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BEHIND THE SCENES: Adult Use Dispensary Design in Michigan

Design: Sungrown Studio for Bud Express, MI

So blogs and insta posts show you our amazing results, which is so fun to see and inspirational. It is sooooo rarely just your designer creating your space unguided or without at a minimum, a style you like and color references. So much of what we create is actually from you, those ideas you had one morning over breakfast or a flurry of opinions during your last team meeting. Our job is to reign them in, sift them through our dispensary design filter and creative eye, and create a space that is not only in sync with your brand and vibe, but functional and profitable as well. There is an incredible amount of work that goes into each dispensary we design. Hours and hours behind the scenes perfecting your design, editing and editing again with a critical eye. Our small but mighty team works seamlessly to bring you a complete dispensary from back-of-napkin sketches to a full color rendering, on budget and on brand.

We’ve never done this before, but I’d love to walk you through a super recent project to show you the progression from concept to completion (almost).

The owner knew she had an awesome space and a few ideas on what they wanted it to look like, but not a solid way to make it all come together. Finding cannabis specific tables and fixtures isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially under a time crunch. Her contractor was anxious to get started and with an opening date looming, she reached out to us for help.

Dispensary Layout

Client photo of the overall measurements & ceiling heights.

We start by creating a floor plan of the space, pieced together by client notes, some old CAD plans and a handful of emails for clarity. Our client was blessed with purchasing an amazing building boasting natural light and a very cool front area AND a drive thru. We knew immediately this would serve as the check in and lounge area. We always utilize the inherent +’s of the space to their fullest. Flood the retail floor with as much light as possible. This progressed into designing the glass wall with their etched logo separating the spaces.

We upped the game in the lounge area with tech. Ipads on the coffee table allow waiting customers to pre-shop, check today’s menu and get excited for their experience.

The shape of the tables was a major factor in the design. We first considered a square table, center opening. It didn’t feel right in the space and also limited the traffic flow of the space. Bud Express is all about the customer having a hands (or nose) on experience with what they are buying. A custom industrial pipe fixture with bud diffusers is a bold element in the space. We modified it and re-scaled it to work with the optimal traffic flow.

After a few revisions to the floor plan and approval from our client, we were ready to source furniture, lighting, shelving and those special WOW moments.


Client’s brainstormed notes on ideas for their space

Sourcing is a labor of love for us, we put great amounts of experience, research and resources into our selections. Your ideas matter to us and we listen intently to what your vision is. On this project, these ideas included subway tile and polished flooring. A flurry of emails with ideas, likes, dislikes and maybe’s. We opted for a bolder, emerald green tile to break from the “expected” black. The ring lights in the lounge area were also a must for our client and we loved them so much we repeated them at the cash wrap in a different way, spaced versus clustered. The living wall creates a nice space for selfies, as well as the adjacent seating group deliberately in front of their logo. Swank modern lighting paired with hard lines and rich color.

The overall feel is modern industrial with a hint of urban cool. Our style quiz helped narrow this down- but that is only the start. Our client loved that we listened and incorporated her team’s vision with a few unexpected additions.


The rendering is an amazing high resolution photo of the designed space. It shows all the elements we selected and how they will look in actuality in the space. It’s a crystal ball sort of moment when you get the rendering of the space. Our client loved being able to show her partners exactly what they are investing in and the high level of quality she invisions. It shows the WOW moments as well as how the lighting will play in the area. We angled the rendering camera to capture as much of the space as possible. She was nervous going into this project, it is her first dispensary and she wanted it perfect. Once she saw the rendering she could tell that our design hit all the marks and a new confidence emerged.

Shopping List

Throughout the process, our client would ask questions like “Where will I find the paint colors?” “How will I know how big the lights should be?” “Where can I find those potted plants?” And my answer is always, “It will all be on your shopping list!”

The shopping list is exactly that, a spreadsheet showing each area of the space, every piece and finish that goes into it, where to order, how many, how big ALL the details you need. We make it editable so you can add columns for things like price, shipping and ordered. Clients love the shopping list. They can go down the list one by one and start ordering and track everything in one place. It’s also a handy sheet to reorder something that has been damaged or a paint that needs touching up.

Snip of Shopping List for Bud Express

Our client was so excited for her “design reveal” meeting with her team. She knew she had a solid plan, beautiful design and all the tools she needed to implement everything on her own. We have no doubt her dispensary will be a success and are so excited for the grand opening photos to share with you.

We love this space and are so excited for construction to begin shortly. Are you ready to take your brainstorms to the next level? Looking to furnish or redesign your space but don’t want to spend hours online searching? Need cannabis specific design and resources? Book your free design map session and let’s talk!