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an ordinary café interior with the barista counter at the center

Cafe Interior Design; Learn the Facts, Develop a Concept, and Start Designing

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It might seem like a simple bean-shaped grain but one by one, they gather and make a huge industry. Its discovery has probably been a total fluke, without knowing what it does and how it should be brewed! A cafe or a coffee shop could be seen merely as a business to run or a place to make profit; But there might be another side to it; something more than just making money. Maybe broadcasting a message; or giving people a chance to show who they are!

It might get a little blurry when it comes to how a “Good” cafe interior design should be. But one thing is for sure; A coffee shop is not just about a “cup of coffee”; rather it is a symbol of a thorough experience.

It’s a journey a customer takes from the moment he or she lays eyes on a cafe storefront for the very first time to when they approach it, enter the place, order their coffee and have it over and over for the hundredth time.

Creating this embracing experience in cafe interior design or bar interior design might not be as easy as it looks. You have to dig deep into how people think. How they are drawn to a certain brand, what they order, and how long they hang around and for what.

Here we discuss the basic facts about designing a tempting, hospitable place that invites people to keep coming back; Then we talk about how to have your business revolve around a concept that has to be developed in all the elements of your cafe interior design.

Cafe interior design, facts, concepts and design

Facts About Hospitality Design

What is the most important thing when designing the interiors of a cafe? BlackSheep’s Jo Simpson seems to share our thought that it is all about customer’s experience. How we tempt them to come in and make them come back again.

Coziness, the coffee we serve and the service we give, through which the customer feels important and welcome are the major elements of cafe interior design. (Something we cover at the end of this article)

With rent prices going up, clients try to find spots that are within their budget, and consequently wind up with a different demographic from the one they first had in mind.

So, their cafe interior design concept and drink prices might be affected and cause a mismatch of design and the sort of customers it invites. This might be one of the most challenging parts of getting into the cafe business.

Other common hurdles in developing a cafe interior design concept are underestimating the circulation of activities and creating the right atmosphere without an attribute being an outlier. Not too loud, not too bright or dim, not too warm and certainly not too many items on the menu for your cafe interior design.

Let’s dive into three facts about attracting customers to a restaurant or bar and getting them to come back.

- The Power of Ambience

a glass roofed cafe

Like a pearl enclosed in an oyster that’s surrounded just by a beautiful shell and nothing else, your customers are bound in the cafe interior design you create around them.

Lighting, music, and aroma of your place can grip your customer just the way you want. If not used properly, the same tools can demolish the very picture of an appealing cafe interior design that beckons customers back.

- Your Cafe Is the Centerstage of Your Gig

Your coffee shop should showcase the process of brewing coffee; the symphony of making coffee should be played through the place.

The mesmerizing scent of coffee should fill the space and all customer’s attention should be drawn to the experience your cafe interior design concept calls for.

- It’s All About What’s Before Their Eyes

This simple line is the main rule of the book in advertising. People are drawn to the look of a cafe interior design and its beverages and choose to take a look at the place.

Drink and food display that’s traditional to a lot of restaurants is a way to work up people’s appetite. Tempting colors, material, and architectural lighting are key to implicitly create this craving.

A Clear Concept

a social café in Paris, France

As we said earlier, a cafe is not just a sheer cup of coffee; It is where we show our character and spend a crucial time in the morning or afternoon in any given day.

For a profitable, steady business and to attract and convince customers to frequently visit, you need to have a gripping story to tell. That is what we sometimes call a “Concept” in cafe interior design. Further, we talk more about how this concept should be conceived and groomed.

- A Business Built on A Concept

It is the experience of a brand that your customer goes through when visiting your cafe. You, as a designer, and your client should be on the same page about how his or her cafe interior design concept fits into their business from the beginning.

If you as a designer have a clear vision of what your client wants their brand to imply, you will be able to include their vision in all aspects of your design. So, your cafe interior design will look, smell, sound, and feel like the message your client wants his brand to conjure.

a two-storey classy business café in New York City

- Customer’s Journey

From the point when your customer sees your cafe and starts approaching it, all the way to when she leaves the place, everything she sees, listens to, smells, and feels is your responsibility to create. You have to look into what people see and what they decide afterward.

Your cafe interior design will speak to your customers and makes the decision-making instantly easier by giving them what they are looking for at their first glimpse.

You cafe’s storefront and signage when your customers are out, and your cafe interior design’s in-store layout and scheme when they’re in, should all be united in telling the same story.

Material, color schemes, lighting, and different areas for different groups of customers, all create your cafe interior design concept that is supposed to appeal to the ones you try to attract as visitors. We’ll get into more detail about how these different design elements can help create what you have in mind.

A street cafe - Cafe interior design

How to Design the Elements

Before getting into different aspects of designing a stirring coffee house, it’s worth noting that the main narrative for designing is of a mixture of operations and functions for different types of customers and your staff, reflected onto your design.

So, your design and the operations it responds to, have to integrate closely. Now let’s look at how different sorts of factors can help you shape your cafe interior design concept.

- Operations Lay Everything Out

You have to deal with two sets of people when it comes to functionality; customers and staff. There also has to be a tradeoff between functionality and aesthetics in any cafe interior design ideas.

You have to guarantee a smooth work and commute area, particularly for your baristas and waiters. Noise control for separate seating formations through correct positioning of seating areas that would respond to the straightforward passing of customers and servers is an example.

Proper divisions of different types of seating or standing areas for drinking coffee and hanging out could be another example.

a modern and yet classy café with a secluded environment

- Lighten Up or Dim Down?

Lighting is a determining factor that could potentially unravel all the efforts put into a great cafe interior design concept. There are two different types of distinct lighting sources.

Ambient, accent and decorative lightings are under a larger title as artificial lighting; all of which stand across the daylight.

A fusion of the two types is always advised; with a little bit of an edge toward the daylight as it seems to soothe customers. Any misstep or overuse of any of the artificial sources of lighting could cause discomfort.

mixture of daily and artificial lighting in a cafe

- Material Quality

You’re an architect but you don’t have to stop with the building finishes and interiors. Go further and dress up your cafe interior design. Many may cut on quality when it comes to furniture just to fill up the space. But the golden rule of thumb goes “buy less but buy best”.

a two-storey café

Apart from the quality that lives up to your design concept and style, the furniture you’ve picked has to be meticulously spread across your space.

- All The Way Up to the 5th Sense

As it’s been mentioned before throughout this article, on our last note, once more we want to emphasize the importance of creating an immersive experience for visitors of a cafe interior design concept.

It’s not just what comes to the eye, but what people smell, hear and their overall take of your place. All sides that have to be tirelessly tended.

a social little café in Kentucky, US


Coffee houses and bars are sometimes our escapes from the menial every-day cycle of urban life. They’re more than just a cup of coffee. They represent a brief respite from the busy hustle that’s life.

The perfect cafe should embrace all customers’ senses and create a comprehensive experience that centers around the coffee itself and how it’s made. Cafe interior design ideas should bridge between aesthetics and functions that create the operations of a business.

Where is your favorite cafe? Where do you hang out with your friends on a lovely evening? Tell us about a great cafe interior design in your neighborhood that is just around the corner in the comments section.

Mitchel Sardy
Author: Mitchel Sardy
I am a Computer Engineer and an architecture enthusiast, graduated on both majors up to the master's degree from the University of Washington; I'm an advisor to early-stage architecture startups all around the globe; the ones using computer-based solutions to design in architecture.

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