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Restaurant seating design is central to any restaurant or bar interior design project. Not only does the seating design of a restaurant influence the overall restaurant atmosphere, but it also bears on diner’s comfort, and ultimately, the length of their stay. Carefully selected seating furniture adds value to the design and increases guest spending. It helps put in place an efficient restaurant layout and allows restaurateurs to offer an unforgettable dining experience.

At Contrast Interiors, we offer exceptional interior design and fit-out services for bars and restaurants. As part of our services for restaurants, we offer restaurant seating design and manufacturing, too. We help put in place an efficient seating layout and choose the best seating furniture for individual restaurants. Working with a dedicated manufacturing facility allows us to create truly unique seating designs that increase the perceived value of the space.

Restaurant seating layout. A crucial aspect of successful restaurant seating design

Successful restaurant seating design is all about diner’s comfort and efficiency. The seating design of a restaurant needs to create an intimate feel and make patrons feel comfortable and welcome. At the same time, it needs to allow wait service staff to serve clients efficiently. A large part of achieving these goals comes from choosing an adequate seating layout.

Many criteria need consideration when deciding on the best seating layout for a particular restaurant. Putting in place a successful seating design requires finding a balance between maximising the dining area and ensuring diners’ comfort. And while the available floor space is crucial in this regard, there are other factors to consider, too.

The size of the dining area and restaurant layout

The first step towards creating an efficient seating layout is analysing the available floor space. The space allotted to the dining area will arguably have the greatest impact on customers’ comfort. At the same time, the size and layout of the dining area are decisive in choosing appropriate seating furniture and creating eye-catching designs.

The ultimate goal in creating a successful restaurant seating layout is maximising the number of seats, without sacrificing diners’ or staff’s comfort. Tables need to be far enough from each other to allow staff and customers to move around freely. The seating layout should also allow for a clean flow of foot traffic in and out of the restaurant.

Lastly, the overall restaurant layout needs careful consideration. The relative positioning of the dining room(s), bar and various restaurant areas is key when it comes to creating an efficient seating layout. Nevertheless, keeping the seating design and layout flexible is crucial. Choosing movable furniture and opting for a variety of seating furniture allows patrons to change the seating design to create more open or more intimate space depending on their mood.

Customer expectations and needs

Creating an efficient seating layout and choosing the best seating furniture requires a profound understanding of the restaurant’s ideal customer profile. Diners have different expectations when they enter different types of restaurants. The seating design of the restaurant needs to live up to those expectations.

In fine-dining and upscale restaurants, intimacy, sophistication and elegance are key. There should be ample space between chairs and tables to offer comfort and give diners a sense of privacy. The design should incorporate the use of high-quality materials that exude quality and elevate the space.

In contrast, family-oriented restaurants, bars and bistros benefit more from a more casual seating layout. The use of vibrant colours, a variety of seating option is what will ultimately make the restaurant seating design a success.

Proper seating capacity

Most restaurant owners wish to increase the seating capacity of their venues. Nevertheless, it is vital to resist the urge to pack as many customers as possible in a small space. Giving customers enough space to move around and enjoy top-quality catering services lies at the heart of successful restaurant seating design.

Packing the dining area with seating furniture might sound promising to increase sales and revenue. Nonetheless, an overcrowded dining area tends to have the opposite effect. It compromises the privacy and comfort of patrons and can seriously harm the dining experience. Therefore, determining the proper seating capacity is crucial.

Room dividers for comfort and privacy

Diners might have different expectations when they visit a restaurant. Some might look for a quiet, romantic dinner, while others want to have a few drinks and socialise with others. Irrespective of their motives, there is one desire most diners seem to share: the need for privacy.

Studies show that most patrons prefer to sit near walls or windows when visiting a restaurant. The popularity of these spots is mainly due to the fact that they offer a more restricted view and give diners a sense of privacy and intimacy. Designers and restaurateurs can use this knowledge to their advantage. Setting up room dividers and positioning seating furniture near walls or windows can help enhance the dining experience.

Restaurant seating furniture choice for outstanding restaurant seating design

After creating an efficient seating layout, restaurant owners and designers can focus their attention on selecting appropriate furniture. There are numerous seating types and designs available to choose from during this process. Careful consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of each option is nevertheless critical to creating outstanding restaurant seating designs.

Undoubtedly, decisions regarding the choice of seating furniture are pivotal. The furnishing of the dining area will have a significant bearing on both the interior design and on diners’ comfort. A clever combination of the different types of seating furniture offers flexibility and allows designers to give the space a unique look.

