An Art-Inspired Salon

Root Salon's design-driven look from Gay Parker.

  • Photo by Steve Henke
  • Photo by Steve Henke
    IN FLIGHT — The bird print wallpaper by Trove, from Holly Hunt, is a focal point.
  • Photo by Steve Henke
    UPROOTED — Earthy driftwood accents give a wink to the salon’s name.
  • Photo by Steve Henke
    STRIPPED DOWN — Contemporary chairs with natural elements add up to a warm feel.

Design-driven salons are stepping it up, making a statement, and giving clients plenty to look at. When Root was under construction in Linden Hills, people would stop and stare up at the second-story windows to check out the mysterious birds in flight. The striking bird wallpaper (“indi” by Trove through Holly Hunt) was the one thing salon owner Jim Koktavy requested— the rest of the design was handed over to Gay Parker of Housewhispering, who began as Koktavy’s client and has since designed both the St. Paul and Minneapolis Root Salons, as well as Koktavy’s residences.

“Jim and I always think big; we’re both goofy and know the good stuff when we see it,” Parker says. When they began, the space was a mess, full of drop ceilings and Sheetrock, which they tore down to find fire-burned brick.

Parker whitewashed the brick with milk paint, creating an arty, transparent look. She added acrylic green chairs from Rich Rosenberg Contemporary Furnishings, lots of root-inspired driftwood accents from Hirshfield’s Design Center, and custom hair service stations that float in the room to further showcase the stripped-down space.

Three More to Try ...

Denny Kemp SALON: • Owned by an art collector and hair aficionado, this modern spot offers total eye candy for clients. 605 Central Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-676-0300,


HAUS SALON: • Complete with its own curator (local artist and designer Emma Berg), Haus Salon features new installations every quarter. 4240 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-827-4287,


FIVE TO SIX: • St. Paul’s longtime art-salon fixture has a gallery in the back with rotating artists’ works on display. 526 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-222-3839,