Café Interior Design

8 Tips on Café Interior Design to Bring Back Your Customers

Imagine planning on eating out for the night with your better half or best buddies. You’re excited because you’ve been looking forward to trying out this new café. Your expectations are sky high and you’re anticipating the good times ahead. But when you actually go, and for the most part, the café interior design is mediocre at best. Your party is led to a table where the seats are super uncomfortable. This puts a slight damper on your mood but you’re determined to have a good time. Then the music is terrible, the menu looks amateur and the pendant light above your table is giving you a headache. So even when the food is good, you vow never to go back because – wow, what a terrible ambiance.
These days, people don’t just go out to eat – they go out to get the full experience. Anyone can cook good food in their home kitchens, which is why the café and restaurant industry pulls no stops in designing beautiful and attractive interiors to keep the guests coming back. A good café interior design can be the one fine difference that ends up setting you apart from the competitors.

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Did you know that a lack of preparation on the management’s part is what causes around 60% of eateries to fail in their first year? There’s a very small margin for error and the ambiance plays a huge role in it. It’s important to remember that a café design is personal. One person’s clutter can be another person’s cozy. However, there are a few universal interior design ‘sweet spots’ that can keep everyone wanting more.

Let’s look at these 8 tips on café interior design that will help you maintain a good customer base:

1. Location

The location of your café is paramount to the kind of customer base you want to attract. You cannot just find an empty lot in any old neighborhood and build your café there. The location will determine the flux of customers, the menu and the demographic of your clients. There are three major placeholders for a café location:

  • A corner shop: Choose one that is preferably at a junction. This will attract a lot of the morning traffic your way and definitely boost the business.
  • A cozy neighborhood: When you’re looking for a prime location within a partially residential district, then go for a place that has minimum competition. If too many eateries pop up in the same place, the customer base will dwindle. Open your café in a neighborhood that is high on coziness and low on rivalry.
  • A mall: If your café is of the commercial category, then it is best to find a prime location in a mall. This will definitely attract the kind of customer base that you’ll be looking for.
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2. Exterior

the exterior of your café has to be particularly welcoming. If you scrimp on the elevation then the major commercial attraction would also dwindle. The café exterior must represent the interior at least partially. For this purpose, you should use tall windows that gives great view of your prime inside seating or even the food display. Invest in a glitzy logo and a welcoming header and try to emulate a bit of individualism to attract the desired guests.

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3. Lighting

A good lighting design is the cynosure of any brilliant design, but its significance increases two-fold when designing specifically for eateries. The lighting design for such spaces is much more nuanced than the general lighting of any commercial or residential interiors. It creates an unconsciously positive mood and stimulates the appetite for the customers. If your lighting is bad then you could very well alienate your customer base – for who would want to sit around under a glaring pendent light or a sputtering halogen light.

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The lighting for a café interior is supposed to be bright and breezy in order to promote a friendly vibe throughout the space. However, there also needs to be an ambient balance to the space which is created through accent lighting and decorative fixtures. Below, let’s take an in-depth look at how exactly to emulate proper lighting in your café interior.

– Through artificial lighting

The café interior lighting is a fine mixture of three sorts of artificial lighting techniques. These include ambient lighting, accent lighting and decorative lighting. Sometime, owners even invest in specialty lighting.

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a. Ambient Lighting:

This kind of lighting is all about creating an equal spread of light throughout the space. Compare it to the primer/foundation combo in your make-up kit – it helps create a fine, equidistant spread of lighting for further accentuation.

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b. Accent Lighting:

The accent lighting style is all about highlighting certain features in your café interior. They can be feature objects like paintings, food displays or even a luxury artwork.

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c. Decorative Lighting:

This kind of lighting is all about adding beauty to the surface interior design. Decorative lighting is done through elaborate fixtures that complement the interior style of the café.

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– Through natural lighting

The combination of natural light with café interior design is not stringent, but it can definitely enhance the overall look of the environment. Not only does it reinforce a well-ventilated, atmospheric outlook, it also makes the interior seem refreshing and spacious. The breezy addition to the ambiance is always welcome in casual public spaces like cafes.

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4. Café colors and materials

Any interior aesthetic is the basic representation of its combined color and material schemes. A nice combination of both can enhance the visuals of your space. A bad one, one the other hand, can make your space seem bland or even boring. Since a café needs to have beautiful visuals in order to attract the customers, it is extremely important to choose the right colors and complement that further with the right materials.

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Since cafés are a thematic representation of coffee houses, the main color scheme is rooted in dark, earthy hues. But that is definitely not a universal application. In the context of colors, style and materials, café interiors can be divided into 4 categories.

– The grab-and-go café

The grab-and-go is like a chain café store – think Starbucks with a dash of individuality; think Luke’s diner from Gilmore Girls. The main attraction of these cafes is that they offer their eatables on the go. So their interiors tend to work like well-oiled machines; a very small seating area, more circulation space for lines and a constant running theme.

The color and material palate of these cafes is very stringent to the ‘logo’ palate. Whatever the graphics team concocts is what goes into the interior. The material articulation is always very contemporary to enforce a modern vibe.

