EXPOSÉ: Grant Norton & Chester’s Wife Rose Salon

Hair Expo Exclusive: 2015 Best Salon Design Finalist

There are many ways to approach a space. You can design for comfort, for look, for feel or as in the case of Grant Norton who designed the salon Chester’s Wife Rose, you can design a story. What you’re about to enjoy is the story of Chester, his wife Rose and their House of Hare.

Chester met his wife Rose during the war. She cut his hair at home along with many other Australian soldiers, as this was her civic duty.

For King and Country.

Chester fell in love with Rose. Rose had to be persuaded. Chester and Rose got married.

Rose opened a salon after the war and Chester visited each week for a cut. “Short back and sides please, Rose.” He was her only male customer. He brought a single rose for her each week, lovingly grown in someone’s garden.

During childbirth and other days off, Chester helped in the salon, eventually becoming as creative as Rose with his cutting, curling and coiffures. Nine children later, they moved from England  to Australia. Rose’s salon lived on as a memory in their hearts and a story in their family. Their children had many children, Rose and Chester grew old and everyone lived happily ever after.



The inspiration behind the design came from the english library that Chester used to read in while in recovery from his burst eardrum, an injury received from going over the top. Through books, he found his solitude and found a love for architecture, the arts and design.

During their time in England, arm in arm, Chester and Rose walked past a salon. Chester pondered the thought that if this particular salon became for sale then he would pour his life savings into purchasing it and creating the perfect hair salon for his beloved Rose.

Through negotiation, Chester purchased the business and set about looking for help, an architect and someone who could build his vision.
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Over a game of bridge he met Charles. Charles had never designed a hair salon, but he was young and enthusiastic. Pop, a detailed furniture maker and a true craftsman, was also at the table and wanted to make the money back he had just lost. He was recruited as the master builder.

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Chester, Charles and Pop spent many hours looking through books and retelling old stories of past times. Bit by bit they tore pages, sketched and finally designed.

Slowly, the memories and inspirations came together. The entryway, with its lush, red rug and fireplace for the reception area centered with an opulent chandelier, reminded Chester of the parlour in their old family home back in Surrey. The treatment area is centered by an armchair that was sent to Rose as a gift from an old pen pal in India and accented by hand-laid mosaic tile.

Inspired by the NYC subway, the workbenches and colour area were selected for remembrance of a trip once travelled. At the end of his schooling, Chester— as many young men did—went on a grand tour of the world. One night, during his time in the United States, Chester had to accompany his Uncle Joffrey to an evening at the Explorer’s Club in New York City. As was always the case, the night resulted in debaucherous merrymaking and the two of them found themselves without a way home. They ended up spending the night in the subway, before an angry police officer with a thick Brooklyn accent roused them from their slumber. A fondness of the gaiety that night in the subway kept it forever in his memory.

To visit this space means more than feeling relaxed. It means more than being pampered. To step inside this salon is to step backward in time and visit someone’s life for a while. Designing from a story creates an incredibly enveloping warmth in a space. The sense of immersion allows guests to press pause on their own harried schedules and become fully aware of the power of creating memories with those you love. That impression, that implied life lesson built into the salon as clearly as the sinks and stations, is what makes Chester’s Wife Rose, House of Hare a great salon design. It’s just as much about the hair as it is about the heart.


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