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How To Design A Modern Restaurant: 15 Modern Restaurant Design Ideas


Tessa ZuluagaAuthor

A modern restaurant is inspired by both causal and fine dining. It brings together the upscale details of fine dining while providing the quick service of a fast casual establishment. These restaurant businesses are both memorable and expressive. Modern restaurant design, specifically, creates a look that is sleek, contemporary, and simple. 

We’ve outlined 15 modern restaurant design ideas that will help you build an attractive restaurant layout. This is key to creating a pleasant atmosphere – people will come for your food but linger thanks to your ambiance. 

In this article about modern restaurant design, we’ll walk you through: 

  • Restaurant interior design elements  

  • Best practices to convey your restaurant brand through design 

  • Best restaurant examples of modern restaurant interior design

Ready? Let’s dive in.


Restaurant Floor Plan Templates

Use these restaurant floor plan templates to get inspired as you map, or reimagine, the layout and space setup for your restaurant.


15 Modern Restaurant Design Ideas

1. Make An Entrance (Literally)

Consider what a customer sees as they walk into your restaurant. Some ideas to make a great first impression are

  • Lighting up the walkway 
  • Placing a fountain or sculpture in the entrance
  • Making sure your restaurant name is viewable from the street
  • Giving the entrance a centralized view of the entire restaurant

El Chorro Lodge in Paradise Valley, Arizona makes a real impact with outdoor garden design. Don’t forget that Phoenix has the luxury of being sunny 299 days a year! The restaurant uses plants, a fountain, twinkle lights, and a terracotta and white color scheme to immediately impress their restaurant guests. 

2. Convey your concept with color 

There’s psychological data that backs up the importance of color choice. Color psychology — leveraging colors to produce an effect — can influence 85% of customers’ purchasing decisions. Purple generates a sophisticated aura, whereas white evokes a modern feel. Depending on what feel and aesthetic you’re going for, do some research before getting out the paint buckets.

Tellers, located in Oklahoma City, is a beautiful Italian restaurant that serves homemade pastas, Neapolitan pizzas, and much more. Tellers is located in the First National Bank gallery. This luxurious atmosphere embraces the building’s rich heritage. This restaurant is filled with rich colors with gold details, yellow bar seats, and blue booths. These colors create a warm, elegant ambiance that makes guests want to return. 

3. Use sustainable design elements

In a report by Firstsight, it was found that 73% of Generation Z consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Clearly, younger generations care about sustainable design. Consider applying these elements into your restaurant decor:

  • Recycled/used furniture 

  • Natural materials such as wood or bamboo

  • Plants 

  • Locally sourced pieces 

  • Items from retailers who are ethically responsible

The Harbor House is an Elk, California restaurant that cares about sustainability, and it shows. Not only do they incorporate tons of natural elements and views of surrounding nature into their decor, but they also have an active approach to sustainability. The Harbor House uses 100% renewable energy, reuses water, and uses plenty of local ingredients. 

4. Express a Modernist Aesthetic Throughout Your Bar

Modern restaurants build their bars with sleek designs in mind. Smooth marble bar tops, unique lighting, and metal shelving can help modernize your look and improve your dining experience.

It doesn’t get more modern than The Modern Restaurant, located in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It boasts a marble bar top surrounded by silver bar seats and shelves.

5. Add the right amount of art

Beyond what art you choose, it’s important to consider how much art you need. A minimalist aesthetic is a popular attribute of modern design. Sometimes less is more. Statement art, or choosing just a few bold art pieces, speaks volumes. Just make sure your art matches your restaurant concept

MaryGold’s Brasserie is Miami’s first Florida brasserie, and its dining room is a beautiful example of modern design with the use of minimal art. The ambiance here is light and welcoming with lots of color and unique booths for guest seating.

Similarly, il Bracco is another great restaurant if you’re looking for modern design tips and inspiration. il Bracco is an upscale Italian restaurant with a dining room decorated with simple furniture, artistic flooring, and minimal art decor.

6. Include something unique

If you incorporate something out of the ordinary in your design, it will draw people in to come to see it. Maybe you have an unusual art piece or a drink that lights on fire. Guests love to take pictures of one-of-a-kind experiences and post them on social media. 

Kaiyo has three amazing locations, but their rooftop location in San Francisco stands out. Plants, rich textiles, and stunning food & cocktails invite guests to explore the Japanese culinary influence within Peruvian culture. This rooftop design is high-quality with its unique green tile and arched bar.

Likewise, Red Rooster Overtown’s focal point is its stunning bar with round shape, unique barstools, and bold patterns. The Miami restaurant also applies modern restaurant design with lighting fixtures and murals throughout the dining area. If you’re looking for an accent wall inspiration while enjoying tasty eats, check out Red Rooster Overtown.

7. Furnish fabulously 

If you run a Pinterest search on “modern restaurant design”, you’ll see lots of high bar seats, low-to-the-floor table chairs with rounded backs, and a variety of different materials. Of course, your goal is to find furniture that echoes the aesthetic of your restaurant. So if your aesthetic is “modern minimalism,” you’re probably going for sharp, clean edges and metallic materials. 

