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By Katherine Pendrill
To offer a truly immersive dining experience, let your guests indulge more than just their taste buds the next time they visit your restaurant. Whip up a feast for the eyes with restaurant interior design that wows your customers, while building brand recognition and loyalty.
The best restaurant interior design creates an atmosphere that’s an extension of your brand and allows you to make a powerful first impression. In fact, color alone can influence up to 90% of a guest’s initial impression.
In this guide to restaurant decor ideas, we’ll cover:
It’s time to get creative!
You’ve likely watched in awe as an interior designer on a reality TV show transformed a shabby space into a masterpiece. But, you don’t need to be the next Bobby Berk of Queer Eye to try these restaurant decor ideas. Consider what will work for your unique brand and your space – and most importantly, have some fun with it! The added benefit? Your restaurant will be irresistibly Instagrammable.
Just keep in mind the 7 elements of interior design – color, form, light, line, pattern, texture, and space – and see how many you can incorporate into your restaurant to create a beautiful space your guests will love to dine in.
Put your best face forward from the get-go and make sure the entryway of your restaurant is inviting, aesthetically pleasing, and on-brand. Establish a sense of arrival with unique signage and seating for guests waiting for tables, like London, U.K.-based El Pastór, which transports diners to Mexico City the moment they approach the restaurant.
Restaurant interior design ideas should be memorable in a good way, which is why choosing a theme for your decor is crucial. You don’t want to overwhelm or confuse guests with too many different styles to look at. Rather, your space should evoke a distinct theme, like the alpine-style Park Distillery in Canada’s Banff National Park.
What’s not to love about indoor plants? They’re enjoyable to look at, but more importantly, they’re proven mood-boosters known to eliminate stress, and they can reduce air toxins by 87% in just 24 hours. Give your restaurant an infusion of green goodness by placing plants on shelves, creating an entire wall, or hanging them from the ceiling like Circolo Popolare in London.
The beloved accent wall is a go-to restaurant decoration idea because it draws your guests’ eyes to a focal point. An accent wall also gives you the opportunity to show off your brand colors and personality, and reinforce the theme of your restaurant interior design. Try using textures, patterns, or even objects like the Taiwan Noodle House in Beijing, China.
Incorporating colors and styles that give a nod to your corner of the world is one of the most common restaurant decor ideas because it works wonders at setting a mood. This is an especially smart move if your restaurant is located in a tourist city or town, like Sisterhood, a restaurant with a beachy vibe based in Tasmania, Australia.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, your guests are craving connection more than ever. Create a communal dining space in your restaurant by setting up a few long tables in the middle of the room where large groups can gather, like U Barba Osteria in Milan, Italy. Your guests will be making new memories in no time.
What do all modern restaurant interior designs have in common? Incredible light fixtures. Experimenting with lighting is an excellent way to create ambiance in your space. Take your pick – from ornate to industrial to understated. Just make sure whatever style you choose aligns with your brand’s image. Get some inspiration from Bandol in London’s chic Chelsea area.
The kitchen is the heartbeat of any restaurant. Put it front and center for your guests to see by incorporating an open commercial kitchen layout into your restaurant interior design, like The Beach Club at the Casa Cook Hotel on the Greek island of Kos. The smell of delicious dishes being cooked up will add to the atmosphere and get diners’ mouths watering.
Why buy generic wall decor for your restaurant when you can feature a unique, homegrown piece of art? Supporting local artists is one of the best restaurant decor ideas for showing off the talents of your community, and generating conversation among your staff and guests. This collection at Long Island, New York restaurant 7 Gerard is a perfect example.
Using typography as a restaurant decoration idea can help infuse your brand into the space. Try creating an accent wall with your restaurant’s name, like this typography mural at Malmö Restaurant in Valencia, Spain, which features the brand name alongside a few staple ingredients like eggplant, mushrooms, and nuts.
