Understanding the Psychology of Color in Restaurant Design
3 Min Read By Dala Al-Fuwaires
The color scheme you choose to design your restaurant has a big impact on your customers, how they feel and how long the spend in your establishment.
Colors affect the way customers feel and can help boost appetite, increase turnover, give a sense of happiness, and make the space feel larger or more intimate depending on what you are going for. They can also have negative effects on customers, so it is important to know how your color choices may affect the message of your business. Throughout my years at House of Form we have helped many bar and restaurant owners create unique color schemes to promote the brand of the restaurant, as well as help, attract clientele. To better understand the importance color plays on your establishment, you first need to understand the psychology of colors and learn how different colors come together into a pleasing scheme your customers will love.
Psychology of Colors
When you want to bring more customers into your restaurant, you must tap into color psychology and understand how different color combinations affect customers. Having different colors in your establishment is an effective way of changing how people behave once inside. The psychology behind colors also means you shouldn’t pick colors for walls, furniture, and accessories randomly. Instead think big picture while deciding on the color scheme for your restaurant.
As a restaurant owner, you must understand how to combine colors to create an appealing color scheme. Bright colors are often used to make a small space feel larger. Lighter colors create a peaceful ambiance, making them a great choice for relaxing bistro-style restaurants. However, light color schemes make people relax, which means they spend more time in your establishment slowing down turnover. When deciding on a color scheme for your restaurant look at the color wheel which is broken up into three categories, strong stimulants, mild stimulants, and suppressants to determine what colors suit your business.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information strong stimulant colors like reds, oranges and yellows enhance the appetite of customers. These colors have an appetite inducing effect because they are common colors found in nature.
So, if you look around at other bars and restaurants you will often see different hues of these colors being used in one shape or form. Reds are the most effective hues for increasing hunger. Oranges increase mental activity making customers think of healthy foods and helping them feel more comfortable in their surroundings. If you are a restaurant with a lively atmosphere, consider yellows. Yellow is associated with energy and happiness which can benefit the restaurant and create a party like experience.
For restaurant owners trying to emit a healthy vibe to their establishment green and turquoise are excellent color choices. According to a study by the Universiti Putra Malaysia, and published by Penn State University, greenish colors are often associated with health, freshness and nature.
If you are a vegan restaurant or are on the healthier side with your food offerings, branding the establishment with greens in the interior and furniture will help attract those health-conscious customers.
Blues, blacks, browns, and purples are all considered suppressants when it comes to the food color wheel. According to a study published by Virginia Commonwealth University the suppressant effect of these colors is due to the primal nature of humans. When people used to forage, they would avoid eating these colored foods because of their potentially poisonous nature. In today’s world we know many foods have these colors and are perfectly fine to eat but can be unpleasing to the eye making people stay away from them. The same goes for the color inside the restaurant.
Blues are typically only found in seafood restaurants or nautically themed establishments. While blues do not have the appetite stimulating effect on people it does cause people to become thirsty, which is great for bars. When using blues consider more subdued tones paired with neutrals to offsite the palette.
If you own or are opening a restaurant that is open late where you want customers to stay until last call, darker colors can be of benefit as customers want this style of environment. The darker aesthetic can confuse the patron’s passage of time making them stay longer and purchase more food and drink.
When deciding on a color scheme for your restaurant take into consideration the theme and style of the establishment. Also consider the type of customers you want to attract. Understanding the role color plays in bringing people in and keeping them there will be of benefit to any restaurant owner.