A modern restaurant with upholstered barstools, restaurant booths and tables.

9 Furniture Design Ideas for a Modern Restaurant

When it comes to opening a new restaurant or refreshing the look of an existing one, the quality furniture and decor you choose plays a huge role in setting the overall ambiance and vibe. The right restaurant furniture design can make or break the dining experience for your guests.

Get the furniture right, and you create an inviting, comfortable dining area that makes people want to linger over their meal. Get it wrong, and you risk an off-putting, awkward dining room that has diners looking for the exit as soon as their plates are cleared.

With so many different styles, materials, and configurations to choose from, settling on the ideal furniture design is no easy task. To help guide new restaurant owners through the process, we’ve rounded up some top restaurant furniture design ideas and considerations to ensure you select pieces that look great and elevate your overall dining concept.

1. Tie it All Together with a Cohesive Design Concept

A contemporary restaurant with industrial-style decor.

Before you start picking out individual restaurant tables and chairs, the first step is nailing down your overarching design aesthetic and concept. Is you going for a casual, laidback look or an upscale, refined dining experience? A traditional ambiance or something sleek and modern?

Defining your design vision upfront is key, as it will guide all your subsequent restaurant furniture selections and ensure a cohesive, visually harmonious finished product. Mixing too many clashing styles can result in a busy, chaotic space lacking a distinct identity.

2. Keep an Open, Airy Floor Plan

While oversized, heavy furniture pieces were once on-trend, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, favoring more open, free-flowing layouts that maximize usable floor space.

Opt for less bulky chairs and tables that can be arranged in a way that allows plenty of room for servers and patrons to move about freely. Banquette seating that hugs the walls is always a smart, space-optimizing choice.

3. Integrate Flexible, Versatile Pieces

Having an easily adaptable space that can transition between different dining experiences is a major asset for restaurants. Search out innovative, modular furniture designs that can be easily reconfigured as your needs change.

For example, lightweight tables and chairs on casters that can be rolled out of the way are a perfect solution to opening up more room for private events and large parties. Or banquettes and restaurant booths with movable partitions that can link together or separate for varying levels of privacy and intimacy.

4. Let There be Comfort

Restaurant banquette seating with tables and chairs.

No matter how visually striking your furniture may be, if your restaurant seating is not comfortable for diners to sit in for an extended period, you’ve missed the mark. Never sacrifice comfort and ergonomics for style.

Make sure to thoroughly test out restaurant chairs, bar stools and banquettes, keeping in mind factors like seat height, back support, and legroom. Use tactile materials and fabrics that feel warm and inviting to the touch for your seating options.

5. Go Big with Durable, Low-Maintenance Materials

With heavy daily usage taking its toll, restaurant furniture needs to be exceptionally durable and able to withstand years of wear and tear. That’s why it’s wise to invest in high quality pieces constructed from rugged, low-maintenance materials.

Wood, stone, and metal table tops tend to hold up better than delicate fabrics and upholstery options that can stain, rip and degrade rapidly in high-traffic environments. If you do use fabrics, look for commercial-grade options made from materials like vinyl that can easily wipe clean.

6. Warm it Up with Mix of Cozy Accents

Restaurant furniture in empty contemporary restaurant.

To keep things from feeling cold and uninviting, pepper in some softer, homier elements to your furniture design. This could include a variety of materials such as throw pillows and cushions, warm wood surfaces and accents, area rugs, and upholstered benches or chairs.

The key is finding the right balance by anchoring these cozy touches with pieces made from more substantial, durable anchor materials like metal, stone, or leather. A judicious mix of soft textiles and sturdy surfaces prevents things from tipping into overly cold OR stuffy territory.

7. Don’t Forget the Finishing Touches

Once you have the bigger furniture pieces like tables, chairs, and banquettes in place, take your design to the next level with cohesive decor and stylish accent pieces.

Fresh floral arrangements or eye-catching table centerpieces, unique lighting fixtures and sconces, framed artwork or mirrors, and candles or fireplace elements can all elevate a space and add those intimate, polished finishing touches.

8. Pull it All Together with Outdoor Space

An outdoor restaurant patio with tables and umbrellas.

With year-round temperate weather in many parts of the country, restaurants are increasingly building out comfortable outdoor patio areas that seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor restaurant furniture and decor.

Weatherized wicker and teak outdoor furniture, fire pits, string lighting, plush outdoor cushions and throw blankets allow patrons to dine al fresco while maintaining a polished, lounge-like experience. Foldaway glass walls and sliding doors help unite the interior and exterior areas.

9. Make it Instagrammable

In today’s ultra-visual, social media-driven society, creating an “Instagrammable” space with compelling design elements that beg to be photographed and shared is a must. Striking tile work, unique light fixtures, vibrant wall colors or murals, living plant walls, exposed brick or beam accents in the dining space can all deliver that visual punch.

But don’t neglect the more subtle photogenic touches, like decorative plates and glassware, whimsical napkin designs, and artfully arranged silverware or utensils laying on top of patterned place mats. These eye-catching little details help spark people’s photography instincts.

So whether you’re in the beginning stages of mapping out your restaurant design or are ready to refresh and update your existing space, carving out the time to thoughtfully approach your furniture and interior design is crucial. Be sure to browse our collection of premium quality restaurant furniture at California Dining & Barstools’ two Bay area locations. Our dedicated team has years of experience helping restaurant owners select dining furniture at affordable prices. With so many compelling options out there, get creative and have fun bringing your dining concept to life!