Restaurant Design Advice and Tips

Last Updated on 7 July 2023 by Editorial Team

How Important Is Good Restaurant Design?

Designing a restaurant can be a daunting task, but it’s very important that you get it right in order to succeed. There are so many things to consider – from the layout and décor to the menu and service. But with a little bit of planning and forethought, you can design and create a restaurant that is both stylish and functional.

The restaurant industry is fiercely competitive because of the current demographics and trends it is experiencing.  As such, restaurant owners need to rethink what they’re offering in order to attract and retain customers.

In your customer’s eyes, eating out at a restaurant is not just about the food itself.  Although the quality of the food being served is paramount, every detail of the visit to a restaurant counts and is equally important, from the quality of service received right through to to the overall ambience and decor. All of these elements combined will create a lasting impression for the customer.

If you’re a restaurant owner, then you should already know this and know all too well that the design of your establishment is critical. The right design can help to attract customers and create a positive impression that will keep them coming back time after time.

Tips & Advice on Restaurant Design

In this article, we will provide helpful tips and advice on restaurant design, from the layout of your space, to the colour scheme and furniture. We’ll also discuss the importance of branding and how to create a unique identity for your restaurant.

In the wake of Covid, It’s now more important than ever for restaurant owners to give their restaurants a revamp by refreshing their décor in order to capture the essence of their brand and impress their customers.

So, whether you’re just starting out in opening and designing your first restaurant, or you’re looking to update an existing space, read on for some essential tips on designing a restaurant.

modern restaurant design and layout
An example of a stylish and modern restaurant with clever design aspects

Developing The Design Of Your Restaurant

Firstly, designing a restaurant involves much more than just giving it a lick of paint and rearranging or adding new furniture.  If you are serious about developing your restaurant’s design and making it a success, then you’ll want to ensure you appoint a professional restaurant designer and a team of building contractors who can work closely with you as the owner.

If you work only with the architect, then you will miss the entire design experience and also some important branding and communication aspects. So you have to integrate the role of the restaurant designer into your project. The feedback they provide and advice they give can help you finalise the restaurant’s overall identity and make it a more successful project. 

There will be lots of things that a designer can help you with such as colour schemes, furniture design, menu design, lighting, soft furnishings, layouts, kitchen equipment and overall design aspects.

What Do You Wish To Achieve With Your Restaurant’s Design?

But before you even start to look for a restaurant designer and team of building contractors for your project, you should firstly consider the following points:-

– Who is your ideal customer?

– What are you trying to achieve with this restaurant?

– What kind of atmosphere/ambience/vibe do you wish to create?

– Will there be a theme for your restaurant?

– What colours, textures and patterns do you like?

– What kind of materials and finishes would you like to incorporate?

– Will you need new kitchen and front of house equipment?

– What is your overall budget?

You’ll also want to bear in mind the 7 elements of interior design which are – colour, form, light, line, pattern, texture and space.

Once you’ve thought about and considered these points, you can then think about developing your ideas and working on your restaurant design plan by incorporating the following factors and best practices:-

Restaurant Floor Plan Design

It’s important to firstly plan the design and layout of the front-of-house and commercial kitchen of a restaurant before anything else. The layout of a modern restaurant should consider the flow of foot traffic, area and accessibility for everything from the front to the back of the establishment. 

When mapping out your restaurant floor pan, consider not only the dining area, but the waiting/entrance area, kitchen and prep rooms, bar area, storage, toilets, accessibility compliance and your patio/outdoor dining spaces.

In terms of restaurant floor plans, the general rule of thumb for determining the area ranges is to reserve most of your allotted space for the dining area.  The dining space should comprise at least 70 percent of the overall total space. The remaining area should be reserved for your kitchen and for space to store products, other processing, and preparation areas (between 5 and 35 percent of allotted space). These sizes may need to be adjusted if your floor plan includes a waiting area, bar, or other prep space.

