Key considerations for designing the best bar or restaurant

Whether you’re already in the planning phase of your new bar or restaurant, or it’s just an exciting idea at this stage, this blog post will give you inspiration, insights and ideas from Nina and Jenna in our team.

Nina, our Interior Architectural Designer has extensive experience in the hospitality sector, and here are her most important considerations when designing bars and restaurants...

Space planning

Planning the way your space works is incredibly important, and it’s usually a big conversation right at the very beginning of a new project.

We need to understand how different people will use your space - from families and big groups of friends, to couples on date nights and even your staff. What are the wants and needs of these different groups, and how can we accommodate them to ensure they have the best experience?

We have to combine this thinking with how many covers our clients want. We want to strike the ideal balance between maximising the space, but ensuring the experience will be as enjoyable and comfortable as possible.

Using a variety of seating, especially in bars, is a clever way to do this. Flexible bar seating combined with a mix of fixed seating can work well - and this is the approach we took when we recently designed the new College bar, as well as during our space planning for Brewdog.

Also make the most of your circulation areas. So many bars or restaurants waste space, or forget about these areas, but they can be used to your advantage.

Andy ThorntonAndy Thornton - box frame six light cluster pendant


Lighting is a big consideration. We believe it’s the best tool for creating moods and atmosphere in a space.

You can also use lighting to create talking points, and highlight design features. For example, one of our current clients has opted for a really eye-catching wall design at their entrance, and we’re going to use lighting to really bring it to life.

LED lighting is also really popular to bring a ‘ping’ to a bar. It can draw your eyes into the selection of glass bottles or glassware, or the design or materials used for the front of your bar.


Solus Ceramics


Pulling together a material palette that suits your brand, your style and the experience you want to create is one of the most exciting parts of our jobs! Think textures, patterns, wallpaper, flooring, fabrics and more.

Is your vision plush and luxurious, or is it more raw and industrial? There are so many options available to you, and we’re here to help you make sense of it all, and give you insights into the latest trends in the hospitality industry. We have a fantastic portfolio of local, national and international brands that we work with.

The bar top can be a big talking point, and we often spend a long time with clients trying to select the best materials for it. You have the opportunity to create a statement, something that commands attention, in the place where people spend a lot of time, either waiting to be served, or chatting with friends.

The aesthetic appeal is of course so important, but equally important is durability. What will the end use of that space be? Your material choice needs to reflect this, to ensure it lasts as long as possible, and doesn’t need to be replaced in a few months.

One of our tops tips for selecting your materials and designing the look of your space is to stand in different places, and think about people's viewpoints. What can they see from each spot? What can they touch? Create points of interest from every angle of your bar or restaurant, to create an amazing space.

Muraspec - AbstractMuraspec - Abstract


This could arguably be the most important element in hospitality interior design, as it’s what your customers are feeling, using and touching throughout their experience with you. You could nail your entire design, but pick a really uncomfortable chair, and ruin it all.

For bars, furniture is mainly about the aesthetic appeal. Whereas for restaurants, comfort is much more important, as this is what will ensure they stay as long as possible.

The chair is potentially the most important piece you’ll ever have to choose. And it’s not always a quick or easy decision. We actually took one of our clients down to a design show in London so we could find them the perfect chair!

You also don’t just have to look for pre-made items - bespoke opens up a whole new world. It’s nice to have a mix of bespoke, as it allows you to create something unique to your brand, that helps you create the exact look and style you desire.

Furniture can also be used to create different spaces within a single venue. And again, it’s important to consider how each different type of customer will be using your furniture - someone who’s in to watch the football with their mates will want something far different to a couple out on a romantic date.


The entrance

Aim for initial impact. As soon as someone walks in the door, they should feel excited to be there, and be drawn in.

Your entrance can be used to do this, and it’s an often overlooked part because all the focus is primarily on the main internal area.

Attract people’s attention, pull them in, and create a memorable impact from the outside, all the way in. Don’t let your doorway be the missing piece of your masterpiece.

If you’d like to chat to the Tinto team about an upcoming bar or restaurant project, send an email to

Photo credits:

1. Iona Crawford - Key Hole wallpaper

2. Andy Thornton - box frame six light cluster pendant

3. Solus - tiles

4. Muraspec - Abstract wall covering

5. Deadgood - chairs