The ingredients of successful restaurant design

Just as every chef has their own way of making a classic dish, every restaurant design combines the same key ingredients to create a unique atmosphere. Choosing paint or paper, carpets and curtains are the obvious parts of restaurant design and you’ll probably have ideas about these already. The decorations on the walls and other purely decorative elements are also rarely over looked. So what makes or breaks a restaurant design? The following 5 elements are key but all too often overlooked.

Seating and Tables

From antique chairs to bathtubs and buckets the options are truly endless. The type of seating you choose will not only shape the aesthetic of the restaurant but will also affect how your guests dine. Comfortable sofas suggest coffee and cake but not a roast dinner while classic dining chairs do the opposite job. Many restaurants are now creating multiple areas with different seating types to accommodate the ebb and flow of customers throughout the day – from chatty coffees through light lunches to afternoon tea, dinner and drinks.



Given that you’ll break glasses and plates every day, it may seem odd to consider these elements of your restaurant design. However, although the tableware and decorations may not make it into the conscious recollections of your diners, it all adds to the atmosphere. From the solid heft of silverware to the deliberately quirky shovel plates and cartoon cereal bowls, it’s easy to spot when thought has gone into this element of design.



One of the easiest, cheapest ways to change the atmosphere in a restaurant is to change the light levels and hues. Shift from bright lights for business lunches to soft lighting for after-work drinks and even dimmer lights for romantic post-theatre meals. Having a range of lighting options available is ideal – you should be able to make the most of the natural light on a sunny day and also be able to raise the light levels if it’s grey. Even the type of lighting and lampshades will contribute to the design of the restaurant.



Bathrooms and other forgotten areas

It’s surprising how often you enter a carefully designed restaurant, enjoy a fabulous meal in luxurious surroundings and then enter a kind of industrial dungeon when you go to the restroom. It might be necessary to tuck the bathrooms away down two flights of stairs and along a corridor, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the route your guests will have to take to reach it. Continue the theme of the restaurant along this route.


The Kitchen

Even if the prep, storage and cooking areas won’t be seen by the guests, they contribute to the atmosphere of a restaurant in two key ways. First, they are an ingredient in creating a workplace ethos for the staff which will in turn alter the vibe of the restaurant. Friendly or formal? Fast food or slow? It starts in the kitchen. Second, the design will materially contribute to how easy it is for staff to prep and serve drinks and food. A well-designed, well-organised back stage area will contribute to a smooth running team and efficient meal preparation.




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