Choosing lighter-colored paint, decor, and finishes for surfaces like countertops, tabletops, bars, floors, and walls will help reflect light within your restaurant and make it a more calm, welcoming, enjoyable environment for guests.
“A popular theme in the UK at the moment is the industrial/factory look, reusing original workshop lighting such as spun enameled steel dishes, oxidised copper light and old spotlights from theatres,” Hodkinson says. “These usually retain their existing finishes with more chips and dents the better. We source a lot from redundant churches and old factory lights from eastern block countries such as Czech Republic, Poland, etc. One attraction is that we are re-using recycled fittings.”
When a room is brightly and evenly lit, this problem is avoided naturally; most fast food and lunch establishments don’t have much to worry about in this respect.
Posted by Industville Ltd in antique, design, home, interior, lighting, retro, vintage
Making use of windows in order to show off that industrial window fixture you’ve recently installed, or highlight a free standing antique is a great way to show off pieces of your personality through your home. That rustic feel you may be harnessing can be best emphasised by placing greenery and plant life around the room – this is the ideal excuse to allow natural light to be a template with which to build upon.
Beware: The choice of dark woods, darker menu paper, dark wall décor, and dark furniture as accents can absorb light and throw off your carefully created restaurant lighting balance.
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Be playful, be imaginative but be practical; correct lighting can be the death knell or the lifeblood of a room and if you want your space to be properly appreciated pay the way in which you use light the attention it deserves; in short, let there be light!
In a dark-colored space, the proper way to light a room and avoid straining guests’ eyes is to provide less light and more surfaces to diffuse that light; indirect lighting becomes a near necessity to prevent glare in a dark space.
Every time people look in the direction of a bright source of light, their eyes adjust; their eyes then need to adjust back when they turn their attention elsewhere. This adjustment can be uncomfortable and cause strain on the eyes.
“There are two things we’re trying to achieve—efficiency and visual comfort,” says Wilson-Rynell. “We use the term ‘efficient visual comfort’, because it’s a matter of balancing those two things. To do that you need good technology, of course, but you also need to think about where you place light in the room.”
Let There Be Light; The Importance Of Lighting In Interior Design
From floor to ceiling and everything in between, restaurant owners must decide on a look and feel for their space that is not only memorable, but functional.
Standard track and 2-circuit track systems look exactly the same and are installed no differently.
Since the small amount of light is being contrasted with very dark surrounding surfaces, it will appear very bright to guests’ eyes. As a result, it becomes uncomfortable for the guest to look around the room and back to the group fairly quickly as their eyes can’t adjust; it’s likewise uncomfortable to look around the room and then try to read the menu.
These principles of lighting also apply in the more functional areas of the restaurant—passageways, kitchens, bathrooms, for example. It’s just a matter of how you blend them. “In the kitchen, ambient lighting needs to be strong because it’s a task-oriented area and people have to be safe,” says Wilson-Rynell. “There wouldn’t be much call for a scenic element in the kitchen, but you might have an accent area where food is placed ready for the wait staff, so that customers can see the food and admire it. Similarly, good lighting in bathrooms can influence our perceptions of cleanliness.
The ability to adjust restaurant lighting around the room at a whim is appealing to restaurant owners and managers, which is why many restaurants invest in standard track lighting.
But don’t be fooled: Restaurant lighting is much more than just which light fixtures you choose. Here are some expert tips, tricks, and techniques from real restaurant lighting professionals that will help you create a memorable space guests will love visiting again and again.
Stylized bars and dinner spaces are an entirely different story: Many establishments make the mistake of using one singular “dim” light over a table to illuminate the guest’s dining area, but the surface the light is meant to illuminate is completely black.
When our pupils are forced to adjust dramatically each time our eyes move from one surface to another, that’s a muscle being exerted. The result of more exertion is discomfort and headaches.
The trick to functional restaurant lighting is not getting the room as bright as possible, but rather to balance the amount of light in an area with surfaces and colors that avoid glare and eye strain.
Ambient lighting can be achieved by washing a feature wall—having the vertical lighting bounce back into the space. Accent lighting might be the light on the tables—a downlight or a spotlight—and the scenic element could be something like a decorative chandelier or even an open fire place—something that draws the eye. Finding those three elements is what makes good lighting work.”
No more than three times as bright as the surrounding surfaces. No more than 10 times as bright as walls and floors within the line of sight.
This mainstream adoption of LED light sources, however, has brought with it several new and vitally important considerations for restaurant lighting.
What is my plan should an LED fixture run out? Is it likely a replacement fixture will be readily available to match, or will I need to replace it with a different coordinating style? Am I financially able to replace all of my LED lighting fixtures so I can maintain a uniform look in my restaurant?
Stray light can come from a variety of unplanned sources. Any step taken to minimize this will help increase the comfort of your establishment.
Because there are no repair services, you need to consider what will happen if and when an LED lighting fixture fails, and how it could affect your business. While LED fixtures are supposed to last a long time, ask yourself:
Though the big ticket items like floorplan and color scheme are usually attributed with shaping the look and feel of your space, how you choose to employ restaurant lighting can transform your space from drab to fab.
