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The Art of Creating Ambiance – Planning Interiors, Inc.


Cafes and coffee shops are more than just places to grab a caffeine fix. They’re the space to have a Friends moment with your loved ones. They’re WFH worker havens. They’re a Sunday morning must.

Cafes and coffee shops stand as some of the best “third spaces” we still have, and luckily, there’s never a shortage of them around Atlanta and other cities and towns in the U.S. However, if you’re a café owner, you know better than anyone that it can be challenging to stand out from the competition. So, aside from offering great coffee and food, what is the next step you can take to elevate your business?  

Two words: interior design.

The design and atmosphere of your café is a critical factor to attracting new customers and retaining old ones. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the details of designing cafes and coffee shops, offering specific advice on how to master the art of creating the perfect ambiance that your customers will love.

Define Your Unique Vibe:

Before you get into the nitty gritty of interior design, try to identify what makes your café stand out. Are you looking to design a space that exudes rustic charm or modern minimalism? Maybe you’re aiming for an artistic, bohemian atmosphere. Regardless, it’s important to settle your café’s brand and vibe before you begin to think about interior design. It’ll be at the heart of almost all your design decisions from start to finish.

Layered Lighting:

Clever, well-thought-out lighting is the hero of any great space. Not only can it cast a light on your products and space, but it’s a fundamental part of creating its mood and feel. Combine ambient, task, and accent lighting to highlight different areas of your café while also creating depth and adding stylistic elements to your atmosphere. For instance, pendant lights over a communal table can create a cozy gathering spot, while subtle wall sconces can add elegance. This guide has some great lighting tips for cafes.

Texture and Materials:

Texture and materials play a pivotal role in shaping the tactile experience within your café and can add a lot of dimension to the space. To infuse a warm, rustic ambiance, consider the allure of reclaimed wood. Using tables crafted from weathered barn wood or wooden wall panels are great ways to achieve this. On the other hand, let’s say you’re leaning towards a modern, contemporary aesthetic–opt for sleek metal materials instead. Stainless steel countertops, industrial-style chairs, or metallic accents on tables introduce a touch of sophistication with their cool, smooth surfaces. And remember–just like with lighting–layering textures and materials is also very important for creating depth in a space. This LinkedIn article and this Planning Interiors article both provide great tips to consider in order to layer textures and materials correctly. 

Seating Comfort:

No coffee shop is complete without comfortable seating. Choose comfortable chairs and sofas that are both aesthetically pleasing and inviting. Small details like cushioned seats and throw pillows can make customers want to linger longer. Speaking of seating placement…

Functional Flow:

The layout of your café should be designed to cater to a natural flow of foot-traffic. Think about common paths customers and employees will tread when they’re in your space and do what you can to make things easier and less cluttered for them along this journey. A well-planned layout is fundamental to minimizing bottlenecks during busy hours and will do wonders to optimizing both customer and employee experiences.

Use Art to Bring Out Your Café’s Brand:

Choose artwork and decor that accentuates your café’s brand. Many cafes opt for local art pieces from emerging artists to show their commitment to the community. And with an array of great artists and styles at your fingertips when you’re in bustling cities like Atlanta, you’re bound to find some amazing pieces that fit your café’s style. Remember to use wall space wisely to create visual focal points during this step!

Café Interior Design is No Walk in the Park

Creating the perfect ambiance in your café or coffee shop involves a thoughtful fusion of design elements and sensory experiences. By defining your unique vibe, paying attention to lighting, textures, seating comfort, art, and functional flow, you can craft an ambiance that leaves a lasting impression on your customers.

Now, we understand that diving into design projects like this can be overwhelming, especially if it isn’t your area of expertise. If you’d like to leave your café or coffee shop’s next interior design project to the professionals, our team at Planning Interiors would be more than happy to help.


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