Floor and restaurant layout is based on the type of venue and furniture you choose. To decide what furniture you use, when planning your restaurant design, create seating capacity layouts and room sizes and then match them. You need enough room to move and flow, so it is helpful to have at least 20 sq. ft. per person for fine dining or 10 sq. ft. per person for banquet style dining, with the average being 15 sq. ft. per person.  Consider the space that tables and chairs take up, since it adds to the overall space you need. 

Restaurant Traffic Flow Design

In order to create an enjoyable restaurant experience for customers, the design and flow of the floor space must ensure that staff and customers have plenty of space to walk around.  And there must be plenty of space for staff to easily access the servers’ stations unobstructed.

Without sufficient spacing between the tables and serving points, customers will be and feel uncomfortable, and serving staff will find it hard to circulate the restaurant efficiently. 

The restaurant industry has stepped up to adapt to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and as such, diners aren’t keen on a crowded restaurant floor plan. 

So restaurants must now take into consideration the spacing and traffic flow, as customer comfort should be a top priority.  

Kitchen Layout

A commercial kitchen usually has 5 major areas for meals production. These areas include: prep, cooking, serving, food storage, and clean-up.

It’s designed to keep staff within their defined stations, so that there is less movement between spaces.

A restaurant kitchen needs to have the ability to work efficiently behind the scenes. A well designed kitchen needs defined workstations for food preparation and cleaning, and it needs well designed spillover areas, service bars and kitchen islands for efficient coordination. 

Having adequate space is very important.  A good suggested layout incorporates a kitchen island, walk-in storage and refrigeration, and kitchen islands.


Washrooms and toilets should be accessible, but arranged in a separate location away from where people eat.  Consider placing the toilets near the kitchen to save on plumbing costs.  The bathroom should be spacious and well-lit, and should be easy to clean with practical fixtures and fittings.

Space Between Furniture

In order to ensure the safety of customers and servers, businesses should allow certain minimum space allowances for the traffic path between different items of furniture. 

So when working on your restaurant design, ensure you make adjustments to your layout to match the height of the tables, seating and furniture.

Create A Warm Welcome To Your Restaurant With Clever Design

Before a customer even considers dining at your restaurant, they will firstly judge the restaurant by it’s exterior design and curb appeal.  1st impressions count, so it’s good to create a warm and welcoming environment that starts with a clean and good looking exterior with an inviting entrance. 

The exterior also creates an ideal opportunity to establish your brand with great signage and decor and should be given just as much importance and focus as the interior.  Customers should know what type of vibe to expect before they even get through the front door.

Once inside, the entrance should be equally inviting with a cosy waiting area for any guests waiting for tables.

Decide On A Theme And Colours For Your Restaurant’s Design

Once your restaurant floor plan has been designed, you can move on and begin to focus on the theme and decor.  Choosing a theme for your restaurant is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.  You want your restaurant’s interior design to be memorable and distinctive for the right reasons.  The colours and decor you choose will be essential in creating your theme as they will increase brand awareness. 

Choosing the color scheme for your restaurant depends on what mood you want to convey to your customers. Avoid the more clinical, doctor’s office kind of vibe and add vitality to the space by clever use of colour. 

It’s fine to have a simple minimalist style with lots of white space, but do use colour to brighten up and create a unique space.  Be conscious not to go overboard though as colors can affect your mood. You’ll want to create a happy and cheerful ambience for diners.

Vintage, retro, and classic restaurant interior design styles are always a classic as they create a bit of nostalgia. However, don’t overdo it.  Opt for one of these older styles, but with a modern twist so that you retain an element of the past, such as old wine bar elements with warm wood to bring a sophisticated demeanor.

Create Texture In Your Restaurant’s Design

Nowadays, consumers are warming up the use of more luxurious textures and the use of  fabrics like velvet and linen. This is worth bearing in mind when choosing your furniture, soft furnishings, window dressings, and decorations.

