Restaurant Color Schemes

January 1, 2019

Did you know that certain colors attract customers, while others repel them?

If you're opening or redecorating a restaurant, it's not enough to choose your favorite color and slap some paint on the wall.

You need to put careful thought into your design, layout, and decor--including which colors to use.

Not sure where to start? Don't worry. In this post, we'll walk you through some of the most popular restaurant color schemes so you can choose the right one for your business.

Identify Your Goals

Before we launch into color theory, let's first establish what kind of restaurant you have (or are hoping to create).

Is it a quick-service eatery where people will rush in and out? Is it a cozy coffee shop where customers will dawdle, work, or socialize? Is it a fine-dining establishment offering gourmet steaks and expensive wines?

Does your menu feature tasty comfort foods and baked goods? Or will you specialize in vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free items?

Whatever type of restaurant you run, keep these thoughts in mind as you read the next section. This will help you match the right colors to your menu and atmosphere.

Color Psychology & Food

Different colors have different effects on our mood, heart rate, even our appetites. Here's a quick breakdown of how we react to each major color.


Ever wondered why so many fast food restaurants include red in their color schemes?

It's because red is a highly stimulating color, boosting appetite and even speeding up your heartbeat. Red is also associated with impulsive behaviors--perfect when you're trying to attract hungry customers!

Because red is so stimulating, though, you can definitely overdo it. It works well for a quick-service eatery, as it will subconsciously make diners eat and leave faster.

But it's not the best choice for a restaurant where you want customers to relax and linger. Unless, of course, you're hoping to increase your current turnover rate.


Orange is a cheerful color associated with happiness and contentment. Like red, it's also an appetite stimulant, making it a great choice for many restaurant color schemes.

Keep in mind, though, that not all oranges are created equal. If you paint your restaurant's walls fluorescent orange, you may scare potential customers away before they ever sit down.

Try a soft peach color or a terracotta shade to add warmth to your interior. Orange is an especially good option for ice cream shops or dessert bars, as customers are less likely to feel guilty for indulging.


The last of the warm colors, yellow can also be an inviting color--when used in moderation.

Similar to red, yellow acts to increase appetite and generate excitement. Avoid it (or use it sparingly) if you're trying to create a relaxed, low-key environment.

Like orange (and red, for that matter) remember to consider to the shade. A touch of canary yellow may work well as an accent color, but four walls that bright will only irritate customers.

The right shade of yellow could be an excellent choice for an ethnic bistro, a lively cafe, or a fast-casual eatery.


As the most common color in nature, people automatically associate the color green with natural, healthy products.

If your restaurant caters to the health-food crowd and serves items like salads, vegetarian meals, or vegan items, you can't go wrong with green. It's also a soothing and relaxing color, inviting customers to get comfortable and stay a while.

Conversely, green may not be the best option if you run a steakhouse or a dimly lit cocktail bar.


Since blue is the most loved color in the world, it should make an excellent choice for a restaurant, right?

Wrong. Because blue is rarely found in natural foods, it's considered a highly unappetizing color. In fact, researchers have found that blue creates chemicals inside the body that slow metabolism and depress appetite.

Purple falls into the same category with similar effects on the human body. If you choose to use blue or purple in your decor, use them as accent colors only. Otherwise, you may notice people don't order much when they come in!

Brown/Earth Tones

Earth tones (brown in particular) help people to relax and feel comfortable in their surroundings. It's also a subconscious trigger for a sense of stability and support.

There's almost no type of restaurant that wouldn't benefit from a color scheme featuring earth tones. It's an especially great choice for coffee shops, steakhouses, or contemporary bistros.

Black & White

White opens up a space and makes it seem larger. It's also associated with cleanliness--something you definitely want to be known for.

Too much white, though, will make your restaurant feel more like a hospital than a dining space.

Black works well as an accent color, but too much can make your restaurant feel small and cramped. Use black and white in conjunction with other colors you choose, but don't overdo either one.

Sample Restaurant Color Schemes

Now that you understand basic color psychology, here are 5 sample color schemes you might consider for your restaurant.

1. Upscale Restaurants & Relaxed Bistros

A light color scheme works best here. Consider white, light yellow, beige, ivory, or soft gray.

2. Romantic Restaurants & Contemporary Bars

To create an intimate atmosphere, center your color scheme around rich, dark colors. Choose from crimson red, dark brown, or emerald green.

3. Buffets & Fast Food Restaurants

To encourage your guests to "eat and run," stick with a warm, stimulating color theme. Consider reds, oranges, yellows, and golds.

4. Health Food Cafes & Trendy Restaurants

If your menu focuses on healthy foods or farm-to-table dining, you'll want an earthy color theme. Go with shades of brown, green, beige, and gray.

5. Casual Bistros & Cozy Cafes

Popular in the 1980s, pastel color schemes are making a huge comeback! Make your cafe or bistro warm and welcoming with pastel shades of yellow, pink, lavender, or green.

Final Thoughts on Restaurant Colors

As you can see, there's a lot that goes into choosing the right restaurant interior colors.

Much depends on the type of food you serve, the size of your restaurant, and the atmosphere you want to create.

Use one of the restaurant color schemes listed above, and you're sure to have lots of hungry customers walking through your doors.

Are you opening a new restaurant or redecorating an existing one? Either way, we can provide expert painting services at competitive pricing.

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The Author | Melissa Petrusse
Melissa Petrusse, President, Petrusse-Norris Painting - Licensed Painting/Decorating Contractor and Color-Expert. Please feel free to reach out to Melissa with any painting project questions, as she is happy to be of service. Simply fill out the Contact Form found on our Contact Page, as Melissa personally receives each request. View More Post from Melissa Petrusse