The Special FX Salon and Day Spa in San Jose, Calif., was looking dated and tired. Owner Denise Russell decided to do what salons do best; give the place a new look. By improving the finishes and using some paint, she achieved a makeover that made the salon fresh-looking and in-style without needing to do construction or change the space itself in any significant way.
Russell’s business was successful, but the appearance of the salon was not keeping up with current styles. It had been 10 years since it was last remodeled, and it showed. The decor was dominated by dark cabinets and a tired looking mineral fiber dropped ceiling. “We were more traditional before,” recalls Russell. “Everything was cherrywood, the floor was like a maplewood brown, and that old-style ceiling… It felt old-fashioned.”
Russell had previously found an interior designer she trusted when Priscilla Danielle Avery of Priscilla Danielle Designs, Santa Clara, Calif., redecorated Russell’s home. Avery consulted on the salon makeover (although Avery says Russell really did the job herself). “I made recommendations,” Avery states modestly. “We tried to update the finishes. We just wanted to give it a happier vibe, to be welcoming and bright and fun.”
“I like that open space concept,” explains Russell, “even though I have a lot of walls in there for the stations. I was looking for a more modern appearance. I love the gray and white look.”
They painted the walls white and light gray, with white trim details. The cherrywood cabinetry became medium gray, the darkest tone in the room. They replaced the flooring with a contrasting woodgrain that livened up its appearance.
Then Avery made an unexpected suggestion, “Let’s do something with the ceiling.” The salon had the usual suspended ceiling: old mineral fiber panels that were discolored from age. Changing the ceiling made total sense to Russell. “That old ceiling just looked so ugly,” she recalls.
Avery suggested a different, more decorative type of panel that could be installed in the existing ceiling grid, thermoformed Ceilume panels. She had used them previously in other projects and thought this was “a quick and reasonably-priced way to clean up the whole space.”
Ceilume makes three-dimensional panels in a range of styles from traditional to completely contemporary. (Also, a plus for salons where there may be a lot of product spraying into the air, they are washable and stain resistant.)
Russell browsed the patterns on the Ceilume website. “There are a lot of styles you can pick from. I chose this style, Stratford, because it was more timeless, more simple. Since we only remodel every 10 years, I thought it would not go out of style.”
After watching a video about how to install them, she was convinced and ordered them, straight from the company, herself. The ceiling was installed by her handyman, who was able to trim the panels where needed without any special knowledge or tools.
“The ceiling made huge difference,” Russell states emphatically. “It was really cost-effective, but it doesn’t look like it. It looks much more expensive than it was. I love them. The white looks clean and opens up the space. As far as I’m concerned, the ceiling just made the whole space.”
They added peacock blue chairs in the waiting area for a burst of color, and made a few similar furniture updates. And that was all it needed.
Since remodeling, the Special FX Salon and Day Spa has thrived. It has been recognized as Best in Silicon Valley by the newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, and voted Neighborhood Favorite by the social media app, Nextdoor.
“I think it looks much better,” says designer Avery. “It’s much more streamlined. It looks more modern and more fresh, all of those things you want when you go into a salon.”