Would you go have lunch at a sad, decayed restaurant?
Well, probably just takeout, but staying it’s a different story.
We all have that image in our heads of a small restaurant with beautiful outdoor tables surrounded by flowers. Fancy Victorian windows. A bunch of delicacies served in fancy dishes. Yeah, this is all movies’ fault. But the thing is that this expectation we get from movies isn’t that far from reality.
Not all restaurant owners have a budget of thousands of dollars or all the materials at hand to remodel their establishment with the finest restaurant design. What’s more, not everyone has a two-story restaurant to invest all that money in.
But you still have to attract people in, show off your brand, and make a living. That’s why in this guide we give some low-budget small restaurant design ideas, so you can still gain visibility from people walking by.
So, let’s dive in.
Examples of Low-Cost Restaurant Design
You don’t have to invest thousands of dollars to have a nice cafe. What’s more, you can even DIY some stuff. Here are some examples of these:
#1. The Traditional Chalk Whiteboard
You’ve seen it a thousand times — but you still love it.
A chalk whiteboard never gets outdated. And it works with every type of restaurant, from family dinners to fine dining. You can put this chalk whiteboard in your entrance to announce your daily special, along with some quick drawings to make the lettering engaging.
If you’re not that talented when it comes to drawing and you pretty much serve the same every day. You can put a nice or funny message to get your guests’ attention like “free Wi-Fi with every meal”
Try different things to see what goes with your brand.
#2. Interior Wall Art Design
This is an easy restaurant decor idea that comes to mind when you stand in the middle of your restaurant looking at your walls because they “lack something”. Walls can’t look that basic.
Fortunately! When you do some interior wall art, it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It could be anything from rainbows, to burgers, to people eating.
Of course, this interior restaurant design idea becomes easier when you have an artsy friend.
Some restaurants don’t use physical menus anymore. That’s why QR codes have surged. But there are still visitors, or senior citizens, that rather look through a physical menu. Plus, you gotta have them handy for every situation.
But if you don’t want to print out a ton of these, you can just put your menu as a big signboard behind the counter.
#4. Decorate Your Shelves
Don’t want your cafe to be a mix of chairs and tables with nothing else around?
Shelves can be a great addition to your decoration, not because of the shelves themselves, but because they can hold decorations. For example, if you also have a bar inside your restaurant, you could put up some bottles of alcohol on your shelves.
Although with creativity and the right mindset, sometimes shelves themselves can make your customers smile.
#5. Hang Portraits on the Walls
If you don’t want to fill out your walls with art that you’re not sure you’ll like or eventually just want to be covered up with paint again. You can play it safe and hang portraits on your walls. These portraits work of art, but make sure they match your brand.
This is a great low-budget restaurant design idea, as you can get cheap portraits in any retail store.
#6. Use Wall Sticker Decorations
This is the third alternative as to what to put on your walls. If you don’t like messy paint or rigid portraits. You can use the in-between option wall sticker decorations. These are instant affordable designs for small restaurants as you can just order them online and you’ll have the best of two worlds. Nice art design and an easy-to-implement idea.
#7. Hang Out of the Ordinary Stuff in Your Wall
Some restaurants have “vintage” stuff on their walls like bicycles, cameras, flags, and even car tires. Whatever goes with your restaurant style can work. Just remember to secure it to your walls so it’s safe when your customers sit below them.
This is the “I want to be unique” option.
#8. Lighting Creates Your Atmosphere
Lighting is essential to create the atmosphere you want. So, for this one, think about the kind of place you want your restaurant to be. Is your restaurant a place for:
● Friends to hang out at night, to talk and share their day, because some colors and led lighting could work
● A family dinner for all ages could benefit from white lightning
● Or are you a restaurant for couples trying to have a romantic evening (pendants with yellow lightning is the thing)
This might be the most expensive design idea between the cheapest ones. But when done right, it can literally give a new light to your cafe.
#9. Put Flowers on Every Table
It doesn’t have to be real flowers — otherwise, it would be costly.
You can use artificial flowers and a simple vase to put them on. This is a very traditional decoration that we’ve seen too much about. But people still like it and it doesn’t give off the vibe of a neglected restaurant.
#10. Decorate Your QR Code Card
That’s one of the firsts things your customers are going to look for, they’re hungry after all. So, instead of them looking at the same piece of paper with a black and white squared code, you can write your slogan, put some staff’s favorite dishes, or by default, some art.
