7 easy design ideas to give your restaurant a new lease on life

Classic design ideas to revamp your restaurant decor and wow your guests



May 17, 2022 - 5 min read

7 easy design ideas to give your restaurant a new lease on life

When guests visit a restaurant, they are not only looking for a meal but a culinary experience that delights all five senses. An essential element of a gratifying restaurant visit is the establishment's interiors. 

"Interior design plays an important role in curating the users' experience by carefully reflecting the restaurant's branding and impacting the customer psychology," according to Cori Cori, an architect based in Tokyo whom TableCheck consulted for this blog.

"The dining experience is deeply dependent on the space's sensory perceptions, which goes beyond merely the gastronomy and culinary crafts of the food the restaurant serves," he adds.

Any restaurant’s interior is an extension of its brand. For instance, a burger place may want hipster decor with fun graffiti on the wall, unlike a fine-dining restaurant that might favor elegant white and gold tones. Hospitality operators who want to run a successful restaurant should create an immersive experience for guests across the board to include plus ambiance and style. 

Here are some interior design ideas that restaurants can use to create a memorable dining experience for their customers. 

1. Set the mood with lighting

When it comes to lighting, most restaurants focus on the design of the light fixture rather than the lighting itself. The correct design approach is to focus on intelligent lighting to alter the perception of the space of the restaurant. For instance, ambient lighting can help create an intimate atmosphere essential for an expensive restaurant, and accent lighting to illuminate interesting objects like fountains, paintings, and murals. Lighting opens up a world of visual drama, and restaurants should be leveraging it to enhance their interiors.

2. Build an inviting space

Restaurants can look more inviting and welcoming to customers if they focus on a few design elements like lighting, furnishing, seating layout, colors & scents, acoustics, and an optimum room temperature that is neither too warm nor too cold. Every aspect of design plays a role in making customers comfortable. 


Balanced lighting is essential to create a welcoming space for diners. A restaurant can decide on what kind of lighting they should use depending on the theme and style of the restaurant. Upscale restaurants can use low-hanging warm lights to create a soothing atmosphere for customers where they can talk at leisure in a quiet, beautiful setting. 

On the other hand, fast-food restaurants can use bright lights where customers can briskly place their orders and have their meals in a well-lit room.

Here is an example of the type of lighting used in Bistro Volière that provides the restaurant with a casual dining ambiance.

READ MORE: How Bistro Volière generated significant savings with TableCheck

Meanwhile, Charles H of the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul has that New York feel and vibe in its lighting and interiors.

Furnishing and seating layout

Furnishing is key to how long a customer would want to stay at a restaurant. If a restaurant wants guests to have long leisurely dinners where they order several courses and wait til' dessert, it is crucial to have comfortable seats and ample legroom.

Meanwhile, the table's design is just as essential. A rectangular table for two would provide perfect intimacy to a romantic couple while a round table aids in making the conversations flow better with everyone being able to see and face the center. Whatever table design the restaurant owners decide, they should rein in comfort as a factor while buying furniture.

Just as good furnishing is essential, so is the layout. Ensure that the tables are not cramped together because other guests could disrupt conversations, ruining the dining experience for others. The format should also allow staff and guests to navigate the restaurant without bumping or spilling food.

Look at Sazenka's table seating below. Sazenka ranked no 29 in the 2022 Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.

READ MORE: 2022 Asia's 50 Best Restaurants: Den, Sorn and Florilège snag top awards

See how it differs from the Indonesian chain restaurant Fogo Brazilian BBQ's table seating.

Scents and aromas

Scents and tastes are so closely intertwined that marketers have even developed a strategy to drive customers to eateries using scents. Marketers call this strategy aroma or scent marketing. 

Scent marketing primarily brings in foot traffic, drawing people to an establishment. Synthetic aromas create a signature smell that diners enjoy and are drawn to. 

The second advantage of scent marketing is that it cancels out pungent odors coming from the kitchen. Certain types of food, like cheese, have a funky smell that may irk customers. Masking these scents in the restaurant with synthetic aromas would allow all the diners to dine together in peace with different food preferences. 


The perfect dining atmosphere is created when there is just enough noise to give the impression of a pleasant social atmosphere, but the sound is not too loud that it hampers conversations. Certain design elements in the dining area make noise, like marble counters, tall ceilings, and brick walls. Establishments with open kitchens are often advised to use a glass barrier to prevent the din of the kitchen from reaching the guests.

Luckily there are ways to control noise without compromising the design of the place. Restaurants can invest in special acoustic paneling that reduces noise. These panels are available in different styles so that the establishment's interiors are not impacted while planning the restaurant's design. Restaurants could also use soft furnishings like tablecloths, wall hangings, and carpets to absorb sound.

With these high ceilings and wood panels, Master Chef Masaki Miyakawa's Sushi Shin in Niseko provides tranquil luxury to guests.

READ MORE: Luke Clayton: The endless pursuit of maximizing guest satisfaction

3. Entice the palette with colors

Restaurants can cleverly use appetite-stimulating colors in their interiors to influence customers and boost sales. Generally, eateries are advised to use organic colors found in food for interiors. Red, yellow, green, and white, are some colors that studies have found to be appetite-stimulating, whereas purple and blue are said to curb cravings.

4. Bring method to the (kitchen) madness

A commercial kitchen is chaotic and noisy. There is a lot of movement happening simultaneously. The interiors should be pragmatic so that every step of the process flows smoothly, sourcing raw material from storage and bringing dirty dishes to the wash area. The tiniest details about space, like enough room to allow the movement of chefs, servers, and food trolleys, are to be considered while designing the kitchen. 

5. Draw all eyes to the accent wall

Restaurants spend most of their time experimenting with drinks and food to drive repeat guests. The same spirit of experimentation can be applied to interiors. Accent walls are visually impressive as they create depth in the space, a contrast that helps create a balance and breaks the general monotony of homogenous surfaces. They also double up as magnificent backdrops for social media photos, so a well-design accent wall delights your customers and puts the restaurant on the social media map.  

While accent walls are supposed to break the monotony and provide contrast, it should not overwhelm the senses to create a visual imbalance. The secret lies in striking a balance.

In this Pizza 4P's restaurant in Ly Quoc Su in Vietnam, a collage of photos is displayed in the main dining area.

6. Create illusions with mirrors

Mirrors are an aesthetic and functional addition to any small restaurant. They add depth to space and make a room look larger and brighter than it is. Mirrors don’t have to be plain-looking; they could be decorative, minimalistic, ornamental, ceiling to floor, or cleverly placed to reflect light to a dark area.

7. Let the kitchen be the star

The number of cooking competitions on TV is proof that the star of any good restaurant is the kitchen. Diners love watching chefs in action as they cook, grill, bake, flip, sauté, broil and poach. A restaurant could have an open kitchen as the focal point. The guests could watch the cooks as they whip up delicacies and relish the assorted aromas wafting from the kitchen. 

While some restaurants keep their kitchen closed to guests, Park Hyatt Tokyo's New York Grill uses a spectacular open kitchen as part of its overall dining experience.

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