With a flair for vintage styling and an eye for what clients want, Sterling Hairdressing’s recent renovations are a roaring success – writes Ashleigh Sharman.

Greeted by owner Tony Vacher and his inquisitive terrier Betsey, you can’t help but notice there’s been a time-shift at Sterling Hairdressing.

“We’ve turned it on its head,” says Vacher. “We’ve gone back from the 1950s to the 1920s, late 1920s if you like. The idea was not to make it look like a retro fit out but more like it had been there since the 1920s and just been added to over the years.”

With significant changes to the four year old layout, theming and design, Vacher’s ultimate goal was to make the salon prettier for his burgeoining female clientele. The emphasis clearly placed on colour and wedding styling, the feminine space is now adorned with vintage feather-print wallpaper and a ceiling comprising 80 metres of fabric.

“The wallpaper was a great find, I got that in America and it was dated 1923 so you can imagine how hard that was to hang,” Vacher explains. “A one hundred year old piece of paper and you’re putting water on it – it was turning into paper mache as soon as we could hang it.”

“I’ve seen a lot of salons take up interest in the 1950s of late and I wanted to take the next leap and go somewhere else with it. Coupled with this we’re getting asked a lot more for 1920s haircuts; that’s the direction we see things going and we wanted to fill that void.”

Repositioning the Barber Shop from the back to the front of the salon opened up space for three additional chairs for guys and two for girls – more clients, more staff and heightened visibility.

“I started thinking about all of this about six months ago,” says Vacher. “I was looking for a second space to move the Barber Shop into but couldn’t find anything suitable, plus I was wasting a lot of space here.”

“We had 30 square metres in the front of the shop that never got used, so it made sense to use that space rather than relocating, not to mention the increased street focus. Before a lot of work went on at the back of the shop so people walking past didn’t necessarily know how busy we were – now it’s clear as day.”

Smart business sense yes, but the success is really in the detail with Vacher’s keen style eye ever watchful over the entire process.

“I did pretty much everything myself if terms of design,” explains Vacher. “I worked with various manufacturers and tradespeople but my wife, father-in-law and I basically did everything.”

“Quite a lot of pieces have come from my own collection but I’ve spent the last six months collecting finer pieces like the 1920s light fittings, extra barbers chairs and a mixture of vintage and commissioned remakes; for example the iron work at the entrance was made by Monstar Metal from an Art Deco design I came up with. It took six months to finish.”

Proudly an Ozdare salon, KEVIN.MURPHY, American Crew and Revlon products are styled amongst vintage photo frames and shaving tins, Vacher’s love for the craft also means classic formula finds like Grant’s and Dapper Man pomade fly off the shelves.

“I am constantly searching for really old, traditional products, and as a result their demand is high – when I can get them!” says Vacher. “This year we’re hoping to have our own pomade and setting lotion and we’re toying with the idea of doing a one-off lipstick as well.”

This is a salon owner who knows his current and future clientele well, delivering to them not only an experience but a lifestyle that is carefully nurtured by Vacher and his committed team.

“Our budget was tiny compared to most fit outs you see these days but every square meter of space we have is now used in a very functional and beautiful way,” says Vacher. “ I’m very proud.”

Sterling Hairdressing Parlour and Barber Shop – Shop 3, 29 Brisbane Street, Surry Hills NSW, (02) 9262 7777, www.sterlinghair.blogspot.com.au