Top 31 Restaurant Lighting Ideas (2024)

When designing a restaurant, lighting is one of the most overlooked yet crucial elements. Because it is a must to set the perfect mood and atmosphere to attract customers. 

Proper lighting highlights the restaurant’s aesthetic and enhances the dining experience. In addition, it can be anything from elegant chandeliers to whimsical pendant lights. There are endless ways when it comes to restaurant lighting ideas.

In this article, I’ve compiled the top 31 restaurant lighting ideas. It will inspire you to create a captivating ambiance for your customers. So, check this out to elevate your restaurant’s interior design to the next level-

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Restaurant Lighting Ideas

Types Of Restaurant Lighting

From the huge categories of lighting, these are the prominent types of lighting for any restaurant:

1. Ambient Lighting

This general lighting in a restaurant provides overall illumination and sets the mood. It should be evenly distributed throughout the space to avoid dark or bright spots. Ceiling-mounted fixtures usually offer ambient lighting—wall sconces, cove lighting with LED strips, or recessed lights. Besides, the color temperature and intensity of the ambient lighting can also affect the restaurant’s aura. For more detail, please read Ambient Lighting: The Definitive Guide.

2. Task Lighting

This type of lighting provides illumination for specific tasks. They include reading a menu or preparing food in the kitchen. Task lighting should be bright enough to allow for easy visibility. Though not so bright that it causes discomfort or glare. Common types of task lighting include under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen. It also has table lamps and pendant lights above the tables.

3. Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is used to highlight specific features or areas of a restaurant. They emphasize artwork, a bar, or a focal point in the space. It can also create a dramatic effect and add depth and texture to the restaurant’s design. Besides, common types of accent lighting include track lighting, spotlight, and uplights. They are placed at the base of plants or other decorative elements.

10 brilliant restaurant interior design ideas

Restaurant Lighting Ideas

The lighting of the restaurant varies with its type. For example, the light set-up of a fine-dine restaurant will be different from a fast food cafe. Again, a restaurant has different zones, and each has additional lighting requirements. Below I’ve presented some trending ideas for each zone of the restaurant. So let’s check this out- 

Restaurant Logo Lighting 

The logo of the restaurant is the most crucial part of a restaurant. It bears the identity of the restaurant. That is why presenting the logo in the best way possible is essential. 

1. Pop-up Restaurant Logo Using Neon Sign

Using neon signs as a restaurant logo is a popular and effective way to create a unique and memorable brand identity. These signs are apparent and can be seen from far away. This makes them a great way to attract customers to your restaurant. The bright and colorful lights create a warm and inviting atmosphere. This can encourage people to enter your restaurant and try your food.

However, glass neon signs can be expensive. In this case, LED neon flex is the best option for creating your restaurant logo. They are more durable, energy-efficient, and affordable than traditional neon signs. Thanks to their super flexibility, you can shape and install them by yourself. It makes them a versatile option for your restaurant’s branding needs. If you plan to create neon signage for your restaurant, check out 15 Things You Need to Know Before Buying LED Neon Flex.

pop up restaurant logo using neon sign

Use spotlights to focus on the logo or name of your restaurant. This lets the name of your restaurant pop up even at night time. Besides, it adds a touch of elegance or sophistication to the restaurant’s overall design.

add spot lighting to focus the logo 

Restaurant Entrance and Facade Lighting

The entrance and facade of a restaurant are significant areas to focus on. They create the first impression for customers and can attract them to come inside. Here are some ideas for lighting up the entrance and facade of a restaurant:

3. Bring Out the Texture Of The Facade

To highlight the texture of the restaurant facade, go for Wall grazing. It is a technique that involves placing lights close to a wall. Thus, it creates a grazing effect that highlights the texture and color of the surface. You can use ground recessed or flood light for wall gazing. This type of lighting can add visual interest to your restaurant’s plain or textured facade. 

bring out the texture of the facade

4. Highlight Your Restaurant Facades with LED Strips

LED strips are a versatile lighting option that can create various effects—such as backlighting, outlining, and highlighting. They can be easily installed on the facade or under the eaves to create a warm and inviting ambiance in your restaurant.

highlight your restaurant facades with led strips

Kitchen & Work Area Lighting

It is essential to have adequate lighting that illuminates every corner of the kitchen and work area. Bright and uniform lighting helps the staff clearly see the food items, equipment, and ingredients. It reduces the risk of accidents and mistakes.

