For more than a century The Harvey House in Paw Paw, MI, functioned as a private home, its interiors a mystery to the public. It changed hands several times in the past decade but remained empty and unused. But as of November 2019, when April Webster and Chelsea Ausland transformed the mansion into the new Harvey House Salon and Spa, the space is open to the public.
According to Webster, a professional educator and co-owner of Harvey House, a historical home is a great place to open a beauty business. She and her partner and esthetics professional Chelsea Osland decided to start a salon and spa that was ethical in every aspect, from products to practices to location. “We didn’t want to go into the same old space–a strip mall, a new construction, or anything like that–because not only do we hold values for the products we use behind the chair, we feel that way environmentally as well,” Webster says.
Webster and Osland spent four months getting the house ready to open as a salon and spa. They decided to honor the integrity of the house, reducing extra work and the unnecessary use of new materials. The hairstyling room was the original parlour, the makeup and esthetics room was the library, and the hair-washing station and color cupboard are where the kitchen once was.
Luckily, the main floor’s original pocket doors are still intact, making it possible for the space to be open for everyday business, or closed off for private parties. The hairstylists use mobile styling stations that can be moved out for special events. Since the salon’s opening, Harvey House has hosted a prom boutique, a craft show, multiple bridal parties and historical tours. Webster says she hopes to hold educational events that could benefit up to 50 attendees.
Located directly off the main road and nestled behind trees, the Harvey House’s grand entrance is framed by four tall columns and decorated with a colonial-style hanging lantern. Despite its mansion-like appearance, the owners want clients and visitors to feel comfortable and at home. “I have great pictures of kids on a snow day just sitting in the nook reading a book while mom gets her hair done. It’s very cozy and welcoming, yet I would consider us one of our area’s premier salon and spas,” Webster says. We’d have to agree.