Tips for Designing a Successful Restaurant Space

It is not just about the food. Where’s the value in having a fine tasting dish if you’re in a place where the music is so loud that you can’t maintain a conversation and the tables are so close to each other you can’t even move?

When planning your restaurant space, you want to create the most stunning atmosphere, one that would make your customers want to stay for hours; not only so they keep ordering food, but also so they spread the word.

Personal signature

 SoCal restaurant and bar

First of all, you need to define the restaurant’s personality. Once you have resolved that, then you can move onto the creative, interior design part of the process.

How do you do this? By being yourself. Just think about what you like, what your food represents, and who will be your audience. When designing the space, you want to find middle ground between your preferences and those of your audience.

Remember, people are constantly looking for a new place to go, to get together and share some food, usually within a unique, original, fresh and innovative space. It’s your job to make your space different and to tell your story to showcase every aspect of the restaurant’s personality.



Fonda Mexican restaurant

Effective lighting design and layout in a restaurant is key to setting the tone, mood and atmosphere of the place in which your customers dine in.

Great lighting doesn’t mean you put lights all over the place; it’s not a hospital or a supermarket. People seek privacy and intimacy when sharing a meal. To avoid creating a stark space, select natural and warm-coloured lighting to create a warm and welcoming environment.

If the restaurant has high ceilings, you could hang pendant lighting or even chandeliers, depending on the style of the interior, to highlight a particular area in the space or create some exciting visual effects to make the most out of the space.

Stand-out elements


The Renegades Cafe and Wine Bar

It is important to differentiate your restaurant from the rest, but that doesn’t mean plastering every wall with decoration. Add unique design elements by choosing a few stand-out pieces that reflect the theme of your restaurant.

A colourful accent wall, a photo wall, a trendy sofa, artwork or something that people want to take pictures next to and share on Instagram can work well as feature pieces. Be creative, and choose something that will be an icon for your restaurant.

Also, be mindful of where you place your stand-out element/s as you want to show them off. It can also help define a particular space. The entrance is the perfect spot for a feature element to grab the attention of the passerby, announce the entry to your restaurant and get people to engage with it. Another area to showcase a feature element is the bar, where there is usually a higher, more constant flow of people.

Colour palette


The Sailors Club

When designing the interior of your restaurant, you need to pick an alluring and inviting colour palette; one that will provide a unique signature to the venue and will be associated with your brand. Choose a colour range that will suit the atmosphere, audience and type of food you will be serving.

Elegance and comfort


The Vanguard

Elegance and comfort don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can focus more on one of them, create two separate atmospheres in the venue, or merge the two of them together. It’s up to you.

If you’re aiming for elegance, keep it simple and harmonious. Never forget a candle on every table, and choose the music to match carefully.

If you’re looking for elegance in a casual atmosphere, go for more upbeat music (and set it at an enjoyable volume), choose slightly brighter lights, more casual staff uniforms and perhaps include couches as your seating.

For comfort, use sofas and cushioned chairs, and make sure the table complements the seats. Is there anything more uncomfortable than a seat that’s too high for the table?

Effective use of space



Of course the space has to look good, but more importantly, it needs to be functional. Keep in mind the needs of the kitchen, supplier deliveries, toilets, employee entrances, and the movement of employees and customers on the floor.

Look ahead

Continue to do your research into what’s trending. What’s going on in popular restaurants? What are they doing that you could do better?

If investing in technology, such as electronic menus in different languages or ordering through a tablet, is working for others, consider whether this could suit your restaurant environment.

Designing a successful restaurant space will help you increase your customer’s interaction with you and enhance the eating experience; and ultimately, have them coming back for more.