Decorating a cafe appropriately can help to enhance the customer’s experience of your business – and make it about more than just the food and drinks you serve.

Your cafe should be decorated in accordance with your overall concept or theme – if you have one – and as such, there’s no real way of listing definitive décor “dos and don’ts” for all cafes.

However, there are a few things worth bearing in mind when decorating a cafe for the best possible experience for customers.

Colours

Think about the experience that you want to give customers in your cafe – and indeed the demographic that you intend on attracting – and choose your cafe’s main colours based on this. For instance, if you’re intending on attracting a lot of young mothers to your cafe, then you may want to consider bright and colourful décor that they will be used to, having young children. Using visual sites such as Pinterest can help to give you inspiration.

Lighting

Ensure that you have the right lighting for the mood that you wish to convey. If you choose to have a more cozy and dimly lit cafe, for example, provide individual lamps or overhead lights at each table for customers who choose to work.

You may want your cafe to be bright and sunny, or you may want to create an ambience with dimmed lighting.

Monitor your customers’ response to the lighting and how it affects their enjoyment and productivity.

Sound

The music that you play in your cafe adds to the atmosphere. Think carefully about the style of music that you play, as well as the volume at which you play it.

Temperature

You should keep your cafe at a comfortable temperature so that customers are neither too hot nor too cold. Keep an eye out for signs that the temperature may be wrong – for example customers wearing coats indoors.

Cleanliness

Making sure that your cafe is always clean – particularly in restrooms – is an important part of ensuring a positive customer experience.

Furniture and wares

No matter how you decide to decorate your cafe, offer a warm and inviting atmosphere for your customers because cafes tend to be places where customers enjoy staying for extended periods of time.

Provide a comfortable sofa or two, as space permits, along with some comfortable chairs, in addition to traditional table and chair settings.

Even cutlery, cups and saucers should all reflect the overall design and décor theme.

Space

You’ll want your cafe’s space to reflect the purpose for which it will be used.

  • If your shop is a gathering place for friends, make sure there’s plenty of room for groups.
  • If your shop attracts business people rushing to appointments, set it up to let people get in and out quickly.
  • If your shop’s a place for people to lounge, place comfy seats in areas with inviting lighting.

And of course…

Asian Beer Cafe, La Trobe Street, Melbourne

Asian Beer Cafe, La Trobe Street, Melbourne

Don’t Forget the Restrooms

For each decor style, incorporate your restrooms into the theme. Keep the colour scheme consistent with the cafe’s colours or use contrasting colours.
Find decoration elements that fit within your theme to continue to remind the customer that he is in a unique environment.

If you have the budget, you may want to consider enlisting the help of an interior designer to help you decorate your cafe.

They will be able to give you design tips that will facilitate a good customer experience, as well as give you tips on how clever product placement can facilitate up-selling.

Some ideas for Decorating a Cafe from Past Clients

One of the more exciting aspects of starting your own cafe will be in giving it a unique voice all its own, which also will be a reflection of you and your personality. Take time and careful consideration to choose a theme and style that expresses your vision and that you can easily market to the customers you plan to attract to your business for many years to come.

Modern Cafe

Clean lines, bright yet neutral colors, large windows and plenty of electrical outlets will convey the basic message that your cafe is modern and welcoming to those who want to come in with their computers and design a web page or edit their film on their computer. Choose furnishings with streamlined designs.

Kitsch Cafe

Brunswick Green, Sydney Road, Brunswick

Brunswick Green, Sydney Road, Brunswick

If you want to create a unique and irreverently branded cafe, consider heading to your local secondhand stores or vintage merchandise shops to find fun oddities.

For example, check to see if you can find an Egg Pod Chair or bright plastic table and chair sets.

Kitsch comes in many forms, but the basic premise will be to incorporate fun, bright, vivid colours and a sense of whimsy, fun, and with some pieces, a step back in time. Look for colourful princess telephones, an Etch-a-Sketch or View Finders to set on tables or hang on the walls.

The Kitsch theme offers you many directions, so use your imagination or revive your childhood for your customers to share.

Jazz Cafe

Frame some black and white posters of Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Billie Holiday and Thelonious Monk to bring a cool, hipster vibe to your jazz cafe.

If you have an old upright piano, put one in the corner and welcome customers to play if they have the skills to create an interactive atmosphere.

Ruby’s Music Room, Melbourne (Ruby Music Room unfortunately fell victim to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and is no longer open)

Visit your local thrift and secondhand stores to purchase donated instruments to hang on the walls. The instruments don’t need to be functional since they will be used for ornamental purposes, but a slightly tarnished trumpet on the wall lends an air of authenticity to your jazz theme.

Paint your musical instruments to match or offset the furnishings and wall colors for another option. Offer a weekly open mic or jam night for your local musicians with chops to create a sense of community, which will encourage customers to invite fellow musicians who might not have known about your cafe before.

Commit to Your Theme

Whatever theme you choose, stay true to it. For example, if you choose a romantic Valentine-themed cafe, commit to it completely and believe in it. Choose lush reds, love seats and mood lighting. Believe in your vision so your customers will, too.