For those restaurateurs who want the adaptability standard track lighting systems offer, pause before you make the plunge and consider investing in a 2-circuit track.
The other option is to stay with incandescent bulbs and sockets and pay more for your electricity bill month-to-month instead.
A well-designed lighting system that helps to convey a sense of the experience you’re selling to your customers—of warmth and occasion, or, alternatively, drama and quirkiness—is one of the most important investments you can make.
Help reduce the potential for your guests to experience visual discomfort by softly illuminating other areas, painting surfaces a lighter color to reflect more light, and keeping the sun shaded properly to prevent bright daylight from shining directly on the wrong areas.
“These considerations don’t necessarily relate to cost,” says Wilson-Rynell. “You can have a certain amount of money allocated to lighting a place, and you decide how that is distributed. You can put lots of cheap lights in, or put fewer lights in and use a higher quality product.”
How can you manage against these future changes in LED lighting technology? Buy plenty of extra bulbs now so at least the color and initial brightness will be consistent when a bulb needs replaced.
Whilst using specific fixtures can add to the theme the room is going for (industrial pendant lights, antique wall lamps, etc), using the light they emit can frame certain areas and spotlight the detail and the beauty or nuance of the world you’ve created.
If your intent is to have the most versatile and adaptable lighting for your space, upgrading to 2-circuit track is a moderate investment with considerable benefits.
Let There Be Light: The Importance of Lighting In Your Restaurant’s Design
Lighting fixtures are not the only source of light in your space: Reflected and diffused light can be manipulated to provide comforting illumination in your restaurant.
Your placemats, dish ware, tablecloths, and flooring also provide surfaces where light is reflected, diffused, or absorbed. A light-colored surface turns that surface into a light source; a dark colored surface will turn that surface “off” as a light source.
In such instances the use of light can give you that sense of space you may feel is lacking. By using several sources of light and ensuring that all darker areas are well lit you can open up a room that can, in the wrong light, feel cramped. Lighting attachments that require wall fitting can, particularly in a retro inspired home, double up as decoration and a means of enlarging the rooms they light. When attaching extra lighting to a room don’t just think about how the particular light fits thematically, think about how the theme can be accented by a particular light.
Dimming is particularly important, but also the ability to move lighting objects around the room, or to be able to have a combination of ambient, accent or scenic lighting elements on at any given time. “Lighting tends to have three elements to it—an ambient element, and accent element and a scenic element,” says Wilson-Rynell. “Every well-lit architectural space can be defined in those three terms.
In hospitality, atmosphere is almost as important as what comes out of the kitchen. When your customers arrive, they expect a level of comfort to be found in the food, the service or the environment. Lighting is central to a good atmosphere, and visual comfort is the goal. “It can be as simple as glare control—for example, not having obvious brightness in the ceiling,” says Nathan Wilson-Rynell, regional manager Oceania for Erco Lighting, which specialises in architectural lighting design. “Think about the white light of a 24-hour convenience store and compare it with a five-star hotel lobby to get an idea of how important subtlety and atmosphere are to hospitality.
This visual discomfort is due to the improper balance and contrast of light sources and the inability of the human eye to adjust quickly; it happens more often than we think. If your guests feel uncomfortable — visually or otherwise — when visiting your restaurant, they likely won’t return a second time.
“There’s an argument to use halogen in certain spaces but only minimally. We probably would argue for halogen in a very intimate dining setting where you’re wanting to have warmth. Also, candles still have a strong place in restaurants,” explains Wilson-Rynell.
If you’ve decided to go with a vintage look with your design choices then, very probably, you’ve decided to accessorise heavily and give off a certain feeling of homely cluster. Now whilst this does give that feeling of security and warmth, it can, when occupied by a few more people feel a little crowded if the available space hasn’t been used as smartly as it could.
Consider satin or matte finishes for materials that will have light shining directly onto them.
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How can you stop light pollution from negatively affecting your restaurant lighting? Here are a few suggestions:
These days, because of energy savings and low maintenance, LED is very popular. “LED has challenged a lot of the principles and the original thinking of lighting design, because LED is very difficult to dim—it tends to flicker, and there is ‘noise’ that you didn’t have with traditional lamps,” Wilson-Rynell says. “Avoiding this comes down to the quality of the control gear and the type of dimming system.
Here are some things to bear in mind when putting your mind to task on making the kind of lighting statement that allows your work to be properly appreciated.
Given the constantly changing nature of LED technology, when you install a new bulb five years from now, it will likely be significantly brighter than the bulbs surrounding it, have a different Kelvin temperature, or have a different Color Rendition rating.
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Ambience and aesthetic, particularly when setting a theme can be made or broken by the correct use of lighting. Too little lighting and the room you’ve taken time to meet your retro-inspired fantasies ca and will go unnoticed by the passing eye; too much lighting and you may well turn an otherwise subtly constructed and understated antiqued space, into a harsh and unwelcoming statement of overstatement.
In any space, there are unavoidable sources of light that can undo all the careful time, effort, and attention you put into your restaurant lighting.
Tour your space frequently to have a handle on areas where a light source shines light improperly into the eyes of any customer.
