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A restaurant is not just a place for people to eat and drink. It also represents a social gathering space, where people form relationships, release stress and allow themselves to unwind. As a result, while offering delicious food and outstanding services is important, creating a pleasant restaurant atmosphere is critical.

Creating the perfect atmosphere in a restaurant is a matter of careful planning and design. Various elements of the restaurant interior design and decor play a role in creating the perfect ambience inside. From the restaurant lighting design, through colour schemes and the overall design concept, numerous elements have a bearing on how patrons perceive the space.

What is the restaurant atmosphere
and why is it so critical?

The atmosphere of an interior space is not something palpable, something you can put your finger on. Instead, the atmosphere of an interior space is the sum of the feelings it evokes in people visiting the place. In other words, the restaurant atmosphere is what makes people feel a certain way.

As human beings, we are instinctively driven to listen to our senses to make decisions. Our surroundings influence our mood, our behaviour as well as how we think about the space. Creating a positive and welcoming atmosphere in the restaurant is, therefore, crucial to run a successful restaurant.

A pleasant atmosphere inside a restaurant enhances the dining experience of customers and puts them in the right mood. It allows them to enjoy top-quality catering services and encourages repeat visits. It influences how patrons perceive the space, how long they stay and how much they are willing to pay.

In fact, a study shows that the atmosphere of a restaurant is the second most important factor that influences whether diners would recommend a place to their friends and acquaintances. For this reason, focussing on restaurant atmosphere from the beginning of the design process is pivotal. Only by doing so can restaurant owners offer the ultimate dining experience to their customers.

How to create the perfect
restaurant atmosphere?

Creating the perfect atmosphere in the restaurant is both art and science. Various elements of the restaurant design need careful consideration to give the restaurant a unique ambience and feel. From the design concept, through the colour scheme, lighting and music, numerous factors play a role in creating the perfect atmosphere.

Before creating the interior design of the restaurant, it is vital to define the desired atmosphere of the space. Restaurant owners need to ask themselves how patrons should feel inside the restaurant. Designers, in turn, need to create a design concept that allows them to tap into the right senses to create an engaging visit for customers. Focussing on a few key features of the design and decore guarantees the success of this process.

Restaurant decor and theme

Creating an appropriate design concept is the first step towards a pleasant restaurant atmosphere. The design concept is the foundation upon which the rest of the design elements rest. The concept design is what guides the selection of decorative elements and, ultimately, it is what defines the feel of the space.

To create the design concept of a restaurant, having a clear understanding of diner expectations is key. Patrons visiting different types of restaurants have different expectations concerning space and design. The design concept of a fast-food restaurant will be radically different from the design concept of a fine-dining restaurant. Matching diner expectations to the style and type of the restaurant is pivotal to success.

Once the design concept is established, designers and restaurant owners need to focus on creating a comprehensive theme. Since diners are more likely to respond positively when all elements of the restaurant design are part of a common theme, this step is vital. As a result, decisions concerning colours, textures, patterns and furniture should all be made with the restaurant theme in mind. Consistency in terms of design is what will help create the perfect restaurant atmosphere and allow restaurateurs to offer a memorable dining experience.

Restaurant lighting

Restaurant lighting is a design element that has both functional and aesthetic value. Besides ensuring that customers and staff have enough light to see what they are doing, lighting can also help put patrons in the right mood. It enhances the interior design and helps people connect with the space at a deeper level.

Through efficient use of lighting, designers can give the restaurant a more intimate or more lively feel. To enhance the general atmosphere of a restaurant and match lighting to the decor, three aspects of lighting are vital:

  • The style of the light fixtures. Decorative light fixtures form an integral part of the restaurant atmosphere and design. As with other decorative elements, it is crucial to select light fixtures that align with the restaurants’ decor and feel. Minimalist light fixtures, for example, are a perfect choice for modern restaurants, while rustic, metallic light fixtures are more suitable for bars and pubs.
  • Brightness and layered light. Variation in the level of brightness and layering light is what gives the restaurant a perfect atmosphere. Bright, daytime like light is a perfect match for modern and casual restaurants to create lively spaces. Softer, retained lighting in fine-dining restaurants helps give them a more intimate feel.
  • Light colour. Depending on the mood designers want to create, cooler or warmer-toned light can be used. Cool-toned light sources are perfect for casual restaurants and fast-food eateries, while warmer, more yellow-toned light make the restaurant feel more intimate and warm.

