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Restaurant Interior Design: Layouts & Design Ideas

Restaurant Interior Design: Layouts & Design Ideas

The how-to of luxury restaurant design from industry experts

Jon Sharpe
By Jon Sharpe, Chief Creative Officer

When eating out, a good review isn’t solely down to the food; a restaurant’s interior plays an important role in the whole experience. Knowing how to create an environment that complements the menu and the space’s interior architecture is no simple feat.

From defining restaurant furniture to choosing a colour palette and lighting plan, our Interior Design team share their advice along with insightful commentary by David Collins Studio.

7 things to consider when designing a restaurant

Explore the art of restaurant decoration, distilled down to seven core areas with illustrative case studies straight from David Collins Studio’s portfolio of commercial projects.

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Choose a Striking Colour Palette

As with domestic projects, high up on the subject list for restaurant decor ideas is that of the colour scheme.

“It’s quite common for restaurants to be bold with their colour choices. In a sitting room or dining room there are just a few items of furniture and the colours chosen feel very much ‘on show’, in a restaurant setting, the volumes of furniture, accessories and light sources are far greater so there’s a distraction from the colour. It’s this that encourages the bravery and exploration in colour,” says Linda.

Colour in a restaurant can also become a huge talking point. In larger establishments, it acts as a tool to define distinct areas. David Collins Studio used colour as a trademark in numerous high-end projects, such as the Blue Bar at The Berkeley or the heather cashmere walls in The American Bar at Gleneagles. The colour becomes an icon for the restaurant in question.

Remember, also, with colour decisions to reflect on how they sit together in daylight and how they evolve when night falls and they rely on candle and lamp light for luminosity.

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Master a Functional Layout

“A restaurant’s floor plan forms an immediate impression of ambiance. Keep tables spread out so that each feels secluded, and the guest experience will be an intimate one.

“Tables packed tightly together on the other hand is a statement of conviviality and liveliness. Determining restaurant layout requires a decision on what atmosphere is hoped to be established,’ explains Linda Holmes, Interior Design Director at LuxDeco.

There’s a purely functional aspect to the restaurant’s room plan too though. David Collins Studio always stresses the importance of a clear operational layout for staff and patrons to move freely. The traffic should flow seamlessly. Bottlenecks are immediately apparent and cause an awkward distraction that guests will pick up on.

A division between the bar and restaurant area is another question to be answered on the subject of layout. This will affect the feeling of formality or informality across the whole space.

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Specify High-Grade Contract Furniture

When a restaurant approaches its furniture choices as objects of function and nothing else, the entire experience becomes devalued. The importance of carefully selected restaurant chairs, tables and accent pieces is not to be underestimated.

In all of its projects, David Collins Studio features bespoke items of furniture that resonate with the chef’s ethos and in turn, the restaurant’s atmosphere. For Tom Kerridge’s Bar and Grill at Corinthia London, the restaurant’s bar design features club-style and highly comfortable bar stools. This style is continued through to the restaurant with its deep, Chesterfield-inspired banquettes in cherry red leather. Such furniture choices reinforce the menu’s message of classic British cuisine that marries comfort with unwavering quality.

Linda adds: “It matters that not every element matches. That doesn’t mean that every dining table and chair needs to be different, but that there are occasional pieces in the room to break up any consistency. A statement dresser or several elegant console tables adorned with decorative lamps or a vase are helpful here and serve as a reminder that restaurant furniture extends beyond table and chair.”

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Select Show-stopping Lighting

Arguably one of the most crucial aspects of restaurant design, lighting ideas must be respectful of the fine line between necessary, task-style beams and ambient illumination.

“In our homes, we consistently stress the need to layer the lighting throughout the space. It’s no good having all of the lighting hung from above; it must drift down slowly from pendants to wall lights and lamps aplenty. A restaurant may be a commercial space, but guests want to be made to feel at ease in their surroundings as they do at home, so it’s logical to follow the same lighting philosophy as you would in the home,” advises Linda.

David Collins Studio also acknowledges the effect that lighting has on each guest, considering what is the most flattering light at every angle. In the Harrods Dining Hall, they focus the lighting on the plate to showcase the food, with soft, low-level lighting for the diners to bask in.

Curate a Unique Decor Collection

As David Collins Studio puts it: “If there’s exquisite detail in the food, then there should be exquisite detail in the way the room is put together.”

Restaurant decor ideas, therefore, are a fundamental component in how the LuxDeco Interior Design team approach every commercial project. “The term ‘finishing touches’ is misleading. These aren’t the bits to be simply added in at the end. Accessories and decorative touches are where you deepen the level of consideration in restaurant interior design,” Linda advises.

Remember too that in the social media-centric world that we live in, carving out areas of appealing vignettes, complete with trinket boxes, decorative bowls and impressive floral arrangements, means your restaurant’s design is all the more likely to become a must-visit and must-photograph location.

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Display Personality-Full Artwork

By extension of decor and accessories, displaying expertly curated arts and artefacts speaks volumes to guests. They serve as points of interest, they reinforce or subvert the overall interior design direction and they add warmth and texture to the space.

“Similar to how we light a restaurant with as much thought as we do a home’s dining area, restaurant wall design deserves as much thought as would be given in a residential project. Art adorning the walls and sculptures atop of tables are luxurious details that reveal the pedigree of the establishment. We always encourage this in our restaurant interior design projects, and it’s an investment that our clients never regret,” says Linda.

Don't Neglect The Restaurant's Bathroom Design

It’s not uncommon to hear creative types and interiors aficionados claim that to know the true dedication to design of a restaurant, you must check out the bathroom. This is where the same level of attention to detail seen in the main restaurant either flails or flourishes.

David Collins Studio comments: “The combination and contrast of materiality is so interesting in bathrooms. Marble and stone give a luxurious finish and contrast beautifully with timber, which can add warmth. Mirrored glass, brass and nickel all give reflection and a sense of luminosity.”

Lighting, too, is fundamental in this area of the restaurant, otherwise undoing all of the hard work in setting the perfect level of ambiance during dining. “Proper lighting is so important, eye level sconces that flank a vanity can give a flattering illumination, without the shadow that is created by overhead lighting,” David Collins Studio adds.