Coffee shops are no longer a small niche market. The business is valued at around 11.9 billion dollars in the US alone. What is more interesting to note is that these businesses seem almost recession-proof, enduring even in the worst of times. But this has also led to a surge in competition with the market getting more crowded.
Because of this, it is essential for any entrepreneur that wishes to get into the business to take any advantage possible to stand out and an amazing interior design can help them do just that. Clients associate the spatial experience the design gives them with the brand, and this can be a great factor in customer satisfaction and retainment.
In this article, we will go over the 7 essential steps that can help turn an average coffee house interior into one that stands out.
1. Start by choosing a general concept that will inform any other design decisions
What sets apart a standard design, from one that stands out is consistency. A lot of interior design relies heavily upon eclecticism, the mixing of various ideas and elements, that while is simple to pull off, does not make for a memorable design.
A lot of new business owners go into the design of their coffee shop by simply winging it and picking multiple ideas that they see here and there, adapted to their budget, and create a rough implementation. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it does not lead to memorable design. And in a market that is becoming more and more competitive, this means that a potential advantage is left on the table unused.
Picking a design aesthetic that is implemented from start to finish is the simplest way to ensure that your coffee shop stands out. A consistent aesthetic is memorable and will help your clientele associate the feeling they have when visiting your shop with the way they feel about your brand in general.
Case in point:
Start by thinking and defining what your coffee shop is and what can set it apart from the rest. Think in terms of what values do you wish to put forward. Start from the client typology that you wish to attract and the overall values that you wish your business to project. From this, you can start creating your definition for the space. Think if you wish for it to be cozy, dynamic, quiet, or active. Do you wish to encourage activities, like people working on their laptops, or just for people to grab their coffee and go? This is what you should define first.
Once you have a general idea of your overarching concept it’s time to apply it to the space. An important consideration is to adapt the concept to the space, as well as to take advantage of any unique features the space can have. It’s also important to look at the space from the perspective of the customer and how they might interact with it. To exemplify, let’s say you wish to create a coffee shop where people can stay longer, but the space is not large enough to accommodate a lot of seating. This is where adaptability comes into play and you can explore some more creative options to expand the space or creative uses. You can try to see if you can expand the seating area outside, or explore various seating layouts or options to see if you can use the space more effectively.
If you don’t know where to start, think about what makes you different from other coffee shops, what is your competition doing, or what can make your coffee special, either its origin or preparation.
2. Think about the layout and how it will function with your concept
Planning things out in a coffee shop is essential. It gives you time to think of how you can maximize your space, think about how the customer will interact with the space, and plan the flows. Out of all these, planning your flows is probably the most important.
The reason the layout is so important is because of its direct correlation to the flows of service. This is a concept that initially started with restaurants, but it then expanded to be used for more projects that fall into the hospitality typology, coffee shops included. The way it works is by mapping the way the various users will interact with the space and then seeks to tune this process as efficiently as possible. Flows of service have a direct impact on both customer satisfaction and turnover. And it also applies to both staff and customers, as well as the process of serving food and beverages.
This will then inform the other decisions, the setup of the seating area.
Case in point:
Start with a plan of the space and keep in mind the concept that you wish to implement, as well as looking at the general principles of how to implement flows. You will want to consider how the customers interact with the space, then how the staff will work. This will initially inform the placement of the counter, as well as a starting point of how to make things as efficiently as possible. It will also inform you on where the various areas of the layout will be, such as the seating area, display case, and behind-the-counter items. Ideally, you will want to keep flows as separate as possible. In practice, for example, this translates into having a single customer flow around the counter, for maximum efficiency.
3. Understand the design elements and how to tackle them
Every interior has a set of components that creates the design and needs to be tackled. These are the floor, the walls, the ceiling, the windows and doors, furnishings, and the lighting. These are the defining elements of any interior design and a coffee shop is no different.
Depending on the overall design aesthetic that you chose, and the overall situation of the finishes in the space you have, as well as your budget, a solution is required for each of these. They all need to fit in harmony with each other and what you wish to achieve. A complete revamp of the space is in almost all cases the better solution, as the existing finishes in most cases are either not in great condition or don’t fit in with the values and vision you wish your brand to have or project to its customers. The identities, message, and value of the brand need to always be in alignment, as otherwise, it will have difficulties attracting clientele.
Case in point:
As we’ve already emphasized, all the material and the way you tackle the various design choices need to fit in with the overall concept and brand message you wish to convey. The way you tackle each element will directly influence the atmosphere and message that the space conveys and will become an extension of the overall brand.
