A Feast for the Eyes: Our Six Favorite Restaurant Design Trends of 2017

Designing a restaurant can be tricky.  Following trends may help bring people in at first, but you risk a restaurant that looks out of date in a few short years.  Luckily it is possible to follow trends and still stay relevant as trends change.  The best compromise is to start with a timeless design base and bring trends in through paint, seating, and artwork.  These elements are all easily interchanged and updated.  Trends aren’t a bad thing – they just have to be used with caution, and unless you want to update your restaurant’s decor every year or so, with a “less is more” approach.  We’ve looked at some enviable restaurant design before, but today we’re going to look at some of our favorite trends in restaurant design happening this year.

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Concept and Theme Based Decor

Okay, so the first trend is the hardest to follow the advice given in the intro with – if you’re going to go with a concept or theme, you kind of have to stick with it.  But more and more restaurants are turning to concept or theme based decor to create an immersive and interactive dining experience.  A fun theme and entertaining gimmick will get pictures taken and shares on social media.  But the real motivation behind the trend should be the desire to keep diners happy and enjoying their time in your space.  Many restaurants are including games in some way, either with separate dining and gaming areas or integrating cup and food holders into the sides of tables so the top remains clear for board or card games.


Raw Materials

As sustainability and eco-friendly materials continue to grow in popularity and importance, more restaurants are highlighting their use of them.  This use of visible raw materials tends to create a rustic or industrial look due to the exposed metal, brick, wood and concrete.  The combination can create a wonderful blend of textures that makes the space more dynamic.  If you’re going for this look though, try to stay away from adding vintage style Edison bulbs to complete the style as the exposed vintage Edison bulb trend is on its way out.


California Modern

The era of busy, overstuffed restaurants seems to be coming to an end.  In its place is a new trend toward lighter and airier design.  Inspired by the surf, sand, and sun of the California coast restaurants that embrace this trend tend to blend bohemian vibes, industrial elements, and plenty of greenery to create a light and bright space.  With white or pastel walls these restaurants are welcoming and incorporate plenty of natural lighting and elements of nature.


More Casual, Less Formal

While there will always be fancy restaurants around, mid-level restaurants may be on their way out.  As people are looking for more casual places to eat, restaurant design is following suit.  Food hall/cafeteria style casual dining establishments are already gaining popularity in large cities and will likely continue to do so.  Old-school lunch counters are also undergoing a rebirth.  The counter-service setup allows customers to easily drop in anytime of day and grab a bite to eat.  These casual style dining environments also carry with them social media allure, which will bring people in so they can experience it themselves.


Tropical Paradise

When people think of mid-century modern design they think of the clean lines of Scandinavian design.  But the mid-century had its kitschy side too.  Tiki and tropical was very popular in the mid-century and now it’s back.  Flamingos, palms, Hawaiian prints and pineapples are all making their way into modern restaurant design.  Tropical design aims to create a paradise aesthetic that transport diners to a lush oasis.  Fortunately these new tropical designs are a bit more culturally sensitive than the tiki bars of the 1950s.



Pink has already become a popular color in the home and now it’s moving into restaurants.  The muted blush/peach/salmon hue dubbed “Millennial Pink” is showing up in restaurants everywhere from tabletops to door jambs.  The result is Instagram ready restaurant interiors that show you’re pop culture savvy.  The best part of the pink trend is that it’s easy to work into your existing decor, and will be equally as easy to change out once the pink trend dies down.


Many of these trends are already popular in home interior design as well, and can very easily be translated to your personal dining space.  In fact you may already be rocking the California Modern or pink trend.  If you’re not already doing so, which of the trends we listed would you be most willing to use in your dining room?

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