5 Restaurant Decor Tips

There are three things that can make or break a restaurant:

  1. Food
  2. Service
  3. Décor

Yes, décor. Why do you think people spend so little time lingering over a meal in fast food joints? It’s because the lights are bright and glaring and the tables and chairs are cheap, uncomfortable plastic. Why do you think people spend more time in coffee shops and restaurants? It’s because the surroundings are far more comfortable.

Here are some restaurant décor tips to help you keep bums on seats and money in the register.

  • The Furniture

Restaurant owners often underestimate the power of their tables and chairs. They are far more likely to concentrate on their walls, table cloths, table accessories and lighting. The thing is people pay careful attention to tables and chairs. They look to see if they suit the room, if they are chipped, if they are wobble-free and if they look comfortable. It’s not uncommon for people to walk into a restaurant, take one look at bulky uncomfortable looking chairs and walk back out.

You might like heavy wooden furniture but it needs lots of space. If your space is limited go with smaller, lighter furniture. Don’t buy anything that looks obviously cheap. If you can’t afford two dozen of the same set then mix and match your tables and chairs. Eclectic quality is much better than tacky quantity.

Buy furniture that is easy to clean. You don’t want tables that will retain stickiness and accumulate grime over time. A good idea is to have great tables covered with a sheet of glass. Nothing’s easier to clean than glass. Glass can also go over pretty table cloths to protect them from messy eaters and accidental stabbings.

restaurant chairs

Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chuzailiving/5044925334/

  • The Bathroom

Never, ever ignore your bathroom. People want clean, yes, but they also want inviting. You don’t need doilies and toilet covers but some fresh flowers, always-full soap and paper towel dispensers and pretty tiles will go a long way to securing loyal custom. Some scented candles to provide a gentle fragrance will also be appreciated, as will some air freshener.

If your grouting is manky, the soap is never full, you never have paper towels and the it smells too much like a public toilet people will be less inclined to repeat their visit.

  • The Lighting

You don’t want it too light because then people will think you run a fast food place or a canteen. But you don’t want it too dark either. Use a combination of windows, paint, mirrors and lighting to create a soft atmosphere that allows people to see their food but which will forgive a blemish help them relax.

Use lighting to suit your theme. You can be a bit brighter if you’ve gone with a South American theme, whereas an Asian theme might support darker colours. The type of restaurant will also affect your lighting. Wine bars can afford to experiment with darker colours but family restaurants are usually lighter.

Consider your lighting fixtures. Subtle lighting is usually better than obvious or low hanging fixtures – unless, of course, you have a chandelier that you want to use as a centre piece. Candles or little oil lamps are always a good idea at night.

  • The Accessories

These are your table accessories, as well as things like plants, paintings and mirrors. Don’t clutter tables. People need space to eat. They don’t want to have to eat with their elbows tucked under their ribs so that they don’t knock over their wine due to the enormous side plates, clutch of candles and salt and pepper cellars. Having said that, there are certain things that you always need to provide, like salt, pepper and toothpicks – a little stand for these is handy. A little vase with one or two fresh flowers is a nice touch.

If possible, find a local artist whose work you like and see if you can arrange to show her paintings for sale. That way you can keep your walls fresh with interesting pictures and it won’t cost you much. Otherwise, you can cheat and ‘frame’ interesting pieces of wallpaper. Framed pictures usually give a touch of class to a restaurant; they don’t have to be big and ornate, in fact that can sometimes be a bad idea. Subtle (affordable) frames go a long way.

Some restaurant owners like to have fish tanks to provide a bit of colour and a splash of life to their establishment. This is fine if you’re going to keep it clean and ensure the fish stay healthy. A better option is to use plants. A few strategically placed pot plants will add to the atmosphere of the room and may even help patrons relax. A little garden at the entrance is also a good idea; try to incorporate a little water feature or even a Zen garden.

  • The Floor

Avoid lino like the plague. It screams cheap and it doesn’t take long for it to show the signs of heavy wear and tear. Rather choose tiles, which are easy to clean or wood, which is elegant. It’s generally a bad idea to go with carpet unless you’ve found something that absolutely matches your other décor and that won’t get dirty (or show dirt) easily. You will have to dedicate a fair bit of time to keeping your carpet clean and may even have to buy an industrial vacuum cleaner, so bear that in mind when you catch sight of something soft and Persian.

Whatever flooring you choose, you’ll need to keep it clean. Sticky spots are a no-no.

The temptation for many restaurant owners is to decorate their establishment in a style that they like. They forget that their customers might have entirely different tastes. Always put yourself in your customers’ shoes before you make any big decorating decisions. They might not like that life-size statue of David as much as you do.

This guest post was written on behalf of Milano by Sandy Cosser. Milano provides quality restaurant chairs and tables to help you make a success of your business.

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