5. Set Task Lightings In The Work Station 

Task lighting is the primary type of lighting needed in the kitchen and work area. Task lighting provides focused and intense illumination for a particular work area or station. Different task lighting fixtures include pendants, under-cabinet lights, and track lights. They are ideal for illuminating areas where food is prepared or plated.

set task lightings in the work station 

6. Go For Dimmable Lights In the Kitchen 

Dimmer controls allow the staff to adjust the lighting levels according to their needs. This creates a comfortable and customized working environment. Besides, dimmers can be particularly helpful during prep work. Their lower lighting levels can help reduce eye strain.

go for dimmable lights in the kitchen

Bar Lighting

Lighting plays a crucial role in setting the mood and ambiance of a restaurant or bar. It can create an inviting and comfortable atmosphere. This entices customers to stay longer and return for future visits. Here are some lighting ideas for restaurants’ bars:

7. Light-Up The Bar Station 

The bar station is one of the most attractive sections of a restaurant. And so, you must focus on lighting up the bar station perfectly. To do so, install LED strips to highlight the bottles and glasses. In the lighting bar station, warm lights create a cozy ambiance appropriate for bars. Besides, you can also go for RGB lighting for a funky bar station theme. 

light up the bar station 

8. Bringing Out The Low-Key Atmosphere 

Bar’s are all about chilling and relaxing. But inappropriate lighting can hamper the overall ambiance of the bar. So, use multiple light fixtures to keep the bar’s funky vibe. Use hanging pendant lights and spotlights to bring drama to your bar. However, never hesitate to play with colors and keep entertaining your customers in the best way possible. How about experimenting with addressable LED strips; thank me later! 

bringing out the low key atmosphere

Dining Room Lighting

There are various lighting ideas that restaurant owners and designers can consider. Proper lights can create a welcoming and comfortable environment in the dining room. Here are some popular ideas for dining room lighting:

9. Create a Focal Point In The Dining Hall 

Pendant lights & chandeliers are great for creating a focal point in the dining room. They are available in multiple styles, sizes, and colors. They can create a luxurious and elegant look. Thus, these lights are often used in fine-dining restaurants.

create a focal point in the dining hall 

10. Use Wall Sconces For Dining Area 

Wall sconces are a great way to add ambient lighting to the dining room. They can create a warm and inviting atmosphere in various styles and designs.

use wall sconces for dining area 

11. Add Magical Touch With Fairy Lights 

Fairy lights can be strung around the restaurant. It creates a magical and whimsical atmosphere. They can also be wrapped around centerpieces or hung in a canopy above the dining area. 

add magical touch with fairy lights 

12. Go For Smart Lightings 

Smart lighting can change the entire game of your dining area. They can turn on and off at specific times. This factor makes it easier to manage the lighting throughout the day. For example, you can set the lights to turn on automatically at dusk and off at dawn.

go for smart lightings 

13. Emphasis On The Theme Of Your Restaurant

Lighting is one of the most crucial factors for theme-based restaurants. A restaurant can have a beach theme, gaming theme, floral theme, etc. So, in lighting your restaurant, you must keep the theme in mind. For example, beach-inspired lighting in a seafood restaurant can create a relaxed and coastal vibe. Think of using white, blue, or aquamarine-colored lighting. It can be with seashell-shaped shades or natural fiber fixtures. Likewise, candlelights and chandeliers would suit a floral theme restaurant. 

emphasis on the theme of your restaurant

Service Area Lighting

Service stations are essential to the restaurant, especially in fast-food cafes. It is the spot where customers place their orders and pay the bills. So, never skip a beat in lighting this area. Here are a few excellent ideas to illuminate your restaurant’s service area- 

14. Use Backlit Signage in the Service Station

Use backlit signage to display the restaurant’s name or logo in your service station. This will add a touch of elegance to the service area and make the brand more recognizable.

use backlit signage in the service station

15. Add Sufficient Lighting To Focus The Food Items 

Add LED strip lighting under the service area counters and shelves to illuminate the products and create an ambient glow. Choose warm or cool white LEDs to set the mood and match the restaurant’s theme. Another excellent lighting idea is rope lighting. Place rope lighting behind the service area shelves to create a soft and subtle glow. This will add depth to the display and make the products stand out.

add sufficient lighting to focus the food items 

Restaurant Table Lighting

There are numerous options to light up your restaurant table. Here I brought you some creative ideas to light your restaurant table. Check this out- 

