Changing the Look of Traditional Barber Shops


An intrinsic part of American history and culture, the humble barber shop is much more than somewhere for a quick haircut or beard trim. There’s usually a strong sense of community in these hallowed places, where men can go to kick back and relax for a while, shooting the breeze with the barber and their friends, setting the world to rights for an hour or so.

However, for a number of years, there was a decline in barbershops. According to a study published by the Houston Chronicle in 2016, there was a 23 per cent decrease in the number of barbershops around the US, between 1992 and 2012. Partly, this seemed due to changing trends and preferences amongst men, amidst a rise in the so-called stylists and men’s salons, which offered a more pampered grooming experience and greater range of services.


Nevertheless, the traditional barbershop appears to be bouncing back. Recent figures have suggested that over the next ten years, there will be an estimated job growth of 13.5 per cent for barbers, as many of the dusty old establishments get a facelift, aiming to present a cleaner image and encourage more new business. While maintaining their existing clientele, reaching out to younger generations is just as important, all while trying to maintain their uniqueness.

The traditional image of barbershops, Naugahyde chairs and linoleum floors, is increasingly something of the past. After all, most men these days want to visit an establishment that’s clean, somewhere that’s comfortable and welcoming, where the staff are friendly and skilled at what they do, whilst also covered by general liability insurance for business, just in case of an accident that impacts a customer such as a mishaps with the scissors or straight-razor.

Some barbershops have sought to emulate the look of the no-frills franchise salons, adopting simply styled interiors. All the primarily focused on practicality, rather than anything too fancy regarding their décor. In such shops, clean lines along the surfaces, neutral colours and minimalism is the order of the day, where the finest looking aspect is intended to be the clients themselves.


Others have embraced the roots of their trade, going for the retro look with their interior design. These can be themed around imagery of sports stars or movie icons of the 50s and 60s, with James Dean or Marlon Brando usually a customary addition. Some go even further back, incorporating traditional timber furnishings adorned with marble surfaces and ceramic sinks, almost looking like a set from one of those old Western movies.

For the most part, it really depends upon the barbershop location and what regular clients expect. When the barber is skilled and widely known in the local community, the interior design of his shop doesn’t really matter all that much for regulars, so long as familiar faces are there. However, it’s sometimes important to freshen things up a little, give the old place a lick of paint and a new lease of life, if a barber wants to bring new customers through the door.