6515 Commerce Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48324
When Michigan hairdressers Michelle Fair and Brandon Phillips decided to strike out on their own and start a business as co-owners of a West Bloomfield salon, they both thought their combined 37+ years of working in the industry was ample experience to prepare them for the task of designing and opening a brand new salon. “We were so naïve,” Fair said. “We thought we could decorate fairly inexpensively, picking up things here and there. But [ Phillips] and I quickly learned there were so many things we hadn’t thought about.” While Fair and Phillips originally thought they could do it all themselves, a chance encounter with Leslie McGwire, VP of sales and design at the Salon & Spa Design Center located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, changed everything for the better. McGwire is a member of ASID-Allied (American Society of Interior Designers), has 29 years design experience and has won 14 awards including Salon of the Year awards in her career. While at the Salon & Spa Design Center Showroom Sale in November 2010, Brandon Phillips ended up meeting with McGwire and the die was cast.
According to McGwire, the transformation of Salon Evo was both a fun and exciting process from the very first first day McGwire met Phillips and Fair.
“The owners came to me for their first design meeting from a referral. I had done a large salon design for one of their friends. They came in to the meeting wanting to design their dream salon and did not know where to begin,” she said. “They were very overwhelmed and the meeting gave them confidence and direction to move ahead.”
Aside from pointing Phillips and Fair in the right direction with furniture and equipment purchases, they both agree it was McGwire’s ability to listen to their ideas, understand that they had two very different tastes and still be able to bring the design elements of the salon together to match their personalities perfectly that helped make the project a success.Leslie met with Phillips and Fair to discuss all of their wishes for the space – which was an empty 2,200 square feet that would need equipment floor plans, plumbing and electrical placement, general lighting design and specifications of finishes for the entire location. They talked in depth about the overall feeling they wanted for the space.
“[Phillips] likes more contemporary styles,” Fair points out, “and I lean towards more European or Victorian décor. [McGwire] brought it all together – from the style stations to the modern mirrors with more warm, ornate frames. It all ties together.” The name Salon Evo is short for evolution, Phillips points out. “And that’s what this is – an evolution of our careers.”
“It was almost a fluke how everything worked out,” Fair says. “But once the process got going, we met a lot of great people that wanted to see us succeed in this. McGwire was one of them. She took us under her wing.” During their two days with Salon & Spa Design Center, the entire space was designed, and they left knowing exactly what their salon would look like when the doors opened.
The design always starts with a flowing space plan that not only is correct according to architect codes, but also corresponds with clients’ wishes. Thus, the design started with the floor plan, which included a curved reception desk, styling stations, styling chairs, a private shampoo room, a comfortable dryer processing area, a separate nail and pedicure room, medium size dispensary, custom make-up area, custom drink area and a large retail area with four waiting chairs. From there, the design elements of the project started to enter in.
One of the most important design elements in the salon is the beautiful custom made styling stations. The style stations feature a dark brown cabinet, brown chairs with chrome accents and beautiful oversized mirrors with an ornate patterned frame. Here it is most apparent where Phillips’ contemporary style– in the form of the sleek cabinets – meshes with Fair’s preference for Victorian design elements as seen in the framed mirrors. The station work area is on the sides of the units, creating a very clean, slick look with no clutter. The interior of the side of the station is chocolate brown, as is the top quality Pavilion shampoo units. Perhaps the largest focal point in the salon is the gorgeous multiple crystals with a black shade chandelier that centers over the reception desk and can be seen from every angle of the salon. Chandeliers are the hottest accessories in salons today. It is a residential touch that clients love that makes them feel at home.
The overall design was very different from other salon designs that McGwire had done in her 16 years of salon and spa design. The words that best describe the space would be eclectic, artsy, warm and colorful. The result is a professional-looking, functional salon space that incorporates deep browns with soft muted blues. The guest seating area includes dark brown leather chairs mixed with blue chairs, which contrast nicely with the brown and swirling blue patterned area rug. The front desk is also a dark brown offset by a beautiful chandelier that incorporates all the colors found throughout the salon. Light, sheer beige drapes inset into the front windows off create a very elegant feel. And the eclectic blend of furnishings gives a great first impression. The waiting area for the salon has trendy but comfortable waiting chairs that make clients feel like they are in an upscale salon as soon as they walk in.
Farther into the salon, the focal point of each styling station is an oversized mirror. When clients sit in the brown styling chairs looking into the stately mirrors, they will feel like they are king or queen for the day. The laminate chosen for the storage area of the styling station coordinates beautifully with the mirrors. The design atmosphere is a very quiet area where clients can read, use wireless internet or just enjoy a glass of wine and a magazine.
One of the design elements that is unique to Salon Evo is the paint colors. At the front of the salon warm beiges and a blue/gray hue are used. Some of the other walls in the front are painted in a fresh green color. The neutral beige paint throughout the main part of the salon keeps the décor’s general feeling fresh and bright. The walls are highly textured and also serve as a focal point. And the accessories are the perfect finishing touch, complementing the unique overall design. Lighting was also very important, as the salon needs both task lighting and overall lighting for the space. Due to the darker blue tone colors on the walls, we had to order more lights. This created a very dramatic atmosphere within the salon. The MR-16 light bulb in the retail space makes the products shine with very white light. The lighting design for the retail area was key to make the products sell. However, it is very important to keep the lighting dim in the shampoo room in general but to beam the correct bulb straight down onto the client’s hair so that stylists can see what they are doing. The calming feeling of the room helps clients to completely relax while receiving a head massage or while being shampooed.
The overall design for Salon Evo ended up being what Phillips and Fair where dreaming of. The design goals were achieved, and they couldn’t be more delighted with the results. The Salon & Spa Design Center achieved this through teamwork and thoroughly enjoyed designing the beautiful space. After five months, finishing touches were put on the salon, and it opened later that month. “My advice to anyone starting this process,” Fair says, “is plan to spend more money and expect it to take three times as long. But, in the end, it’s all worth it. Once it’s done, you’ll realize you worked your whole life building up to this point. I look around and I can see myself in this space. I can envision myself growing and improving my skills in this space.”