Aside from being fun to use and reminiscent of worry-free childhood days, chalk is versatile and temporary, so you can use it in your restaurant to your heart’s content. Chalk works well for welcome signs, daily specials boards, and even your full menu, like this example from Broei Utrecht in the Netherlands.
Using mirrors in design is a classic tactic for increasing the illusion of depth in a space, which can be especially helpful if your dining room is on the smaller side. Shabeebek in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, works mirrors effortlessly into their restaurant decor. Mirrors come in virtually every style, so you should be able to easily find something that matches your own decor.
Less is more, as the saying goes. Many modern restaurant interior designs feature minimalist style with lots of white space and sparse infusions of color, like the Los Angeles, California-based fine dining restaurant Auburn. Keep things simple and create a low-stimulation environment that allows your guests to focus on their food.
You can never go wrong with vintage, retro, and classic restaurant interior design styles. Just don’t overdo it. Blend old and new by incorporating design elements that nod to the past, like this stunning bar seating area at Pigeonhole in Calgary, Canada, which was styled in the image of a Parisian wine bar and cafe.
It can be easy to get so caught up in choosing the perfect paint color for your walls and the best lighting that you forget about your seating. Booths, tables, and chairs can make or break a dining experience. The good news is, they can be comfortable and stylish. Get some inspiration for your restaurant seating from Cafe Cancan in Toronto, Canada.
If the kitchen is the heartbeat of a restaurant, the bar is where the cocktail magic happens. Draw attention to your bar with eye-catching lighting and vibrant colors. Or go big and set up an expansive bar seating area right in the middle of your restaurant like Bar Lala inside Toronto’s Lena restaurant.
You don’t need a cathedral ceiling with dramatic wooden beams to draw attention to this area of your restaurant. Transform any ceiling into a treat for the eyes using texture or color, like The Salted Pig in Riverside, California did with its industrial-style ceiling.
Flooring doesn’t have to be boring! Getting creative with your floors is a fun restaurant decoration idea that will give your guests something for the ’Gram. Choose a pattern that complements the rest of your decor, like they did at Flora Danica in Paris.
While you don’t want too many decorations cluttering up the tables at your restaurant (your guests need room for their food, after all), you can add some flair with a light touch, like this floral arrangement at Madison, a restaurant in San Diego, California.
Many restaurateurs got creative with their outdoor dining spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through it all, one thing has remained true: an outdoor oasis will always be a fan favorite among guests. Incorporate greenery into your restaurant patio design like Atlanta, Georgia-based King and Duke. Bonus points if you build your patio around gorgeous trees like they did!
Nowadays, diners aren’t keen on a crowded restaurant floor plan. Modern restaurant interior designs keep the space feeling open. Combine this technique with minimalism, and if you have the opportunity (like they do at Fogo Island Inn), give center stage to your windows and let your natural surroundings speak for you.
While your personal interior design style is all your own (as long as you keep your restaurant’s brand in mind), there are some universal tips that will serve you well as you lay out and decorate your space. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
Plan your front-of-house design and commercial kitchen layout before you start choosing furniture and paint colors. Consider the flow from the front to back of house, and make sure your staff and guests will have ample space to walk around. A restaurant is no place for a traffic jam! Also, consider where your kitchen and washrooms will go.
Lighting can make or break your restaurant’s atmosphere, so you want to get it right with both natural and artificial light, which combined create a soothing effect. Install lights that you can adjust depending on the time of day.
Colors boost brand awareness by 80% and influence 85% of buying decisions, so it’s important to select the colors for your restaurant interior carefully. Steer clear of dull colors, and instead use vibrant hues to brighten up the space. Be mindful not to go overboard, though – colors can affect mood, and you don’t want your guests seeing red in the figurative sense!
Your restaurant can have award-worthy food and decor, but if your music hits the wrong note with guests, the entire customer experience could fall flat. Consider your audience when choosing your restaurant music and its volume. Sound should complement, not take away from, the rest of the ambiance.
Your guests already love you for your food, and now your space is sure to wow with these restaurant interior design tips.
Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.
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