The Role of Colour in Restaurant Interior Design

When it comes to decorating an interior space, we all have our preferences with regards to colours and whether we want to create a vibrant environment or somewhere more relaxing and neutral.

Regardless of how much emphasis you put on texture and on finishing details, colour is the canvas onto which the design and experience of an interior space is presented – and never has this been truer than in the hospitality industry.

The truth is that the colour of a restaurant does more than simply set the mood and build the foundations for an immersive guest environment. It also plays a role in the psychology of diners, how much they eat, how long they stay, and how much they enjoy the overall experience.

Let’s take a closer look at the role that colour plays and how it impacts the mood and experience of diners, before sharing some of the best colourways and combinations to use in your restaurant design.

Why is colour important in a restaurant setting?

Before we consider the psychology of colour and how different shades and tones impact the hunger levels of diners and how long they choose to stay, let’s first consider the basics of colour matching your restaurant’s interior design with your branding.

A restaurant is a place where diners go for an experience. They expect more than just a meal and will look to everything from the design of your restaurant to the quality of the food and service in determining how good the overall experience is. As such, the way that your brand and brand personality is injected into the look and feel of the restaurant is crucial – and what better way to do this than by starting with the basics of your brand’s colour palette.

Of course, there are some colours which have more of an impact on the experience than others – and that’s where psychology comes in. Did you ever notice how many of the top fast food brands include red in their branding and restaurant design? And have you ever made the connection between extravagant and luxurious meals and the colour purple? The fact is that not only do our own external associations impact the way we receive and behave around certain colours, but the emotional connections we have to these colours can alter our appetite – with red a colour linked to impulse decisions and increased hunger, while purple is the colour of regal refinement, white is a pure and relaxing colour, and green is the shade most often linked to nature and the great outdoors.

So, the colours that you choose to use in your restaurant can and likely will influence the way that your brand and the food you serve is received. Red décor can encourage the diner to see your restaurant as an impulse choice, and somewhere for quick and urgent dining. Purple may make them perceive the meal as high end, while green might draw them into thinking they’re eating somewhere healthy.

How does colour affect diner behaviour and thus the success of your restaurant?

Restaurant colour psychology

Beyond that, it’s also important to recognise that colour plays a role in the behaviour and interaction of guests in your restaurant space – and that the tones and shades you choose can exacerbate or downplay certain actions.

Darker shades with mood lighting can have a relaxing effect on diners and will likely encourage them to stay for longer as they really immerse themselves in the laid back and intimate vibe of your restaurant. Conversely, bright lights give that quick service feel, and can force diners out the door more quickly, spending less time and subsequently less money in your establishment.

Here are a few colourways and colour matches that could promote a popular and successful restaurant business:

  • Keep it light with pastel shades to create a cute and quirky café / bistro-style restaurant which is great for catch ups.
  • Darker and richer colours lend themselves to intimate and romantic dining, especially when paired with table lights and spotlights.
  • Earthy colours are subconsciously linked to healthy restaurants, so tend to attract daytime diners and those looking to overhaul their diet.
  • Warm and bright colours are often associated with family-friendly restaurants and places which offer a faster service; but won’t generally be selected by romantic diners.

Finally, don’t forget that colour doesn’t just appear on the walls of your restaurant. You also need to consider the colours of your menu, any and all signage, and even the furniture in order to create effective and cohesive design flair throughout your restaurant space.

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