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Nail Salon Makeovers

by Erika Kotite | October 6, 2016
Upstairs, the waiting area makes a chic statement, and offers comfort at the same time with an extra-long upholstered banquette.

Upstairs, the waiting area makes a chic statement, and offers comfort at the same time with an extra-long upholstered banquette.

When is the right time to give your salon a makeover? The answer to that question very likely is NOW. According to Jeff Grissler in one of his Salon Today blog posts (“Remodel Your Salon and Change Your Image”), there have been so many changes in the way we in the beauty industry do business it’s critical to foster change in your own place to keep up with or even get ahead of the curve. By the time you get the feeling that your salon appears dated, tired, and even dirty to your clients, precious time has been lost and it’s even harder to look good against the competition.

Makeovers can be modest (think new paint and cabinets) or a complete gutting and renovating from the ground up. A lot depends on what you can afford and what the absolute necessities are — for example, your lighting is shot and the flooring shows serious signs of wear. Keep in mind that if you are a tenant and your planned makeover is extensive, you may be able to negotiate a tenant improvement allowance from the landlord.

A Legend Becomes More Legendary

Jessica Vartoughian, well-known for her line of beauty products under her name, is also famous in and around Beverly Hills for her long-established nail salon. Located in the heart of the Sunset Strip, Jessica — The Clinic started in 1969 at a time when nails-only salons were rare (it was called Jessica’s Nail Clinic). Photos of the salon in its former guise show a very clean, clinical look with pale yellow walls, businesslike manicure tables and office chairs, and a geometric-tiled floor.

The main room in Jessica – The Clinic is lined with gray leather client chairs and sleek side tables, all custom made by Belava.

The main room in Jessica – The Clinic is lined with gray leather client chairs and sleek side tables, all custom made by Belava.

Formerly Jessica’s Nail Clinic, this period photo shows a pretty salon that nevertheless was in definite need of an update.

Formerly Jessica’s Nail Clinic, this period photo shows a pretty salon that nevertheless was in definite need of an update.

Last year, however, Vartoughian felt the salon needed a big change. Rather than painting the walls or moving furniture around, Vartoughian went big: an entire remodel from first floor to ceiling. Retaining Los Angeles designer Jeffrey Hitchcock and adding her own vision, Vartoughian created a very sophisticated salon that uses a gray and white palette as the backdrop to spots of vivid color. “It took me 14 months but I wanted it right,” Vartoughian says. She brought in Belava to create stunning custom manicure and pedicure stations.

A dedicated pedicure room offers a serene, clean environment with dark gray tiled floors and white walls. The chairs, also by Belava, feature the company’s signature bowls with disposable liners.

A dedicated pedicure room offers a serene, clean environment with dark gray tiled floors and white walls. The chairs, also by Belava, feature the company’s signature bowls with disposable liners.

Another important feature Vartoughian wanted was inviting waiting and drying areas — she added a new outside deck for clients to enjoy. The grand marble staircase leading up to the salon remains in place, with a striking new light fixture and art work. Steps lead to the chic reception area, where a long gray banquette contrasts with a vivid persimmon wall emblazoned with the Jessica Beverly Hills logo.

Walking in off Sunset Boulevard, guests are dazzled by Jessica’s entryway, which hints at what lies beyond.

Walking in off Sunset Boulevard, guests are dazzled by Jessica’s entryway, which hints at what lies beyond.

Jessica – The Clinic also expanded its offerings to include full facial services as well as eyebrow care and body waxing. Nail services now include soft gel (gel-polish) treatments and nail art. The salon remains dedicated to nail cultivation treatments, but Vartoughian’s remodeling strategy was to make the salon more modern and attractive to a new generation of clients.

Making Lemonade

When Lisa Ann Bowles first set eyes on the place that was to be her new salon, she knew it would have to be completely redone. “The space was used for massage therapy but it needed a complete overhaul; it was dark, depressing, and ugly,” says the owner of New Nail Creations in Clovis, Calif. Bowles enlisted the help of her family — her son, daughter, nephews, brother, and sister-in-law all pitched in. She didn’t like the black chandeliers left by the previous owner but couldn’t get anyone to buy them, so they stayed. Bowles instead built her palette and design around them, with great results.

New Nail Creations in Clovis, Calif. reveals Lisa Ann Bowles’ remarkable remodel for under $2,000. Bowles’ family helped her tear out interior walls, repaint, add more lighting, and create the stunning floor using torn paper bags.

New Nail Creations in Clovis, Calif. reveals Lisa Ann Bowles’ remarkable remodel for under $2,000. Bowles’ family helped her tear out interior walls, repaint, add more lighting, and create the stunning floor using torn paper bags.

