Embracing Change: The Top 9 Restaurant Design Trends of 2024

Read Time: 10 minutes

#1 – Green Elegance: The Rise of Sustainable Restaurant Design
#2 – Biophilic: Nature Inspired Design
#3 – The Futuristic Feast: Tech-Forward Dining
#4 – Adaptive Eateries: The Evolution of Multi-Functional Restaurant Spaces
#5 – Sculpting Ambiance: Elevating Restaurant Design with Artistic Expression
#6 – Universal Welcome: Prioritizing Inclusive and Accessible Design
#7 – Harmony of Well-Being: Exploring Wellness Focused Designs
#8 – Chromatic Wood: Exploring Eclectic Color Palettes for Tabletops
#9 – Streamlining Dining: Compact Spaces
Frequently Asked Questions

2024 is upon us in the dynamic world of restaurant design, and it is shaping up to be a year of innovation, sustainability, and a fusion (or confusion) of diverse styles.  After speaking with over 500 restaurant owners and designers over the last year, these trends will likely define or redefine dining spaces to create memorable experiences for patrons. Here are the top restaurant design trends for 2024.

#1 – Green Elegance: The Rise of Sustainable Restaurant Design

In the ever-evolving world of restaurant design, sustainability takes center stage. Establishments are integrating eco-friendly materials, reclaimed wood, and energy-efficient appliances, thus demonstrating a commitment to minimizing their ecological impact and sustainable restaurant design. While this shift has been underway for years, the current momentum indicates a profound resonance with eco-conscious diners, resulting in spaces that authentically align with their values. This confluence of responsible design and consumer values isn’t just an environmentally friendly choice; it’s a strategic move that benefits both the planet and your business.

5 Simple Steps Towards Sustainability in Restaurant Design

Choose Eco-Friendly Furnishings

  • Embrace sustainability by selecting furnishings made from “green” materials. For example, consider our range of reclaimed wood table tops that combine style with environmental responsibility.

Opt for Energy-Efficient Solutions

  • Make a switch to LED lighting to conserve energy and reduce your electrical bills. Additionally, investing in energy-efficient appliances and HVAC systems can significantly lower energy consumption.

Implement Water-Saving Practices

  • Reduce water usage by installing low-flow faucets and toilets in your restaurant. This simple change can have a considerable impact on both your water bill and the environment.

Embrace Local and Seasonal Produce

  • Craft your menu with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients. This approach not only lowers the carbon footprint associated with food transportation but also supports local farmers and ensures fresher ingredients.

Prioritize Waste Reduction

  • Establish a waste management system that includes composting organic waste and recycling materials like glass, paper, and plastic. Aim to eliminate the use of plastic where possible, exploring sustainable alternatives to reduce environmental impact.

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#2 – Biophilic: Nature-Inspired Design

Incorporating nature into interior space, also known as biophilic design, is gaining popularity.  Living walls, potted plants, and large windows providing views of greenery enhance aesthetics and create a more relaxing dining atmosphere. Biophilic elements foster a connection with nature, promoting well-being among patrons. While in the Southern States, it’s often as easy as creating an outdoor dining space, we don’t have that luxury in the North, making this design trend particularly appreciated.

5 Easy Ways to Include Biophilic Design in Your Restaurant

Use of Natural Materials

  • Integrate natural materials like wood and stone in the interior design. For example, wooden tables, stone accents on walls, floors, and ceiling features.

Indoor Vertical Gardens

  • Create a living wall or vertical garden inside the restaurant. This not only purifies the air but also adds a vibrant, natural aesthetic to the dining space.

Natural Light Maximization

  • Design the restaurant to maximize natural light through large windows or skylights, reducing the need for artificial lighting and connecting diners with the natural rhythm of day and night.

Natural Shapes and Patterns

  • Incorporate designs and patterns that mimic nature, such as leaf patterns in fabrics or wood wall art, and organic, flowing architectural lines.

Sensory Elements

  • Engage the senses with natural textures and scents. This can be achieved through the use of distressed wooden or rustic tables, stone surfaces, and natural fragrances from flowers or essential oils diffused in the space.

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#3 – The Futuristic Feast: Tech-Forward Dining

Embracing technology is a central theme in 2024, as touchless menus, QR code ordering, and augmented reality (AR) applications become standard in the dining experience. AI-driven systems for personalized recommendations and smart lighting controls enhance efficiency and ambiance, delivering a seamless and futuristic journey.

3 Easily Implementable Technologies for Your Restaurant

Interactive Tabletop Ordering

  • Tables equipped with touch screens for ordering can also display food information, entertainment, or games to play while waiting for the meal.

