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I have known my hair stylist, Mark Reyes, since about 2004. A Palm Springs native, he was introduced by a mutual friend shortly after we moved to the desert.

A few years after we met him, Mark moved to San Diego to work in a very good salon. He's so good that David and I frequently drive to San Diego for our haircuts, yes even after 15+ years, and we brought him back to Palm Springs for our wedding in 2008.⁣

In early 2021, Mark texted to ask if I know any good designers in San Diego. In fact, I have several talented friends in the area, but naturally my response was, "Whyyyy....?" ⁣

(Actually, you may know that I am old school and prefer phone calls to texts, so I immediately called him.)⁣

Mark proceeded to tell me that he was, at last, opening his own salon in the very cool University Heights neighborhood. He had signed a lease on a tiny-but-mighty 450sf space in a building undergoing a complete renovation. His space was a raw concrete shell, and the entire salon concept needed to be created from scratch.⁣

Naturally, I swooped in. Just as I rarely trust my hair to anyone else, you can be sure that I was going to take good care of my long-time friend and stylist.⁣ Faster than you can say highlights, Keith and I were on the road to San Diego.

My friends, I am thrilled to debut my first salon design -- Tress & Balance!



We took advantage of the soaring ceilings and used a mural from Society6 to set the tone and color palette. The salon is appointment only, so most patrons will not have to wait. Nonetheless, we we carved out space for two stools in the entrance area, which also features a hospitality station offering coffee, sparkling water, wine, and local microbrews.⁣

Pictured Above: the raw shell, our rendering/mood board showing the design, and the final result


Wallpaper: Society6

Tile: Bedrosians

Floating Shelves: Ikea

Cabinetry: Custom by Christopher Kennedy Inc.

Stools: Shop Christopher Kennedy


Styling Stations

The narrow space had very tall ceilings, so I made the space more intimate by building out the station wall by just a few inches to roughly match the eight-foot height of the storefront windows.

This change achieved several goals:

  • It humanized the scale

  • It allowed us a natural place to start and stop the wallpaper that serves as the focal point of the styling stations.

  • It allowed us to completely re-jigger the electrical plan on that wall, making it work for our layout and the salon's needs (hair dryers, phone chargers, etc.) The landlord- supplied electrical outlets and j-boxes (seen in the image at left below) made no sense!

  • It allowed us to paint everything above the bump-out a bright white, so that ductwork and other utilities just fade into the background.

Hello, gorgeous!

The flooring is "luxury vinyl" which is affordable, waterproof, and totally durable. We added a soft layer of cork padding from Home Depot underneath the vinyl planks, to make it softer for the stylists standing on their feet all day.

Above: our detailed drawing of the salon styling wall.


Form, Function + Storage

True story: on our first visit, Keith Fortner and I asked Mark a zillion questions, as we tend to do all our clients. Where will you keep all the towels and robes? The color supplies? The backstock?

Sweet, talented, Mark sort of smiled and pointed and said, "I don't know, over there somewhere."

Remember, this space is just 450sf. There is no "over there somewhere."

We got you covered, Mark. We designed the space as you might a yacht, creating a wall of built-in cabinets that carved out a place for everything. Detailed CAD drawings by our team's talented architectural designer Chris Porter figured the spacing down to the inch and allowed our talented craftsmen to bring them to life.

In order to bring our firm's visions to life, we produce detailed drawings so that nothing is left to chance.

To offset the price of the custom cabinets, which admittedly increased the budget, we used Ikea cabinets at the styling stations, which Mark assembled himself. Fabulous acrylic hardware from Emtek dresses up the Ikea cabinets and didn't break the bank.


The Washing Station

What's the first thing that happens when you get your haircut? They wash your hair!

TBH this isn't my favorite part of the process, no matter how good-smelling the product or how fabulous the stylist. Given the intimate scale of Tress & Balance salon, I wanted to give the wash process a little privacy. I added a beaded metal curtain to screen the hair wash station and a tell-tale piece of art from my friend Mat Sanders. ⁣

Jokes aside, this artwork is my reminder to my pal, Mark, that he is worthy, and worth it. I started my own business 15+ years ago, so I know the fun, crazy, wild ride that he is in for. On that journey -- in the minutiae of tax laws, payroll, credit card processing and so much more -- it can be easy to forget your worth and even your passion. I know that many of us doubt our self-worth; it's something that I still struggle with, myself. This artwork doesn't mean you overcharge our take advantage. It means that you wake up every day, give it 110%, do a damn good job, and take care of your clients. You remember your worth and you do not settle. The energy you give out tends to be what you get back. Mark gives 100% good energy and I am so excited for his bright future at @tressandbalance


Cheers, Mark!

We wish you every success. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your dream come true.



Photography: Public 311 Design


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