Fixed or movable furniture?

Before all else, designers and restaurant owners need to decide whether fixed or movable furniture should be predominantly used. Both fixed and movable seating furniture have advantages and disadvantages. Understanding them can help align the design with practical considerations.

The main advantage of fixed seating furniture is that it helps save valuable floor space. Often attached to one of the restaurant’s main walls or the floor, fixed benches or banquettes take up less space. They allow patrons to position tables closer to them or to join two tables together to accommodate a larger dinner party. Nevertheless, fixed furniture cannot be repositioned and, does not allow restaurant owners to change the seating layout of the dining room.

Movable furniture in the form of chairs, couches or sofas represents a comfortable and flexible seating option. The great variety in terms of colour, patterns, texture, as well as form, gives designers great freedom in matching the seating design to the restaurant’s unique style. At the same time, opting for movable seating options allows restaurateurs to easily change the seating layout or add a few more seats to a table. This flexibility, however, comes at a cost: space.

Dining benches

Dining benches represent a casual and modern form of restaurant seating furniture. Usually coming without a back- or armrest, they can free up space in the dining room by allowing patrons to position them under the table when not in use. Similarly, they allow designers to maximise the dining space and give diners more room to move around.

Upholstered or made out of wood, dining benches can be elegant and sophisticated pieces that add value to the dining room design. Nevertheless, they tend to offer less privacy than individual chairs. As a result, designers and restaurant owners should always opt for using a combination of different types of seating furniture to appeal to any diners’ preference.

Banquettes

Banquettes or built-in, upholstered benches are one of the most popular forms of seating furniture in restaurants. Offering extreme versatility, this type of seating furniture can be a great space-saving option for smaller restaurants. Designers can use banquettes in the restaurant seating design to maximise the seating capacity. This form of seating furniture allows designers to fit a dining table into a space that might otherwise become overcrowded with stand-alone chairs and tables.

Banquette seating on one side of the table and chairs on the other allow designers to make the design more flexible. A dining room set up this way allows patrons to easily move tables together or take them apart to accommodate both smaller and larger diner parties. To make them more comfortable, banquettes are often upholstered or covered with a bench cushion, which offers more comfort and allows designers to create unique designs.

Booths

Designers might also opt for using booths instead of banquettes or benches. This type of seating furniture is great for offering a more intimate experience by restricting diners’ view over neighbouring tables. Similarly to banquettes, booths can be upholstered, using various materials, colours, patterns and textures, which can all add great value to the restaurant’s interior design.

While compact booths can be a great space-saving option, designers must keep in mind that they are significantly harder to manoeuvre than other forms of restaurant seating furniture. They cannot be pushed together to accommodate larger parties the same way tables and chairs can.

Chairs. The most flexible seating option in restaurant seating design

When people think about the seating design of upscale, high-end restaurants, a set of high-quality tables and matching chairs often come to their mind. But chairs are not limited only to high-end restaurants. As a staple in every seating design, chairs represent an extremely flexible and versatile form of seating furniture.

Their smaller footprint helps designers maximise the dining space. Coming in various forms and materials, they can be matched to any design concept and theme. They are easy to add to tables to increase the seating capacity and may also be stacked when not in use.

Material choice in restaurant
seating design

Besides form, material selection is also a crucial part of restaurant seating design. Since dining rooms are busy areas, restaurant owners and designers must choose materials that are easy to clean, long-lasting and have high aesthetic value. As a result, restaurateurs need to look at seating furniture as an investment and avoid sacrificing quality for atmosphere and design.

The seating furniture, as well as the material, need to reflect the restaurant’s business goals. It needs to align with the theme and style of the restaurant to create a positive impression. As a result, the use of commercial-grade materials suitable for busy catering environments is pivotal. All furniture in the dining room should be easy to clean, stain-resistant and colourfast. When using textiles and upholstery, colour choice, patterns and texture will be all too critical to the overall design and dining room decor.

Wood

Wooden seating furniture gives any dining space a clean and attractive look. Different types of wood can be used to create unique and sophisticated designs. Besides this versatility, wooden seating furniture has other advantages as well. Chairs made of wood with a high-quality finish are long-lasting, strong and easy to clean.

Nevertheless, all-wooden chairs can become uncomfortable when sat at for long. While this can help restaurateurs turn tables faster, it might also negatively impact the dining experience. To make wooden furniture more comfortable, they can be upholstered or fitted with seat and back pads.