16. Bring Romantic Candle Light Setting

Candlelights are excellent for bringing a romantic vibe to your restaurant. These settings are standard for fine dining restaurants. However, instead of real candles, go for LED candles. These artificial candles offer a soft and warm ambiance without the fire hazard. Besides, they come in various sizes and colors and can be set to flicker like real candles.

bring romantic candle light setting

17. Go For Edison Bulbs To Bring a Rustic Look 

Edison bulbs are trendy and give off a warm and nostalgic glow. They can be hung in clusters above tables or placed in exposed bulb fixtures for a rustic feel.

go for edison bulbs to bring a rustic look

Additional Decorative Lighting Ideas

These decorative lighting ideas will change the atmosphere of the restaurant:

18. Light-up the Menu

If you have a bar or a breakfast nook in your kitchen or restaurant, menu lighting can be a great addition. These lights are usually small, adjustable fixtures. They shine directly down onto the surface below them. Use small, subtle lights to highlight menu items or drink specials in a bar or restaurant. This can create an intimate, cozy atmosphere.

light up the menu

19. Use Track Lights To Highlight The Special Elements

Track fixtures can be a great option if you want to highlight special elements of your restaurant. These lights are mounted on a track that can be adjusted to shine in different directions. This makes them perfect for highlighting artwork or other features in a restaurant.

use track lights to highlight the special elements

20. Go Creative With Fan Lighting

If your restaurant has ceiling fans, you can add lighting for a practical and stylish option. Many ceiling fans have built-in light fixtures, but you can add your own with a fan light kit.

go creative with fan lighting

Rooftop Restaurant Lighting

The rooftop restaurant concept is growing popular these days. Here are some fantastic rooftop restaurant lighting ideas- 

21. Moonlight-Inspired Lighting

Create a romantic and calming atmosphere using soft lighting that mimics the moon’s soft glow. You can use blue and white lights to achieve this effect.

moonlight inspired lighting

22. Go for Twinkling Fairy Lights

String up fairy lights around the perimeter of the rooftop. It will create a magical and whimsical effect. You can even drape them over plants or trees for added ambiance.

go for twinkling fairy lights

23. Add Neon Lighting To The Roof 

Use neon lighting to add a retro or vintage feel to your rooftop restaurant. You can choose a neon sign with your restaurant name or logo. Or use neon lights to highlight certain features or areas.

add neon lighting to the roof 

24. Add Fire Pits To Rooftop Lighting 

Install fire pits or tabletop fireplaces to add warmth and light to your rooftop restaurant. These are especially great for cooler evenings or winter months.

add fire pits to rooftop lighting 

Smoking Zone Lighting

Most restaurants today have smoking zones for their customers. Here are a few smoking zone lighting ideas for you-

25. Created Dim Ambience For the Smoking Area 

Hang solar-powered lanterns from the ceiling. Or on poles to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. These lanterns are eco-friendly, cost-effective, and require no wiring or electricity. Use projection lighting to create unique patterns and designs on the walls and ceilings of the smoking zone. This can be a fun and playful way to add interest and creativity to the space.

created dim ambience for the smoking area 

26. Quirky Lighting For Smoking Zone 

Install neon lights in fun, exciting designs. It creates a trendy and modern atmosphere. These lights can be customized to match the restaurant’s decor or to add a pop of color to the smoking zone. Besides installing LED strip lights around the perimeter of the smoking zone, you can create a soft, ambient glow. You can control the strips with a remote or app to change colors. It can also dim or brighten the lights and set a timer to turn them off automatically.

quirky lighting for smoking zone 

Restaurant Bathroom Lighting

When planning restaurant lighting, don’t skip the bathroom. It is an essential part of your restaurant where customers come to relax. Check the below ideas to light your restaurant bathroom-

27. Motion Sensor Lightings In Bathroom 

Install motion sensors or touch sensors. It can turn on lights when someone enters the bathroom or touch the mirror, faucet, or door handle. This can add a touch of modern technology. And it also adds convenience to your restaurant’s bathroom.

motion sensor lightings in bathroom 

28. Bathroom Mirrored Lighting

Install lights around the mirrors in the bathroom. Here LED mirrors are your best option. It will create a positive and bright environment for guests to freshen up. This can also provide an excellent opportunity for guests to snap a photo. Or check their appearance before returning to their meal.

