Understanding Color Psychology for Restaurants

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Redefining Dining: Unpacking the Definition of Communal Tables

Can your restaurant colors play a role in your success? Yes, they can. Colors can affect people’s moods and even their behavior. They play a vital role in your patrons’ comfort (and discomfort) levels. That’s why you need to choose your colors wisely when picking out furniture and designing the interiors for your establishment. 

Understanding restaurant color psychology is the first step to creating interiors that are attractive, welcoming, and primed for success. So, before you start painting the walls or selecting the decor theme, read this guide to choosing restaurant colors.

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What Is Color Psychology?

Color psychology is the study of colors’ effects on behavior and emotions. It is cleverly used in marketing and branding to influence consumers’ behavior, and their attitudes to certain products. Color psychology is also relevant to interior decor, such as when choosing office, retail, or restaurant colors.

Why Is It Important to Consider Color Psychology When Choosing Your Restaurant Colors?

Your restaurant colors do so much more than just make the space look attractive. They influence your patrons in subtle ways. The colors you select can make them want to eat fast and leave or stay a while and order dessert. It all depends on the emotional response those colors provoke.

Of course, everyone responds differently to color, as evidenced by the fact that everyone has a ‘favorite’ color. Yet there are some common principles behind color psychology that you can use as your guide when selecting colors for your restaurant and its furnishings.

Selecting The Best Colors For Your Restaurant

Any discussion on restaurant color psychology is a guideline. You know best what type of environment and ambiance you are trying to create, and many factors go into choosing a color scheme.

For example, your color palette for your restaurant may be restricted by your brand’s colors. Or perhaps you are renting your space with restrictions placed on the changes you make to your space. However, if you are a restaurant owner with total creative freedom, you’ll have more say when selecting your restaurant colors.

Here are some important considerations when choosing restaurant colors for specific restaurant types.

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Bright and Bold for Diners

Bright and bold hues like red, orange, and yellow will introduce some cheerful colors into your casual dining establishment. However, these colors can also be overpowering and are best used in small doses.

Red stimulates the senses and the appetite. Orange encourages impulsivity and interaction. Yellow brings some playful sunny vibes into even the darkest corner.

These traits are all ideally suited to family restaurants, diners, and outdoor cafes. For a slightly softer approach, choose soft shades of peach or pink.

Grounded and Earthy or Cool and Fresh for Health Food Restaurants

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Fresh shades of green or warm shades of brown are both ideally suited to health food stores and restaurants. This is mostly because these colors represent nature so well. They are not typically chosen as favorite colors, yet they appeal to most people because of their familiarity with nature.

Green can be found in many different shades, from fresh lime or apple green to sage and deep forest green. The names of these green shades alone prove how the hue reminds people of trees, grass, and foliage – and of course farm-fresh produce. 

Brown is a symbol of the earth’s rich soil in which all crops grow. Because of their association with nature, these are also relaxing colors. 

Because of their strong mental association with nature and therefore health, it would be a good idea to use these colors if you run a vegan/vegetarian or organic food restaurant. 

They go well with wood too, because of its association with nature. Wood offers texture and interest that livens up any brown and green theme. Wood’s unique patterns, swirls, and grain textures are one of the reasons why it’s so popular. 

Sophisticated Neutrals for High-End Restaurants

Looking for an air of sophistication? You can’t go wrong with neutrals. They exude understated elegance and don’t over-excite the senses. While not the most exhilarating color scheme, it can look very inviting when paired with pops of accent colors to break the monotony.

Neutrals such as black, white, grey, beige, and metallic shades, gold, silver, and bronze all fall into this category. These colors are often used in high-end dining establishments with enormous success. They provide the perfect backdrop for clear crystal, white, or ivory place settings, and gleaming silverware.

Black has a classic appeal, particularly when paired with crisp white or soft ivory. Steer clear of all-grey or all-beige and combine them with bolder neutrals or accent colors. Otherwise, they can look very monotonous and uninspiring. 

How Does Your Choice of Restaurant Furniture Tie in With Restaurant Color Psychology? 

Certain colors suit specific design styles and architectural styles. Bright and bold colors suit fun themes with simple furniture designs. Neutrals suit more intricate furniture designs. But your choice of tabletops can influence the restaurant colors you choose, too. 

There are different materials to choose from when deciding on tabletops. Your personal preference may dictate what the best material for your restaurant tabletop is. However, stone surfaces can seem cold and therefore less welcoming, while laminate, although practical, does not always look professional. That’s why wood is always an excellent choice. 

Wood and Colors 

Wood tables evoke a sense of warmth and community, unlike any other material. They are associated with these concepts because of their historical use in communal settings, and this might be why wooden communal dining tables never go out of style. 

But regardless of whether you use communal tables, standard tables, or high-top tables, there’s something to consider:

When choosing colors to complement your wood tables and chairs, consider the underlying tone of the wood. By this, we mean the color that seems to shine right through the wood surface from deep within. 