Upholstered furniture

Upholstered seating furniture has many advantages. The use of various materials, colours and texture creates visual interest and enhances the interior design. At the same time, upholstered furniture represents the most comfortable seating option for diners.

Although upholstered furniture has many advantages when it comes to restaurant seating design, there are also a few key considerations that should be kept in mind when opting for this material. First, upholstery requires regular maintenance. Upholstered furniture needs to be regularly cleaned and upkeeped. The fabric used to cover the furniture needs to be stain-resistant and of exceptional quality to withstand day-to-day wear.

Vinyl

Vinyl can also represent a great choice in creating a unique restaurant seating design. Designers may opt for a variety of colours and patterns, or even give the furniture a leather-like texture. Besides versatility, commercial-grade vinyl is also highly durable, an all too critical criterion in restaurant seating furniture design. Vinyl is also easy extremely easy to clean and is completely stain- and spill-resistant.

The main disadvantage of vinyl when it comes to seating furniture is that it can easily become uncomfortable when sat on for long. During hot, sunny days, vinyl becomes uncomfortably hot to sit on and might also stick to exposed skin. As a result, vinyl is a great choice for short and medium-length dining experiences.

Leather

Leather represents an incredibly durable material that also offers high aesthetic value. This material gives a feeling of elegance and sophistication to any interior space. Apart from being an easy to clean material, it offers ultimate comfort.

While leather is not as versatile when it comes to design as fabric, it nonetheless comes in a great variety of colours that allows designers to match it to any design concept.

Plastic

Plastic chairs are mass-produced, which makes them an affordable choice in restaurant seating design. Used in many fast-food eateries and casual restaurants, plastic seating furniture is available in many colours and various designs.

Plastic chairs tend to be stain-resistant and are extremely easy to clean. Most plastic chairs can also be stacked, which allows restaurant owners to stack them up when not in use. Nevertheless, plastic chairs can be susceptible to scratches.

Outdoor restaurant
seating design

The outside area of a restaurant is the first thing people see. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the image you create reflects your establishment well. Setting up outdoor dining areas, and making them look attractive to customers is, therefore of crucial importance.

The design and fit-out of outdoor seating areas do, nevertheless differ significantly from the interior seating design of a restaurant. The seating furniture chosen for outdoor areas differs in terms of both materials and form. For outdoor spaces, moveable furniture is the preferred choice, which allows restaurateurs to move tables and seats inside during winter or in inclement weather.

Concerning materials, it is vital to opt for materials that are water-repellant and UV-resistant to allow them to stand up to the harmful effects of outside weather. As with all other furniture, outdoor seating furniture needs to be both attractive and durable.

Resin chairs and tables

Resin chairs and tables can be a great option for outdoor dining spaces. Commercial-grade resin seating furniture can withstand UV light and stand up very well against daily wear. It comes in a wide variety of colours and textures, which offers a level of versatility in design. Opting for foldable resin chairs will make storing chairs in a smaller space when the outdoor dining area is closed to the public.

Wrought-iron furniture

Another great option for outdoor seating furniture is wrought-iron. Coming in a wide variety of painted colours and forms, it can easily blend in with any design and decor. At the same time, if offers unparalleled durability, and easy maintenance. When opting for this material, however, seat- and back pads are recommended. Without them, wrought-iron chairs can quickly become uncomfortable.

Outdoor restaurant seating design using wood

Wood allows extreme versatility in terms of design, which makes wooden seating furniture stunning in outdoor seating areas. Unlike wrought iron, wooden tables and chairs do not get hot when exposed for long hours to extreme sunlight and offer maximum comfort. With a UV-resistant finish, wooden furniture offers extreme durability.

About our restaurant seating design services.
What we offer

At Contrast Interiors, we are dedicated to excellence in all areas of the restaurant and bar interior design. As part of our design services for restaurants, we offer restaurant seating design and manufacturing services, too.

With more than fifteen years of experience in interior design and fit-out, we have a thorough understanding of how to create designs that work. We can help put in place an efficient seating layout and design seating furniture that suits your design needs and business aspirations.

Throughout the years, we have invested in creating our own manufacturing workshop. This allows us to design and manufacture truly unique seating furniture that gives your space character. Our time-served craftsman and joiners have extensive experience in working with various materials and respect the highest standards of quality both in terms of manufacturing and material selection.

Using the power of creative design

Using the power of creative design, we offer solutions that maximise the seating area without compromising either quality or comfort. Contact us today for a free consultation and see how we could help make your business more inviting to your customers.

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