All your furniture doesn’t need to be the same. For example, the Atlanta restaurant, St. Cecilia, uses rounded, cushioned booths to set a sophisticated tone. This small touch makes a huge difference in their design.

In contrast, you can base your decor completely around unique furniture. Bar Sprezzatura is a gorgeous Italian-inspired Aperitivo & Cicchetti Bar whose entire floor plan is filled with incredible furniture. Everything from the host desk to the lighting fixtures are in accordance with their brand.

8. Mismatch materials 

The use of different materials and textures in your interior design is a simple yet effective way to decorate. For example, the contrast of woodwork and metal is decor in itself, before you even finalize a room’s look. Some material combinations to consider are:

  • Glass next to different textures

  • Wood with dark or neutral-colored walls

  • Metal (different metal hues) with wood

  • Ceramic with fabrics

  • Cloth against wood or glass 

Another pro tip is to mix patterns. Not everything has to match! 

Le Bilboquet is a French restaurant that applies the use of different materials in its modern restaurant design. Here you can find a wooden ceiling, a tiled fireplace, and leather booths all in one. With the right color palette, this makes for a lovely contrast.

9. Enter the world of windows

Writer Mavis Gallant once said, "A short story is what you see when you look out of the window." In a restaurant’s case, maybe it’s when you look in! Windows can be seen from both the interior and exterior. They provide natural light and a sneak peek of your amazing space. Your windows can help differentiate you from your competitors on a busy street, so consider these options:

  • Fixed windows: Large, centered windows that are best used if your restaurant has a scenic view.

  • Window signage: Add your restaurant name, hours, or details onto your windows in vinyl, graphic, or hand-painted print to add some context to your restaurant.

  • Casement windows. These have the ability to open, making them a great option in places with nice weather.

  • Classic awnings: More for the exterior, these add a stylish element when used over pairs of windows.

Ocho in Hotel Havana is made up almost completely of windows. Guests get to enjoy their meals inside this glass conservatory with a view of the greenery and river outside.

Or, consider the design of Eberly, a restaurant in Austin, Texas. Within Eberly, you can find a gorgeous dining room offering contemporary American cuisine, a welcoming study, a rooftop event space overlooking downtown, and the historic Cedar Tavern bar which originally was located in Greenwich Village in New York City. At the central part of the restaurant the ceiling is made up of class, giving it an outdoor feel while remaining indoors.

10. Take advantage of your ceilings

Your ceiling can add to your interior design with hanging decor such as lights, plants, and art pieces. 

Este is a restaurant located in Austin, Texas that is known for their fish tacos. Este has a beautiful interior with high ceilings including a wood paneling design. Also make sure to check them out for bar design inspiration, as their bar has a fantastic modern aesthetic to it.

OIJI MI is a Michelin-starred Korean restaurant by Chef Brian Kim. The entire design of this restaurant space is amazing but if you go here make sure to look up. The ceiling at OIJI MI is subtle yet beautiful. Go here for the delicious food, and stay for the fantastic atmosphere.

11. Make a statement 

The restaurant industry is incredibly saturated. But you can still stand out.

The statement wall at Trust Restaurant in San Diego is definitely unique and very Instagram-worthy. It’s covered with mural-like wall art and stays consistent with Trust Restaurant’s branding. This wall is a must-see for yourself and make sure to also order the Braised Oxtail Raviolini.

12. Create a gallery wall

Covering a wall with different types of art and photos provides an awesome background. And the most perfect gallery walls are incredibly imperfect. Try to utilize frames and pieces of all different shapes, sizes, and textures. 

Pink Cabana Restaurant, located in the Sands Hotel & Spa, added a gallery wall over busy wallpaper for a real decorative statement. 

13. Consider an open kitchen 

A visible, well-kept open kitchen is not only easy on the eyes, but it excites guests to watch their meal being made in front of them. 

Alden & Harlow cooks up some good American food in Cambridge, MA in an open, brightly-lit kitchen. 

14. Don’t forget about your restrooms

Mirror selfies have become a massive trend on Instagram and other social media. Thanks to the location sticker feature, guests can market your restaurant for you by posting bathroom mirror selfies in your restaurant. This is kind of strange, I know. 

Checkout Backyard Betty’s bathroom, as it fits the rustic aesthetic perfectly with its choices in lighting, sinks, and floor. 

15. Use your surroundings

Where is your restaurant located? What kind of people are frequenting it? If you’re located in a major city, why not take pride in that? Showcase the area around you, because people who live there will proudly support a restaurant with a design that represents their home. 

OMAR’S in NYC is a prime example of successful location-based design. The walls are plastered with abstract drawings of New Yorkers and the entire tone of the restaurant screams upscale NYC. 

Keep ‘em coming back for more

When creating your design plan, make sure you’re keeping your demographic and menu in mind. Your design is more than just a background. And there’s more to ambiance than just pretty lights. Design styles come and go, but the experience you give your guest will remain.


Restaurant Business Plan Template

No matter where you’re at in your restaurant ownership journey, a business plan will be your north star. Organize your vision and ensure that nothing is overlooked with this free template.


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