Colour in Restaurant Design

The Power of the Psychology of Colour in Restaurant Design

You can easily spot your favourite restaurant from a far because you are familiar with its one of a kind logo and the unique colours and branding that set it apart from the rest of the pack. Colour is very much a part of the brand name of a restaurant as it has the capacity to set the identity. If you think colours are chosen randomly in the a restaurant business, think again.

A particular restaurant’s utilisation of a few key colours is not made on whim nor is it an arbitrary choice. Choosing the specific colours for a restaurant is an intentional and deliberate move that has a lot to do in the entire marketing and branding for the place. Here are some considerations regarding colour in restaurant design.

Colour in Restaurants and Their Design - BE Furniture Sales

The Palette Chosen Determines the Ambience

The colour palette chosen for the restaurant plays a big role in setting the ambience of the entire place. Strategic colour choices have the power to create an overall mood and atmosphere. Colours can make diners feel a wide range of emotions from relaxed to energised and all things in between. How colour is built into the restaurant space is a powerful too that can convey an enjoyable dining experience for all the guests.

In the colour selection process, the concept of the restaurant must be considered, along with customer experience you are aiming to provide your clients. Are you a fine dining restaurant that relies on classy muted colours or are you a family diner that prefers bold red colours? The whole image you want your restaurant to convey rests in part on the colour choices you make as it can define whether your restaurant will be a leisurely coffee place or a formal sit down service that denotes elegance.

A restaurant that is covered in white tiles and bright interiors will offer a very different feel and experience from a dimly lit place that has terracotta colours. Colours that are cool and are light have the capacity to expand and open up smaller spaces, while warmer shades have the power to craft an intimate feel even in larger spaces.

To further illustrate, high energy colours like neon shades are hardly seen in the restaurant scene. They are extremely bright, vibrant, and create vibrations in the eyes which can be unsettling. These types of colour can evoke a sense of urgency and incite feelings of distress. When people are out unwinding in your restaurant, the last thing you want them to feel is stress, so colour plays a critical factor in setting the mood.

Colour Has the Power to Influence Guests

Colour is a vital component in the restaurant business as it has the capacity to influence your guests while they are eating in your establishment. Colour has the ability to sway people. The visual appeal of a restaurant can affect how people enjoy the food because the sense of sight has an impact on the sense of taste. They eyes are the first elements that judge the entire restaurant before the taste buds are even activated. If the restaurant has dated coloured wall paper or is aesthetically not pleasing, it can impact how people view the food they receive causing them to form pre-conceived judgements long before they take the first bite.

Studies indicate that blues and purples are colours that should make you pause when you are in the design process of your restaurant. Though blue is considered as popular fashion choice, it must be avoided at all possible cost in the restaurant business because it has the ability to suppress the appetite and even quell hunger pangs. It is considered an unpalatable and unappetising colour because there are not many naturally blue coloured food items that you can see.

When you look around you, most food items that bear a true blue tinge are artificially dyed from lollipops, candies, ice pops, cotton candy, and the like. The same holds true for the colour purple. Using both blue and purple in your restaurant is a dangerous mix. They can be utilised as accent colours, but they should actually be used sparingly. Take an inventory of your favourite food establishments and you will realise that they rarely come in these two shades because of their wrong influence of the consumers.

The Psychology of Colours in the Food Business

Getting deeper into the psychology of colours is vital in understanding how they can affect a restaurants design and customer interaction. Colours have long been acknowledged by many researchers and marketers to possess a powerful psychological impact on people’s behaviours, which is why many designers have harnessed this potential in various ways. Visual appeal plays an important role when people make their purchase. How can colours used in restaurant design influence customers?


This is a a warm colour that is bold and fiery. It actually boosts appetite, which is why it is commonly used by most fast food chains. It has the power to physically excite a person because it is associated with love, passion, and excitement. It can increase both the blood pressure and heart rate, which can also increase hunger pangs making people order more than they should. When used for bigger restaurants, it is typically used as a design accent because it has the ability to create a rich and luxe environment for diners. Thus it is used in these establishments, albeit subtly, because it can also stimulate impulse eating, such as ordering a glass of wine or getting an extra appetiser.


Majority of the Earth is actually surrounded in blue with the sky and the ocean. It promotes feelings of peace and tranquillity. However, in restaurant design, it should be used sparingly because as stated above, it has the capacity to suppress appetite and induce sleep, which is the last thing that you want to happen in your restaurant business.


This is another earthly colour that is strongly linked to good health, nature, and feelings of tranquillity. Restaurants that are heavily accented in green make people perceive that their offerings are lot more healthy. Used in restaurants, it has the power to relax people. Green is a colour that is very calming for the eyes. It has the capacity to evoke harmony in the brain and encourage a strong feeling of balance. When you think green, you think of the environment and sustainability.


This colour is strongly reminiscent of royalty, respect, and wisdom. It mostly used for the beauty industry but rarely for restaurant design. Just like colour blue, it can be used as tiny accent piece, but it must never be utilised as one of the major colours. Close to its sister colour blue, purple also has the ability to suppress appetite, which is the last thing restaurateurs want. This is associated with unpopular food items like purple cabbage, onion bulb, purple yam, and the like.

Orange and Yellow

These are both warm colours that are similar in nature that’s why they are discussed together. Both colours promote positive and optimistic vibes, which can add happiness and cheer to any restaurant, creating an inviting atmosphere. Both colours have been noted to increase appetite. However, these must be used as accent colours in restaurant design. These colours are perfect for smaller cafes, yogurt stalls, and other inexpensive and lighthearted eateries.


This colour is also often found in nature but it is a reminder of non edible items like the tree trunk and soil. This is typically used in restaurants only as functional pieces in the form of tables, chairs, and the bar. But they are not the primary design inspiration. They only serve as mere backdrop that blends into the scene.


This is strongly tied with the concept of authority and power. It also evokes strength and stability. Black can be quite overwhelming as it evokes too eerie dark feelings. For sit-down dinners, it can suppress the appetite, so you’ll rarely see this in restaurants. However, black has its place in the clubbing scene where the dark, obsidian feeling is a welcome respite. Think black leather, black walls, and black lights.


This colour is actually a symbol of practicality and old age. Think grey hair and ageing. This is used sparingly in restaurants as it can evoke neutral feelings. However, just like black, it has its place in the clubbing scene and the night life. After all, black, chrome, and grey all work well together.


White has always been associated with chastity, cleanliness, and safety. This is an absence of colour that offers a good base to any restaurant design because it offers neutrality. A huge white space is actually well-known for inspiring creativity because it evokes a clean and pure slate.

Mixing and Matching of Colours

In the element of designing a restaurant, all these colours come into play depending on the intended use. The interplay of colours can be fine tuned depending on the need. For instance, green can pair well with brown and orange if the them is a healthy salad shop or a vegan based bakery. However, the very same green colour will not work for a steakhouse or a shop that sells meat products.

Restaurants must leverage on the known psychological effects of colours in their design process to attract the customer base that they want. There are many restaurant choices out there for the consumers these days, so it is easy to blend in and remain unnoticed in the background. If restaurants want to standout, they must do everything in their power to make the right colour choices and use them with other design principles to create the most optimal environment that attracts the crowd of picky consumers.


Related Articles: