It may seem perfunctory to say so, but both flooring and walls are crucial elements to any restaurant’s interior design. They’re the base upon which all other aspects of your restaurant’s design is built. The good news is that you have numerous options when it comes to paint, wallpaper, and flooring. The bad news is… you have numerous options. How can you possibly decide? By looking at your dining room’s needs and focusing on function, durability, and cohesive design, you can pare down those options to get to the right choices for your space.
Glossy or Matte Paint?
There are many different styles of paint on the market, ranging in price from pretty reasonable to designer-style expensive. (Ask a manager in your local hardware store’s paint department about how price compares with quality. They know the product better than anyone.)
Generally, restaurant owners should look for some kind of gloss finish in their paint. Not only is matte paint not very durable against moisture, it’s also very difficult to clean. And being able to clean your walls is a must for high traffic, restaurant dining rooms.
High-gloss paints lie on the other side of the spectrum: they’re very durable and easy to clean, but their shininess also tends to revel smudges, dirt, and fingerprints. Meeting somewhere in the middle could strike the right balance. A satin or semi-gloss paint offers that crucial protection from moisture and is relatively easy to clean, but isn’t so shiny that it shows every smudge.
The Color Question
Your wall color is going to be a big part of your paint choice. After all, the color of your dining room can have a huge impact on your overall visual design and your restaurant concept. While the most common rule is to go with a wall color (or colors) that fits with your restaurant’s overall esthetic, there is some color theory you can look to when choosing. For instance, if your restaurant is generally fast-paced with quick table turnover or “order and go,” the color yellow brings energetic vibes to the space. Reds can also be used that way, but you might want to add it as a detail color rather than overwhelming the room. Green is connected to nature, healthiness, and relaxation, but restaurants tend to avoid blues and purples since they’ve shown to decrease appetites in studies. And of course, there are neutral colors like whites, light greys, and beiges, which can make smaller spaces seem larger.
It’s All in the Details
Your wall design doesn’t have to mean painting a room one color and being done with it. Take the overall theme and tone you’d like to set with your restaurant menu and apply that to the walls. If you want a bold, daring atmosphere, consider painting one accent wall a bright color to make it pop. If you would like a homey, casual feel to your soup-and-sandwich place, think about using whiteboard/blackboard paint. Your employees can then take a section of wall on which to write specials — maybe even doodle some original art. Just be careful about where you seat customers in relation to the wall — it’s easy to get covered in chalk dust if brushing against it. If you are considering special trim or paint techniques, however, hire a professional painter. They can go over texturing wall details and ensure that more complicated techniques are properly completed.
If you don’t want to paint your walls, wallpaper is a viable option for restaurants. There are some unique, high-end wallpaper products out there that can bring a distinct look to your business. When looking for appropriate wallpaper, make sure you can clean it easily. Also make sure the trendy wallpaper design that just “speaks to you” still fits the rest of your interior design concept and will stand the test of time — at least until your next remodel. Keep an eye out for what others are saying online about the product, too. If others have had problems with peelings or if it ends up difficult to clean, you’ll want to know that upfront.
Believe it or not, concrete is a viable choice for your restaurant floors – it’s paintable and is often what’s already there when you lease or buy the building. But concrete can also raise significant safety concerns. Not only can a staff member or guest get seriously injured if they fall on concrete, but a concrete floor can be very rough on servers and bussers’ feet after a full shift. If your flooring puts strain on your employees’ bodies, that will affect their morale over time, along with their work performance. Carpet is another option, especially since its softer cushioning solves the problems of a hard concrete floor. But carpet is also more challenging to keep clean in a dining room with lots of foot traffic and the potential for spills every shift. If you do choose carpet, make sure to look into medium to dark colors and dense fiber carpets. Be prepared to include vacuuming as part of the regular staff cleaning procedure and to get the carpet professionally cleaned at least twice a year.
Carpet tiles are also a good choice for some restaurants (and commercial spaces in general). They give you the option of having carpet without as much risk from stains. Since each piece is easily removed, you can just replace the tile where spillage happened rather than having to rip out the whole carpet — or paying for expensive stain removal/cleaning. Your other option is to put down underlayment – cushioning under hard flooring – and then install your choice of hardwood, laminate, or vinyl. The underlayment can absorb some of the vibrations from people walking, offers some sound control, and of course makes it easier for your staff to comfortably be on their feet throughout their shift.
Do-It-Yourself … or Not
Like with all updates to your restaurant, the question of when to do the work yourself or when to hire professionals will come up when you’re planning to change up your walls and flooring. Do you have experience painting rooms or putting up wallpaper? Have you put up wallpaper for a space as big as your dining room before? What is the internet saying about the specific type of flooring you’re looking for – is it feasible for laypeople to complete on their own? Can you efficiently get the work done yourself without causing major upheaval to your restaurant’s regular schedule? If you’re hesitant about any of those questions, you might want to consider hiring professionals to do the job for you. After all, it’s better to put have it done right the first time, rather than waste time and resources doing the job on your own and come away dissatisfied.
Considering other front-of-house improvements? Check out our free eBook on “Restaurant Renovation” now: