Restaurant Lighting: How to Create the Right Ambience | The Home Lighter, Inc.

Restaurant Lighting: How to Create the Right Ambience

Nothing good is associated with darkness. If you are ignorant, they say you are “in the dark,” and superstitious people believe even evil spirits wait until nightfall. Moreover, light is so important that in the Bible, God said, “let there be light” on the first day of creation. If light plays such a crucial role in our lives, why is your restaurant not giving it the attention it deserves?

Lighting in your restaurant is not just about preventing people from bumping into each other. It has been proven that it can create the right ambience, but only when done right. You might have been wondering why that five-star rating has been elusive for years, yet you serve high-quality sumptuous meals and ensure excellent customer service.

It could be that your customers need the right lighting to sway their opinion about your establishment. Let’s help you create more traffic by telling you what you need to know about lighting and its effects on ambience.


How Does Restaurant Lighting Affect Ambience


There is usually a different feeling when you are eating at a restaurant than when taking your meal at a fast-food establishment. Even dinner dates happen at high-end restaurants, and unless your lighting is right, it will disrupt that mood that couples seek.

Dining out goes beyond the tasty meals; it should appeal to other senses too. Therefore, a romantic restaurant should aim for dimmed lighting for that intimate experience that makes people want to stay longer and enjoy each other’s company. On the other hand, fast-food restaurants should utilize bright lighting to encourage people to keep moving.

Still, even the brightening or dimming of the lights affects the mood, depending on when it is done. Suddenly dimming the lights during dinner will make couples feel like their privacy has been intruded. Therefore, your staff should ensure that the dimmer lights have different settings. Once the sun starts to set, they can dim the lights incrementally without the diners noticing that the right tone is being created to have the ultimate experience.


How Do You Create Ambient Lighting in Your Restaurant?


Right Placement of Lighting Fixtures

Under lighting, which could be from candles on the table, has a different outcome than over lighting, like maybe from pendant lights. While under lighting focuses on illuminating the diner’s face making it more attractive, over lighting casts shadows making faces look fatigued.

Therefore, establishments that look to have romantic diners could utilize under lighting. After all, if it is the first date, they are both trying to make a great first impression, and a haggard-looking face might cut the date short. However, the light should not be too dim that the diners struggle to read the menu.
Placement also refers to different lighting for different locations in the restaurants. Reception areas should have brighter lighting, as should the kitchen area. However, you must ensure that the bright lighting does not spill over to the dining area. As for focal points such as the menu board, a bright spotlight is enough.

Take Advantage of Natural Lighting

You do not have to use commercial lighting to create the right ambience; natural lighting can come in handy. It has the advantage of not denting your budget, so take full advantage of natural lighting and place those big tables next to windows. However, remember that sometimes the sun can be too glaring, so add some shade to the windows.

For those restaurants that open in the evening, natural lighting is not an option; hence you will have to be creative to get the same results. In the dining area, warm yellow lighting will suffice, while focal points will need bright lighting.

Use Technology

Dimmers also help with flexibility as you can adjust the brightness to reflect the mood needed for the time of day. If your budget allows it, an automated control system programmed with different settings will adjust the lighting depending on the time of day or season.


Types of Restaurant Lighting



Ambient lighting enables people within an establishment to move around with ease, and it usually is the main source of lighting in a certain space. It can come from natural lighting or commercial lighting.


Task lighting is about enabling the completion of tasks. In the kitchen, chefs want a certain type of lighting to enable them to work. At the reception area, there is a need for task lighting for the receptionist to communicate with guests.


As the name suggests, accent lighting is about making the diner focus on a particular area. It could be the bar area where the drinks are displayed, or in a restaurant, it could be to guide the eye to a particular work of art.


What to Consider When Choosing Lighting for Your Restaurant


Available Space

If you have limited space, you have to ensure that the lighting does not overwhelm the entire restaurant. Short pendants or lighting fixtures in the ceiling can be used in a small space; wall accents also are useful for limited space.

Mood Intended

The lighting should define the mood you are going for because restaurants serve the different clientele. Fast-food restaurants want high traffic; to encourage people to keep moving, bright lighting is crucial. Romantic restaurants want diners to stay; hence dimmed lighting is the way to go.

Color and Décor

The color of the furniture and walls will affect the appearance of lighting. A restaurant with white walls does not need bright lighting because it is already illuminated. Light-colored décor, paint, and finishes on walls, floors, and countertops reflect light, but in the right amount, it can be welcoming to guests.

If the restaurant has dark walls, you should light up the room with indirect lighting to avoid straining the guests’ eyes. More surfaces will diffuse the light and avoid glare. However, note that glossy surfaces such as glass over paintings or shiny metallic surfaces will reflect the light and cause glaring.


Ensure that the fixtures are placed to go hand in hand with the ambience you want to create. For instance, a restaurant for romantic dinners should go for lighting on the wall so that candles can be placed on the table. Day-time eateries can utilize lights hung on the ceiling.


Lighting is also part of your establishment’s investment, and since it does not come cheap, you must get it right the first time. If you have ever been to your competitors’ and admired their lighting, you can check to see the specific manufacturers. Also, get in touch with a reputable dealer to ensure you get authentic products. They may cost an arm and a leg, but you will not have to worry about regular replacement in the long-run.


Rules for Lighting in Restaurants


Design for the Person to Use It

As always, the customer is king, and when choosing the right lighting for your establishment, the diner’s experience should come first. It would be best if you combined natural lighting with commercial lighting for an ideal result. The ability to adjust both should be factored in to reflect the time of day and mood intended. During breakfast, ensure diners can read the newspapers comfortably by providing more light while keeping the mood intimate with little lighting during the evening.


Choose lighting that blends well with other aspects of the establishment. As much as the customer’s dining experience is prioritized, lighting should integrate well with the rest of the restaurant.


Do You Have the Right Lighting for Your Restaurant?


Lighting can be compared to spices; too much or too little will make your customers not eat to their fill, but they keep coming back for more when it is right. If you are unsure which fixtures you need to create the right ambience, schedule an appointment with Home Lighter, Inc. in Pacific Grove. They have an array of lighting solutions Pacific Grove restaurant owners can use to improve their establishments. So, have you booked your appointment?