By Julie Lawrence Special to Published May 01, 2007 at 5:28 AM

If you didn't know any better, you'd swear that Tress Chic, the new salon housed in the lobby of the Knickerbocker On The Lake, dates back to the late 1920s era when the historic Downtown hotel was completed.

Decked in Versailles décor with a mix of French provincial and classical styles, the salon and spa perfectly reflects the old world European charm of the elegant building on East Juneau Avenue.

Tress Chic actually opened in April 2007 and, on closer inspection, what gives its modernity away are the subtle, yet essential extras that make it a state-of-the-art boutique salon.

Through arched doorways, the 2,500-sq. ft. space is divided into 10 private workstations, each custom-designed by co-owners Kira and Gregory Kleynerman. The couple has owned the space for years, leasing it to Shorewest Realtors after the end of Salon Metro's successful run in the '90s.

"We went back to (the space's) original roots, thinking that it's a logical and obvious service to provide in a hotel and that it could capture clientele from the restaurant, residential traffic and the hotel traffic," says Kira.

As owners of the salon, the Kleynermans say they are not specifically dictating the salon's operations. Instead, they are working on gathering a team of talented stylists to work independently from the 10 stations, with each stylists handling his or her own clients and determining his or her own price points.

One of those stylists is Bracus Spencer, who operates the two chairs in the cozy front section of the salon that faces the hotel's grand entryway.

With his arsenal of hair and makeup products, the stylist and aesthetician says the hotel and surrounding area was thirsting for Tress Chic's brand of beauty services.

What Spencer calls a "premiere work environment," the salon utilizes high-end equipment, such as the Belvedere shampoo units with added comfort features for guests and massage pads on cutting chairs. From floor to ceiling, the airy rooms are awash in light blues and creams that complement the classic nature of the building as a whole.

Open for just a month now, the salon is nuanced to a sophisticated sheen, though Kira says she does not plan to stop here. Phase two, as she's calling it, promises the fall completion of the spa, which is quietly taking shape in the far end of the room. The addition will allow for nail and other aesthetic services starting in early September.

In the interim, she's working on finishing the Tress Chic Boutique -- an adjoining room to soon feature hair and beauty products, as well as candles and other small gifts.

To accommodate the varying schedules of the Knickerbocker's guests and residents, as well as the unpredictability of special events, such as wedding parties, Tress Chic's hours remain fluid and accommodating.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”