bathroom mirrored lighting

Play Zone Lighting

The playing zone requires colorful and funky lighting to bring a fun vibe. Here are some creative ideas for lighting the play zone of the restaurant-

29. Use RGB & Addressable Lightings For Play Zone 

To bring up the color to the kids’ play zone, go for RGB LED strips. However, going for addressable LED strips would be a brilliant idea. These lights can change colors to create an immersive and playful environment. You can program them to change colors in response to music or other ambient sounds.

use rgb & addressable lightings for play zone 

Ceiling & Floor Lighting

Check out the ideas to light the ceiling and floor of your restaurant-

30. Add Drama To The Ceiling Lighting

Create a romantic atmosphere with a ceiling covered in twinkling LED lights, mimicking a starry night sky. You can also install unique, custom-made light sculptures. It is eye-catching and adds a touch of artistic flair to your restaurant. For extra drama, drape colorful fabrics across the ceiling and use lighting to highlight the texture and color of the fabric. It creates a vibrant, playful environment.

add drama to the ceiling lighting

31. Don’t Skip The Floor

LED strips and ground recessed lightings are excellent for restaurant floor lighting. Try installing LED strips on the edges of the floor. Here you can experiment with the light coloring matching the restaurant theme. Such ground lighting adds dimension and depth to your restaurant. 

don’t skip the floor

Things To Know For Restaurant lighting

Before lighting your restaurant, you must know some essential factors. These are as follows- 

Where to use bright light

Bright lighting is generally used in areas where food is prepared, such as the kitchen or food prep areas. This ensures that chefs can see what they are doing and that food is prepared safely. Additionally, bright lighting can be used where customers need to see clearly. It can be in the entrance, host station, or bar areas.

When low-lighting is better

Low lightings are best for the dining area of the restaurant. It creates a warm and cozy atmosphere for the customers. Thus, guests can enjoy their meals and converse without feeling rushed.

Lighting Based On DayTime

When lighting your restaurant, emphasize daytime. Here are the ways to light your restaurant based on daytime- 

  1. Morning Lighting: Natural light is an excellent option for morning lighting. So consider using large windows, skylights, or light-colored walls. It lets in as much daylight as possible. In addition, bright and cool-toned lighting can help to enhance the natural light. And it creates a refreshing ambiance.
  2. Midday Lighting: Midday lighting should give customers an uplifting and energizing experience. Consider using pendant lights or track lighting. They create a focused and bright illumination. Thus it highlights the beauty of the food and creates a cheerful and upbeat atmosphere.
  3. Evening & Night Lighting: Use warm and dimmed lighting to create an intimate atmosphere for night lighting. Soft, ambient lighting fixtures can create a cozy and welcoming environment. This includes chandeliers, wall sconces, and table lamps.

Higher CRI rating of light

A higher CRI rating indicates that the light source will render colors more vividly. This is important in a restaurant setting. So, always go for a CRI rating above 90.

Lighting must complement the restaurant’s design

Lighting should complement the overall design and ambiance of the restaurant. For example, a high-end restaurant may opt for dimmer, warmer lighting. It creates a relaxing, intimate atmosphere. In contrast, a fast-food restaurant may opt for brighter, more astonishing lighting. As a result, it creates a more efficient, quick-service environment.

  • Lighting for fine dining: The lighting should build an atmosphere of elegance. It needs to establish sophistication and intimacy for fine dining. Soft, warm lighting with dimmer switches can create a relaxing aura. That encourages guests to linger and enjoy their meals. Use low-level lighting with focused spotlights on the table. This kind of lighting highlights the dishes. At the same time, it also provides enough light for reading the menu.
  • Fast food restaurant Lighting: For fast-food restaurants, the lighting should be bright and energetic. It reflects the quick pace and efficiency of the establishment. High-intensity lighting with overhead fluorescent bulbs creates a bright and inviting atmosphere. Consider incorporating bright colors and bold patterns. They form a lively and upbeat vibe that energizes customers.
  • Buffet lighting: For a buffet, the lighting should be bright, highlighting the food. And it also completes a delicious atmosphere. Use overhead lighting fixtures. For example, recessed or track lighting ensures that every dish is illuminated. Consider using warmer color temperatures to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

Energy efficient lightings

Energy-efficient lighting options, such as LED or CFL bulbs, can help reduce energy costs. It also lasts longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Additionally, they emit less heat. This helps keep the restaurant cooler and more comfortable for guests and staff.

