10 tips to improve restaurant lighting

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Providing the right lighting for a restaurant means being able to prolong customers’ stay, which translates into more food and beverage consumption and better economic outcomes. According to survey data, using larger plates may make portions appear smaller, and if the plate color matches the tablecloth but differs from the food color, perceived portion size may decrease by 10%, as the surface is more visually engaging.

Restaurants are places where people gather to relax, chat, and share emotions. Therefore, lighting must blend seamlessly with furniture and architecture, and strive to maintain consistency with style and color choices. It is essential to light up the dishes correctly to highlight their colors, freshness, and details.

Let us now discuss how to better illuminate a restaurant and provide customers with the ultimate dining experience.

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How to Better Light Up Your Restaurant

First impressions are crucial for everyone, and for a restaurant, the initial perception is based on its overall decor and lighting.

Using appropriate lighting can help make your restaurant stand out, diversify it by making it unique and recognizable within the dining landscape.

Properly illuminating the restaurant facade and name is essential in providing a satisfying and welcoming experience for customers from the first visual encounter.

Lighting is not just about illuminating the space but also plays a decisive role in creating a suitable atmosphere for customers to dine comfortably.

Food may be delicious, but if the lighting is inappropriate, it can greatly detract from the customer’s experience, leading to early departures and a failure to remember the delicious food.

Recent studies show that 72% of respondents leave a date early because of either too strong or too dim lighting. Conversely, 74% of people confirm that they stay longer in a room because the lighting makes them feel more relaxed and at ease.

In communication and interaction between people, emotional factors are crucial, but you must also remember that time is money. For this reason, emotional aspects must be integrated into business in a functional way, through strategic lighting that can bring customers a pleasant experience while maximizing the restaurant’s profits.

Let’s explore together the golden rules to adopt in your lighting project to create the perfect atmosphere.

1. Clarify the importance of your lighting design project

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Lighting is often overlooked, with many shop owners preferring to focus more on product displays and paying little attention to lighting design. The placement of electrical outlets in room layouts and other factors are crucial to lighting design.

Take a dining table as an example. Without proper planning, it’s possible to have only some tables illuminated, or to have both the table and aisle illuminated by the same light, resulting in lighting without distinction.

Therefore, we need to focus on illuminating each individual dining table. One effective method is to install individual light fixtures above each table, which can be pendant or spotlight fixtures, depending on the style of your store decoration.

2、Different lighting for different functions

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To create different levels of lighting in your restaurant, you need to start with the basics of illuminating the environment as a foundation for the restaurant’s lighting.

You also want to make sure that customers feel as if the ceilings are higher and the walls are wider.

In areas like the cash register or kitchen, you should install key lighting to focus on functionality. Bright working lights ensure that tasks are carried out smoothly, and you can also use some upward or wall-mounted lighting fixtures on columns or walls as decorative lighting, depending on the building’s situation.

Once completed, you can enjoy using decorative lighting to personalize the entire restaurant.

3、Use lighting to guide customers around the venue

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When customers enter the restaurant, they need to know clearly how to move around, where to go, and what they can find in different areas of the environment. Proper lighting becomes a fundamental element of customer guidance, attracting their attention to different focal points in various areas.

You can create focus by using contrasting light and dark, alternating between brighter artificial light and natural light. Experience tells us that a contrast ratio of 5:1 is a good starting point for highlighting certain areas.

4、Pay Attention to Space and Design

Every restaurant needs to have a personal style to leave a unique impression in the minds of customers.

When planning and designing the restaurant space, you need to consider three factors: design, the goals to be achieved, and available space.

For a small restaurant, you may only need to highlight a single table, while for a large restaurant, you may need to illuminate several separate areas.

The space and the type of design you choose must be determined by the type of goal you want to achieve.

Therefore, pay close attention to the type of goal the restaurant intends to achieve, so you can derive the most appropriate lighting goals for your project from this information.

5、Create the Right Atmosphere

Lighting is key to creating a suitable atmosphere: generally, bright light makes people more focused, which is obviously not needed in a leisurely restaurant setting, and is instead more suited to office lighting.

Therefore, it is important to control the brightness of your lighting and avoid illuminating the restaurant with artificial and natural light at the same time when there is already natural light available during the day, which can make the restaurant feel like an office.

Our suggestion is to control the lighting of areas with more natural light separately or adjust the brightness of the lighting fixtures in these areas, so that the lighting in the restaurant is within a comfortable range.

