How can I make my salon stand out? Salon Sleuth: Part 1

Here we explore in-depth how to make a salon unique, by analysing real-life salons.

Business advisors everywhere say you need to stand out from the crowd. It honestly feels like a line they use by rote, without any material advise. Way easier said than done, when your fellow crowd population all does the same thing you do. It can become a bit frustrating when spending months trying to work out where to start. I feel the same when trying to pin-point how I’m different as an Interior Designer to all the other designers just like me out there. How do you stand out when you and your competition are essentially offering the same or similar services, but at different price points, and in different locations?

When searching for “how to make my hair salon unique” and “how to make your hair salon stand out”, you’ll get loads of entries suggesting that you should focus on Customer service, make the experience memorable, and the most frustratingly vague of all “find your why then express it”! But it’s difficult to find concrete ideas on what other salons actually do to stand out in a crowded environment.

Here I aim to make it easy for you to find real-life Inspo in a one-stop place that you can relate to, learn how other Salons have created their own unique look, and take away tips to help you find your vibe. A good designer will work with you to create your unique vision, celebrating your history and framing your salon for a bright future. You will see that every detail is considered.

Joey Scandizzo Salon

One of my favourite salon designs & hair stylists is Joey Scandizzo, with a celebrity clientele and focus predominantly on long hair & flowing waves, and three times Australian Hairdresser of the Year. I honestly can’t decide whether I’m going to keep trying to grow my hair fine thin long enough to achieve any of his signature flowing styles (I really suspect it’s just too thin), or just give mine up as a lost cause, forever to be a short/pixie cut. At the moment I’m aiming for ‘bob’ length, since hairdressers have been closed during the Victorian Lockdown 6.0

This same Lockdown has given Joey Scandizzo Salon the opportunity for a major rebrand and Salon makeover with a “new-look salon, a new-look brand, and a whole new red-hot colour palette”1with the assistance of Kennon studio3

Prior to the recent salon renovation, the old salon had a “Trendy and edgy feel”2, with a high-constrast black and white colour palette, an abundance of mirror, Carrara marble counter, a central communal table for clients to wait and sip a coffee & flip though a mag. Classic architectural features such as archways and detailed cornicing of the historic building offset & complemented the clean lines of the salon.

The Reno

The new modern hair salon design takes it’s cue from the old look that clients & staff have come to love and feel at home in. The gorgeous historical detailing has been preserved and enhanced, inspiring the new detailing of the cutting & styling area. The main salon layout has not essentially changed, but has been enhanced, providing a vastly more intimate feel for each guest. The new counter is a simple terrazzo clad block that does it’s job quietly, allowing the rest of the space to shine.

Gone are the vast expanses of mirror which created a cluttered & visually busy environment, replaced by marmarino plaster finished walls and curved arch alcoves defining each styling chair zone. Each archway features a curved mirror with concealed LED strip lighting to finish off the look just right, and an individual bench to set a latte or a champagne flute. (Explore here for other ways of offering your guests a place to rest their refreshment). The same classic black leather Eames Aluminium group chairs are used at each styling station for a unified look.

“There’s a lot to love about our new space, but these arched mirrors might just be our favourite. ⁠
Inspired by the history of our previous space, we took the arch to a new level, and in doing so, we found the good light.” ⁠1

A smart move from my point of view is the change from a black floor (which would surely show every last hair clipping no matter how much it’s swept), to Italian grey and white terrazzo, effectively camouflaging the occasional drip of dye or clippings, and providing a visual energy and constrast to the neutral off-white walls.

An eye-catching modern feminine style pendant light is the hero of the space, centred in the middle of the main salon area, with the rest of the lighting understated and quietly doing it’s job (a sure sign a good designer was involved rather than just the local electrician!) Discover the benefits of well planned lighting in my blog post: The highly practical benefits of a well designed lighting & a good Statement Piece

A softer rounded terrazzo central table replaces the old square one for a more welcoming look. The overall feel of the environment is a place for pampering and a get-away zone from everyday living.

The design of the wash station area is a departure in style and finish. Modern, edgy and playful with metallic wall panelling and iridescent diachronic glass used for screening, “Seeing the world through Scandizzo coloured lenses”1 A central botanical-laden linear communal table encourages a social atmosphere. Every detail is considered. It’s a highly instagrammable space, with great backdrops for catching that snap of your self-care experience. Explore other ideas in my blog posts Create an Instagrammable backdrop for your retail space and Creative Ideas for Instagrammable Backdrops

Our people tell us that our place has a certain energy. It’s busy, vibrant, sometimes a little too loud, but always a lotta fun.1

I’m so glad they recognised the importance of finishing the space with professional styling (some beautiful earthenware, gold and pearlised ceramic pieces) & understated botanicals; these are on-point for the overall look and feel of the new salon design. It’s so easy for a project to be let down at the 11th Hour if this is not part of the designer’s scope and left to the busy salon team to procure what ends up being a hodgepodge of unrelated knick-knacks that do little to enhance the space.

Responses to the new design range from it ….”Sounds amazing and looks amazing! Love the colours”1 to “…. a beautiful regeneration of your brand and aesthetic”1

5-Star Luxury Salon appeal

Every element of the guest experience can be curated with attention to detail. Guests are now offered wine from a collection by Levantine Hill winery, or perhaps a coffee on a Saturday morning.

According to Beauticate, all guests receive “a signature hand massage and undivided attention”2

“5-star luxury appeal where all customers receive a signature hand massage, undivided attention, as well as the offer of tea or coffee”2

Reviews of the service from guests range from feeling totally pampered to having a wonderful experience with great service, and a “pumping salon (with a) great vibe”1

For more tips head to my blog post Salon & Hospitality Faux Pas – Avoid these client service mistakes

(please pin the below graphic to your pinterest board for reference)

So, why Hire an Interior Designer?

Unfortunately many people get confused or intimidated by the idea of hiring a professional Interior Designer for their project, and might be concerned about the process of working with a designer & the costs of doing so.

A lot of people I meet feel that they can hire a builder and do the design themselves, selecting materials and fixtures in dribs and drabs, often at the last minute (leading to less choice) with poor planning & lack of an overall vision. This will lead increased costs due to changes, additions and variations that the builder will not have allowed for.

(please pin the below graphic to your pinterest board for reference)

Image: Element5 Digital via Unsplash

You will save money & time. Your designer will plan functional and appealing spaces, provide drawings, visualisations & material / furnishing selections in a strategic manner so you can get competitive quotes, and you know what the design will look like & cost right from the start.

You require a Qualified Interior Designer & Registered Building Practitioner for any commercial project or residential project that requires a building permit; a proper interior designer is a highly trained & experienced registered professional, not just someone with ‘a good eye for colour’ and a knack for picking furniture.

“Thank you so much for all your hard work on our brand new space…Our clients adore the new space just as much as we had visualised in our very first meeting. We spoke about how a salon should feel the moment you step through the door and how to make this happen. After purchasing this space (an empty concrete shell) I didn’t have any idea of where to start. You started creating this amazing space and brought to life what I thought was never possible”

Kara MacIsaac – Absolu Hair Salon


  1. @joeyscandizzosalon

Let’s make something beautiful together, book an appointment to explore your dream project.

Image: Omar Rodriguez @ormphotography