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12 Small Restaurant Decor Ideas for 2024

Tyler MartinezAuthor

People love small restaurants. They are places to bring friends and families together to spend time together over great meals. And, one important aspect of the meal experience is the ambiance. The decor should be as comforting as the food.

If you have or are opening a small restaurant, you want to design a unique space where people feel invited to stay. To create a space like this, start thinking about two things: your dream for your restaurant and what would make your community feel happier than ever dining at your restaurant.

Getting inspired for your small restaurant decor isn’t always easy. To help you create a welcoming place that is authentic to your vision, we put together 12 small restaurant-focused decor ideas that will open your eyes to how you can make your business stand out.

12 Decor Ideas for Your Small Restaurant

Focus on the Brand and Theme

Memorable brands have staying power. Establish an overall vision for your restaurant. What makes it unique? How is your community represented in the space?

Concrete answers to these questions will help you make more informed decisions on decor, saving you time and money.

Find Unique Wall Decor

Wall decor is the perfect way to infuse your restaurant with character. There are multiple ways to choose art that will leave an impression. 

One option is to commission a local artist to design a mural in your space. Or, showcase local artists on a rotating basis, displaying their artwork all around your restaurant. Another way to source wall decor is by browsing nearby thrift stores and pawn shops to find pieces with local flare. 

This classic aesthetic at 1789 Restaurant showcases the history of the restaurant and its location through its wall art.

Use Basic Color Psychology

It’s no secret that colors trigger emotional responses in people. Brands use color communication to put customers in the right mood. 

Everyone has different emotional responses to colors. But, certain color tones tend to affect most people in similar ways. For example, deep tones of bold colors can create a warm, familiar space. 

Helen’s is a perfect example. This restaurant features a warm teal color on the walls that contrast the wood grain accents on the bar to display a casual yet elevated aesthetic.

Keep the Energy Up

Make intuitive use of your small restaurant’s space by minding how energy flows through it – with the help of the Chinese art of feng shui. 

Divvying up large spaces is tempting. Keep dining areas open so that everyone in the room feels part of the same community. You can almost feel how happy everyone is to be in this spacious dining room at Vestal.

Give Guests the Full Experience

Don’t be afraid to opt for an open-plan kitchen that gives guests a view of the action. Let your customers witness the care and creativity your staff puts into their service.

This large service window overlooks the dining room at MIDA Restaurant, giving guests a view behind the scenes.

Small Restaurant Lighting

Lighting is a key design consideration. Light fixtures alone can define the character of a space, especially for a small restaurant. 

The best route is choosing lighting that is both practical and fun. You want the lighting to add flair to your space and allow guests to navigate your small restaurant easily. 

The combination of lighting details at Abe’s Modern Diner eases the mood and ensures everyone can see the delicious food in front of them.

Choosing Table, Chairs, and Booths

Furniture like tables and booths are a huge driver of the guest experience. Choose chairs and stools that are comfortable and stylish. Most importantly, choose durable pieces that can withstand constant handling. 

Don’t be shy to infuse your brand into these furniture details. Adding unique detailing to your tabletops - for example - can make your small restaurant more memorable to patrons. The bold yet comfy chairs and booths at Hust Charleston are instantly iconic.

Vintage Decor: Risks and Rewards

Investing in vintage decor can be a great way to add more character to your restaurant. Remember to buy vintage decor strategically. Wall art and aesthetic pieces are great, but vintage furniture or light fixtures can cause more trouble than they’re worth in a commercial setting. 

Highlight the Bar

If your small restaurant features a bar, make it shine. Design your small restaurant’s layout so that the bar is visible and accessible from the entire restaurant. The gorgeous bar at Jajaja Mexicana is inviting and snags guests’ attention.

Party on the Patio

A patio can make your small restaurant stand out from the competition. If you’re lucky to have a patio, make it feel like part of your restaurant by extending the interior vision outdoors. And, just like indoor furniture, select pieces that are durable. Look for furniture and art suitable specifically for outdoor exposure. 

This sidewalk cafe at Lola’s Restaurant embraces their space with stylish chairs and tables under an ancient Live Oak.

Go Fresh and Green

Bring life into your restaurant with fresh or faux plants. Going more green may sound like a big responsibility. However, some plants are easy to maintain. Vining plants, pothos, philodendrons, and snake plants won’t give you a huge headache. 

Don’t have much of a green thumb? Fortunately, even faux plants can add to the ambiance. 

Imagine Beautiful Bathrooms

Bathrooms might not seem like a big deal, but they can be the reason customers decide to return to your restaurant (or not). Customers love bathrooms that have a surprising design feature, like a funky light fixture or bold wallpaper. Above all, bathrooms should be well-lit and accessible for all your guests. 

The bold paint color in this restaurant bathroom is sure to catch the eye of many an Instagrammer or restaurant guest.

Small Restaurant Decor Dreams

Your restaurant is a place for friends, family, and the community to gather and enjoy life. Even though your space is small, your decor choices can make your space shine bright. From lighting to wall art, little decor details will make the experience at your restaurant memorable for every guest.

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SOPs Template

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