It will be this atmosphere and message that will directly influence the design decisions in the project, rather than a simple aesthetic.
4.Choose the right color and materials
Once you have a clear understanding of both your space and what you want to achieve, it’s time to look at what materials and finishes to choose. These need to look good, enhance the space and be durable. They should also promote the identity of your brand and further enhance the connection between the customers and the brand, in order to create durable client.
A good guiding principle here is that the smaller the space, the lighter the colors have to be. It’s very important for a cafe to look spacious to its clientele.
For the floors, high traffic tiles are a really good choice, they are very durable and come in all sorts of textures and finishes. Concrete finish is also good, but does not work with every design, and is more difficult to install. Keep in mind to also look for a plinth that works with the chosen finish, to add a bit of separation between the floor and the walls.
After the floor, it’s time to focus on the walls. Think of the walls both in terms of color and texture, as different finishes will have different feelings and create different atmospheres. These need to be chosen based on your concept and the overall identity of the brand. They need to be a direct expression of the idea behind the coffee shop, rather than an arbitrary choice, making this choice of material very important.
Finally, there is the ceiling, with multiple options. Here things can get a bit more creative, with a few interesting options to choose from. While it can be left in a single color, you also have options such as metal lattices, acoustic panels, wooden slats, or keeping the ceiling open. It’s important for you to be aware of these options as they can have quite a large impact on the design. As with all design elements, any option that you choose must fit in with the overarching design concept.
Case in point:
While the space is divided into various components, it is important to think about everything as a whole, rather than a combination of parts. This is very important in creating a coherent design. The more coherent the design, the more premium it feels and the better the atmosphere will be.
Start with a floor, choosing a material that fits with your design concept. It’s important to choose a material that is resistant to high traffic conditions, as there will be a lot of people going around the space. Continuous flooring, such as in situ concrete or terrazzo, make for great options. On the one hand, continuous flooring looks and feels premium and on the other hand, it works in spaces of almost any size, from large to small.
Next step, it’s time to look at the walls. Keep in mind that the walls are one of the most expressive elements of the whole design, it’s the element that will be the most visible to your clients, so special attention should be given to them. There are multiple wall treatment options that you can use, depending on what aligns with your vision, such as murals, wainscoting, textures, faux finishes, or decorated borders, which are all options to add a distinctive touch to your design.
Before working on the ceiling, check to see its current condition. In many cases, there could be ductwork on the ceiling, if it’s part of a larger commercial building, or various decorative elements if it’s part of a historic building. If there are installations, choosing a ceiling option that masks them makes the most sense, such as wooden slats or metal lattices. On the other hand, a historical ceiling that is in good condition can be restored and become a point of attraction for the clientele. A good principle to keep in mind is that darker ceiling colors work better in large spaces, while bright ceilings work better in smaller spaces.
5. Pay special attention to the light
The light design has a substantial impact on how we feel in a space, so in order to create an engaging experience for your clients, you should pay attention to how the lighting design fits in your space. This can help create a certain atmosphere or make the space feel bigger.
There are 3 main types of light in an interior design: ambient, task, and accent. They each serve a different purpose and are useful for different things.
The goal of general lighting, often known as ambient lighting, is to illuminate a whole room. It offers a consistent degree of illumination across the space, regardless of the presence of additional lighting sources. Task lighting has a much smaller focal point and is used to illuminate certain areas where activities are happening. Accent lighting is used to accentuate certain points of interest or indoor features.
A strong combination of all 3 is very important to create an atmospheric and memorable experience for your clientele. If you take any standard-looking coffee shop and add a creative lighting design, it will make the space instantly stand out. It’s very difficult to understate the importance of great lighting design.
Task and accent lighting also allow you to be more creative in selecting lighting fixtures that stand out and can act as part of the design. It’s important to keep in mind here the height of the space when selecting fixtures. The higher the ceiling, the more creative you can get.
Case in point:
Start with the ambient lighting, which should be distributed evenly throughout the space, in order to keep the light level consistent. Then you can start to add the other types of lighting.
Add task lighting to zones that you feel will require to be brightened up more. In a coffee shop, this usually means the counter, as well as the area surrounding it, but it doesn’t have to stop there. You can also add task lighting over the tables to make them feel more atmospheric and stand out more in the space.
Finally, add accent lighting where you feel it would create a strong impact. Any architectural or decor feature in the space can be a good area to use task lighting, as well as to highlight commercial points. For example, if you are also selling merchandise, you can arrange it in a creative way, and highlight it using an accent light. This is a good example of using light to help with sales.