Rich fabrics like leather and suede are great for seating and will give your restaurant character and personal style while blending all the various textures. 

By mixing textures and adding intrigue to the interior, you can increase food sales and gain repeat customers.

Create Eye Catching Visuals In Your Restaurant’s Design

It’s true what they say: we eat with our eyes first. The eye-catching visual elements of modern restaurant design include elements of the dining space itself as well as menus and marketing campaigns that incorporate eye-stealing photos, artwork & visuals, colouring, and motion.

But don’t forget about food presentation – every meal should be arranged on the plate in a way that is exciting and appetising. This concept isn’t new for restaurant owners, but we’re sure to see a significant amount of attention paid to it by people in the profession in 2022.

Hang Modern Light Fixtures In Your Restaurant

What do all current modern restaurant interiors adapt? Very novel and distinctive lighting fixtures. Experimenting with lighting can energise spaces. Whether you are looking towards the industrial style, or other different styles as part of your restaurant design, lighting is an excellent way to create unique ambiance in the given space.

Whatever style of lighting you choose, make sure to match the visual impact you’re trying to create for your brand’s image. 

modern restaurant lighting fixtures
This Thai restaurant uses a mix of clever modern lighting in the design

Choose Your Restaurant Seating Wisely

Seating can quite often be overlooked when it comes to restaurant design, but your choice of seating can add to your restaurant’s ambience. There is a restaurant industry trend that focuses on both style and comfort.  Therefore, we cannot neglect comfort with dining pieces and accessories.

Choosing chairs and tables that go with all the other furniture pieces will ensure that the experience is consistent and comfortable for your diners. But you don’t have to have all matching tables and chairs – mix it up a little and try mixing vintage pieces with new! 

It’s also a good idea to create larger communal dining spaces for groups of people to dine, so incorporate some long tables into your restaurant seating plan.  Choose your seating wisely as your choice will either make or break your guests dining experience and therefore is a key part of your restaurant design.

Make The Restaurant’s Kitchen A Feature In Your Design

They say the kitchen is the heart of a restaurant, so make a feature of it and let your guests see all the action by putting it on show. By boasting an open kitchen design in your restaurant, your guests will get a good whiff of the smell of food being prepared there by the chefs. The aroma of delectable culinary creations will entice diners towards eating and get their mouths watering in anticipation. 

Hang Mirrors Strategically Around Your Restaurant

Mirrors are fantastic for creating the illusion of space and are a clever design tactic.  They are great for use in small spaces.  When using mirrors in your dining room, make sure to curate a set that includes something reflecting the type of space you have and your overall theme. Mirrors are easy to personalise with your own decor, so you should be able to easily find something that matches your restaurant’s style.

Make A Feature Of Your Restaurant’s Bar Design

Your bar provides an ideal opportunity to create a fun and unique space.  The bar area, just like your restaurant’s kitchen, should be a big focal point.  You should decorate your bar to draw attention to your fancy spirits and wines. Lighting, design of bar, materials used and bar seating area can help make your bar take centre stage.  Whether you opt for a more traditional design or for something more modern, you can have lots of fun designing your bar area.

Feature bar in modern thai restaurant
This Thai restaurant has made a feature of their bar through clever use of materials & design

Think About Restaurant Music

Music is very important and sets the tone for your restaurant.  The music you choose should complement, not distract from, the atmosphere of a restaurant.  So think about the type of restaurant you wish to create and choose music that will complement the theme and that your customers will enjoy.  The music should not be louder than a conversation as this can be very off-putting.  

Go Green With Plants In Your Restaurant’s Design

There is a lot to love about indoor plants. They’re attractive, and they help reduce stress and the accumulation of air toxins. Plants can create a warm and calming environment. Moreover, simply the presence of greenery can affect consumers and stabilise mood. The absolute best room for plants in the restaurant is the dining room.

