6 Key Elements of Cafe Interior Design


A lot of work goes into opening up a cafe, from developing a business plan to hiring the best baristas in town to selecting the best coffee supplier. There are hundreds of small decisions that you need to make.

While the quality of your coffee and service are important factors, you also need to prioritize the look and feel that your cafe will provide to customers. So, after you’ve covered the more intricate business aspects of your shop, it’s time to think about the concept and cafe interior design.

You’ll need to think about things like what to paint your cafe walls, what kind of finish you’ll want your tables to have, and what material your countertops will consist of. For the latter, consider reading Caesarstone’s guide on how to find the best material for coffee shop countertops.

Why is cafe interior design important?

If you live in a densely populated city, there are plenty of cafes for coffee lovers to choose from. So, if they’re going to visit your cafe, they need to not only enjoy your coffee but also like the look and feel of the place to ensure they come back.

Your cafe’s interior design plays a major role in creating a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere, from your decor choices to the lighting.

If customers like the aesthetic and environment of your cafe as well as your coffee, they’ll likely return because they enjoyed not only their drink but also their experience.

Essential factors of designing a cafe

When developing the style for your cafe, you need to consider every key factor of interior design to ensure a more cohesive look and layout.

The concept, lighting, colour scheme, comfort level, atmosphere, and overall environmental feel are all vastly important. Let’s examine these factors in further detail:

1. The concept and aesthetic

The first thing you need to establish when designing your cafe is the overall concept you’re offering.

There are plenty of cafe interior design ideas you can choose from- indie, retro, minimalist, rustic- the list goes on. However, whatever theme you decide to go with, it needs to be consistent in concept.

More specifically, your choice of furniture, wall art, and dishware should fit together. For instance, if you’re going with the rustic farmhouse look, you wouldn’t hang modern abstract art on the walls.

The type of theme you choose will largely impact customer demographics, and if your design is confusing and difficult for customers to nail down, they will be less likely to return. Rather, they will choose to patronize another coffee shop where they feel more comfortable visually.

So, when selecting your cafe aesthetic, pay close attention to the way your interior choices fit together geometrically and thematically before making your final decisions.

2. Colour scheme

One of the most important parts of the design for your cafe interior is your colour palette. Different colours will trigger different moods and impulses and will greatly contribute to the overall atmosphere of your coffee shop.

For instance, If you’re going for a more relaxed and welcoming ambience, warmer tones like brown and green are good choices. As well, including pops of colour like red and yellow will work as a diet stimulant in customers and enhance the desire to purchase food and drinks.

While there is no right or wrong colour scheme, your choices should coincide with your cafe’s established aesthetic.

For example, if you’re going with a rustic, artisan-style, colours like white, blue, beige, and green are all solid selections.

Once you have the colour palette, it should be reflected in your paint job, furniture, decor pieces, and even your barista station. For instance, a white quartz countertop would work well with blue, green, or other colours in a rustic-style colour scheme.

3. Layout

The way your cafe is laid out plays a major role in both your aesthetic choices and the atmosphere.

For instance, minimalist cafes often favour a more open-concept floor plan with higher ceilings to reflect a more sleek, modern look. Indie-style cafes, on the other hand, usually defer to smaller, cozier spaces to create a more home-like feel.

Whatever layout you choose, it needs to be functional for customers and staff members to move about easily and have a smooth ordering experience.

For example, when a customer enters your cafe, they should easily be able to determine where the line starts and ends for the POS (point-of-service) area and where they should wait to pick up their beverage. If these stations aren’t obvious, it’s easier for crowding and confusion to take over.

4. Scent control

There is a psychology around scent that has a great impact on an atmosphere and environment. While the food and coffee you serve will have its own fragrance, diffusing a specific scent in your cafe will trigger various impulses and feelings for your customers.

For instance, if your cafe smells like vanilla, this scent will help customers feel relaxed and prompt them to lengthen their visit.

Or, if you use coffee-scented fragrances, this will trigger a craving in customers, which will make them want to order more drinks and other food items.

Overall, the scent you choose in the design for your cafe interior should contribute to a welcoming feeling for customers. However, be sure not to overdo it, as too strong a scent can cause headaches and deter customers from enjoying their coffee inside your cafe.

5. Varied seating

You’ll get a mixed bag of customers coming in and out of your cafe. Some will come in crowds, while others will come with the purpose of spending some time alone. Therefore, you should have seating choices that reflect both types of customers.

You’ll also want to ensure that there is a level of privacy between each seating area, the POS station, and certain fixtures. Customers are more likely to return if they aren’t feeling forced to interact with the people around them or like their conversations are being overheard by others.

6. Lighting

Lighting is another major player in your cafe’s interior design plan. If you select the wrong type of lighting, the atmosphere you’re hoping to portray may not translate.

For instance, using bulbs that are too bright can make it harder to see, whereas lighting that is too dim will make a room feel dark and depressing.

Ideally, your cafe should have a level mixture of natural, ambient, accent, and decorative lighting.

Embracing the natural light from your windows will make the room feel more refreshing and spacious, whereas ambient lighting should be gentle and warm but still bright enough to light up the entire room.

Finally, for your cafe interior design, accent and decorative lighting will highlight the more ornamental aspects of your cafe, such as your decor pieces and wall art.

Of course, the way you use these lighting methods will largely depend on the type of building where your cafe is located. If it lacks natural light, you may need to capitalize more on the artificial lighting.

Whatever the case, it’s important to find the right balance with your lighting to better reflect the atmosphere you wish to portray.

Final words

When designing the interior of your cafe, all of the above elements are essential when planning a cohesive layout, look, and aesthetic. When your customers pay a visit, not only will they be treated to delicious coffee, but also a great atmosphere that they’ll want to come back to time and again!

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I am Jessica Moretti, mother of 1 boy and 2 beautiful twin angels, and live in on Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia. I started this blog to discuss issues on parenting, motherhood and to explore my own experiences as a parent. I hope to help you and inspire you through simple ideas for happier family life!


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