The brightened colors and spiffed-up décor of Homeland’s newly refurbished Beauty Shop impressed resident Vicki Fox, who was getting her hair done.
“It’s beautiful,” Vicki said.
Homeland’s Board of Managers has been methodically upgrading public spaces recently. The Main Dining Room got new curtains and artwork. The Florida Room got a new aquarium and valances.
Now, they have tackled the salon, a favorite spot of residents. The Board of Managers is the unique, all-volunteer group devoted to the stewardship of Homeland’s renowned home-like feel. Working with a modest budget, the group of women – descendants in spirit of the 18 women who founded Homeland as a “Home for the Friendless” after the Civil War – stages lively events, interacts with residents, and keeps public and private spaces feeling comfortable and welcoming.
The beauty parlor was established in 1953 by Homeland benefactor and Board of Manager, Katherine S. Kunkel, and is believed to be the first-of-its-kind in a long-term care facility.
Renovating the salon became a project after Board of Managers members and some residents realized that the last renovation dated to the 1990s. The upgrades were simple but impactful. The walls got a fresh coat of cream-colored paint. New chairs in a cheery cerulean blue are, like the old chairs, adaptable to the needs of elderly clients. Bigger shampoo bowls, in a sleek black, mean less water splashing around. The old floor gave way to a crisp faux wood in cream and gray tones.
The renovations were done “piece by piece” over weekends, said stylist Felicia Wallace, who has worked in the salon for 12 years.
“I know it’s not bigger, but it’s funny how things will make a space seem so much larger,” she said.
New beach-themed prints hang on one wall and in the restroom, but the feature that has everyone talking is the mural on the back wall depicting a walkway through the dunes, opening to a sandy beach and soothing ocean waves.
“I had a resident ask me if I thought it was the Pacific or the Atlantic Ocean,” said Felicia.
Definitely the Atlantic, said resident Polly Myers, sitting at Felicia’s station with her hair freshly styled. Polly said the mural reminded her of family vacations at the New Jersey shore.
Wallace and fellow stylist Charity McCrae provided input that kept the renovations in line with their workplace needs. While Polly was getting her hair done, Board of Managers members Barbara Cleeland and Catherine N. Rauth asked about hanging a mirror over the desk, where an old hutch once occupied the wall, but Charity doubted that the salon needed another mirror, so the two Board of Managers put their heads together to consider other options.
A drape in contemporary blue and green florals covers the salon’s glass door. The fabric matches the new valances hanging in the adjoining Florida Room, for a nice continuity between the two busy spaces.
That was intentional, said Barbara. The salon “just needed a little tender loving care. It got it finally.” And as for the residents, “They love it.”
Earlier that morning, Felicia had suggested that Polly arrive for her appointment a little early, perhaps around 11:15. Polly showed up at 10:30. She is a former Board of Managers member who believes that the salon and the styling skill of its hairdressers are vital to well-being – her own and that of her fellow residents.
Felicia sees that pride in her clients. The renovations “mean a lot because they like coming here. They love to look good, and it makes them feel good.”