Why is Good Lighting Important in a Restaurant?

Good lighting is crucial for creating the right atmosphere. It helps diners see their food and influences their mood. It forms a behavior and perception of the environment. Here are the reasons why good lighting is essential for restaurants-

  • Adequate lighting is essential to showcase the food and its presentation. It lets diners see the dishes’ colors, textures, and details. Thus, good lighting makes them more visually appealing and appetizing.
  • Good lighting can contribute to a more comfortable and relaxing dining experience. It can reduce eye strain, headaches, and fatigue. This allows diners to enjoy their meals for longer periods without feeling uncomfortable.

  • The right lighting can influence diners’ perception of the food and their overall experience. Pleasant lighting can improve their mood and increase their satisfaction. Moreover, it makes them more likely to return.

  • Lighting can also impact the restaurant’s branding and image. The right lighting can create a memorable and unique atmosphere. Hence, it distinguishes it from other locations and helps build a loyal customer base.

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The best lighting for a restaurant depends on the atmosphere you want to create. Generally, a combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting works well. Ambient lighting provides a general brightness level. At the same time, task lighting is used to illuminate specific areas such as tables or the bar. Accent lighting highlights particular features such as artwork or architectural details.

Consider using a combination of exterior and interior lighting. Exterior lighting can include illuminated signage. And outdoor lighting fixtures highlight the building’s architecture. Additionally, Interior lighting should be bright enough to create a welcoming atmosphere. At the same time still allows diners to read menus and see their food.

Ambient lighting in a restaurant provides general illumination. It also sets the overall mood for the space. You can achieve it using chandeliers, pendant lights, or recessed lighting. It is important to select the right brightness level. It completes a welcoming atmosphere without being too dim or too bright.

The best color temperature for a restaurant depends on the type of cuisine and atmosphere you want to create. Generally, warm color temperatures (around 2700K). This range creates a cozy and inviting atmosphere. In contrast, cooler temperatures (around 4000K) create a more modern and energetic atmosphere.

The color of the lighting can affect how food looks. Generally, warm, yellowish light (around 2700K) enhances the appearance of warm colors. Reds and oranges, for example. At the same time, cooler, bluish light (around 4000K) enhances the appearance of cool colors, such as greens and blues. Neutral white light (around 3500K) is a good compromise for a balanced look. Lastly, CRI rating is a crucial factor for restaurant lighting. For accurate food color, go for light fixtures with a higher CRI rating> 90.

You can use restaurant lighting to create ambiance and perception. So, select the right type of lighting fixtures, colors, and brightness levels. Different lighting techniques can create different moods. Like, warm lighting for a cozy atmosphere. Or bright, colorful lighting for a festive atmosphere. You can also use lighting to highlight specific areas or features. Like, using accent lighting to highlight artwork or architectural details.

Restaurant lighting can affect diners’ behavior in various ways. Bright lighting can increase turnover and encourage diners to eat quickly. In contrast, dimmer lighting can encourage a more leisurely dining experience. Warm lighting can create relaxed and intimate surroundings. In comparison, cooler lighting can create a more modern and energetic atmosphere.

The best type of lighting for a commercial kitchen is bright and uniform. It provides even coverage and eliminates shadows. Furthermore, LED lighting is popular in commercial kitchens. It is energy efficient and has a durable lifespan.

Colors that attract customers to restaurants depend on the type of cuisine and atmosphere you want to create. Generally, warm colors create a welcoming and inviting atmosphere. In comparison, cooler colors create a more modern and energetic atmosphere. Yet, choose colors appropriate for the type of cuisine and the restaurant’s branding.

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Lighting can truly make or break the dining experience in any restaurant. Lighting is crucial, from creating the right ambiance to highlighting the food on the table. The restaurateurs should pay close attention to it. Implementing the right restaurant lighting ideas can elevate your establishment’s atmosphere. It impresses your diners and even boosts your bottom line.

Invest in high-quality lighting fixtures. Experiment with different light sources. And work with a professional lighting designer. These can create an unforgettable dining experience that will keep customers returning for more. So, pay attention to the importance of lighting in your restaurant. Start exploring your options today!

LEDYi manufactures high-quality LED strips and LED neon flex. All of our products go through high-tech laboratories to ensure the utmost quality. Besides, we offer customizable options on our LED strips and neon flex. So, for premium LED strip and LED neon flex, contact LEDYi ASAP!

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