The beauty industry is all about transformation and change, the hot new thing, the latest and greatest. And when a salon is in need of a makeover, the sky is the limit when it comes to possibilities. A makeover can be as easy as painting the walls in the manicure area a fresh new color and adding new manicure tables, or it may be as involved as calling a professional designer to help you with a new look for the entire salon. Either way, the makeover must be functional, not just cosmetic.

We talked to four salons to see exactly what they did and how they did it. Some of them gutted existing buildings and turned them into the salon they always wanted while others used their own elbow grease and a couple hundred dollars to reinvigorate a section of their salon. There was blood, there was sweat, and there were tears — but in the end the transformations were well worth it.

If you’ve been thinking of giving your own salon a makeover we think the following salon owners’ stories will help give you the motivation you need.

Salon: BeautyWorx, Philadelphia.  Owner: Lois Burak

Burak wanted to create a nail area where she could easily host pedicure parties, but unfortunately, purchasing whirlpool pedicure chairs wasn’t an option. Instead, she used a bit of creativity and considerably less money — $700 — to create a fun and funky pedicure area that clients love. And she did it all herself over a three-day holiday weekend. Originally, the pedicure area was comprised of a larger area housing nail tables and a seating area and small, semi-private room that held a pedicure unit and chair for facial waxing. Burak moved the nail tables to one side of the room and added hand-crafted pedicure benches to the other side. She also installed wooden platforms under the foot baths that adjust to the client’s height.

The semi-private room is now separated by a smaller, glass-paneled door. This gives the room an open feel, she says. The old pedicure unit was replaced by another pedicure bench and Burak also added a storage cabinet with a rock fountain on top.

Salon: Thomas Schott Salon and Spa,Frederick, Md.  Owner: Mary Jane Tabler

Owner Mary jane Tabler invested in two whirlpool pedicure chairs to give her nail area a more updated, luxurious feel.

Owner Mary jane Tabler invested in two whirlpool pedicure chairs to give her nail area a more updated, luxurious feel. 

The retail area at Thomas Scott is now strategically located near the front desk.

The retail area at Thomas Scott is now strategically located near the front desk. 

The spa's waiting area reflects the tranquil look that was part of the whole redesign.

The spa's waiting area reflects the tranquil look that was part of the whole redesign. 



To mark its 20th anniversary Tabler not only embarked on a major renovation, she also decided to give the salon formerly known as Headlines Salon and Day Spa a new name. She also decided to double the square footage, redesign the floor plan, and update the look and feel of the salon and spa areas. For this complete overhaul, Tabler decided to work with Belvedere USA Corporation’s design team.

Every design decision was based on whether or not it would provide clients with “an oasis of beauty and health,” a phrase that has become the spa’s tag line. The result is what Tabler calls a “haven of tranquility for her valued guests.” One of the areas that changed was the retail area, which was significantly expanded. The area was made colorful and inviting so that clients waiting for services would be drawn through it. The retail area was placed close to the check-in and check-out station to encourage clients to shop.

The spa area was sound-proofed, a process that proved expensive but necessary in order to create the tranquil atmosphere Tabler was striving for. Tabler also added a stand-up front desk that puts her staff at eye level with clients, which she says encourages more interactivity and communication between the staff and guests. Besides adding 16 hairstyling stations, Tabler also added two whirlpool pedicure thrones.

Salon: Awesome Nails, Grayslake, Ill.  Owner: Mary Metscaviz

Feeling the pressure from the industry-wide fascination with all things “spa,” Metscaviz felt it was time to give Awesome Nails an updated look.

“Awesome Nails is a high-end salon, and I needed a new image to reflect that,” says Metscaviz. But making the move toward a “spa” sensibility required careful planning and lots of grunt work.

“The original theme was southwest, and although it was nice, it didn’t have elegance to it, ”Metscaviz explains. The new spa theme had to be elegant and give Awesome Nails an added sense of value. “I needed to raise my prices to reflect our level of expertise,” says Metscaviz, so the salon’s decor had to complement the upscale prices and superior services. To get an idea of what she wanted, Metscaviz visited other salons and perused through photos of salons. Helping to guide her was her existing furniture. My furniture was still in good condition,” she says, so she limited herself to repainted and faux-finishing the entire salon in new colors.

“It took three days to paint the salon once I decided on the colors,” says Metscaviz. She did the faux painting herself.

The salon’s new look is “peaceful and calming with an easy elegance,” she says. And clients loved the change. According to the survey cards new clients receive, the salon gets the highest ranking for decor and ambiance.

















Salon: Pampered and Polished Spa and Salon, Hagersville, Ontario, Canada

Owner: Darlene Johnston



Not too many people look at a house and envision a salon, but that’s exactly what happened in Johnston’s case.

After a house next to her husband’s grocery store was put up for sale, Johnston right away thought it would make a good location for a salon.

Johnston purchased the home in December 2003 and didn’t open for business until May of the following year. The majority of the work, including painting and setting up partitions, was done by Johnston, her daughter, husband, and friends. Most of the work was done on weekends since Johnston was still tending to clients in her previous location. She did, however, hire a professional to place new tile throughout the salon. Altogether, she estimates she spent about $35,000 renovating and making over the house. Since Johnston is a nail tech, she naturally placed the nail area in a strategic location where clients can see it when they first walk in. The salon also has an esthetics room, hair salon, and a retail area.

Some parts of the house were incorporated in the salon, including the staircase and a stained glass window. And the house’s Victorian look helped Johnston decide on her salon’s color scheme. She opted to paint the rooms in different soft, pastel hues.

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