Setting the Mood: A Guide to the Perfect Restaurant Lighting

The food, decor, and even the table setting preparation of a restaurant won’t work without one crucial thing: lighting. Lighting is not just about visibility; it plays a pivotal role in creating an ambiance, influencing customer perception, and even enhancing the taste of your dishes!

Ahead, we’ll delve into the world of restaurant lighting, exploring tips that can set up and transform the ambiance of your establishment. Whether you’re a seasoned restaurateur or just starting out, this guide will shed light on how strategic lighting can boost your business. Read on!

Tips for Restaurant Lighting

As lighting is a vital factor in a restaurant, setting up your lighting needs several best practices guide. We’ve compiled multiple tips for restaurant lighting. Get ready to get shined and inspired!

Use Light in Layers

Layered lighting in a restaurant
Layered lighting in a restaurant

Layer different types of lighting to create a balanced and dynamic environment. This typically includes ambient, task, and accent lighting.

While ambient lighting sets the overall illumination in the space, task lighting focuses on areas where specific tasks are performed, such as in the kitchen, tables, and bar area. Additionally, accent lighting helps in highlighting specific features or areas within the restaurant, like artwork on the walls, architectural details, or a beautifully set table.

Use Light to Make Customers Happy

A vintage style restaurant with happy guests
A vintage-style restaurant with happy guests

The focus of your lighting set is not the aesthetic; it’s the customer. Thus, the goal is to enhance customers’ comfort and satisfaction through strategic lighting.

This can be achieved by using layered lighting to create ambiance. Depending on the desired atmosphere, you can set the mood with warm or cool lighting. Also, make sure to avoid harsh glare as it will annoy the customers. Plus, consider using dimmable lights for different times of the day for better adaptability.

Avoid Glare with Lighting

A non-glare light bulb
A non-glare light bulb

To avoid glare, use shielded lamps or ensure that the lamp and shade sizes match to prevent light from shining directly into customers’ eyes. Distribute light sources evenly or diffuse the light to make it seem less concentrated from one place. Plus, the height of the lampshade should be at least 60 centimeters above the table surface for free visual contact.

Moreover, always balance brightness with contrast, as it’s not about making the room as bright as possible. If your restaurant has dark walls, utilize indirect lighting to light up the room and diffuse the light to avoid straining guests’ eyes.

Add Different Lights for Different Parts of the Business

A young barman standing near a bar counter with special lighting
A young barman standing near a bar counter with special lighting

There’s no one universal purpose when it comes to restaurant lighting. You should add different lights for different parts of the restaurant to enhance the overall dining experience.

Starting from the entrance, it should have welcoming and bright lights to attract customers. The dining area can benefit from ambient lighting that’s warm and inviting. Then, the bar area might need brighter, cooler lighting to create a lively atmosphere. Lastly, following restaurant kitchen design tips, the kitchen area requires functional, bright lighting to ensure safety and efficiency.

Use Light to Enhance the Food on Display

A food display at a coffee shop
A food display at a coffee shop

Lighting can make your food look more appetizing and draw customers in. To do this, focus on using warm, natural light that highlights the colors and textures of your dishes. Avoid harsh, direct lighting, as it can create unappealing shadows and distort the true colors of your food. Instead, use diffused light that evenly illuminates your dishes.

Don’t Forget to Light the Outdoors

Outdoor restaurant
Outdoor restaurant

Outdoor lighting is a critical aspect of restaurant design that often gets overlooked. Proper outdoor lighting not only ensures safety and visibility but also creates a welcoming ambiance that can attract potential customers.

Consider using warm, inviting lights to highlight your restaurant’s entrance and signage. Pathway lights can guide customers to the entrance and create a beautifully lit landscape. Additionally, string lights or lanterns can add a magical touch to outdoor dining areas, making them cozy and inviting.

Don’t Choose Aesthetics over Functionality

A restaurant with perfect lighting and view
A restaurant with perfect lighting and view

When choosing lighting for your restaurant, it’s crucial to prioritize functionality over aesthetics. While stylish and trendy lighting fixtures can enhance the overall decor and ambiance, they should not compromise the basic purpose of providing adequate lighting.

Poorly lit areas can negatively impact your customers’ dining experience, making it difficult for them to read the menu or see their food properly. Moreover, it can also pose safety issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you light a restaurant kitchen?

A restaurant kitchen should be lit with bright, functional lighting to ensure safety and efficiency. Task lights should be installed over key work areas like stoves, prep tables, and washing areas. Additionally, overhead lights should provide general illumination.

Why are restaurant lights so dim?

Restaurant lights are often dim to create a relaxing and intimate atmosphere. Dim lighting can make the space feel cozier, encourage customers to stay longer, and even make the food appear more attractive. It also helps to reduce noise levels and create a sense of privacy between tables.

What color of light should you use in your restaurant?

The color of light used in a restaurant should typically be warm and inviting. Warm white to soft yellow tones (2700K – 3000K) are often preferable as they create a cozy, intimate atmosphere and flatter the look of food. However, the specific choice can depend on the restaurant’s theme and desired ambiance.


The right lighting for restaurants is more than just a design element; it’s an essential ingredient that sets the mood and influences your guests’ unique dining experience. Balancing ambient, task, and accent lighting can create a memorable atmosphere that keeps customers coming back.

Remember, your aim is to illuminate not just the dining room but also the emotions of your guests. So, let your light shine and watch your restaurant glow with success. After all, in the world of dining, it’s not just about the taste—it’s about the total sensory experience.

Additionally, marketing is also vital in the world of dining. If you’re interested in tailoring restaurant marketing strategies, contact us at SEO for Restaurants for professional assistance!

Andrea Abbondanza

Andrea Abbondanza, born in Milan (Italy) and now a proud Australian citizen, is a passionate food lover and the dynamic CEO of With his rich culinary background and deep understanding of online marketing strategies, Andrea helps restaurants and cafes around the world elevate their online presence. His journey from Italy to Australia has infused his work with a unique blend of European flair and Aussie charm, making him a go-to resource for cafes and restaurants looking to elevate their digital presence and grow their businesses.

Triple Your Restaurant Bookings And 2x your deliveries

Seo for Restaurants is a boutique agency specialised in Google Business Management, SEO and Local SEO for restaurants and Cafes.

What can we do for you?

  • Be on top of Google in your local area
  • Reach new customers
  • Increase the number of phone calls
  • Increase the number of bookings and most importantly, increase revenue for your restaurant

Andrea Abbondanza is a passionate food lover and the CEO of Seo for Restaurants. With his rich culinary background and deep understanding of online marketing strategies, Andrea helps restaurants and cafes worldwide elevate their online presence and increase

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