinning the entire foundation. Through this yearlong process, the owners increased the head clearance from 3 feet to 10 feet, making way for their grotto-inspired wellness spa.
“Building it right was more important than saving money and cutting corners,” says Cronk. “Even though we took the tougher road by opting to tell our contractors to ‘build it to last,’ our decisions will echo to every client that we spared no cost in making their Bangz experience something special.” As a result, the salon already has been recognized by the Victorian Society of America and the Montclair Historical Society.
The building’s 40-foot high, stainedglass windows were meticulously restored to their original brilliance. Today, these three pieces tower over the main floor, drawing visitors’ eyes up to the impressive wooden vaulted ceiling. “Midday, the salon becomes a spiritual experience with the sunlight beaming through the stained glass into our bustling salon,” says Sansevero.
While the owners spared no expense in preserving the historic space, they also paid homage to the future by incorporating eco-friendly materials and technology. The salon’s main cutting floor boasts a floating bamboo floor, a renewable resource that is glued to ¾" of recycled rubber to provide comfort to stylists who work long hours behind the chair. The main lighting system comprises full-spectrum metal halide lights that last 50,000 hours and use the same amount of energy as a 20-watt bulb. The subterranean spa floor is lined with energy efficient radiant-heated tiles which is soothing to guests.
In the reception area, the pink-onyx topped desk was modeled after a welcoming desk at the Ritz. It’s equipped with four stations, including a concierge station with internet access to assist guests with any questions or special requests. The Bangz waiting area is strategically positioned within the retail area.
All of the stations in the main cutting floor are on wheels, and can be tucked away in a hidden corner of the salon. This creates a beautiful open space, known as “The Vault,” which can be used for fashion and hair shows, wellness seminars and charity events, or rented out for private events, such as bar/bat mitvahs and birthday parties.
The sink area is separated from the cutting floor by tinted glass that acts as a sound buffer, creating a separate soothing environment. Guests recline in comfortable wash chairs with electronically controlled leg supports, while watching flat screens that play upcoming events at the salon and weekly promotions.
“We’ve also incorporated a room above the sink area that has a bird’s eye view of the main floor and called it, ‘The Nest,’” says Cronk. “This room is rented out to brides on the day of their wedding, providing the wedding party a place to gather, sip wine and enjoy chocolate covered strawberries. We also use The Nest for boutique trunk shows, jewelry exhibits and company events.”
The salon’s color rooms are all open, with a quiet back entrance to the sink area where stylists can mix up the special cocktails of color. Security cameras help the owners monitor wasted product use. A two-sided waterfall in the spa corridor calms guests, who can enjoy a manicure while facing one side of the waterfall, or receive body, skin and wellness treatments on the other side while listening to the gurgling water.
“It is our philosophy that whether you are having services in a Mom ’n‘ Pop shop or a renovated church, a guest’s experience hinges upon the value added by the staff—a happy voice on the phone, a welcoming smile, an accommodating assistant make all the difference,” says Sansevero. “That being said, getting a hair cut beneath the majesty of 50-foot high ceilings or enjoying a massage in a rustically exposed stone treatment room certainly adds to the experience. These are things you can’t get around the corner.”