February 23, 2015

Varnish Lane Nail Salon!!

I am SO EXCITED to share a recent project with you- Varnish Lane Nail Salon which JUST OPENED on 44th St. in NW DC!!


We’ve known our client, Carrie Dunne, for a few years now and were so excited when she called us this past summer to tell us that she was opening a new nail salon in the city with her daughter, Lauren Dunne, and their family friend, Chad Stebbins.  Carrie, Lauren & Chad have such vision and passion for their business and put so much thought into how they wanted their salon and brand to look and feel.  They’re the type of clients who come to you and you think, “Are you sure you need us??”  


{Lauren, Chad & Carrie}

They saw a need in the DC market for a nail salon that was beautiful & chic and that could be a full-on luxury experience.  They’re so incredibly friendly. warm, and thoughtful that I know everyone who stops in will feel like they’re getting the royal treatment.  They have ipads stocked with e-zines at every seat for clients to use while they’re getting their nails done and offer coffee. Prosecco and tea.  Their products – used during waterless treatments- are locally-made and 100% natural, and they offer over 500 polishes.

When we first visited the space, it was an old bank in need of a complete renovation.  Carrie, who has a background in home building and has done many renovations throughout the Chevy Chase area had the vision to know the space could be something special.  

{our site visit}

I was giddy after leaving the meeting and had gotten chills more than once at how special their vision was.  This company has the potential to be really big and it has the team behind it to get it there.  As much as I love design, I ADORE business.  I love talking to other business owners and I love seeing the entrepreneurial spirit in action.   Watching an idea and a little spark grow into a creative, concrete, viable business that meets a need in the market is fascinating.

The original space was very dark and commercial-feeling, and the floorplan needed to be entirely reconfigured.  Carrie, Lauren, and Chad had already worked with an architect to rearrange the space so they brought  us in to help with the overall look and vibe of the space.  

They were looking for Varnish Lane to feel light, open, airy, relaxed, natural, modern & a bit glam.   To read about the initial launch of the project click here.  As we worked on the design, we decided that adding shiplap to many of the walls throughout the space would add needed texture, warmth, and architectural interest, and aid in creating a signature look for possible future spaces.  A palette of white, with warm brown, black and brass accents runs throughout.   


{The massive marble-topped pine island is custom.  Sinks flank both ends with a large central chandelier.  I love the round knobs on the unlacquered brass faucets!!! }

The glass behind the welcome desk is etched with the Varnish Lane logo and aided in keeping the sunlight flowing throughout the space:

Open shelving above the bar holds glasses and mugs with the VL logo:

{love the branding!!!}

A custom (long, narrow)table towards that back of the space is set for manicures:

We’re still on the hunt for the perfect art for the waiting area, below:

Carrie, Lauren and Chad are so creative and took many of our original ideas and ran with them.  Some of the original vintage pieces – like the seating and lighting- have been swapped out with newer just as beautiful ones.  (Like I said when we first met, I’m not sure they needed us at all they are so good!! 😉

Simple white shelving displays the natural products they carry…

…and of course holds the nail polish…

Reclining caramel leather chairs with individual wall lamps and ipads and side tables for each station ensure that clients are completely pampered and comfortable:

Even though I’ve gotten less than a literal handful of manicures in my entire life, I CANNOT WAIT TO to visit!!!  (I’ve also never tried waterless!!!)  

It looks like the type of salon you’d want to go to with a group of friends… 

…Would be amazing to start a fun night out there!!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little tour of Varnish Lane, and if you’re in the area and are into nails, please call them for an appointment…  I guarantee you will be a VL convert!!!  Along with knowing their stuff about nails and all of the best techniques & products, Carrie, Lauren & Chad are truly some of the warmest, kindest people I’ve ever met and I know they’ll make everyone feel right at home.  (Click here to head to the Varnish Lane site.)

Have a great week!!

*photos by Kate Headley

And here’s the contact info for anyone who wants to visit:  (enjoy!!)

5236 44th St. NW Washington, DC 20015