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Consider the Dominant Hues 

Some wood types appear more yellow, orange, or red, with a deep glow. Others have a more muted, ashen brown appearance. By choosing colors that complement these undertones, you will create a more cohesive and attractive restaurant interior style.

A general rule of thumb is that lighter, softer, and muted colors pair well with lighter woods. Conversely, darker, bolder, or more intense shades complement dark woods like mahogany, walnut, or cherry tabletops, well. 

You can use this as a guideline for choosing colors for napkins, placemats, and table settings. However, you can take it a step further, and choose wood furniture that stands out against your wall and floor colors. 

Your light wood table will stand out against a darker background, just as a Walnut table would be the focus of attention against pale, neutral walls. However, always consider the atmosphere or mood you are trying to create first.


Navigating the selection of your restaurant’s colors can transform from a daunting task to an exciting journey with a grasp of restaurant color psychology. This understanding not only elevates your restaurant’s aesthetic appeal but also strategically influences your guests’ dining experience, from their mood upon entering to their decision to linger over dessert.

Remember, while color psychology offers a valuable framework for influencing diner behavior and enhancing ambiance, it’s the synergy between these hues and your restaurant’s overall design—including furniture—that brings your vision to life. The timeless appeal of wood, with its inherent warmth and versatility, remains a favored choice among restaurateurs. Whether opting for the rustic charm of reclaimed lumber or the polished elegance of solid wood, these materials bring a depth of character to your space that resonates with patrons.

Incorporating TimeWorn Wood’s meticulously handcrafted wood tabletops into your design not only pays homage to tradition but also affirms your commitment to quality and sustainability. Embrace the power of color and the authenticity of wood to create a memorable, inviting environment for your guests. For beautiful wood tabletop solutions that align with your design vision and sustainability values, reach out to TimeWorn Wood. Let us help you make a statement that captivates and endures.


What is color psychology in restaurants?

Color psychology in restaurants involves using colors to influence diners’ moods, behaviors, and perceptions to enhance their dining experience.

Certain colors, like red and yellow, are known to stimulate appetite, while others, like blue, can suppress it.

For a restaurant’s interior, warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow are popular for stimulating appetite, while earth tones can create a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

Colors can influence how taste is perceived; for example, warm colors can make food appear more appetizing.

Bright colors like red and yellow can encourage faster eating, making them suitable for fast-food restaurants.

Soft greens and blues are often considered relaxing and can create a calm dining environment.

Fine dining restaurants often use neutral or deep, rich colors to create an elegant and sophisticated ambiance.

Color schemes can significantly impact a restaurant’s branding, conveying the restaurant’s personality and influencing customer expectations.

When designing a restaurant, it is advised to avoid overly bright or neon colors that can be jarring, as well as colors like blue that are rare in natural foods.

The exterior color of a restaurant can attract attention and convey the type of dining experience inside, using colors that match the restaurant’s theme and branding.

Lighting can alter the perception of color in a restaurant, with warm lighting enhancing warm colors and creating a more inviting atmosphere.

Colors can influence the duration of a stay in a restaurant; warmer colors might encourage quicker turnover, while cooler tones encourage longer stays.

Seasonal color schemes in a restaurant can be used to refresh the ambiance periodically, reflecting the mood and produce of the season.

Greens and earth tones can reflect the natural, healthy aspect of the food served in a healthy or vegan restaurant.

Consistency in color across restaurant locations is crucial for brand recognition and customer familiarity.

Lighter colors and cool tones can make a small restaurant feel more open and airier.

Bright and contrasting colors like red or orange can draw attention to a restaurant’s promotions and calls to action.

Uniform colors can complement the restaurant’s interior and influence the perception of the service quality.

Yes, the color of plates and utensils can affect how food tastes and is perceived in a restaurant, with white being a popular choice for its neutrality.

Warm color temperatures are often preferred for creating a welcoming and appetizing atmosphere for a restaurant.

Color perceptions can vary significantly between cultures, affecting how colors are used in restaurants catering to diverse clientele.

A restaurant’s website color should align with the restaurant’s branding and interior color scheme for consistency.

While not necessary to change frequently, refreshing the color scheme of a restaurant can help reinvigorate the space and attract attention.

Colors in outdoor dining areas can influence the ambiance and dining experience just as indoors.

Distinct colors can define various areas within a restaurant, such as the bar, dining, and lounge areas, to serve different purposes or moods.

The color scheme should complement the theme of a restaurant, enhancing the overall concept without overpowering the dining experience.

Restaurants can experiment with temporary color schemes or focus groups to gauge customer reactions before making permanent changes.

While trends can influence design choices, it’s important to choose colors that have a timeless appeal and match the restaurant’s identity.

The use of color in a restaurant’s menu design can highlight specific items and influence choices, with red often used to attract attention to high-profit items.

Using natural, non-toxic paints and materials in colors that require less maintenance can be part of a restaurant’s sustainability practices.

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