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11 Best Cafe Lighting Design Ideas Suitable for Outdoor and Indoors | Coffee Shop Lighting Guide

coffee bar with hanging lights and a barista standing near the counter | Best Cafe Lighting Design Ideas Suitable for Outdoor and Indoors

Coming up with the best cafe lighting ideas can be challenging, especially if you’re starting out. Proper lighting choices and placement will create an environment that attracts customers and make them want to stay longer. Or better yet, keep coming back.

How Cafe Lighting Impacts Your Establishment's

Coffee lovers usually want to drop by cafes and grab a cup of coffee. At the same time, some would bring their laptops with them and work for a few hours or so. And some would want to just unwind and enjoy their drinks or food before hitting the sack.

Those are the kind of customers that will frequent your coffee shop. And you want them to keep coming back. Aside from serving good coffee, these people come because they love your place.

And coffee shop lighting makes the difference. So here is the basic guide and some tips for choosing the right cafe lighting design:

Stylish Cafe Lighting Design for Indoor Furnishings

1. Wood and White Interior

festoon lights hanging on top of a coffee bar

This design is more than just charming; it’s timeless. Nothing beats the combination of white paint interior and wood.

This design is easy to dress up with and can set any tone that a business owner wants to achieve. Any furniture and decor could seamlessly be put together.

For added festive tones, festoon lights can help brighten the space.

2. Scandinavian Interior

globe lights installed the coffee shop wall

Globe lights are one of the best coffee shop lighting designs for café owners who like a minimalistic interior. Nothing will complete the elegant and sophisticated look.

It is the perfect blend for the muted wall and ceiling colour of grey-ish paint. It works well with the industrial-themed stools, brass details, Scandinavian dining chairs, and delicate upholstery.

3. Compact Interior

pendant lights hanging in the coffee shop

Some cafes have small spaces. Thus, a compact interior must use the air space and ceiling to bring additional lights and warmth.

The use of drop lights or pendant lights is one of the best cafe lighting ideas you can install for small interior spaces.

4. Industrial Interior

cage pendant lights hanging beside pipes and ductwork

While there are a few cafe owners who like to hide the pipes and all the ductwork, there are others who love to flaunt them.

For industrial themes, the best coffee shop lighting is incandescent lamps. This lighting fixture blends well with the aesthetic design. It also works best if you have high ceilings.

Another lighting option for industrial-themed cafes is the pendant wall lights like cage wall light and cone wall light.

5. Modern Oriental Interior

soft lighting fixtures for an asian theme coffee shop | Best Cafe Lighting Design Ideas Suitable for Outdoor and Indoors

Oriental theme generally showcases the Asian style of furnishings. It doesn’t only make use of antique furniture and decors but also capitalises on the soft lighting fixtures.

Coffee Shop Lighting Ideas for Outdoor

6. Green Canopies

festoon lights hanging outdoor together with the canopy of vines
Bustling through the city life can be overwhelming. Dress up your outdoor area with greens. Artificial or natural vines across guy wires over your open space and string lights would be a soothing visual to destress.

7. A Taste Of An Empire

Let this pleated empire fabric lamp shade with pendant light hover over your tables. Brief your crew members about the history of such and let them introduce it to your customers while taking their order.

This will undoubtedly be a good conversation piece. Something for them to remember about your cafe.

8. Indonesian Inspired Woven Bamboo Hanging Lamp

warm coloured pendant light encased in a bamboo

Install an Indonesian-inspired warm-coloured pendant light. Given the opportunity,  introduce your guests to this part of the Pacific where people are naturally warm and welcoming.

Teach your baristas basic Indonesian greetings for different parts of the day, so they can share that with their customers after introducing the lamp shade.

A teaser of a travel experience for your consumers. You’ll never know, they might just want to travel there sometime, thanks to you.

9. String Them Up

traditional festoon lights hanging outside a garden-inspired cafe

A small outdoor dining area can be very inviting by installing a festoon light. Let it zig-zag across that area with a bit of sag between points for a wavelike pattern. Simple yet strikingly beautiful.

10. Naturally Fitted

natural bamboo lampshade hanging outside a coffee shop

The use of basic materials like this natural bamboo lampshade will be a good balance between artistic and modern designs.

It’s a statement for your cafe that not everything complex and appealing can only be made of metal and plastic.

11. Right Where They Belong

Hanging pendant lights with natural materials for lampshades on tress

Hang pendant lights with natural materials for lampshades on trees in your outdoor cafe area is an excellent complement to nature.

Inspire them with your lighting design with a combination of natural elements. One will appreciate how nature is an essential part of our existence.

