Salon Design

Cracking the Color Code

Clients come in to your salon for more than a great manicure or pedicure. They are sold on a feel, a look, or a culture. Add color to the list of tools you have to influence client behavior, accentuate services, and shape the client’s total experience.

Here are some generally held color associations:
Brown — dependability, stability, security
Green — healthy, lucky, restful, or quiet
Blue — peaceful
Orange — cleansing
Red — passion, stimulating, loving
Purple — royal, powerful
Yellow — happy
White — purity, clean, cold
Black — elegant
Gray — conservative

“A soft, warm, buttery yellow is calming and soothing as a client comes out of a sleepy massage,” says Jane Lohmann, spa director at The Spa at Laguna Cliffs in Dana Point, Calif. The same soft color graces the walls in the pedicure room. The pedicure stations are white ceramic to signify cleanliness and sanitation. You can blend several colors in a room to customize the message you send clients.

White recliners and curtains lend a serene and clean feel to San Francisco's ZaZa Nail Spa.
<p>White recliners and curtains lend a serene and clean feel to San Francisco's ZaZa Nail Spa.</p>

Target Your Market

To start your color journey, map out the salon and list the goals and objectives in each area. In the reception area, your goal may be purely to welcome, or you may want to encourage browsing in the retail area. Halls and walkways are basically for transportation, so neutral hues may work well to tie together the color scheme. If you are offering mostly quick services, your colors could be more lively and energetic than if you want clients to sink in, relax, and stay a while. Don’t forget lighting as your needs will change depending on colors used. Black hues absorb light and light hues reflect it.

According to Desiree Tatum, a nail tech and educator based in Chicago’s Y’lonn Salon, “The best color for your salon may not be your favorite color. The first consideration must be the message you are trying to convey. If you are marketing your salon as a place of relaxed pampering, you should choose colors that say ‘relax and stay a while’ to your clients.” She recommends warm colors and natural color fibers to make clients feel comfortable. Warm creamy beiges and rich Moroccan hues go a long way to setting a cozy feel in treatment areas. If you’re targeting a younger clientele and plan on playing more upbeat tunes and creating a fun atmosphere, you might consider using bolder and brighter colors.

The treatment area and retail areas have different purposes and a different color scheme may be appropriate. “Colors that sell are colors that deliver convincing information about the attributes of a product or service,” writes Jill Morton, in Colors That Sell. “In advertising, color can say ‘I am made of pure ingredients’ or ‘I am trustworthy’ or ‘I am powerful.’” She has put together hundreds of color combinations complete with demographic data on each. Color connections are constantly changing and new palettes become desirable.

Ava's Spa & Boutique sets the tone with a mix of warm gold and black with just a spash accent of red.
<p>Ava's Spa & Boutique sets the tone with a mix of warm gold and black with just a spash accent of red.</p>

Express Your Personality

“The most successful interior color design is responsive and appropriate to the overall design goals,” states Jonathan Poore, an architectural designer and author of Interior Color by Design.

Ava Oulten, owner of Ava’s Spa & Boutique, located in Richmond, Va., uses a mix of warm gold and black with just a splash accent of red to set the tone in her hip, New York-styled salon. Leopard-print carpets in gold and black were custom-designed for the lush space. Oulten chose the colors “because gold is soothing and black is elegant.” Her background in fashion helped her pull it all together with custom wrought iron pieces and greenery. In contrast, her pedicure room is done mostly in white to convey cleanliness — which is a major selling point in her area.

Because clients feel like they have been transported to an upscale New York destination, they tend to shop the same way. Much of Oulten’s revenue comes from retail. Manicure tables are sprinkled throughout with a decadent mix of fashion and retail cosmetic displays. What’s Oulten’s advice? “Go with developing your own image. Don’t just copy someone else. Salons must get across what they want clients to feel while they are experiencing services. It’s all in the personality of the salon.”

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