Matt Leyes' Men's Grooming Parlor

Workplace Tour

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Name: Matt Leyes, owner and esthetician for The Men's Grooming Parlor
Location: Andersonville; Chicago, Illinois
Years lived in: 5 years

Matt knew there were men out there who wanted professional grooming services, but didn’t want to end up in a pink robe sitting next to five women in a typical salon waiting room. These men wanted a place just for them, a hidden place right in the middle of the city where they could feel at home in a darkly-paneled sanctuary, surrounded by worn and traveled objects of curiosity. But where could he find a storefront that would give just the right mix of visibility and discretion?

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Matt knew a little about the real estate market — in one of the many jobs he picked up after a degree in photography, he learned the ins and outs of the market. And he did this while formally studying to be an Esthetician, an expert in maintaining and improving healthy skin. So one day, Matt was grabbing a little coffee when he spotted a sign across the street advertising a second floor apartment for rent. He realized that since the first floor was a restaurant, that the whole building must be zoned commercial and that perhaps, instead of a storefront parlor, the perfect place for his business would be the apartment above the shop!

Thus The Men's Grooming Parlor was born in Andersonville. The apartment was a mess, but the landlord was thrilled to have a business move in. So Matt set to work, completely overhauling the place. The carpets were torn out, and he put up wallpaper in the lounge that he made from hundreds of brown paper bags, wrinkled and abstracted on the wall. Fixtures were changed out, and the bathroom he completely tiled himself. All the clinical machinery and tools of the trade are quietly hidden away behind dark wooden doors, and what’s left out is one of the most amazing collections of manly artifacts that I have ever seen. Matt can’t seem to keep his collection from growing ever larger: statues, large mirrors, images of famous gentlemen, vintage tools, wooden consoles and radios, and natural objects from the sea. It’s worth the trip just to peruse the cabinets. The collection glows in the soft amber lighting, and the space feels warm and lived in. It’s as if this was your old man’s place, a cozy, comfortable space filled with happy memories.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Masculine, Cozy, sentimental, worldly.

Inspiration: Indiana Jones' office.

Favorite Element: The ever changing knick-knack tableau.

Biggest Challenge: Hanging grasscloth wallpaper.

What Friends Say: Clients always say they never want to leave; others ask if they can stay and read in the waiting room after their service.

Proudest DIY: The handmade "tobacco" wall paper.

Biggest Indulgence: The floor to ceiling Peacock Tile in the bathroom.

Best Advice: Take your budget and double it; take your time line and multiply it by three.

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Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS

  • Benjamin Moore Carolina Gull (green) and Sedona Brown
  • Tons of brazilian mahogany gel stain

ENTRY

  • Vintage 1952 Grunding Majestic record player - The Brown Elephant
  • Vintage 1951 Zenith Radio Record phonograph - The Brown Elephant

LIVING ROOM

  • Giant 8.5 foot Sail Fish - the free section on Craigslist
  • All Photography - thrift frames with prints of Iconic Men from the 70's & 80's
  • Vintage 1949 Philco Television/record player/radio - The Ark
  • Wall paper - handmade
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Thanks, Matt!

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(Image credits: Arthur Garcia-Clemente)

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