Much greater visual impact can be had by putting plants on areas of the wall, creating a feature wall, putting them or on shelves at different heights, or even to hang them from the ceiling as a quirky feature that guests will love.  So when it comes to your restaurant design, consider going green and reap the benefits!

Integrate Typography & Branding Into Your Restaurant’s Design

Your branding and typography go hand in hand and can reveal something of the restaurant owners’ personality and the restaurant’s story and theme. You can use your chosen typography across your menus, website and marketing materials. Take time to create the perfect logo for your restaurant that will stand out from the competition. 

Think about using textual typography with your brand name as a restaurant adornment that you can use throughout the space, like on a feature wall for example. 

You can even integrate typography with plants and greenery on feature walls to create a focal point for diners to look at.  Neon or lighted signs are a great modern option.

Neon fluorescent signage typography on brick wall
Using Neon or fluorescent lighting in your restaurant signage & decor adds a great modern touch

Install Modern Restaurant Flooring

Choose industrial standard flooring that is practical and can be easily cleaned for your kitchen and bar areas.  When it comes to the restaurant floor and communal areas, you still want to choose something that is practical, but you can be a bit more adventurous and have more fun with it! 

Choose colours and patterns that complement the rest of the restaurant decor and match your overall theme and design  Whatever you choose must also be easy to clean.  

Restaurant Equipment and Catering Supplies

From kitchen equipment to crockery for the tables and glassware, to point of sale and kitchen display systems, there will be lot of essential tools that you’ll need to think about that will need to be incorporated into your restaurant design.  

You’ll want to equip your servers, hosts and kitchen staff with the tools they need to get the job done day-in, day-out. 

Some of the essentials you’ll need to plan for and include in your restaurant design are ovens, food processors, mixers, ventilation systems, security system, mixers, slicers, freezers and refrigerators, cooking equipment, food prep counters, serving equipment, safety equipment, storage and shelves, sinks, washing equipment, ice maker, microwave, gas/electric grill.

Choose the supplies and equipment you need according to your budget, size of restaurant and the space you have available.  It’s a wise investment to buy quality equipment that will stand the test of time.

Kitchen Display System

Kitchens are heated places to begin with. Being in a hectic kitchen, trying to keep accurate notes and occasionally forgetting what customers have ordered leaves room for mistakes, leaving customers irate.

So forget the old hand written orders on paper, and invest in a new Kitchen Display System (KDS) as a vital part of your restaurant design.

With a KDS, your back of house staff has all the order-related information that they need to complete the order correctly. Orders come through in real time and can be modified with ease, thus eliminating any confusion with orders.  This makes service much more efficient.

Point Of Sale System

A point of sale (POS) system is a computerised restaurant business system. It is used to keep track of everything from orders and transactions to customer relationship management, inventory management and reporting. You will certainly need a point of sale system in your restaurant. 

Make sure to choose a user friendly system that staff will find easy to learn and use.  

Consider Outdoor Dining Spaces In Your Restaurant’s Design

Of all the ways restaurateurs have adapted during the COVID-19 crisis, one way has been to redesign the landscape around their outdoor dining spaces to make dining outside more enjoyable for their guests. 

If you have an attractive, comfortable and inviting outdoor dining space, then guests are much more likely to choose an outdoor space to dine in, particularly in the spring and summer months.

Make sure to Incorporate lots of greenery and flowers into your restaurant’s outdoor dining design in order to create the ultimate outdoor dining experience.

Need help with the design of your Restaurant?

Here at Freemont we are experts in designing and building restaurants. If you require assistance with the design and build of your brand new restaurant or eatery, or need help with the redesign of an existing space, then please call us on 0161 503 9075 or fill in our contact form.

We provide the complete package for your convenience including design, project management, build and fit out, together with the provision and installation of specialist catering equipment, ventilation/air conditioning systems, furniture and supplies.

If you’d like to see what some of our customers have to say about our services, then you can read our reviews on Google.

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