6 Tips For Formal Restaurant Interior Design

Chris Rumpf

Founder and CEO, 15+ Years of Restaurant Technology Innovation

6 Tips For Formal Restaurant Interior Design

When it comes down to the factors that contribute to a full house at a formal restaurant, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Borrowed from architects and interior designers, these tips will take you through the different aspects of restaurant interior design that will enrich the theme of your restaurant, help you engage your guests’ senses and leave behind a lasting impression.

1. Formal restaurant design with color

The phrase ‘We eat with our eyes’, succinctly sums up the overall contribution your choice of color palette has to the ambiance you are aiming to create.

Conventional color theory attributes pastel color schemes and cool colors to make a small space feel larger but also less formal and less intimate. In contrast, dark and warm colors are believed to bring the room closer, feel more soft and intimate. However, restaurants break this rule all the time to favor their theme and bring in the intimate and upscale factors with the help of lights, music, and decor.

In addition to the color of your walls, the color, and material of your furniture also signals subliminally the nature of your service. Rich fabric like leather and velvet and comfortable seats make for good first impressions and are comfortable to sit on for longer meals.

2. Employ mood lighting

Restaurant interior designers and architects rely significantly on a combination of natural light and indirect lighting to create an upscale feel. Ideal lighting is achieved by an interplay of:

  • Ambient lights- attached overhead. For formal dinners, these are relatively dim and pointed away from tables to allow just enough light to read menus while contributing a feeling of a private setting and seclusion from fellow diners.
  • Task lights – which are used in areas of high activity to create safe passage and assist the different tasks conducted by restaurant staff.
  • Accent lights – used to draw attention to walls bearing artwork and other decorative features.

3. Design emphasis on menus and tabletop settings

The aspects of the restaurants that your guests will spend the most time physically interacting with are the menu and the silverware.

Everything about your restaurant can find representation on the menu as a concise, yet engaging narrative. This is your chance to get creative while staying true to your theme. A minimal theme can find a chic representation in a single page menu, while a restaurant with history will want to include some interesting trivia.

Heavy plates, fine silverware and good quality glassware with its trademark clarity add to the formal nature of the meal.

4. Don’t overlook sounds and noise

In the latest Zagat survey, noise or loudness was voted as the second most irritating aspect of dining out (after bad service). The type of music and the volume you play it at needs to fit and enhance the theme of your restaurant. Consider your music to be the invisible conductor of the conversation your guests will be having. Strike a balance between uplifting the mood of your restaurant while minimizing any element of surprise, to keep your guests relaxed throughout their meal.

5. The “leave no wall empty” law

Restaurants that encourage slow dining need to provide patrons visual engagement for natural stalls in conversation. Cascading water features, flower arrangements, plants, and interesting art serve the dual purpose of potentially sparking conversation as well as a pleasant visual to rest the gaze through the course of the meal.

6. Your servers and their attitude towards service

The attitude of your servers towards your guest is of paramount importance for their overall impression of your restaurant. Familiarity with the specials, the menu and the wine list is a hygiene factor, that cannot be overlooked. In addition, a personable attitude, a calm demeanor under pressure, courteousness and an ability to anticipate the individual needs of each patron, while being able to address multiple customers will leave a lasting impression on your guests.

While there are plenty of exceptions that skirt these tips, the one factor that cannot be overlooked is the quality of food and the execution of the plating. Although obvious, it is important to state that there is no replacement for fresh food, cooked optimally and served beautifully to delight your guests. Almost everything else can be forgiven.