By Kelly Hushin
The room is an abundance of colors. Red pops off a beautiful wood and glass armoire cabinet full of elegantly displayed bottles. Purple screams from a neoclassical, white-framed couch. Green covers two contemporary style, metal-framed chairs. And the flowers, an abundance of flowers, add even more depth to the colors and appeal of the room.
But where are we? Must be an interior designer’s office, a furniture showroom, an HGTV set. Nope. We are in the home and workplace of Greg Ruggeri, a master stylist and colorist who took his successful Australian salon (which was also his home) and brand, uprooted it, and relocated it to Chelsea – which appears to be exactly where it all belongs.
Greg and his partner Craig Longhurst, love the whole living and working in the same space thing. When they wanted to relocate to NYC, they had a laundry list of criteria they wanted their new home/workspace to meet, and were told by realtors they would never get half what they wanted. To the contrary: the first home they looked at had everything and they were sold. After a few months worth of work, they had transformed the place to look and feel just like its Australian predecessor. Craig, being a sought-after interior designer, helped move things along and make the pair’s vision a reality. The first floor serves as the salon, the second where the couple and their two dogs call home, and the rooftop a veranda for a slew of some successful and some failed plantings that Greg has taken under his caregiving wing.
So what does any of this – design, neighborhood, apartment amenities, gardening – have to do with getting your hair done? Turns out, a lot. Surely we would all agree that having your hair done should involve more than being slapped into a chair, colored, moved to a sink, rinsed, shampooed, moved back to another chair, cut and blow-dried; factory-style. If you don’t mind this sort of fast turnover, there are plenty of big shops in the city that can churn you through their mill, with varying results – some good, some bad, some ugly. But if you’re anything like me, you might enjoy a more intimate setting – one where your service feels more like an evening out than a drive-thru haircut.
Having only been open a little more than a year, Greg is ecstatic that his New York clients have received him so well and that his transition to a US market has been so smooth. In fact, he and Craig have been shocked by how few differences exist between their New York neighborhood, clients and experiences and former Aussie counterparts. Having been named as a Best of New York salon (for best blonde) by New York magazine in 2011, the two seem to have cemented their place in the city’s hair scene.
Having been a blonde for most of my years on earth, you would think I would have wanted blonde from a colorist named as creating the city’s best blonde. Sadly I am not quite so logical. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I was on my way to a salon without the intention of going blonde, but rather with a plan to go dark. It wasn’t long after Greg sat me down in one of the salon’s two chairs though (and yes, there are only two chairs – the ultimate in salon intimate), before he had convinced me out of what I had wanted coming in. I had been hopped up on the idea of ombre: being a girl who’s done blonde highlights of some form for many years, I wanted something lower maintenance and new; and also thought to go a bit darker for fall. Greg quickly shot my idea down – thank goodness. While some would argue that ombre is still a hot look, Greg said it was on its way out. After a few weeks post-appointment, I have to say I agree with him. Instead, he suggested that we do a sort of combination between balyage and ombre – something that would allow my roots to remain a little darker but blend in a darker and lighter highlight throughout the rest of the top layer of hair, while darkening my hair’s under-layer. This would prevent a terrible amount of damage that would come with lightening my already color-treated ends. As Greg said, the number one most important part of beautiful hair is ensuring it remains healthy.
So we went for a subtle darkening throughout, which left my hair feeling a bit more brunette but very natural and fall appropriate. I must admit that in the first few days of working with my hair at home, I was a bit freaked out. I missed the blonde and felt this was certainly too dark. But after receiving an abundance of compliments and really getting comfortable with the new color, I knew I had done the right thing. In fact, I’m now that much closer to taking it another step and adding some red along with some brunette lowlights – something not easily doable when you’re a blonde (unless you don’t mind that whole striped look, which we would never support.)
Greg trimmed my hair slightly but kept the length as I continue my efforts to grow my longest hair in years. He styled it to perfection, which was promptly ruined by a rainstorm that nearly flooded me out of the subway on my way downtown afterwards. No matter – he had armed me with some product to take home and prevent future style meltdowns. End Doctor Smoothing Sealant from Evo, a strand strengthening crème to enhance curls, protect from heat damage and keep flyaways in check, works to do just that. It doesn’t protect curly hair styled straight from a downpour though – we don’t think such a product exists.
The only downside to Greg’s home/workplace setup is that it’s so cozy you never want to leave. Especially when it’s toasty warm inside and outside is a monsoon your new hair must compete with.
153 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011