In terms of light fixture design, they will vary based on the type of lighting. A good idea is for each type of lighting to have the same fixture, to create cohesion. In practice, this will mean that all task fixtures would be the same, as well as the accent fixture. There is an option for the ambient fixtures to be different, as long as they create a coherent whole.
Finally, the light fixtures will have to be kept in line with the overall design. So, for example, if you went with a contemporary design, all fixtures should look contemporary. The consistency principle continues to apply here.
6. Create an amazing counter design
The counter is the central piece of the coffee shop. It is the first thing people will see when they enter and it is the focal point of the space. It also has a strong contribution to generating sales, so it’s important that it receives the proper attention.
Treating the counter as a centerpiece, rather than a standard piece of furniture is the best approach. This sends a strong message to the client and also builds up brand awareness. Counters are also amazing social spaces, which further add value by creating a connection between the customer and the coffee shop.
A standard counter will usually have 2 or 3 main stations: the area where the customer makes their purchasing decision, the space where the coffee is prepared, and finally, the space where payments are made. The area where the customer makes the decision needs to contain a direct view of the menu and the display case, acting as an incentive. These areas must all flow together in a specific sequence to assist the customer flow of the overall experience.
From a design point, there are 2 components to the counter: the body and the countertop. Just as with anything so far, the overall design will have to stay in line with the general aesthetic you wish to achieve, this being more difficult for some designs than others. For example, creating a contemporary counter is much more simple than creating a vintage one.
Case in point:
The counter will have to be designed and made by specialists. This can be the architect or interior designer creating the overall project, which is then given to a professional to make it.
It’s important to keep in mind that the colors and finishes of the counter need to stay in line with the design. A simple way to achieve this is to use textures and colors that are already present in the design to be applied to the counter.
For example, if you have a highly contemporary interior, with a grey floor then going with a general white counter is a good option. On the other hand, if wooden tones are dominant then a wooden counter works really well. You can even take this a step further and use separate tones for the body and the countertop, to give it a bit more creativity.
7.Choose furnishings that complete the design
The majority of furniture in a coffee shop will be the seating arrangements. There are things to consider here: the furniture needs to keep in line with the overall interior design and it also needs to fit the ambiance and atmosphere of the coffee shop.
Firstly, the style of the tables and chairs need to be in the same style as the rest of the design. The seating area is very large and, after the counter, is the second dominant feature in the design. Because of this, it needs to fit in well with the overall aesthetic. It’s important to keep in mind the difference in quality that bespoke furniture can make to the project, as it brings that very personal touch to the space that cannot otherwise be obtained.
Secondly, it’s important to consider what type of seating areas to use. These can vary from regular chairs to armchairs and sofas. Depending on the style of the cafe it is also possible to include areas dedicated to working. It’s important to keep in mind that seating area diversity will also depend on the space you have available, as well as the clientele you are targeting. For example, if the space is limited, it is better to not have a lot of seating for higher customer turnover. If the space allows, including multiple seating types can have a beneficial effect on sales.
How to accomplish this:
Start by deciding what type of seating you wish to incorporate. A good optimum solution is to combine standard chairs with armchairs and sofas. This gives your clients a good mix between normal and more relaxed, which should appeal to a more wide base of customers. If there is a limit on the space, opt for only normal chairs. If space is really tight, consider building in some seating, or see if it can be moved outside.
Stylewise, it’s important to have a combination of different models that will pertain to your overall design concept. Seating layouts are composed of multiple seating types, for example, you could have a more relaxed area with armchairs for socialization combined with a work area using bentwood chairs. Because chairs are quite visible, this combination of styles needs to be carefully considered to create both a functional space, as well as a memorable one. The style of the individual chair will always depend on the design concept and it needs to be well integrated
The style of the chair will also depend on interior design. To continue the example started above, a contemporary design can have more straight lines and corners, while a vintage design can have more curves.
Finally, make sure that the way the seating is distributed is enough to use the space efficiently while allowing enough room for people to move around.
Coffee lovers around the world are starting to get used to their favorite coffee shop being both a place for a great coffee, while at the same time offering both great design and fostering socialization. Because of this, it’s imperative that new entrepreneurs take the design aspect to heart and use it to gain an advantage in the market.
The steps outlined here are some of the basic ones that anyone can use to create a better experience. There is much more to go into detail about, but these 7 principles should give you a clear idea of how to approach creating a memorable coffee shop that your customers will love and keep coming back to time and time again.
Since designing and decorating a coffee shop needs a certain amount of additional planning work and creative thinking, hiring an experienced professional would certainly make things easier and quicker.
We know you have big ideas, let’s make them happen together.