Colour Psychology Series 1: Colour in restaurant design

Colour Psychology Series 1: Colour in restaurant design.

Colour can be used to influence a person’s mood on the most basic of all the subconscious levels. Throughout our loves, we come to associate certain colours with certain meanings. In restaurant design, this can be a powerful tool. Colour has such a large spectrum, so while we are discussing colour on a more generic level in this post, each colour mentioned has a wide range of tones and shades which also vary in the mood they subconsciously are associated with.


Red is a very stimulating colour and can make people feel energized and passionate. While it’s perfectly justifiable to say that for some restaurants, you want people to feel passionate, energised, and associate their food with being good value for money.


Commonly associated with food, orange, if used in moderation and alongside other complimentary colour tones, can create feelings of passion, fun, warmth and comfort. All of these can be beneficial for a restaurant.


When you think of yellow, you think of sunshine, optimism, and high self-esteem.  Yellow is very effective for attracting attention, so use it to highlight the most important elements of your design.

It produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates
muscle energy. When overused, yellow may have a disturbing effect.


Widely associated with nature, refreshment and harmony is a good colour to use within restaurant design. The colour green can enhance your customers feeling of comfort, and being at-ease, both of these will help leave positive associations with the restaurant. In recent years, a design bringing inspiration in from nature and raw using materials has become a trend. Exploring the colour psychology behind the colour association behind the colour green expands this. When you think of the colour green food, you think of fresh produce, good quality organic food and healthiness. After eating these foods, you will find that you feel better, more alive and full of energy.


From a young age society is raised to associate blue with masculinity can also be associated with calmness, being sad and water. One could assume that a feeling of sadness is not a theme you should aim to create in any restaurant. But, as I previously mentioned in the introduction the colour has such a wide range of tones and shades within it, that blue can be successfully used in any restaurant design and generate feelings of being calm, and relaxed without generating feelings of sadness.


Often associated with loyalty being a spiritual, magical, creative, extravagant and luxurious colour, purple can also symbolise decadence.

Purple for this reason is quite commonly used in bedrooms and dining rooms. This can be a powerful tool in restaurant design, by using purple details you can generate feelings of extravagance and stimulation in a soothing environment.


Coming from the red family, pink can affect people in a similar ways, but where red may stimulate, pink will sooth. Being associated with feminine energy and love it a strong and soothing colour, often identified with sweetness and like anything sweet, an overdose of this sensation can leave you feeling, overwhelmed, sick and drained.  So while some pink can be beneficial, too much can be negative.


A colour commonly associated with glamour, security, sophistication and class but it is also widely associated with darkness and seriousness. Having details and accessories in black, for instance, black finishes on table-tops can help to bring forward the positive associations. Being a background colour black will not make a statement and not draw attention to itself. The side effect of this is that it will make your interior feel instantly smaller, it is also the absorbent colour, especially with light energy, and will make spaces feel warmer.

It denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and    prestigious color.


The most hygienic of the colours, associated with purity, clarity, simplicity, efficiency, lightness and openness. The downside is that white is dirtied easily, so it requires a lot of upkeep. The colour can be used to make rooms look lighter and in effect can make an interior appear larger as it will reflect light more than it will absorb it.

Basic rules for Restaurant lighting

Basic rules for Restaurant lighting

To start with there is a variety of different lighting techniques out there. It is important to understand that the different areas of the restaurant will require different lighting techniques.

Ambient lighting. This is mood lighting, lighting to set an ambience. This lighting will be the main source of lighting across the restaurant.

Task lighting. This is key for areas where your staff will need to focus on the job at hand. This is key for kitchens, the cash register and the area under the bar.

Accent lighting. This is lighting is designed like a spot-light, it will draw the attention of your customers to a particular feature, this will be good for illuminating a special feature like a painting, or beautiful architecture, or walls or columns.

Finally feature lighting. This is door for decorative effect. This style of lighting is perfect for giving a personal touch you can use this on a bar.

Now you know the lighting types you will be focusing on, here is how you use it:

When you design your layout it is important that the lighting is appropriate for what is going on.

For example, with the tables, you need the lighting to not only generate the correct mood, but also serve the primary focus of illuminating the produce and drinks so the customer can comfortably eat their food without straining.

The reception and waiting area. This should lit brighter than the restaurant itself. This will enable clearer communication with staff and give the area a strong and welcoming atmosphere.

Remember to keep an eye on what’s trending.  Trends are constantly evolving and each restaurant will have its own unique style, so it is important that you know what relevant in your sector, but never select your lighting using a form over function attitude.  Always remember your concept, who your target audience is (are you targeting families, couples, business/luxury market, youths?) and the space you are using.

Common restaurant design problems

Common restaurant design problems

Whether it is an interference regarding the flow of circulation between the dining area and kitchen, or maybe the kitchen is too small and there simply is not enough space for the chefs to prepare the food and meet consumer demands, every restaurant will have small problems. In this article, we will talk about some of these problems and provide advice on how you can avoid these common design problems.

That area where no one wants to sit.

In almost every restaurant, there is always one or two tables where nobody wants to sit. It could be because it’s next to the bathroom, or beside the kitchen or maybe it is just located next to the main door where customers will experience drafts. Having to readjust your chair every other minute or having an ice cold/ uncomfortably warm just blow past you every other minute will make for a very unrelaxing meal.

The solution to this is actually quite easy. Before you open your restaurant, we recommend that you take a moment to just trail every seat, think about the temperature, the view, the smells, the noise level they might experience, the proximity to the bathrooms and kitchen.  You will be surprised and find at least one table you thought was fine actually experiences one or two of these problems. If you are having this problem, ask yourself; do I need the table? If yes, is there somewhere else you can locate the table? Are you so busy that this table is always full on every shift? If you aren’t filling this table on every shift, maybe you can consider moving the table into storage, allowing you to use this opportunity to utilise the rest of the restaurant layout to a fuller potential. You can even find that just by changing the table shape or the layout of the tables, you will not only benefit the design and circulation, but it may also help you utilise the space far more efficiently.

The tiny kitchen.

In an ideal world, we could all have the perfect commercial kitchen, with large open clean surfaces to meet every need for the chef, with plenty of space for circulation. However, most unfortunately, the reality is quite the opposite; you will most likely end up with a tiny little kitchen, which may be lacking in some speciality equipment and space for the chefs to prep the meals.

Realistically, knocking down walls isn’t always an affordable option for most of us, with budgets and time frames. So another way around this issue is to consider amending the menu. By shortening the menu to offer have a smaller variety of products will enable you to make the most of your smaller kitchen by requiring less amounts of preparation space. A large variety of different options will require your chefs to make sure there is never any cross contamination of products. By making the list of options available smaller, you will both excel in the products you do cook and ensure reduce the preparation space and cleaning time required.

No budget?

Opening any new business will be expensive, so to ensure those start-up costs stay under control you might have to re-evaluate your original restaurant plan.

Instead of spending thousands on buying new furniture or a rebuild. Why don’t you consider using reclaimed or pre-used furniture? This can save you money in the initial price, the cost to do it up (if required) can mean you can personalise this item to make it bespoke, or depending on the item bought, can be used to add to the aesthetic of the space. If you can’t afford to move all of your walls around you can consider installing temporary dividers, not only will this save you money, but it also gives you the flexibility to change and rearrange these dividers according to changing design and demand. In addition, never underestimate the power of just changing the lighting or paint used. These two have the power to transform any space without requiring you to spend money on a new refurbishment.