The secret to Root’s successful remodel was owner Jim Koktavy’s belief that it was time to tear down walls instead of build them up. Koktavy preserved the architectural attributes of the 125-year-old building that now houses the salon—exposing and cleaning original brick walls, integrating the limestone foundation into the basement-level hair department, ripping out ceilings and exposing the natural joists to provide height, and reusing the staircase, which was moved to accommodate the salon’s new flow.

Relocating hair services to the basement made sense for Root. Most clients don’t want to be seen from the street in foils, stresses Koktavy. He hired a lighting architect to create perfect lighting for the color process. One of the owner’s favorite new features is the open color bar and mixing area that takes center stage. “Clients really enjoy witnessing the mixology—they see it’s much more than opening up a box of color and dumping it in a bowl. It conveys the notion that they can’t do this at home,” he says.

The remodel offered Koktavy an opportunity to fix the things he missed when he opened the salon four years ago. “As a new owner, you’re so focused on getting the right number of chairs in there, you overlook things like storage space,” he says. One of the biggest improvements is a separate retail area that provides a comfortable shopping experience for guests.

By incorporating the building’s existing features into the design and repurposing existing materials, the design also is quite eco-friendly. A floor of recycled rubber not only provides an eco-conscious choice, Koktavy found its granite appearance stands up to tough Minnesota winters. “Most of all, I’m proud we created nearly 4,000-square-feet of organic, chic environment on a less than $200,000 budget—and we did it without several dumpsters hauling stuff away,” he says.