Ojai, a charming town just an hour and a half northeast of Los Angeles, is one of the more unique places in California. Set in a valley and surrounded by orange groves, it’s a beautiful setting to reconnect and rejuvenate. Design-wise, the historic Mission Revival-style buildings and stately Craftsman homes give Ojai a style all its own. Chain stores are prohibited, which allows small businesses to thrive here — from book shops to home stores or in the case of today’s feature, hair salons.

When LA-based interior designer Jess Diab was approached by Rise Ojai, a salon from two LA trained stylists, Heather Andrews and Jennifer Keelershe, she was excited to bring her signature style to the commercial space. She worked closely with the owners to bring the spirit of Ojai to each and every detail. The designer tells us more:

Tell us a little bit about the space. What condition was it in when you were brought on?
The original condition of what is now Rise Ojai was very much a diamond in the rough! The building itself was painted in beige that nearly blended it in with it’s surroundings and the inside was dark, dusty and half-finished. With that said, you could feel that it evoked the magic and spirit of Ojai that was waiting to shine through. 

What did the salon owners have in mind for the design? Were there any must-haves, or things they absolutely did not want?
Heather and Jen wanted their clients to feel like they were at their home away from home. Creating a space that felt like a community, a place to connect with old friends and new neighbors, steered our design direction from the very start. This meant a bright, airy space and natural materials that complemented the surrounding Ojai landscape. 

Ojai has a very distinct style. What are some design elements that are particular to the area?
Ojai is famously known for it’s adobe clad archways, terra-cotta tiling and beautiful exposed wooden beams. It’s a place people visit to slow down and breathe easier. Rise Ojai imbues these historical design elements so that clients can soak in Ojai’s therapeutic spirit. 

How did designing for a business differ from designing residential spaces?
My favorite part about designing commercial spaces is that you have the opportunity to create a really imaginative space that can err on the more playful side than that of a typical residence. Painted wood floors, boldly patterned ceramic tiles and expansive built-in seating were all design to encourage guests to feel like they were on vacation. My favorite feature is the welcome desk, wrapped in handmade tiles from Northern California.

What is one risk you took that ended up paying off?
We painted the wood floors! Heather and I spent an entire afternoon staring at different swatches of paint throughout the salon. We almost went with an olive green but in the last minute chose the classic grey and have never looked back.