Colours and colour combinations

Colours have a deep impact on people’s mood, feelings and behaviour. Different colours can evoke different feelings in people. Choosing appropriate colours depending on the restaurant’s theme and decor, thus helps put people in the right mood and create the perfect atmosphere in the restaurant.

When choosing colours for a restaurant it is important to keep three key aspects in mind:

  • Tone and hue. The first thing designers and restaurateurs need to decide is what colour(s) to use in the restaurant. A thorough understanding of colour psychology, i.e. how different colours affect customers is vital here. Warm colours, for example, can boost people’s appetite, while cooler colours tend to suppress it. Therefore, when choosing colours for a restaurant it is vital to keep in mind the effect they will have on customers.
  • Colour intensity. Apart from choosing appropriate colours, designers and restaurant owners should also think about colour intensity. Depending on how vivid or muted the colours are, they can lead to different effects on people. Bright blues and greens, for example, are notorious for making food look less appetizing, but muted and balanced with more neutral colours they can have the opposite effect.
  • Colour scheme and combinations. No restaurant will resort to using only one colour to create an appealing interior design. The combination of different colours and the overall colour scheme is what will ultimately give a sense of uniqueness to the restaurant. It is vital to choose colour schemes based on the brand, the design concept and the type of food served in the restaurant. Irrespective of the colours chosen, they must work in harmony together.

Music, acoustics and scent

Lastly, music, acoustics and scent play a pivotal role in creating a pleasant restaurant atmosphere. Combined, they have the power to influence how long patrons stay in the restaurant, as well as how much they are willing the spend.

Music

When crafting the playlist of a restaurant, a few key criteria are worth restaurateurs attention.

First, the music needs to fit the overall ambience, theme and style of the restaurant. Soft, calming music is the perfect choice to create an intimate feel in fine-dining and upscale restaurants, while a casual restaurant might opt for louder and more upbeat music instead.

Second, the pace of the music is also crucial. Louder, faster music prompts diners to eat faster and helps increase table turnover during peak hours. Slower-paces and softer music tempt patrons to linger in the restaurant for longer and enjoy eating their meals slowly.

Third, selecting the appropriate genre is crucial. Different musical styles have a different effect on how patrons perceive the restaurant atmosphere and how much they are willing to spend. Classical, jazz or popular music seemingly prompt patrons to spend more on their meal.

Acoustics

Acoustics can have a deep impact on the restaurant’s atmosphere. Too much noise in the dining area can have a deeply negative influence on customer experience. Too much noise will not only harm the restaurant atmosphere but also people’s taste. For this reason, designers need to find a balance between the restaurant atmosphere and acoustics.

There are numerous ways in which background noise can be deadened in busy restaurant areas. Acoustic ceilings can be installed above dining room tables to reduce the noise coming from diners enjoying the outstanding meals and services. Avoiding the use of hard surfaces that reflect sound when creating the design can similarly help reduce noise in the dining room.

Scent

Smell is one of the five primary human senses. As such, the scent inside of a restaurant has a significant effect on people’s perception of the space. Different scents can remind people of specific memories, evoke pleasant feelings or even stimulate people’s appetite. Consequently, the scent inside a restaurant contributes greatly to the overall atmosphere and ambience.

To create the best atmosphere in a restaurant, designers and restaurateurs can use scents strategically. Different scents, such as apple or cucumber can make the room feel larger and airier. The scent of freshly baked good has the power to increase people’s appetite, while lavender scents help people feel more relaxed.

Create a perfect atmosphere
for your restaurant

When it comes to creating the perfect restaurant atmosphere, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Each restaurant has its individual, unique identity, style and mission. What matters is that restaurant owners are able to convey this towards their customers. If you are at loss as to how you could improve your restaurant’s atmosphere and ambience, you can count on our professional team for help.

At Contrast Interiors, we believe
in the power of great design.

With numerous successful restaurant interior design and fit-out projects behind our back, we understand how the different design elements come together to give any restaurant a unique style and character. Our holistic approach to design allows us to create restaurant interior design concepts that align with the restaurant’s mission and create a perfect atmosphere inside.

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