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Take a virtual tour of Steele Barber + Salon in Seattle, Washington, which captured a Salons of Distinction award for salon desgn from SALON TODAY's Salons of the Year.

Passersby get a strong sense of the experience that awaits them at Steele Barber + Spa in Seattle, Washington, by examining its exterior. The circa-1905 building has been lovingly restored, bringing back timeless quality and great design. The barbershop’s strong brand is a crest and shield design inspired by the owner’s family shield from England, and the gilded logos in the windows include Barbour, Barbour International and Aveda

A warm glow from the lighting and the interior colors (like Ralph Lauren’s Garden Spigot) beckon clients inside where a mannequin features the latest in Barbour outerwear. The retail area is simple, focused and accessible. Intentional lighting makes the product the star, telling a retail story without distraction. 

“We work with a local plant store to show off some lovely palms and other plants to bring a little life and greenery into our space throughout,” says Owner Matthew Humphrey. “All our shelving is custom, and our guest reception podium is in the form of a black, four-drawer, Craftsman toolbox.”

As one stands in the space, the eye is drawn to some wonderful symmetry at play. The original high, crossbeam ceilings offer character and a patina that only time can create. The overhead track lighting sends down just the right amount of light. Custom Sonos speakers track down to the large fan which balances the banks of barber chairs with custom built-in bowls. Gorgeous wood floors surround a cold-rolled steel plate floor down the middle, which creates a literal “Steele Runway.” Under the lighting are custom cabinets which are built into the wall to give the space a warm glow. 

The gratuitous black beveled tile on the walls of the stations is nicely appointed with custom, thick, black wood-reamed mirrors and contemporary classic lighting sconces from Restoration Hardware. The custom cabinetry surrounds stainless steel shampoo bowls at each station. 

“Clients never have to get up, we just spin them around and lean them back for a fantastic shampoo,” says Victoria Humphrey

At the stations, the exposed 3-ply covered with Paperstone is another detail that not only looks cool but is an environmentally sound material that wears extremely well. The drawers are finished in a powder coated steel custom made in Range Rover Green with a brass pull from School House in Portland, Oregon. 

Above each bank of barber chairs, a custom platform houses the track lights and a sound barrier made from 100% post-consumer water bottles called Polysorb. “It’s a handsome sound barrier material that is made right here in the Ballard Neighborhood of Seattle,” Matthew says. 

Next, guests tend to notice what appears to be a shipping container like those found on the ships in the nearby port—this was constructed out of corrugated under-decking salvaged from a construction site and painted in the Land Rover green. 

Two stylish and comfortable chairs flank an end table made of re-purposed beam from the University of Washington Firehouse—these face the two changing rooms which are outfitted with custom waxed cotton drapery as a nod to Barbour’s original wax jacket from England. Great detail was given in the simplest forms with custom wall interiors from black MDF, hanging brass bars from School House of Portland and light sconces from Lumens. 

On the other side of the container is the coat rack facing the bar which is the same 3-ply and Paperstone with a built-in kegerator and two taps. A handsome Ralph Lauren decanter set with leaded crystal glasses houses a local bourbon. “For the serious Land Rover geeks, like us, we also have a 1000+ piece Lego model of the new Land Rover Defender,” Victoria says. 

As you move into the waiting area, you immediately notice the four luxurious looking saddle leather chairs on a Ralph Lauren carpet facing each other two by two. A large, wide screen TV hangs to the left, tuned in to local sports with the sound turned off. 

“Of course, you might choose to sit at our orange WiFi bar, which not only is a pop of color, but the perfect perch to look outside at our exclusive courtyard which we call Brooklyn in Ballard,” Matthew says. 

As you round the corner, you see a speak-easy glass door with a generous strip of frosted film to create a sense of privacy for the spa waiting area, while also allowing in more natural light. 

More luxury seating with Sinclair Armchairs from Industry West awaits guests in the sound-proof waiting area, which is flanked by two spa rooms. More Ralph Lauren carpets cover the wood end-grain floors, transitioning nicely into the dark brown cork floors in the treatment rooms. 

“The spa rooms are like bunkers with sound proofing and more of the Polysorb on the ceilings,” Victoria says. “The rooms are appointed with higher-than-normal wainscotting using the Paperstone. One raw structural beam in each room was left as a nod to the building’s past.” 
Finally, two ADA-sized bathrooms feature floor-to-ceiling wet walls and bourbon-colored Ann Sacks tile, Paperstone wainscotting on the walls and large slate-colored floors. 

Seattle, WA

OWNERS: Matthew & Victoria Humphrey
SALON STYLE: luxurious, spacious, warm
EQUIPMENT: Takara Belmont, E-mark Beauty
FURNITURE: Crate & Barrel, Green Home Solutions, Dania Furniture
DESIGN BY: Sean Sifagaloa/Krftwrk
ARCHITECTS: Brandon Skinner, Ryan Rhodes Designs
PHOTOGRAPHER: Tim Van Asselt, Clarity Northwest

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