Housed in vintage bungalows and cottages, these unique salons thrive as cozy idylls where clients are peacefully pampered. The following four salons share one thing in common: history. From a mermaid-themed Nantucket cottage to a “haunted” California bungalow, these salons invite clients to step into the past for a charming, vintage experience.
Organic Hair Salon & Nail Spa, Nantucket, Mass.
Owner Sallyanne Austin has a special connection to her 17-year-old business: She actually grew up in the house, which was built in the 1950s. “In 1998, I moved back home and turned the garage space into a salon,” Austin explains. “It made the most sense. I couldn’t afford to buy a piece of commercial property and build from scratch. I also liked the idea of working at home.”
Originally, the salon featured Victorian decor and was filled with antiques from Austin’s grandparents. But having recently changed direction — the salon has become the very first organic salon on the island of Nantucket — Austin changed the decor to evoke a natural, beach cottage feel. “People found out I like mermaids,” Austin says. “And now we’re very heavy on the mermaid theme; we actually have a life-size mermaid in the salon now!”
Enchanté Cottage Spa, Solvang, Calif.
Lush gardens surround this quaint country cottage located in the heart of California’s Central Coast wine country. The town of Solvang was originally settled by a largely Danish community, and the cottage — built in the early 1930s — is modeled after homes from Denmark that have pointed ceilings and painted ceiling beams. According to salon owner Debbie Paxton, the cottage features the original fireplace, hardwood floors, stucco walls, tiles, window panes, and vintage bathroom and kitchen fixtures.
“Our clients want to feel like they’re on vacation, far away from the hustle and bustle,” Paxton says. “So we do everything to make them feel that way, right down to the rose garden and French coffee and homemade croissants. Nothing is put together too carefully either. My clients like an array of candles here and there, fresh lavender over there — things they can touch and buy.”
Paxton says her favorite thing about the salon is the garden with the water fountain and how much her clients enjoy the serenity and smell of fresh roses everywhere. “I sometimes forget I’m working when I sit outside,” says Paxton. “I also love that I have a large kitchen and plenty of space to work with. The cottage definitely has a charm that is rarely seen in a shopping mall salon.”
Queen Bee Salon & Spa, Culver City, Calif.
Owner and founder Jodi Shays owns two other Queen Bee locations (Brentwood, Calif. and Seattle), but the Culver City salon is special: It’s inhabited by a friendly ghost!
Built in the 1930s, the bungalow in which the salon operates is still owned and operated by the original owner’s grandchildren. Their grandmother, Nancy Robbins, was the original owner, and was a spiritual advisor in the 1930s and 1940s. A renowned tea leaf reader, she would receive visits at the bungalow from some of Hollywood’s elite. MGM (now Sony Pictures) was across the street from the house, and movies such as Gone with the Wind and Wizard of Oz were being filmed at the time. “Staff and clients are both aware of a presence at the shop,” says Shays. “And we believe that Nancy might visit us from time to time. A lady with dark, shoulder-length hair has been seen from the windows in the waiting room and also in a couple of our treatment rooms. However, she is not a mean spirit; I think she loves that we’re here.”
In terms of decor, Shays wanted to stay with the vintage theme of the bungalow. A mix of British and Hollywood glam, the treatment rooms in the bungalow feel like actual living rooms, with comfy chairs and sumptuous details like scented candles and gilt mirrors. But Shays’ favorite place is the garden. “We have hummingbirds, a resident cat, and our clients love to sit and hang out with us before or after treatments. My landladies know that I love this house as much as I love my own.”
As much as Shays loves the bungalow, there are some challenges. “We have some of the original floors, and with the ground constantly moving in Los Angeles, our house is lopsided and sinking a bit,” Shays explains. “It’s sort of funny except when your manicure cart goes freewheeling from one side of the room to the other — but then maybe that’s just Nancy having some fun!”
The Inn Salon, Pine Grove, Calif.
Catalog Home, a popular mail order kit house sold by Sears, Roebuck and Company between 1908 and 1940. These kits, which included most of the materials needed to build a house, were shipped via railroad boxcars, and once delivered, assembled by the new homeowner.
Salon owner Debbie Evans has rented this charming mail-order cottage for the past 11 ½ years. “I love the feeling of a house, as it adds so much charm and interest to the business,” says Evans. “I chose decor to create the cozy, inviting feeling of an inn. Black and white with pink is one of my favorite color combinations — feminine enough for our ladies without being too much for our gentlemen clients.”
Evans says her biggest challenge is that the house has some age-related issues, but its charm outweighs the inconveniences. One of the interesting points of the shop is the windows: They have the original rope sash cord, and some of them have wavy glass. The original built-in cabinets in the living room and dining room areas serve as storage and display in the reception and manicure areas, and the back porch, which was enclosed many years ago, is now the pedicure room.
You Might also Like: A Room of One's Own: Nail Decor