Pushing the light in certain directions can create shadowing and or hotspots that show off aspects of the room that would otherwise go unappreciated. A vintage retro wall scone lamp that can be manipulated into various positions is the perfect piece of lighting that, as a standalone, can bring character, but equally create character if and when adjusted to focus on or accessorise a bigger part of a whole.
LED technology is still largely under development and changes rapidly. Have you ever seen a repair shop that offers services for LED products? Not likely. Since LED technology and LED products change so frequently, it’s costly (read: a waste of time) for someone in repairs to constantly learn all the new features and the new challenges these features introduce.
Light pollution can come from sources like unshaded windows on sunny days, bright kitchen lighting, hallways, landscape lights outside, and the reading light at a host stand.
It’s also important to include non-glossy surfaces in your restaurant if you’re focusing on harnessing the power of reflected light. The glass over a picture, glossy paint, shiny metal furniture and chrome decorations can create annoying glare by reflecting too much light directly into the eyes of people.
When it comes to restaurant design, there are a lot of choices to make. Restaurant lighting has the power to make or break your space; it can also be a cost effective way to shape the look and feel of your restaurant if budget is lacking elsewhere. These expert restaurant lighting tips are your best bet when it comes to creating a space that delights your guests.
Whether it’s a retro, vintage and or industrial theme you’re aiming for, giving your potential lighting options the right amount of time and effort in regards to the overall feel and finish of your space, is something more than worth dedicating a little time and care to as you’re almost certain to reap the benefits of having done so.
Natural light is probably the best kind of light, especially if the room you’re showcasing is one that is going to see regular use. Natural light is a really simple way of setting tone and changing the mood without having to be in your face about it. Natural light creates the kind of ambience you just can’t replicate with artificial lighting and is ultimately good for the mind, the body and the soul.
A significant, yet too often overlooked, element in the creation of quality interior design is lighting. Never is it something that immediately springs to mind when you’re thinking how best to mix vintage and antiqued with industrial and clinical, but it can be the overriding component in setting the tone, creating mood and allowing your design choices to be fully appreciated in the manner you envisaged when setting to task.
Whilst the alterations in it are delicate, the permutations can either be catastrophic or triumphant depending on how right or wrong you get it. Getting it right, as with the design and look of the room on a whole, doesn’t just happen with the flick of a switch, time, effort and a fair degree of thought is required to get the very best out of what it is you’re aiming for your lighting choice to either highlight or accentuate.
Window shades Choose a subdued, non-glossy paint for the kitchen walls visible to your diners Reposition outside lights shining on the building Adjust light shades on wall lights, overhead lights, and other lights in your restaurant so that the light bulb isn’t visible Relocate or shade any light bulbs you can see directly or in a reflection.
Though they’re slightly more expensive than standard track lighting systems, they make up for the cost difference in added benefits: A 2-circuit track provides restaurants with a second electrical load that can be controlled with separate switching, and even more lighting versatility than is possible with a standard track.
Some trendy restaurants go for very dim lighting but there are times when functionality requires more or less light in various parts of the restaurant space. For this reason flexible controls are essential. “You have to take into account the operation of the restaurant—and I think this is one area that is often overlooked—in terms of table layout and different settings,” says Wilson-Rynell. “There may be a different layout for lunch than for dinner, or maybe for a general à la carte setting as opposed to a function. The lighting should be able to respond to that.”
LED lighting is a better choice than standard incandescent and fluorescent lighting in nearly every situation unless you’ll be unwilling to part with the money necessary to replace your current restaurant lighting with LED alternatives.
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2-circuit tracks enable restaurants to “set the mood” and use one set of lights for daytime meal service, and a different set of lights for dinnertime.
David Gray is a leader in the Lamps Plus Professionals division, which offers personalized service for residential, commercial and multifamily lighting design and home furnishing projects sourced by interior designers, builders, contractors and architects. He is a certified lighting specialist with the American Lighting Association.
Choose your fittings carefully for the best effect. “Generally light fittings manufactured specifically for restaurants are larger as they need to look right in larger rooms which generally have higher ceilings,” says Jerry Hodkinson, from Andy Thornton Ltd, a UK company specialising in reclaimed and antique restaurant furnishings. “Domestic lighting can look dwarfed in large areas.
Before you even turn the lights on, it’s important to consider how the natural, passive light in your restaurant can be put to best use—all good lighting solutions start with daylight. “We always take into account where the windows are, what the aspect is, what is the function of the space, because these things all affect the colour of the light,” Wilson-Rynell says.
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“Colour is very important—human beings are taught about light from nature, and if we do things that are natural, people are naturally comfortable. A bright accent light in a cool tone feels a bit strange. The sun doesn’t do that—it gives you a bright accent in a warm tone. Light from the ground is also unnatural—for this reason it can be used to create drama. Up-lighting is a striking feature because it’s unnatural.”
The advent of affordable, bright, LED light sources is here, and is projected to make up 60 percent of the world’s lighting in 2020. Switching to or investing in LED light sources is a smart business decision: LED light sources pay for themselves with the amount of energy they save.
In a restaurant, the right amount of light for things like reading a menu or enjoying the appearance of a dish is: