before and after

Before & After: Small Storefront Makeover

by Kate Pruitt


When Grace visited California briefly over the summer, I took her to a new compact shopping area in my neighborhood that has been garnering lots of local attention. Temescal Alley, as it is known, is a tiny alcove off a side street in Oakland that is filled with a series of miniature boutiques built into old sheds. The shops are indeed very small, under 100 square feet, but brimming with character and beauty. I’m inspired by the young shop owners, who have infused their spaces with style on such modest budgets, and this Before & After project from Toni Brandson of Material Creative makes me think that well-designed micro-shops are becoming an international trend.

Little Nuffield Cafe is a coffee bar and lunchbox shop tucked into a small storefront in Auckland, NZ. The budget was modest, so the designers had to come up with inexpensive but impactful decor ideas. Recycled wood crates were used for shelving and joinery; the plumbing was painted with copper paint to create the illusion of aged piping; and the colorful signage is a laser-cut polystyrene sign wrapped with wool yarn. The cafe has been nominated for a BEST award and won a RED award in NZ, which is understandable. This little space is brimming with innovative design solutions. Nicely done, Toni! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

See more pics of Little Nuffield Cafe after the jump . . .


Time: From design to building consent to completion, I would say about 8 weeks. It was approximately 3 weeks of building/renovating time.

Cost: We had a budget of $30,000NZ (about $25K) for the entire project including the chillers, fridges, lighting, plumbing, signage, floor grinding, fit out, etc.

Basic Steps: First we designed the logo and branding, which suited the small space and the fun inviting feel the clients wanted. Then we came up with a few key design features we thought would work in such a small space to give it impact and individuality in a sea of cafes and restaurants that are on the same shopping strip. We hired the joinery company Stanley Construction (who fitted out the cafe).

Because we were on a budget, we came up with clever ways of getting the look we wanted for less so we could spend money on things we saw as nonnegotiable, like the bright “Middle Earth” tiles, signage and the lighting. We used old recycled packing pallets for the timber, and we saved a lot! We wrapped the sign ourselves in wool (it took approx. 50–60 hours . . . although who actually knows — we lost count of the hours!), we painted the white plastic plumbing pipes with copper paint and put a patina finish on them so they look like old copper pipes, and we used roofing tin with a sealing coat for the bench tops instead of stainless steel, as that was not an option in our budget (but we still wanted a metal finish). — Toni

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