lighting design and psychologyLighting helps set the mood, tone, and ambience of a place. It can help accent a structure’s expression and complement the space. It can entice a diner to stay a while and linger, create an air of community or intimacy.

Of course, the architecture and design of a place and even the shade of paint on the walls can contribute quite a bit to the creation of an atmosphere. However, the type of light that is used and its placement that allows us to see them can is even more important.

Light fixtures and intent can be a huge part of interior design, and is considered by many to be the most crucial element when it comes to interior design for restaurants.

Today, we’re delving into different types of commercial lighting design approaches that are used as well as the psychology of light design as it applies to restaurants in particular.


This is how an environment is illuminated and it creates the overall tone and mood of the restaurant. A dimly lit ambience may be what you desire for the overall restaurant, or simply the lounge and the bar areas, to crate a bit of intimacy in the right setting. Brighter lights create a more lively mood that can read as casual, which can be quite appropriate for certain establishments.


These lights are for function. They are designed to be practical and help the employees as well as the customers do things. This could be making food in the kitchen or being able to see the menu and the food at your table. Low-lit spaces may require these accents for food stations or illuminating walkways.


This style of design is all about accenting, as the name suggests. It is more a decorative than a practical feature and is typically used to accentuate certain areas and go over objects such as fountains, paintings, sculptures and more in order to create what is known as ‘visual interest’.

Creating An Atmosphere

Upscale restaurants may want to utilize low-intensity lights that are warm in color. This will create an ambience that is both relaxed and mellow but also intimate. Wall lights can help further accentuate mood and are preferable to ceiling light coming down. High-intensity lights can be utilized to create an illusion of greater space.

Lights and Its Effects on Patrons

Behavior for diners is different depending on the restaurant. For somewhere like fast food establishments that prioritize quick service and turnover, brighter lights may help stimulate the guests, encouraging them to eat their food quickly and freeing up the table for another customer that will do the same.

Higher end restaurants that are more upscale in menu and seating may utilize a different approach. Sometimes a relaxing atmosphere with warm but low lights can invite guests to sit and stay longer, perhaps adding to their overall order with dessert and coffee or another cocktail.

It all depends on what you want to accomplish, but intent with interior design in restaurants can make a huge difference and even contribute to or take away from its success. It’s all part of the psychology and the art form of interior design when it comes to lights in restaurants. Make it work for you and you will officially be going with the flow– and your restaurant will look great and do more business on top of it.