AI-Driven Personalized Dining

  • Utilizing artificial intelligence to analyze customer preferences and dietary restrictions to offer personalized meal recommendations.

Digital Wine Lists and Sommelier Apps

  • Utilizing tablets or apps to offer extensive digital wine lists, complete with detailed descriptions and pairing suggestions.

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#4 – Adaptive Eateries: The Evolution of Multi-Functional Restaurant Spaces

Restaurants are transforming into flexible spaces that cater to diverse needs, serving as brunch spots, event venues, or co-working areas during non-peak hours. Versatile furnishings and modular designs maximize space utilization, allowing quick adaptations to different functions. Explore our range of drop-leaf tables to capitalize on this trend.

7 ways to better utilize your restaurant space during off-hours.

Event Space

  • Design the dining area to be easily convertible into a space for events like weddings, corporate events, or parties.

Live Entertainment Venue

  • Host live music, stand-up comedy, or theater performances during certain evenings.

Book Club Meetings and Literary Events

  • Host book club meetings, poetry readings, or author signings.

Wine Tasting and Pairing Events

  • Use the space for special wine-tasting events or pairings with meals.

Seasonal Themed Events

  • Transform the space seasonally for events such as Oktoberfest, summer beach parties, or winter wonderlands.

Private Dining and Chef’s Table Experiences

  • Offer an exclusive area for private dining or a chef’s table experience where guests can watch their meals being prepared.

Language and Cultural Nights

  • Dedicate certain nights to celebrating different cultures or languages with themed food, decor, and activities.

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#5 – Sculpting Ambiance: Elevating Restaurant Design with Artistic Expression

Artistic expression is now a focal point in restaurant design, with architectural wall panels, murals, wood wall art, and interactive installations taking center stage. These elements create immersive and Instagram-worthy spaces and tell a unique story through visual elements. Collaborations with artists add authenticity, ensuring a one-of-a-kind ambiance.

8 Ideas for Integrating Art into Your Restaurant’s Design

Mural Installations

  • Commission local artists to create large-scale murals on restaurant walls, reflecting the theme or cuisine of the restaurant.

Customized Tabletops

  • Design custom tabletops with artistic patterns or engraved designs.

Sculptural Elements

  • Incorporate unique sculptures, both indoor and outdoor, to add a three-dimensional artistic touch.

Artistic Lighting Fixtures

  • Use unique, artistically designed lighting fixtures to create ambiance and serve as focal points.

Floor Art

  • Incorporate artistic designs into the flooring, such as custom tiles or artistically stained concrete.

Artistic Dividers and Partitions

  • Create visually appealing partitions or room dividers with artistic designs for both aesthetics and functionality.

Artist Collaboration Menus

  • Collaborate with artists to design unique menu covers or illustrated menus.

Signature Art Pieces

  • Invest in a signature art piece, like a statue or a large painting, that becomes synonymous with the restaurant.

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#6 – Universal Welcome: Prioritizing Inclusive and Accessible Design

In 2024, inclusivity will take the spotlight, emphasizing accessibility for all patrons. Wheelchair-friendly entrances, adjustable seating, and sensory-friendly designs are tailored to diverse needs, creating spaces that warmly welcome people with different abilities and sensitivities. Paying attention to lighting, color, and texture choices is crucial.  You can read our blog on ADA compliance to find out if you are doing your part.

9 Changes to Embrace Inclusivity and Accessibility in Restaurant Design

Wheelchair Accessible Entrances

  • Ensure entryways are wheelchair-accessible with ramps and automatic doors.

Spacious Seating Layout

  • Design a dining area with ample space between tables to accommodate wheelchairs and mobility aids.

Braille Menus

  • Offer menus in Braille for visually impaired guests.

Adaptive Utensils

  • Provide adaptive eating utensils for guests with limited mobility or dexterity.

Accessible Restrooms

  • Design restrooms to be fully accessible, with features like grab bars and wheelchair-accessible sinks.

Nutritional and Allergy Information

  • Clearly label menu items with nutritional and allergy information for those with dietary restrictions.

Family-Friendly Facilities

  • Include features like baby-changing stations and kid-friendly menu options.

Quiet Zones

  • Designate quiet zones or times for guests who are sensitive to noise or overstimulation.

Staff Training in Accessibility Practices

  • Regularly train staff on inclusivity and accessibility practices to ensure a welcoming environment for all guests.

