8 Tips for Impeccable Restaurant Lighting

Most of the time when we eat at a restaurant, we don’t even notice the lighting. But when the lighting is all wrong, we definitely get the feeling that something’s off. 

In other words, we don’t always notice good lighting but we always notice bad lighting. 

Keep reading to learn more about why restaurant lighting is so important and our top tips to improve the ambience in your restaurant through lighting.


Why is restaurant lighting important?

Restaurant lighting is important for three main reasons.

  • A better customer experience
  • Improved ambience
  • Increased revenue

When you choose lighting that’s both practical and welcoming, customers tend to have a better experience. They’ll feel calmer and, again, probably won’t even notice your lighting (which is a good thing). 

The ambience will match the mood of your restaurant and the lighting will enhance the food for an all-around better experience. And when customers have a better experience, they’ll stay longer, ordering more drinks and food. Therefore, good restaurant lighting means increased revenue too.


Most Popular Lighting for Restaurants

To start, let’s go over some of the most popular types of lighting for restaurants.

  • Pendant Lights: Ideal above bars, tables, host areas and counters
  • Wall Lights: Great for accenting artwork or in the toilets
  • Track Lighting: A set of several continuous lights to be used for various focal points
  • Recessed Lighting: Common for both work lighting and ambient lighting
  • Fan Lighting: Ideal for both controlling the temperature and lighting (especially outdoors)

Mars Circuit Track Heads

Now, without further ado, let’s explore how you can improve the lighting in your restaurant. Here are some tips.

1. Understand your space.

Before you choose your restaurant lighting, it’s important to understand your space. How high are the ceilings? What is the layout of your restaurant? What type of restaurant do you own? What hours of the day are you open? These will all factor in to help you choose the appropriate restaurant lighting.

2. Light in layers.

Once you have an understanding of what you need based on your unique restaurant, start lighting in layers.

You might start with the dining room lighting using recessed lighting, track lighting, wall sconces or accent chandeliers. From there, you can layer on the lighting for each individual table using pendant lighting or table lamps.

You’ll also need to think about functional lighting for your kitchen and task lighting for bars. The point is, you’ll have layers upon layers of lighting to create ambience in your restaurant. 

Piatto Light Pendant

3. Avoid glare.

As you can imagine, lights that cause glare can create a lot of discomfort for your customers. When you use lights without a proper shade or if your shades are mismatched, this can cause glare. So, always keep your lighting consistent using high-quality light fittings in your restaurant.

4. Keep it practical.

It’s easy to get carried away thinking only about ambience when it comes to restaurant lighting. While the ambience is certainly important, it’s also essential that your restaurant lighting is practical at the same time.

When people are eating, they want to clearly see the people they’re with, the food on their plate and the way to the toilets. Not to mention, your staff need to be able to see what they’re doing and where they’re going to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

In other words, there is such thing as lighting that’s too dim.

5. Use lighting to enhance food.

In a restaurant, the food still needs to be the star of the show. So, while you want to create ambience in your restaurant, the food still needs to look appetising. In other words, don’t pick a reddish light globe for your table lighting that gives the food a strange-looking hue. 

Instead, choose lighting that emits a high colour rendering index (CRI). CRI ranges from 0 to 100 and measures how accurately a light source represents the actual colour of an object. And since we often eat with our eyes, making sure your food looks how it’s supposed to (in the kitchen and at the table) is essential.

Rieka Table Lamp

6. Change your lighting based on the time of day.

Dimmable lighting is another necessity when it comes to restaurant lighting. Especially if you’re open during daylight and nighttime hours, choosing lighting that you can adjust accordingly is ideal.

If you’re a café that’s open in the morning but you have large windows that let in the sunlight, you may not even need much daytime lighting. But, on gloomy days you’ll want the option to offer bright, natural-looking light for your customers that keeps them feeling alert and energised as they catch up on work with their coffee.

However, you might opt for moderate lighting during the lunchtime rush, something that won’t make people too comfortable and encourages quick turnarounds on tables to increase your revenue.

For dinner, dim the lights to offer a more upscale ambience and keep people enjoying drinks at the bar or ordering dessert after their meal.

7. Style matters.

Restaurant lighting is not only important for creating ambience through the light itself, but the style of your light fittings and globes also matters a great deal. Depending on the type of restaurant you have, styling the space with high-quality lighting counts for a lot.

So, not only do you need to position your lighting effectively based on whether you need task lighting, soft lighting or bright lighting, you’ll also want to choose stylish fittings that match the vibe of your restaurant. 

8. Don’t forget outdoor lighting.

If your restaurant has outdoor space, consider outdoor lighting as well. Even if people simply wait out the front for a table, outdoor lighting can make a huge difference.

Be sure to light the footpath leading to your restaurant and keep any outdoor waiting areas or bar seating well-lit. Plus, outdoor lighting that matches the ambience of your indoor areas will also create a cohesive flow through to your indoor space.

Eve Exterior Wall Light

Wrap Up

Setting up the lighting for your restaurant is no easy task. But, doing so correctly can create the perfect ambience and do wonders for your business.

Ready to get started? Contact Ozlighting and one of our friendly staff members can get you sorted. In the meantime, shop our entire lighting collection today!