As you plan the space and design of your restaurant, keep in mind the goals you want to achieve and create an atmosphere that is suitable for your customers. With the right lighting, you can create a unique and memorable experience for your customers.

6、Use Colors with Caution

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Restaurants often require soft lighting to create a more relaxed and comfortable environment. Warm lights make people feel warm and cozy, while cool lights give a refreshing feeling. Especially in winter or when the temperature is low, choosing warm lights can make people feel more comfortable. On the other hand, in hot summer, cool lights are more preferable.

Choosing the appropriate lighting color temperature based on the climate of your area is a crucial consideration. Ideally, adjustable color temperature lights would be the best option, as they allow you to emit the desired light at different seasons or times.

From another perspective, lighting colors need to match the brand concept of your restaurant, which is usually used for brand promotion. However, you must be careful not to exceed a certain threshold, as it may result in the opposite effect you intended.

Choosing the right colors and intensity that match your restaurant’s style will help prevent your lighting plan from driving people away from your establishment.

7、Display Food in Its True Colors

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Color rendering of light sources is a crucial consideration in lighting design, as it affects how food is presented and perceived by customers, directly impacting their appetite.

It is well-known that the best color rendering index (CRI) is 100, which can only be achieved by sunlight. For restaurant areas, we recommend at least 80, but 90 would be optimal.

Using light fixtures with a low CRI will inevitably lead to distorted visual impressions of the food, which will not fully present the overall color of the food, directly affecting the customers’ desire to eat.

In summary, when designing lighting for a restaurant, it is essential to use colors cautiously and display food in its true colors to create an inviting atmosphere and entice customers to enjoy their dining experience.

8、Always prioritize guest comfort

When it comes to interior design and lighting, no matter how unique the design may be, it is crucial to ensure that it is comfortable for guests. Everything must be approached from the guest’s perspective, and they should be able to easily and comfortably read the menu or perform any other task.

One important thing to note is to avoid direct lighting that exposes the light source directly into the guest’s field of vision. This can cause unnecessary glare on their glasses and create discomfort for their eyes, ultimately impacting their dining experience.

It is also important to be mindful of bright surfaces or mirrors, as they can reflect light and create uncomfortable glare for the eyes. To solve this issue, we recommend using diffusers, such as frosted glass, to soften the light and reduce harshness.

9、Keep up with current trends

Trends are constantly changing, but some trends tend to stick around. For instance, some people still prefer vintage incandescent bulbs, even though they have become outdated.

Vintage-style lamps with visible filaments are popular, and many people appreciate this type of lighting. By treating LED lights with special processing, we can achieve the same illumination effect as the original incandescent bulb. Thus, we can consider replacing them with LED lights to reduce economic and maintenance costs.

Some fashion trends are timeless and will remain popular for a long time. You can confidently embrace these trends and successfully incorporate them into your commercial space.

10、Selecting Beautiful and Practical Lighting Fixtures

Selecting aesthetically pleasing and practical lighting fixtures is always a top priority for designers. The goal is to achieve a perfect balance between beauty and functionality, while ensuring that the lighting serves its intended purpose. Here are some suggestions to consider:

For banquet-style restaurants, a uniform distribution of lighting is generally preferred, illuminating every corner of the space for easy navigation. Transitional lighting between functional areas should be smooth and gradual. Installing wall sconces can also create a sense of depth and spaciousness, making it ideal for families with children or group gatherings.

If your restaurant caters to couples, it’s essential to create a more intimate and private atmosphere. Each table can be fitted with a pendant light, providing a soft and comfortable reading experience without causing any glare or discomfort. This creates a more secluded space for a romantic dining experience.

Business guests often prefer a more refined lighting ambiance, with bright and elegant surroundings that leave no emotional space for distractions.

The checkout area is the last impression that a customer will have of your restaurant. While waiting in line to settle their bill, a beautiful decorative light can serve to illuminate the artistic or design elements that make up the restaurant’s decor, entertaining guests while providing an added touch of elegance.

Using an LED lighting system allows you to create a suitable atmosphere for each room. The compact and flexible nature of LED lighting fixtures allows for more freedom in lighting placement, enabling your restaurant to exude a unique feel and ambiance.

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We hope that our 10 suggestions will be helpful to you in creating a comfortable dining space for your customers, allowing your restaurant to stand out among its competitors. By combining our recommendations with your customers’ personal tastes, you can tailor your restaurant’s design and functionality to meet their aesthetic needs and make it a successful establishment.

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