4 Styles of Restaurant Lighting

Commercial Drum Light

Restaurant Lighting Ideas

We all love unwinding at a nice restaurant to indulge in good food and hopefully good conversation, but did you ever find yourself attracted to a particular dining establishment because of the way it looks or how it makes you feel? Restaurant ambiance is important because it sets the tone for the overall experience of your meal, and proper lighting plays a large roll in creating the ideal environment.

Restaurant Accent Lighting

Upon entering a restaurant with low light features, patrons can expect to stay awhile, perhaps for a romantic dinner. The dimly lit dining space encourages you to relax. Oftentimes featuring individual overhead fixtures above each table, such as pendant or drum pendant lights, to make you and your friends and family feel isolated from the rest of the guests. As if you have the whole place to yourselves! This is also achieved thanks to accent lighting, which guides the eye to nice artwork or specials menus, but doesn’t necessarily help people see or complete tasks.

Restaurant Ambient Lighting

Now, think off the opposite restaurant lighting scenario: a fast food establishment. Fluorescent overhead lighting does its job to keep customers alert and energized, and therefore moving along. This type of ambient restaurant lighting functions best in places where people are not planning on staying for long periods of time, as well as restaurants that serve families because well lit spaces provide a sense of safety in that children can be spotted easily. Not all restaurant overhead lighting has to be unattractive, however, as there are many fast-casual restaurants as well as cafes that employ the same tactics. Many new fast-casual restaurants use bright overhead lighting in the form of flush or semi-flush options, which are sleek and versatile. Also, cafes often use bright light in conjunction with comfortable seating (and wifi) to encourage energy and stimulation. Their goal, however, is to encourage customers to stay and work, and hopefully purchase more food and drink.

Types of Restaurant Lighting

If you are a restaurant looking to create a certain atmosphere, lighting is crucial; however, deciding when to use low light versus bright light fixtures as well as the types of lighting your establishment should have, can seem daunting. There are many options out there, and it is best to know what kind of lighting your restaurant may need before moving choosing fixtures.

There are three different types of lighting one must consider: ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting.

Ambient light provides the main source of light in a room, allowing people to see and move around comfortably throughout a space. This is the general illumination of an environment. This type of restaurant lighting can come from a natural light source such as large windows as well as artificially, from overhead fixtures. A restaurant’s ambient lighting helps set the overall mood. Bright lighting creates an energizing feel while low lighting creates an intimate ambiance, welcoming guests to sit closer together and feel more relaxed.

Task lighting allows people to perform tasks such as reading menus or preparing food. This is the most versatile of lighting types, as many different light fixtures can be used to create task lighting depending on the tasks at hand. For example: a restaurant would have task lighting in the kitchen to provide chefs with proper lighting for cooking, however this same restaurant also needs task lighting at the front of the house for its guests. It is important to remember that in some restaurants preparing food can also happen at the table, which would call for more overhead lighting.

Accent lighting which functions to provide focal points and artistic flare, guides the eye to dinner specials, art, or down a long hallway. Accent lighting is not vital to completing tasks, but it is beautiful and adds personality to any space. More decorative than functional, accent lighting can draw attention to beautiful paintings, sculptures, fountains or other special features.

Drum Pendant Lighting

If drama is what you are interested in, look no further than outfitting your restaurant space with drum pendant lighting. These lights can act as task or ambient lighting, because their hanging nature allows them to be lower into the guests’ space, such as over a table. A beautiful drum pendant light draws the eye up and creates lovely focal points, especially in restaurants with vaulted or high ceilings. Attractive and versatile, these lights are great for over restaurant tables, in hallways, or in lounges, and can even be used in sets of three or more as runners over longer tables or a bar. Our Labyrinth Ceiling Lighting Wood Diffuser spills out beautiful light, and is perfect for setting the tone in any restaurant environment. Our acoustic sound absorption light fixtures not only function as lights but also absorb sound, helping reduce noise pollution in your restaurant, creating a more pleasant atmosphere for your guests.

Flush & Semi-Flush Lighting

If you want to fully light your space with ambient and task lighting, there are options that will have your establishment looking well-lit and beautiful without looking harsh. The most common lighting fixtures are called flush and semi-flush light fixtures because they remain close to the ceiling or wall and therefore are more practical and easier to clean. They are sleek and versatile, and we provide options that are either highly stylized or seamlessly blend in with the room. Semi-flush and flush fixtures are also good because they do not require much ceiling or wall space, and can therefore be installed in tighter areas such as hallways, stairways, and bathrooms. Check out our very own Ashton Flush Mounted Fixture — a beautiful, sleek option for low ceilings that have height restrictions due to sprinkler systems.

Pendant Lighting

If you find that drum pendant lighting is too large for your space, a smaller, more versatile option is available via pendant lighting. Pendant lights are suspended from the ceiling by cord, chain, or rod and, because they are not bulky, they work well in clusters as they do as single fixtures. Some examples of placing them together include: pendant lights as track lighting over bar tops, or grouped together in organic looking shapes over long tables. If you prefer the look of individual pendant lights, these fixtures work well to create dramatic lighting over a single table. Take a look at our Droplet Small Light Pendant which comes in six colors, and looks beautiful alone or in clusters.

Suspension Lighting

If you are looking for larger focal points or lighting to go over long tables, another option is to purchase suspension lighting. Often some of the largest light fixtures offered, these lights add grandeur to any space while maintaining a soft glow. Suspension lights work well in large, vaulted areas alongside some accent lighting, providing a focal point for guests while they enjoy a cocktail at the bar or sit at a large table. Click here to see our Cade III Drum Light Ceiling Fixture, which comes in many fabric variations and can be customized to best fit your space.

Are you looking for the right lighting solutions for your restaurant? Lighting plays a critical role in your restaurant culture and interior design and sets the mood for your customers’ experience. Restaurant lighting design is our specialty here at Seascape Lamps. Not only do we understand the psychology of restaurant lighting interior design, we’ve helped countless restaurants execute their creative vision.

Since 1980, we’ve been specializing in commercial, restaurant, hotel & more hospitality light fixtures, and no order is too large or too small. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, Seascape Lamps can also help you design the perfect custom lighting for your space. Located in sunny California, we’ve helped many restaurants create the perfect ambiance with lighting.

View our restaurant lighting fixtures here.