As a salon owner, you know that great service isn’t the only reason why clients choose where to get their hair done. It’s the environment and ambiance of the salon from the moment they walk through the doors. How do you create that memorable experience? Enlisting the help of someone who has the eye for design is a great starting point.
Michele Pelafas lives and breathes the beauty business—but she’s not a hairdresser. Michele has been a leading interior designer in the spa and salon industry for more than 20 years, servicing spas, salons, medispas, wellness centers, nail salons and more across the U.S. and abroad.
Here’s four ways that having an interior designer at your side can make your salon design stand out in today’s competitive world.
- Designers Keep Your Salon on Trend
With all of the responsibilities associated with running your salon, keeping abreast with what’s “trending” in interior design, is probably not top of mind. Having an interior designer, can keep you in the loop about how to keep your salon feeling fresh.
Michele says a big trend in design, even outside the salon industry, is human-centered design, which focuses on the people who use the space, and what their needs are.
“It’s about social awareness, empathy, human needs and wellness through design,” she says. “We design based on the customer’s level of comfort so all their needs are catered to and taken care of from the moment they walk in the door to when they leave the space.”
Michele focuses on creating joy through design not just for the customers who patronize the salons, but also for every employee who works in them.
“Whether we’re creating meditation rooms for the worker or designing stress-free zones into the reception area, every detail throughout the space is thought out to appeal to the emotional well-being of the people in the space.”
Another trend is domestic values in commercial spaces—consumers want to be as comfortable in the salon as they are at home.
“The salon should feel like an extension of home,” Michele says. “We’re moving away from the cold, sterile salon environment into warmer interiors for a more personal connection.”
Michele creates this vibe with livable waiting areas that include fireplaces, ottomans and libraries, and amenities that make the salon space feel more like home.
- Designers Have Experience and Expertise
“We customize every salon, and are able to do it with new tools in technology,” she says. “We use 3D modeling, 2D design and all sorts of other technical programs so owners can see what their space will look like before it’s ever built.”
A common error some salon owners make is hiring an interior designer with no experience designing salons. This can result in some expensive mistakes.
“A skilled salon designer will prevent these mistakes,” Michele says. “For example, we understand the details that go into a successful lighting design for a salon interior.”
Strategic and specific to the salon industry, Michele and her team know the ins and outs of everything from the right amount of wattage for a styling station to the correct spacing between shampoo units.
- Designers Know Remodel Dos and Don’ts
With the popularity of HGTV, design has become accessible to all, but Michele says a distinction needs to be made between reality TV and, well … reality.
“Budgets and timelines need to be considered,” she says. “Owners should think about how they will phase their project into an operational business to limit downtime and disruption.”
Plumbing, electric, lighting, demolition, new construction—how will the staff and clientele play a role in your renovation? Pelafas encourages her clients to educate their customers and staff, and also get them excited and engaged in the process.
“It’s crucial owners set realistic goals to fit within timelines and budgets, and plan for anything that could go wrong in construction,” she says. “All planning should be thought out for flow, functionality and the biggest return on investment.”
So how often should owners be remodeling their space? Michele says every six to eight years if they want to stay relevant and on top of their interiors.
“New competitors are always opening, and design is always evolving,” she says. “Look at your indicators: Is your furniture worn or outdated? Do you have problems with staff retention? Do you want to add services? Rebrand?”
A full remodel every six to eight years may not be realistic for all salon owners, but there are more budget-friendly options to tap into.
“A fresh coat of paint can yield a good return on investment,” Michele says. “You can also create something fresh by repurposing furniture, investing in new hardware or a new chandelier, clearing clutter—these things won’t break the bank.”
- Designers Know How To Create Luxury Without The Price Tag
Michele believes the high-end services she offers should be accessible to all salons, which is why she recently created a membership program with design and furniture benefits to her customers.
“Salons pay a $250 membership fee, which we donate to Beauty Changes Lives, and the salons receives 50-percent off design services,” she says.
A win for the beauty industry and for salon owners. And Michele says it’s also a win for her.
“We work on projects large and small, and they all bring excitement and opportunity,” she says. “What excites us most is bringing projects to life and helping our clients accomplish goals—we’re here to help them see their dreams through, and that’s rewarding for us.”
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