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– The hangout café

These kind of cafes are very strict on individuality. These cafés are just the tiniest bit upscale but the overall ambiance is very casual. The layout of these cafes is slightly wider; with an option for larger sitting arrangements.

They strive to be one of a kind and need a standout color come material palate. The best combination for such cafés is always a partially vivid color scheme that is toned down by an earthy material palate. A fine balance between the two need to be struck; otherwise, the space might end up looking either too funky or too drab.

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– The corporate café

The corporate café consists of individual indie coffee shops that thrive on unique and adventurous design themes. From retro and bohemian to shabby chic, they encompass all sorts of themes. The overall atmosphere is very stylish yet homely; the customer always feels welcome without the stress of an upscale maintenance.

The color and material scheme of the corporate café needs to be decided according to the selected theme. Of course, you can always go for a generalized style. If that is the case then go for exuberant colors, plentiful textures and exposed materials to concoct a friendly, relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

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– The old-style café

This kind of a café has an antique old-style charm without a hint of modern or contemporary in sight. The ideal atmosphere is easy-going with a dash of homely – think a small-scale, easily constructible version of the Beast’s library a la Beauty and the Beast. The overall ambiance is cozy and intimate with warm lighting accents in the mix.

The color come material scheme for the old-style café is very exclusive; multi-toned shades of brown with a lot of textures. The desired aesthetic for such cafes includes an exposed brick wall, a tall bookshelf, an earthy color scheme and simple pendent lights.

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5. Stimulating appetite through interiors

The main focus of any eatery is to stimulate the appetite of the customers in subtle ways. This involves designing the interiors with color psychology in mind. Experts have determined that deep, russet tones combined with a golden ambiance unconsciously stimulate the appetite. This is why most restaurant interiors are designed in tones of reds, browns, and golds.

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Similar is the case with a café. Although the food choices in a café are decidedly limited, the business still needs to be successful. So the desired theme along with the color and material palates need to be designed in dark, earthy tones with hints of red. The lighting needs to be carefully layered to highlight the golden accents.

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When you adhere to these small tricks, the interior automatically becomes both visually and appetizingly stimulating. In fact, a strict follow-up to this color psychology has spawned the infamous ‘ketchup-mustard’ phenomenon.

– The ‘ketchup-mustard’ phenomenon

The ‘ketchup-mustard’ phenomenon is an idea that suggests that red and yellow is the most effective colors when you want to stimulate the appetite of the user. This is why many chain fast food companies such as McDonalds and KFC have their entire corporate entity designed around the red and yellow theme.

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Although extremely effective, such a scheme would never work in a café interior though. Its glaring vivacity would never suit the relaxed atmosphere of a café interior. However, if you want to emulate this phenomenon, you’d definitely have to be subtle about it. For example, you could incorporate the reds by choosing a darker tone and applying it to the seating, and you could incorporate the yellow in small accents; like a collage of yellow themed artwork.

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6. The idea of ‘Gastronomic Analogy’

Although this concept doesn’t strictly apply to interiors alone, it is definitely something worth considering. In architecture, the concept of Gastronomic Analogy refers to physical manifestation of food within the space. The idea is to attract the customer by designing your establishment in the image of a specific food – preferably one that you’re trying to market; think of chocolate dripping from the wall cafe!

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In the context of café interiors, Gastronomic Analogy could be applied by designing small artificial food objects within the interior space. For example, you could order customized fiber glass cupcake pendent lights, or as close as if you do not want to be so literal.

7. Balancing the function and layout

The layout of a café is one of the most important aspects of the interior. You could either go for the simple table-chair style or design in booths – it all depends on the theme of your interior. However, there always needs to be a fine balance between the function, aesthetics and the layout, because this is how you create the majority of your cafés ambiance.

By function, consider the aisle space – the space between each seating formation. It has to be wide enough for the servers to pass through easily, but not wide enough to hinder the aesthetics. If this space is too narrow, or even too wide, both the functionality and aesthetics would be compromised.

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8. Auditory stimulation of appetite through music

While visuals are always a very scrupulous aspect of café interiors, you could always subtly effect the appetite of your customers through sounds too. Music is a key aspect in creating that perfectly balanced feel within your cafés. With the right music to complement that perfect color scheme, you could end up stimulating the appetite of your customer even more. If they’re enjoying the surrounding visuals, and are even more galvanized by the auditory stimulation, then they’ll definitely want to come back and will have only good things to say about your eatery.

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Café interior design is a combination of several visual and pragmatic aspects – including the colors, materials, themes, layout, lighting and function – all of which come together to form a space that offers beautiful visuals and relaxed environment while subtly stimulating the appetite.

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Comments (5)

Thankyou so much you list important points & l’m gonna use them

Thanks for the advice on how to design your cafe in a way that keeps customers coming back for more. One thing that I really like about cafes is that if they have great deign and a great environment, people will most definitely come back despite how the food is. With that being said, my girlfriend and I love to go to a cafe in town that is really neat looking. Thanks for the post!

I am searching for coffee shop designs.

Thanks for the info

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