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#7 – Harmony of Well-Being: Exploring Wellness Focused Designs

There’s a heightened emphasis on well-being, featuring ergonomic furniture, calming color schemes, and ambient lighting for a soothing environment. Some restaurants incorporate wellness features like yoga corners or meditation spaces, offering patrons holistic experiences. Explore our enhancements with rounded corners or a bullnose edge profile for a softer touch on your tables.

Here are Just a Few More Ways to Explore Harmony and Wellness in Your Restaurant

Acoustic Design for Noise Reduction

  • Employ sound-absorbing materials and design techniques to reduce noise levels, creating a peaceful dining ambiance.

Ergonomic Seating

  • Provide ergonomic seating options that offer comfort and support, enhancing the overall well-being of guests.

Health-Focused Menu Options

  • Offer a menu with healthy, nutritious options, including organic and farm-to-table dishes, to align with wellness themes.

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#8 – Chromatic Wood: Exploring Eclectic Color Palettes for Tabletops

The color spectrum for wood table tops is more diverse than ever in 2024. Whites, dark tones, browns, grays, reclaimed wood, modern designs, and even mixing wood species are all part of the current trend. The eclectic choices reflect a sense of exploration and a departure from traditional color norms.

3 Combinations of wood restaurant tables that restaurant owners would not normally attempt

Walnut and Maple Duo

  • Combine the rich, dark tones of walnut with the lighter, creamy hues of maple for a striking contrast. Select Walnut and Maple tabletops from TimeWorn USA to create this eclectic mix.

Rustic White and Distressed Pine

Distressed Maple and Charcoal Stained Maple

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As we navigate through the ever-evolving landscape of restaurant design, these trends emphasize a shared aspiration to craft visually stunning spaces that resonate with values like sustainability, inclusivity, and well-being. Whether through a connection with nature, the integration of technology, or artistic expressions, the horizon of restaurant design holds promise for diversity and endless possibilities. 

Check back soon for more energy-efficient restaurant design ideas!

#9 – Streamlining Dining: Compact Spaces

A notable shift towards smaller spaces optimized for carry-out and pick-up services has emerged. Driven by the pandemic, a rise in on-the-go lifestyles, and a growing preference for convenient dining options, many restaurants are reimagining their layouts to prioritize efficiency in fulfilling to-go orders. This trend addresses the evolving needs of busy patrons and aligns with the increased reliance on digital platforms for ordering and delivery. Streamlined spaces cater to contemporary dining habits, with an emphasis on functionality.

5 Great Space-Saving Ideas for Any Restaurant

Space-Saving Kitchen Equipment

  • Opt for compact, multi-use kitchen appliances to maximize efficiency in a small kitchen space.

Vertical Storage Solutions

  • Utilize vertical space for storage with wall-mounted shelves and hanging pot racks.

Sliding Doors or Curtains

  • Use sliding doors or curtains instead of traditional doors to save space and add flexibility to the layout.

Communal Tables

  • Use large communal tables instead of several small tables to maximize seating capacity.

Mirror Use

  • Use mirrors to create the illusion of a larger space and enhance natural light.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I create a visually appealing and welcoming atmosphere in my restaurant?

Use a cohesive color scheme, comfortable seating, appropriate-sized wood restaurant tables, and ambient lighting to create a warm and inviting ambiance.

We have a blog post that focuses explicitly on this question, plans efficient traffic flow, designs distinct dining zones, and invests in space-saving furniture, such as drop-leaf tables, to maximize operational efficiency.

While we don’t sell outdoor products, we suggest you choose weather-resistant furniture, incorporate greenery, and provide shading options to enhance the outdoor dining experience.

Lighting sets the mood; use a combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting to create a cozy and well-lit atmosphere.

Ensure wheelchair accessibility, consider various seating heights, and provide clear signage for a universally inclusive design.  You can read in-depth about the requirements on our ADA Blog.

Focus on comfortable seating, a well-designed bar counter, and appropriate lighting to create a relaxed and social atmosphere.

Open layouts and vibrant colors work well for fast-casual, while fine dining benefits from elegant design and intimate seating.

Align color schemes with branding, consider psychological effects, and use colors strategically to evoke the desired atmosphere.

Prioritize durability without compromising style, ensuring furniture aligns with the overall design concept.

Use acoustic padding under your tables, soft furnishings, and strategic layout planning to control noise levels and create a comfortable dining environment.

Prioritize essential elements, consider cost-effective materials, and prioritize strategic design choices to maximize impact within budget constraints.

Create visually striking focal points, use unique design elements like wood wall art, and encourage user-generated content with photogenic spaces.

Check back soon for more energy-efficient restaurant design ideas!

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