Restaurant lighting is an essential element for any food establishment owner. Creating the right atmosphere for diners and enticing them to come back is crucial to obtaining customers.
Research has shown that the lighting in an establishment can have an emotional effect on diners, influencing their feeling of satisfaction with regards to their whole dining experience.
Often, the lighting in a restaurant is overlooked or left until the end. However, it should be as important as any other element in great restaurant design.
The Primary Types of Restaurant Lighting
There are countless types of industrial restaurant lighting available, with styles and designs to suit all spaces. Be creative with what you think will work best for your room to create a unique dining experience.
Generally speaking, no matter what lighting scheme you choose, your fixtures will fall into three categories.
As the name suggests, ambient lighting is all about setting the right mood in your restaurant or diner. These lights – most commonly wall fixtures – are great for highlighting walls or corners that would otherwise be filled with shadow. They can also be used to illuminate other decorations, such as an emotive shelf or wall art.
Often in the form of hanging pendants, task lighting is the primary light source for your seated customers.
Ultimately, your guests need to be able to read their menus and eat their meals without having to strain their eyes. Therefore, finding the right balance between offering clarity but also keeping the lighting soft and comforting is of huge importance.
Accent lighting is often the showpiece in your design, adding soft light to the overall space but also drawing eyes upwards and out across the establishment.
Accent lighting can often be the difference between a good restaurant design and a great one. On the surface, these lights are simplistic, designed to provide a lot of light into general areas. However, they are also an excellent opportunity to add a personal flourish to any space.
How To Make the Most of Your Restaurant Lighting
As mentioned above, there are so many different options that you’ll likely never see the same lighting scheme twice. Finding out what’s best for your place can be challenging, especially if it has never been thought of in detail before.
Before you choose what lights to include in your restaurant or diner, here are some things to consider.
- Atmosphere – What kind of emotions do you want your customers to feel when they enter your establishment? Are you creating a soft, romantic atmosphere for couples or a place to catch-up with friends?
- Food – What food are you serving? Do you want diners to take their time or eat quickly to make room for new customers?
- Colour Scheme – What is the colour scheme for your establishment? You’ll want lights that fit into the overall design of your space.
If you are looking for lighting inspiration for your diner or restaurant, bear these above points in mind as we take you through ten ideas, from the classics to some of the latest trends.
1) Hanging Pendants
Hanging pendants are the most common form of lighting you’ll find in any restaurant, no matter what the theme. One of the great things about pendants is how flexible they are, with so many options in terms of size, quantity, height and more.
The Benefits of Hanging Pendant Lights:
Easy installation from the ceiling.
Position over tables, countertops or bars.
Makes for simple menu reading (task lighting at its finest).
An effective way to outline other key features.
Retro Enamel Pendant - 14 Inch – Orange, £69, by Industville (Image supplied by Industville)
Perfect for creating elegance.
When most people think of chandeliers, they think of giant glass sculptures that act as statement pieces in large homes. However, these are so many different chandelier sizes available, making them perfect for adding highlights to an elegant restaurant interior.
If a glass fixture doesn’t quite suit the style of your restaurant, consider an industrial chandelier alternative, offering elegance and versatility in a more modern style.
The Benefits of Chandelier Lighting for Restaurants
- Create a focal point within your restaurant.
- Provide atmospheric lighting mixed with elegance.
- Often easy to install.
3) Track Fixtures
Guide the customer’s eye.
A form of lighting that has become popular over the last few years, especially in diners, is track fixtures. These lights are often small and come in large quantities, creating straight or circular paths across the roof or walls of your restaurant.
The Benefits of Track Lighting for Restaurants
- Draw customer’s eyes to different areas of your establishment.
- Available in different shapes and forms for versatility.
- Can be installed as beams or clusters for a more targeted effect.
- Often one of the cheapest and most practical options.
4) Wall Accents
Utilise your wall space.
Wall accents are a crucial fixture in any diverse lighting scheme. Similar to hanging pendants, wall lights are incredibly versatile and can be used as ambience or accent lighting depending on your restaurant. These lights are also a must for any small spaces, allowing you to make the most of what room you have.
The Benefits of Wall Accents for Restaurants
- Perfect for illuminating small spaces or forgotten corners.
- Can be used to highlight specific areas, such as hanging wall art.
- Simple to install and maintain.
5) Exposed Ceilings & Lighting
If your restaurant is based in an older building, you may have some characterful roof fittings to consider. Things such as extractor fans, industrial beams and pipework lean towards a more retro dining experience, so any ceiling lights you choose should accommodate this.
The best way to make the most of this natural industrial look is to complement it with lights boasting exposed wiring. Small hanging pendants are great for drawing eyes upwards to the key features of your space.
The Benefits of Exposed Ceilings and Lighting
- Unique features can add character to your restaurant’s style.
- Lights can be used to draw the eye towards ceiling features.
Harbour Flush Mount - 6 Inch - Pewter, £89, by Industville (Image supplied by Smash Burger)
6) Menu Lighting
Entice your guests.
If you’re a diner or restaurant in a busy location, then making sure your menu stands out is hugely important. To get people to pause and read your list, you need to make sure you create an instant atmosphere with the help of emotive lighting fixtures.
In many cases, your menu lighting will be in the form of wall lights. It helps to have a statement fixture that catches the eye of passing customers.
The Benefits of Menu Lighting
- Bring potential customers towards your menu.
- Warm lighting will invite people to enter your establishment.
- Set the atmosphere of your establishment with emotive, characterful fixtures.
7) Focused Illumination
Highlight your decorations.
Something of a modern alternative to wall lighting is the idea of focused illumination. Often lending itself to larger, open-planned spaces, this style uses softer accent lighting to draw the eye towards specific features of your design.
The Benefits of Focused Illumination in Restaurants:
- A softer way to highlight key features.
- Helps to create a brighter open space.
- Incredibly versatile.
The ultimate in romantic lighting, the candlelight is a must for any restaurant looking to appeal with couples. While it can seem slightly old-fashioned, candles can be designed to work with any style of interior, whether traditional or modern.
You will need to consider whether to include task lighting when using candles, as candlelight on its own is often not enough. A complete lighting solution with candles will often look to achieve a soft look that provides warmth and comfort for a romantic evening.
The Benefits of Candle Lighting
- Perfect for creating a warm, romantic ambience.
- Low cost and energy-efficient.
- Incredibly versatile.
- Ideal for certain themed restaurants (e.g. medieval).
9) Outdoor Lighting
If your restaurant is lucky enough to have outside space, it’s important you make the most of what you have. Outdoor dining is hugely popular during the summer months, so you’ll want to create your lighting scheme with this in mind.
Even if you don’t have an outside dining space, you may wish to consider outdoor lighting options. After all, you want to entice guests to visit your place by creating an ambience that is recognisable to passers-by.
The Benefits of Outdoor Lighting for Restaurants
- Create an emotive outside dining experience.
- Create stand-out signage and branding.
- Illuminate entrances, exits and car parks.
10) Natural Light
Last but certainly not least, be sure to always take advantage of all the natural light sources on offer. Installing large windows and glass-based doors are both popular ways of making the most of outside light.
It doesn’t matter how big or small the establishment, natural light sources are hugely important as they could save you money whilst trading during the day.
The Benefits of Natural Light for Restaurants
- Save money on electrical bills.
- Create a more open and bright space for guests.
- Can be used as part of a broader design scheme.
No matter what atmosphere you’re looking to achieve, there are several different options to choose from, and our list of lighting ideas are just some of the inspirational and modern designs used in restaurants today.
If you are looking for more lighting inspiration, why not check out our social media channels? We post inspiring interiors every day on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, and you can join the conversation using #Industville!