It was a significant project that included tearing down walls, moving doors, installing recessed lighting, and redoing the floors. Her sister-in-law ripped up the old carpet to reveal bare concrete. One of Bowles’ friends suggested she do a brown bag floor. “I said, ‘what is a brown bag floor?’ ” Bowles recalls. She took one look on Pinterest and found out. The process, which is essentially decoupaging the floor with torn pieces of yes, paper bags, was more time-consuming than she expected. It took about two and a half weeks but Bowles says it was one of the most rewarding projects she’s ever done. She added sprinkles of colorful glitter into the final coats, a tip she learned from Katie Cazorla.

New Nail Creations before its makeover.

New Nail Creations before its makeover.

Bowles’ entire renovation cost about $1,800 and it took nearly five months to complete. “I encourage people to try to do what they can on their own,” Bowles says.  “It will push you and show you that you are more capable of doing things than you think. If you think it will take four weeks, though, add another eight!”

Preparing for a New Kind of Client

Breanna Herriott took a hard look at her pedicure area when bookings of spa parties started taking off. The owner of Breeze Salon & Spa in Georgetown, Texas (as well as salons in three other locations) decided to do an entire salon remodel because, as she says, “we were going on ten years and I wanted to change it.” The colors were warm but very plain and the equipment was wearing out.

A compact but ultra-luxurious pedicure bench for three was added to Breanna Herriott’s complete salon remodel at Breeze Salon & Spa. The space features a dramatic stone wall with candle sconces, diffused light from two fabric Japanese torchieres, and round pedicure basins topped with granite.

A compact but ultra-luxurious pedicure bench for three was added to Breanna Herriott’s complete salon remodel at Breeze Salon & Spa. The space features a dramatic stone wall with candle sconces, diffused light from two fabric Japanese torchieres, and round pedicure basins topped with granite.

The goal behind any good spa party is the ability for clients to enjoy manicures and/or pedicures all at the same time. When thinking about her new design, Herriott wanted a wall of thrones surrounded by natural materials such as stone, copper, and bamboo.

The new configuration offers small groups a chance to sit together and socialize while getting luxurious pedicures. Herriott also decided to replace her jetted tubs with copper bowls. She also plans to install lighted shelves in the retail area and remove her front desk to make a community center for guests.

A Change for the Better

Suzie Moskal’s design philosophy is simple: “The beauty business is all about how things look: whether it’s hair, nails, makeup, or fashion,” she states. After years of raising children and doing nails out of her home, Moskal moved to a salon that was well designed but in a remote location. She found a new place earlier this year and set about putting her own look to it.

Suzie Moskal’s decorating begins when she looks at her space through the “client’s eye.” She looked inside her salon’s two front windows and designed the soft, comfortable pedicure area with fun, retro-looking chairs in faux leather and chrome.

Suzie Moskal’s decorating begins when she looks at her space through the “client’s eye.” She looked inside her salon’s two front windows and designed the soft, comfortable pedicure area with fun, retro-looking chairs in faux leather and chrome.

Moskal found a way to keep the bones of the former bank intact (such as the partial walls at left) while changing all of the paint, flooring, paint, and fixtures.

Moskal found a way to keep the bones of the former bank intact (such as the partial walls at left) while changing all of the paint, flooring, paint, and fixtures.

The Nail District (located in Victoria, British Columbia) is housed in a former bank. “Everything was wrong, from the carpeting to the wiring,” Moskal recalls. She especially loathed the drop ceiling – it was the first thing to go, although Moskal made sure to recycle the tiles and lights.

Guests sign the wall at Nail District, a fun interactive touch. Retail items are attractively displayed in freestanding pieces like this whitewashed hutch.

Guests sign the wall at Nail District, a fun interactive touch. Retail items are attractively displayed in freestanding pieces like this whitewashed hutch.

“See it like a client” is how Moskal set to work redesigning her space. From their first glance in the front window to even the décor in the restroom, the clients’ perspective is what counts and Moskal made sure she had something pretty, or interesting, or fun (or all of the above) at every turn. Moskal positioned her reception area and pedicure area in full view of the large front windows; the wall with the salon’s name became an autograph zone for people coming in during and after the grand opening.

Nail District welcomes clients with a sparkling chandelier that illuminates a very clean and pale interior. A refurbished dresser perched on a raised base makes the perfect front counter.

Nail District welcomes clients with a sparkling chandelier that illuminates a very clean and pale interior. A refurbished dresser perched on a raised base makes the perfect front counter.

Moskal credits her husband and her partner’s husband for doing much of the demolition, construction, and web development for Nail District. “We could not have done this without them,” Moskal says.

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