Hair Salon Design — Here's What You Need to Think About

Are you going to remodel, expand or open up a new salon? Then hair salon design is critical, both in terms of appearance and in creating a functional workplace. Therefore, we are going to take a deep dive into what it takes to build and decorate a salon — from building permits and lighting to shampoo stations and styling chairs.

Venue

Before you start looking into hair salon design, you must first find a suitable location where you can set up shop. If you are lucky, you can take over an existing hair salon, otherwise, you will have to build one from scratch. Here we give you tips on what to think about when choosing a venue and what you need to get in place to run your day-to-day business.

Location and Layout

The location can make or break your business, so think about it carefully. It should be easily accessed both by car, public transport and by foot. Preferably it should also be located in a crowded place or near office buildings to increase the chances of attracting new customers. What’s more, it should be visible from the outside and no other competitors should be located in the same area.

As for the premises themselves, both the size and the layout are important aspects to take into account. You do not want to pay for unnecessary space, but it should not feel too small either. Naturally, the venue should live up to your vision for how you want to design your salon. You might e.g. want to create a separate room for your shampoo station or a photo studio where you can take professional pictures for your Instagram. That said, the venue does not need to be perfect from the outset as long as it can be adapted.

Building Permit

For new construction, additions, remodeling, tenant improvements, and changes in use (for example, a change in an office from professional to salon/ retail use), you will need a building permit if you set up shop in the US. The process for obtaining a building permit for your salon may differ from state to state. Here is a great article written by Jeff Grissler in Salon Today, explaining everything you need to do to get your building permit.

Turnkey Contract, Divided or General

How much work are you prepared to do yourself to achieve the perfect salon? It is good if you e.g. can tear out, lay floors and paint to reduce costs. However, most people do not have the time, energy, and knowledge to build or remodel a salon, and instead, choose to bring in professional craftsmen.

If you decide to do so, it is good to know that there are three different types of contract: (1) turnkey contract, (2) general contract and (3) shared contract. A turnkey contract means that you hire a company that takes care of everything with the salon construction. It can be a good option if you want the salon completed as quickly as possible and are willing to pay a higher price.

If you choose a general contract, you sign a contract with two different companies: for project planning and construction. It is a good alternative if you as a customer want more influence over the project and be able to control details to a greater extent.

Lastly, a shared contract means that you hire and sign a contract with each individual contractor (e.g. plumbing and carpentry). The advantage is of course that you can hire whoever you want, but that all responsibility ultimately rests with you.

Lighting

Since the lighting not only affects the atmosphere in the salon, but also what the color of the hair looks like, it is a central part of the salon design. To know how much light should be added, it is good to first examine how much natural light enters the room. The light should simulate natural white light with a color temperature of between 4,000 K and 6,000 K. The work lighting should be placed above the workstation and usually costs between $500 and $900 per workstation. We recommend hiring a professional lighting expert to get it right.

Temperature

Due to the fact that hairdressers work with chemical treatments, the temperature in the salon is critical for achieving the right results. For example, too cold a temperature would make the hair bleaching process stop. So, for the salon design, think about how you position the workstations so that they are not too close to the windows where air enters from outside.

If there is much natural light in the salon, it is good to have awnings for the windows to prevent it from getting too hot. If you live in e.g. Florida or California, you might even consider installing an AC. In winter, depending on where you live, the problem might be that it is instead too cold. Then it is a good idea to emphasize the importance of right room temperature to the landlord. Aim for a temperature around 68 °F (20 °C) in the salon.

Acoustics

waiting area at the hive hair studio

Smart salon waiting area at The Hive Hair Studio with sofa and cushions for reduced noise level.

Hair salons are typically filled with chatting people, music, and loud blow-dryers. Thus, it is critical to prevent bad room acoustics and reduce the noise level with a smart salon design. This includes e.g. upholstered furniture, such as a sofa with cushions and/or an armchair at the entrance. Carpets and sound absorbers placed on the room’s smooth surfaces, on walls, and on the ceiling, also work well as mufflers. Also, it may be worth investing in silent blow dryers to lower the noise level.

Plumbing, Electricity, and Water

If you are building a hair salon from scratch, there are some things to keep in mind when it comes to electricity and water. As you have probably experienced, it is a common problem that the fuse goes when several hairdressers blow-dry at the same time. In almost all cases, the reason is that all workstations load the same fuse. What you want to do instead is set up your own fuses for each workstation. It does cost a bit more but is well-invested money. Another common problem is with shampoo stations, where the hot water can be stolen by the colleague in the chair next to yours. Point this out to the plumber so that it can be avoided.

Salon Design

When the contract is signed, the building permit granted, and you have the right lighting, acoustics, and temperature in place, then it is time to look at the salon design and equipment. Here we go into detail about what you should think about when buying shampoo stations, styling chairs, and work chairs. As for the salon design we discuss the importance of having a separate area/room for your shampoo station as well as a photo spot/studio for taking professional-looking photos for your Instagram.

Shampoo Station

What to Think About

The shampoo station is by many considered to be the heart of the hair salon design, and it is often the most expensive equipment to buy. A shampoo chair can cost between $500 and $5,000, so it is important to choose carefully. The shampoo chairs need to fit your style and your budget, but should also be functional and practical.