#11. Let Your Employees Decorate the Tip Jar
If you have a tip jar, don’t let it sit there being boring. Let your employees decorate it and be creative about ways to get more tips. Here are some smart ideas:
Examples of Small Restaurant Design
Now, for small restaurants is vital to make the most out of the space you have, or use some techniques to make your establishment look bigger.
#12. Put Long Mirrors on the Wall
When you don’t have enough room for an elaborate design, you can go to the old reliable mirror on the wall. With this, your walls will have more interaction with your customers. Everyone looks at themselves in these mirrors.
#13. Outdoor Dining
If you have a small restaurant, you want to make up the most of the space you have available. So, to give your restaurant a more spacious look and at the same time serve more customers, consider putting some tables and chairs outside and create an outdoor dining experience.
This design idea of seating your customers outside gives your restaurant a fresh atmosphere as there are people that prefer enjoying the weather.
#14. Get Yourself An Outdoor Floating Deck
If you go ahead with the outdoor dining, you could use an outdoor floating deck as well. You can move your floating deck around and either decorate it with plants or put a table on it — but don’t forget to make sure the floating deck is sturdy enough to not break apart with the table, chairs, and people.
#15. Storefront Wall Decorations
When your restaurant it’s small, it can be difficult to stand out compared to other big fancy restaurants. But you attract some of your visitors’ attention by using some exterior wall decorations. It can entail painting your walls, using wall sticker decorations, or even street art.
#16. Decorate Your Windows
If you have wide windows in your restaurant, you can put them into use by decorating them with stickers designs for glass. Some good ideas for this are to put the name of your restaurant, artsy designs of your foods, or your menu.
Just make sure the design doesn’t occupy the entire window.
#17. Use Plants
At some point, we were going to stop into these. Putting plants outside your restaurant or even inside really enhances your visibility. And not only that, plants give off a healthy and relaxed experience to some customers.
As an outdoor restaurant decoration idea, it doesn’t have to be a wall of roses hanging from your roof. It can be as simple as pots in the entrance.
### #18. Decorate Your Floor With Paint
Most people don’t think about the floor, but if you really don’t have much space for decorations, you can put attention into something that hardly takes out any space.
#19 Use a Signage Restaurant Logo
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be too big. We’re talking about ideas for a small restaurant, so getting one of these can improve your decoration efforts by showing your brand personality.
Remember that to keep this restaurant logo texture on a low budget, you have to go for a minimalistic approach to the design.
#20. Make the Most Out of String Lights
We already talked about lightning, but if you’re doing outdoor dining, string lights are always a welcoming idea.
#21. Try to Cover Your Customers Head
Sun can be extremely harsh in summer, and a little bothering in other weather conditions. And let’s be honest, no one likes to seat in outdoor dining that doesn’t offer any kind of protection. So, for this purpose, you can use umbrellas at the right angle.
#22. Try Some Neon Lights
Neon lights work better if you give your restaurant less illumination. This makes neon signs stand out, and it gives your restaurant a fun atmosphere. Not everyone can pull up neon lights, but if you’re up for the challenge, go ahead!
#23. Play With Colors… Or Don’t
Color palettes have been kind of the rule to go when you’re choosing colors — because apparently, you can mess up a design just by combining black #345 with blue #45. However, the rules for choosing colors have become more flexible with time, so don’t be scared to try something new (if it’s your thing) or stay within the safe limits of the color palette.
#24. Pick a Style
Minimalist, retro, modern or traditional, there are a lot of styles to choose from. But a little advice on this is to pay attention to the people that come to your restaurant or to the people you would like in your restaurant.
And sometimes it doesn’t even have to be that, if you own your style, people will follow.
#25. Be You
This can be one of the hardest parts of designing because you want everything to look perfect. And you think that what you have in your head isn’t that good. But the thing is experimenting and choosing what you like becomes easier.
So, try out a bunch of stuff until it feels right for you!
After seeing all these ideas, your head must be flooding with ideas or you might already be googling prices. But the best advice you can get now is to slow down and implement decorations step by step. Ask for your friends’ opinion, or even your customers’, after all, you don’t want to combine a bunch of different stuff for it not looking so good.
But don’t let this stop you from trying something new. Who knows? Your restaurant design might be the next photo someone uses in a blog post.
Do you have any other ideas for restaurant design? Comment below and let us know.