Designers’ Challenge – Part 1

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


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 Leon Alexander, Ph.D., president of Eurisko;

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

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?

Besides respecting the historical exterior facade, 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 color.

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?

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.

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)


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