The most important thing to consider is the height so that you can work in a comfortable position. Since no height fits all, we recommend shampoo chairs with adjustable height. A must is to try the chair before you buy it. Often the wholesaler or supplier has their own showroom where you can go and test the chairs. If this is not the case, you can sometimes go to trade fairs where the wholesaler or supplier exhibits their products, or check if they can send you a sample. This is often possible if you are interested in placing a larger order.

If you want to ensure the greatest comfort for your clients, you should consider investing in washing chairs with extra features. This includes e.g. leg and back massage and/or leg lift, but also comes with a more hefty price tag.

The last crucial detail is the color of the shampoo bowl. Most hairdressers prefer a white bowl over a black bowl to be able to more easily see the hair color. So, if you are interested in a black shampoo bowl, and have not used it before, you might want to reconsider.

Shampoo Room

Today, many salons have salon designs with separate rooms for their shampoo station to create a more relaxing atmosphere with dim lighting and soft music. Here clients can often enjoy a back massage in the shampoo chair and/or scalp massage performed by the hairdresser. It is often appreciated by clients and can be a way to exceed their expectations. So, if it is possible to achieve within your budget, you might want to consider it.

In case a chambre séparée is not possible to create, we still recommend placing the shampoo station separated from the main salon area. The reason for this is that some clients can feel a little exposed in the shampoo chair, e.g. women wearing skirts. Therefore, consider whether you can create your own shampoo station area with e.g. a frosted glass wall.

Inspiration

shampoo station at june hair salon

JUNE, located in Oceanside, California is a unique and uplifting space with an inspiring vibe.

shampoo station at the hive hair studio

The Hive Hair Studio is the sweetest little salon space located in Hickory, NC. Photo credit: Arc House.

shampoo station at the trade company salon

Relaxed luxury at the Trade Company Salon located in Fountain Inn, South Carolina.

shampoo station at the booster cat salon

We approve this #PSL message at Booster Cat Salon and this cozy corner. Photo credit: Imani Givertz.

shampoo station at the loft hair studio

The Loft in Kingston, Ontario created the ultimate relaxation station.

shampoo station at the epanoui salon

Beautiful shampoo station corner at Épanoui that looks like a garden oasis.

Styling Chairs

What to Think About

Styling chairs are an important part of the salon design. They should fit the salon style and also have a practical and functional design. Before you decide to make a purchase, think about the chair’s height and how it can be adjusted. Also, consider the chair’s width and depth, so that you can stand close to the client while working. We recommend taking your colleagues to a showroom and testing different chairs so that everyone can have a say.

Inspiration for Styling Chairs

styling chair at whitefox styling studio

Beautiful ambience of Whitefox Styling Studio located in Texas, US.

styling chair at epanoui salon

Elegant work station at Épanoui located in Columbus, Ohio.

styling chair at ametrine collection

Modern and minimalist work station at Amentrine Collective located in Denver, Colorado.

styling chair at the hive hair studio

Simple and elegant salon design at The Hive Hair Studio. Photo credit: Arc House.

Work Chairs

A practical and functional work chair can be a good relief since most hairdressers stand up for the most part of the day. The classic saddle chairs and stools have long been popular, and are still widely used. That said, there is also a great variety of regular work chairs available to choose from. No matter which chair you decide to go for, make sure you try it before buying it and ensure the height is right for you.

Photo Equipment

ring light

With Instagram being one of the most important marketing channels for hairdressers, no modern salon design is complete without a dedicated photo spot or studio. It will make your Instagram feed look nice and consistent with the same background and lighting on all photos — giving a professional impression. And best of all, it does not have to be expensive. All you need to create professional-looking photos is a mobile camera, a decent ring light, and a white smooth backdrop.

Other Salon Design / Interior

Obviously, there are more salon furnishings and equipment that are essential to the salon design such as mirrors and benches for each workstation. It is also good to have a reception desk where clients can pay as well as a nice waiting area. Product shelves for decoration and/or sales are something that most salons also have. If you want more inspiration it is recommended that you search Pinterest for e.g. "hair salon decor" or "hair salon design", which results in a great variety of exciting hair salon design ideas.

Checklist for Building and Designing a Salon

  • Do research on where the salon should be located. It should be easy to get to and located in an area with a lot of foot traffic, as well as away from competitors.
  • Make sure the premises are the right size for creating the salon design that you want.
  • Apply for a building permit if needed.
  • Decide if you want to go for a turnkey contract, general or shared.
  • Review the lighting in the room. Hire a lighting expert if necessary.
  • Think about the salon design with the location of workstations and check if awnings and/or AC are needed to regulate the temperature.
  • Use a smart salon design with upholstered furniture, thick carpets, and sound absorbers to avoid a noisy environment. Also, invest in quiet blow dryers.
  • Set up separate fuses for each workstation to avoid the fuse going when several hairdressers blow-dry at the same time.
  • Consider height-adjustable shampoo chairs and decide on white or black shampoo bowls. Also, consider extra features such as massage and electric reclining footrest. Go to a showroom and try before you buy.
  • Consider the possibility of having a separate room/area for your shampoo station.
  • When buying styling chairs, think about the height, width and depth, to ensure it’s practically and functionally designed for you to work.
  • Invest in a ring light and create a dedicated photo spot / studio with the perfect lighting and a white smooth backdrop.
  • Find inspiration for salon design/decor on Pinterest. Search for "hair salon decor" and "hair salon design" to get ideas.