RELATED: Verandah Lighting Ideas: 27 Practical Ways and Tips to Transform Your Porch

Natural Light Vs. Light Fixtures — Which One Is Better ?

natural lighting coming inside the coffee shop

More often than not, the coffee shop lighting design is between drawing customers in and making them want to come back.

So let’s see which would benefit you more, natural light or the type of light fixtures. Let’s start with the types of light fixtures, shall we?

Types of Light Fixtures for Cafes

different types of lights hanging inside the coffee shop | Best Cafe Lighting Design Ideas Suitable for Outdoor and Indoors

1. Ambient or General Lighting
Lighting up your surroundings or creating ambient lighting have benefits other than finding the importance of having it. It provides a new look and different feel when the sun goes down.

A very common yet timeless ambient light is the festoon light. What’s good with festoon lights is you can use them both indoors and outdoors. You can lay them out the same way in both areas but provide a different ambience for your cafe.

  • Linear Layout – Line up your lights from one end of the cafe to the other. Go back and forth, and take note of your spacing between string lights. That’s it! Simple yet ambiently enough to make a difference.

Note: If the distance between point A to Point B is too large, guy wires or steel cables might be needed to prevent the string lights from sagging too much.

  • Zig-Zag Layout – The idea is to lay out your festoon lights after the name. Go from one end and slant your way to the next until you run out of string. Mind your spacing, and you can create a whole new zig-zag look.
  • Criss-cross Layout – It’s choosing 4 points in your cafe where your string lights will cross paths in the middle. Creating an X figure.
  • Perimeter Layout – Just line up the top-end side of your walls, and you’re good to go!
  • Horizon Point – This is a great layout to bring your customers’ attention to a specific focal point of your cafe.

Choose one attachment point that will serve as the meeting point for all string lights that will fan out evenly on the other end of your area.

Important Notes:
All the layouts mentioned above will differ in distance and point of attachments depending on the size, design, and length between bulbs.

All the more if you use additional attachments such as hanging pendant cords. So put this in mind before you even decide which layout to use.

2. Task Lighting
Even with existent ambient lighting, this lighting option is placed specifically for a task that needs to be addressed. Examples of these are:

  • The coffee station where someone needs more light to make their coffee
  • An optional workspace for tapping away at your computer or reading a book
  • Food display counter

It can also be needed for highlighting signage that leads to a specific place in your cafe. Adjustable wall-mounted arm lamps or track lighting fixtures are an excellent addition to this kind of lighting. You can let the lamp point in another direction when the need arises.

3. Accent Lighting
Accent lighting or highlighting illuminates a focal point of your cafe — a fixture, a painting on the wall, a facade on your cafe building or any object. The most commonly used accent lights are floodlights, sconces, track lighting, torchère lamps, and recessed lights.

Remember that there are a handful of points to consider rather than just setting up your accent light and pointing it in a direction or object.

Things To Remember:
Colour Temperature – The colour of your light will make a difference in what object you want to accentuate your light on.

Glare – Ensure your accent light will not cause your customers to have difficulty looking at the highlighted object or doing other “cafe stuff” because of direct or indirect glare.

Light Fitting – The type of fixture you will use will also determine if it needs hard wiring or not.

Efficiency – This determines how well your accent lighting generates visible light.

Contrast – You must determine your light’s colour and luminance or brightness.

Positioning – placing your light fixture in the right spot will eliminate the probability of low visibility and contrast.

Light Pollution – Having accent lights are great, but one might get carried away, resulting in excessive, inappropriate, unwanted artificial light.

4. Artistic Lighting
This is a visual form of art where the use of physical light becomes the main attraction or avenue for creation. You could say that this type of lighting is the most commonly used when you walk into a cafe. This is because when thought out strategically, it becomes your ambient, task, and accent light all in one.

With the advancement of technology today, the use of light to create stunning visuals is somewhat limitless. Some examples of artistic lighting are neon lights, light graffiti, or 3D projection lights that make multiple unique and brand-inspired images.

With these options, you can use large spaces to your advantage. Parking lots, blank building walls, bare ceilings, or a large canvas can be used to its full potential when the lights are turned on. You can even use a clump of trees outdoors as your canvas!

What Type Of Lighting Is Suitable For A Cafe?

The type of light you have in your cafe will certainly affect the mood of your business establishment. It can make or break your business because people will be attracted or turned off by it.

The ambient, task and accent lighting have already been laid out for you in the first part of this article, along with some examples of lighting fixtures that fit the type.

