[reorganized] Small Retail Space Gets A Facelift

Small Retail Space Gets A Facelift | Redesigned By M

My in-laws are proud owners of a frozen dim sum company in Vancouver. (Should you live in the area, the shop is called Gah Lok Dim Sum.) All the dumplings are wrapped by hand by a team of skillful workers, flash frozen, and sold to local restaurants, grocery outlets and also available to the public. My mother-in-law wanted me to come in to one of the shops to enhance its appearance. As you’ll see in the “before” photos scattered throughout this post, nothing had been done to the shop since it first opened its doors. If anything, considerable clutter and dust had accumulated over time.

The restrictions were as follows:

  • No moving walls.
  • No disturbance of architectural treatments.
  • Minimal budget.

So, I made do with everything as it was (kept the floor tiles, the wall tiles, the counters, etc.) and just gave this place a much needed reorganization and facelift.

Small Retail Space Gets A Facelift | Redesigned By M

This was what everyone used to be greeted with when entering the shop.

Small Retail Space Gets A Facelift | Redesigned By M

My MIL wanted something pretty to cover that blank white wall, thinking mainly of a photo to market their products. Sometimes I lean towards creating my interiors with a dramatic flair, so I immediately thought to hang a large wall art to cover the entire space. I couldn’t quite explain what this meant to my traditional in-laws, so they just had to trust me. I ordered an adhesive wall mural in the exact dimensions of that blank wall. This was my splurge item, but I think it makes an awesome impact when you walk through the door. The photograph of the har gow (shrimp dumpling) was shot by me. It was my very first attempt at shooting food for presentation, so it wasn’t very creative, but my father-in-law loves this image the best.

Small Retail Space Gets A Facelift | Redesigned By M

When a customer purchased their frozen goods, this was the wall they saw when handing over their money. I only have one word for this wall: ick.

Small Retail Space Gets A Facelift | Redesigned By M

I took down the shelves, filled in the holes, gave the wall a fresh coat of white paint, and hung up more marketing images of dim sum; again, photographed by me. These were large posters hung in picture frames. The counters were cleared and dusted off. I still have to hang up those two smaller frames leaning on the counter (they’re the business license and other business stuff you need to have visible at all times). After the makeover, the customers thought the tiles on the wall and the counter were new!

Small Retail Space Gets A Facelift | Redesigned By M

This is what it looked/looks like behind the cash wrap. The “after” photos show further evidence of my love for containers.

Small Retail Space Gets A Facelift | Redesigned By M

One of the problems my MIL pointed out was that the register sat too low and the customers couldn’t see the price. So I built a drawer unit that would prop up the register AND store important everyday office supplies. Double duty, yeah!

Small Retail Space Gets A Facelift | Redesigned By M

After clearing out ALL the clutter, we were left with many empty cabinets. We turned this base cabinet into a coat closet by hanging an adjustable closet road. It was so simple to install and now all the aprons and coats are neatly hung up and hidden out of sight.

Small Retail Space Gets A Facelift | Redesigned By M

Finally, to give the storefront a cleaner appearance, I hung up frosted window film on the lower half of the windows, which still allow light to filter through the space, but also offers a bit of privacy. I used this same material on an old kitchen window that looked right into the neighbor’s house. Worked like a charm!

Anyway, not a huge project, but I think it cleaned up rather nicely. The shop gets twice as much natural light now since everything was moved away from the windows. Since I did this work all by myself, it was a royal pain to get all the junk hauled out, so I felt like it was a huge project. Hope you like the results!


Adhesive wall mural: Eazy Wallz
Dim sum posters: Posterjack
Picture frames: Ribba by Ikea
Plastic containers: Walmart
Drawer dividers: Dollar Tree
Drawer unit: Materials from The Home Depot
Window film: The Home Depot
Closet rod: The Home Depot
Paint: The Home Depot

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Redesigned By M

Leave a comment


  1. A Wee Nest

     /  September 6, 2013

    Great job! It looks so much cleaner and more modern. I love the posters!! We’re in Vancouver. The Mr doesn’t like dim sum, but I LOVE it! I’ll have to stop by!

  2. It looks so much better! It’s amazing the different a little organization and new decor can make.

  3. Thank you! This location is actually in Richmond, but there is a store in Vancouver – just not made over. Whereabouts in Vancouver do you live? ~M.

  4. So true! Thanks for the feedback! ~M.

  5. I cannot decide who is luckier. You, with a food shop in the family, or your in-laws with such a sweet and talented daughter in law!
    Good job. Love those prints!

  6. I nominated you all for the Liebster award at http://lifeisbeautyflaw.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/the-liebster-award/!

    Pass it on!

  7. great job. People are always so amazed at what a difference cleaning and organizing make. You made a real difference, I can tell.

  8. wow, nice! it;s much more appealing to dine in.
    good job!

  9. A Wee Nest

     /  September 6, 2013

    We’re actually in Burnaby now, near SFU. We used to live in Yaletown, which was nice, but where we are now definitely suits family life more–for me anyway.

  10. Aw, shucks! Thanks so much! I think it’s a win-win relationship. 🙂

  11. Thank you! It’s hard to keep this way, I confess… the other staff members aren’t accustomed to this type of organization!

  12. Thank you! ~M.

  13. Fantastic M. You’ve done a great job. I love your dim sum clicks, especially the huge one hung on the white wall and your trick to place a very handy drawer to lift the register up – NEAT.

  14. The Wild Rose Cottage

     /  September 7, 2013

    This is amazing!!! You did a wonderful job!

  15. Aww, thanks so much! ~M.

  16. Thanks, Namrata! It was a lot of work. I hope it stays “neat” for a while! ~M.

  17. congratulations, your small changes have made a huge difference – the tidiness and visible cleanliness of a place really influences my choice on whether or not to buy food there. I might not have before, I certainly would do now if I wasn’t on another continent!

  18. Thank you! It was unbelievable how long the shop had stayed open in the state it was in before. Guess the Chinese just aren’t that concerned with neatness and order! Haha

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