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10 Must-See Restaurant Lighting Ideas for Modern Diners

restaurant lighting ideas

Restaurant lighting is an important element for any food establishment owner. Creating the right atmosphere for diners and enticing them to come back is crucial to obtaining customers.

A restaurant lighting and music study by researchers Brian Wansink and Dr. Koert Van Ittersum proved that customers who dine in a relaxing atmosphere with soft lighting and music will eat less, for longer and enjoy their meal more.

This shows that lighting can actually affect us emotionally by influencing how much food we consume whilst determining our satisfaction levels whilst dining.

Often the lighting in a restaurant is overlooked, but it should be as important as any other element included in great restaurant design.

The primary types of restaurant lighting

restaurant lighting types

  1. Ambient Lighting - used for setting a specific mood or impression, also great for the overall lighting of the restaurant.

  2. Task Lighting - created to provide the right amount of light for a given area, perfect for setting a relaxing atmosphere or outlining specific elements.

  3. Accent Lighting - the most effective way of adding the X-factor, also ideal for drawing attention to specific restaurant elements.

Making the most of your restaurant lighting

restaurant light ideas

When deciding the best way to include lighting in your restaurant, it's important to think about:

  • The atmosphere you want to create
  • The type of food you serve i.e. do you want diners to take there time or eat quickly to make room for new diners?
  • The colour scheme of your restaurants interior design - does the style of lighting match this?

This purely depends on the type of establishment you have. For example, if your restaurant is classed as fine dining, you want to utilise relaxing lighting fixtures to generate the right mood whilst complimenting all other interior elements.

Let's take a look at 10 unique ways of incorporating restaurant lighting and the benefits that each display.

1.) Hanging pendants add practical class

Hanging pendants are now one of the most popular forms of restaurant and bar lighting, a proven form of flexible task lighting.

The benefits of hanging pendant lights include:

  • Easy installation from the ceiling
  • Position over tables, counter tops or bars
  • Makes for simple menu reading (task lighting at it's finest)
  • Effective way to outline key features in your restaurant

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2.) Create elegance with beautiful chandeliers

Chandeliers are available in a range of different shapes and sizes to suit your restaurants atmosphere and style.

Often used as a statement piece, chandeliers are also used in smaller environments such as bars and cafes to capture the attention of customers and passers by.

The benefits of including chandeliers in your restaurant include:

  • Creating a focal point within your restaurants dining area
  • Providing atmospheric lighting mixed with elegance
  • Easy installation from the ceiling

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3.) Guide the gleam with track fixtures

Another highly popular form of restaurant lighting, track fixtures offer the ability to direct lighting in several different directions.

Track lighting hold many benefits, including:

  • Creating focal points in your restaurant
  • Available in different shapes and forms of ceiling lighting
  • Can be installed as beams for targeted effect
  • Often the cheapest and most practical option

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4.) Utilise wall space with accent lighting

Making the most of the space you have is important, especially for those with a restaurant space not quite the size intended.

Using accent lights such as retro wall sconces and flush mounts offer an attractive form of vanity lighting in bathrooms, above mirrors or to effectively outline decorative features in the restaurant.

restaurant lighting ideas
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5.) Trusty ceiling fan/light combination

Ceiling fan lights is a great way of keeping diners at a nice temperature whilst also offering the light source needed.

Available in a range of shapes, sizes and to suit all budgets, fan lighting is usually seen in restaurants serving hot (spicy) food but is also ideal for semi-outdoor dining.

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6.) Entice customers with attractive menu lighting

Making your menu stand out to your customers is a must for all restaurants.

Whether you're advertising exclusive offers, discounts or brand new dishes, lighting can assist in allowing your menu to look attractive, creative and most importantly, visible!

Although using physical wall lights has its own benefits, the placement of your menu if also important, where can most of your customers see it? Is it accessible for all diners?

Alternatively, electronic menus are an option, often cheap and external lighting isn't required, it all really depends on the type of food you're serving.

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7.) Develop specific focus with illumination

Illuminating lighting, whether in the form of a fixture of singular, work well in drawing attention to focal parts or decorations within the restaurants interior.

Perhaps you've placed new decorative elements within the interior, think ornaments or artwork, that you want your customers to notice. In which case, accent lighting would work best for this purpose.

Combining accent and ambient lighting together also often helps the focal focus stand out even further, a great example being the Kane World Food Studio in Romania (pictured below).

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8.) Spark romance with candle light

Candle light isn't only useful for romantic dining but as a main light source within your restaurant.

The benefits of using candle light over electric include:

  • Low cost and energy efficient
  • Decorative and flexible
  • Creates a romantic, ambient atmosphere
  • Perfect for themed restaurants i.e. medieval

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9.) Get creative with outdoor lighting

Many restaurants are lucky enough to offer the option of dining outdoors, and if this is the case in the evening, then the lighting needs to be on point.

There are several options for this, and large LED fairy lights (pictured below) are often the most popular thanks to their shelf-life, low cost to run and versatile.

Even if dining outdoors isn't an option, outdoor lighting can be utilised to:

  • Highlight the architecture of the building
  • Create stand-out signage
  • Make entrances and exits easy to find
  • Allow full visibility in car parks for safety

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10.) Make the most of natural sources

Be sure to always take advantage of all the natural light sources on offer to you. 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 time.

To conclude, the lighting designs you decide to use in you restaurant depends on:

  • The atmosphere you're looking to develop
  • The interior theme you want to cater for
  • The type of customers you want to attract
  • The features you want to outline in your restaurant
  • The perception and experience you want to create for staff, customers and your restaurants name

Either way, it's important to realise that there are several different options to choose from, and our list of 10 lighting ideas are just some of the inspirational and modern designs used in restaurants today.

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