Morning, Noon & Night
Now depending on the mood you want to project, and by determining the peak or slack periods at the same time, you can change that during different times of the day to maximise turnover rate.

  • Bright and Natural – if your cafe has many windows, draw the curtains and invite a natural boost of vitamin D for your skin. A ray of sunshine over a hot coffee while reading the news will boost your customers’ mood, making them ready for the day ahead.
  • It’s Time for “Munch” – This is a term that one can easily remember. It stands for moderate lighting and lunch. Combine natural lighting with task lights so customers can appreciate their food more.

Note: If lunchtime is your peak hours, you might want a faster turnaround time on your tables. If so, it would be best to provide maximum lighting conditions. People tend to be in a rush under these conditions. That’s why lighting conditions are such in fast food restaurants.

  • Chillax – Dinnertime is the best time most people go out and dine as they unwind from their busy day. Provide a cozy and relaxing atmosphere. This is where the types of lighting fixtures come into play.

This will mean a slower turnaround time for your tables and an opportunity to generate more income. They may order more drinks, food, or dessert as they become more relaxed. Suggestive order taking can be an excellent tool to teach your crew members.

So the question remains on how to put the lights off your cafe into good use.

1. Balance It Out
Lighting installations and projections should be well thought out while still in the decorating stage of your cafe. It should balance with your lighting and decor. One example is dimmer, or accent lights would match well with light-coloured walls.

2. Let the Sunshine In
Sunlight is your friend. Multiple windows, whether large or small, will light up your cafe in the most natural manner possible. Strategic placement of furniture and letting the sunshine will bring the sense of a homey environment. Who wouldn’t want that?

3. Mix & Match
Arrange furniture and decorate your area to accommodate the clients that frequent your cafe. You will determine your primary market niche by looking at your location; if you’re near government offices, schools, or places frequented by night owls.

Here are some suggestions:
• Long tables in isolated soundproof rooms for corporate meetings

• A corner with task light for students who want to study

• A lounge set with ambient lighting for party-goers who want to unwind before heading home.

4. Install Light Dimmers
Another friend of cafe owners! From a business point of view, this helps you conserve energy! Dimming out the lights to different intensity levels gives you the flexibility to create a different ambience for your coffee shop. All these depend on the need, event, and time of day.

5. Let Your Creative Juices Flow
Take heed of that light bulb flashing in your head. You’ll never know; it might just work out. Be ready to take notes and study them.

There’s always a first for everything. Add string lights that are easy to install and take down. Install interchangeable light fixtures where you can change the light cover with ease. These examples are just a pinch of salt in the vast web full of design options.

How Should You Be Using Your Lights?

indoor design of a coffee shop

With the emphasis on ambient lighting, accent, and task lighting, one should be able to put them into good use when the need arises. Be flexible and experiment instead of just sticking to one standard lighting method.

Generally speaking, be observant of the type of customers present, their mood, day of the month (like paydays, anniversaries, etc.), holidays and the like. Then, adjust by turning on or off artificial lights to match that.

How To Maximize Natural Lighting In Your Cafe?

maximizing natural light inside the coffee shop

You can also make use of natural lighting during the day. Open the curtains or blinds, transparent roofing, or skylights are beautiful tools to let the sun rays burst in for a more natural feel. This is also an economical way to reduce the cost of your electric bill.

A dining set on your front and back outside area would be an attractive spot for outdoor lovers. If all customers stay outdoors, you can switch off your air conditioning and unwanted lights until they start dining inside.

Another way to use the natural wind is by installing a retractable skylight. You can leave it open, so air can flow in, giving you an option for keeping your ACU off.

Lighting Tips Coffee Shop

track light installed on the coffee shop ceiling

As mentioned above, sunlight is your friend. Make full use of that whenever you can. Here are other lighting tips for your coffee shop lighting based on your brand image.

  • Coffee Shop or Cafe – With a small setup, this cafe can only cater simultaneously to a small group of people. To be economical, skylights during the day and a string of bright lights at night would be best.
  • Grab-and-Go – Most people would not stay long. So not much lighting is needed. Glass walls like those in the malls are a fantastic way of letting natural light burst in. Focus on ambient and task lighting to draw in customers.
  • Coffee Bar or Coffee House – This cafe usually has more space and naturally requires more lights. To cover a large area, install three layers of lighting for maximum lighting conditions for your customers.

There’s always a story in everything. Choosing the right café lighting design and a twist of your imagination can bring your customers places— even in their imagination.

Lastly, if you’re in the middle of designing the lighting fixtures of your cafe and loved any of the inspiration ideas above, get in touch using our contact page! We’d love to collaborate with you.

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