How to Design a Cafe that Attracts Customers

You’re opening a cafe. Great news! No doubt your coffee is top notch – but how are you going to get people inside in the first place? (So that they get hooked, become a daily customer and post about it on Instagram.)

Designing and fitting out a welcoming and inviting space is key to attracting customers. You need to create a space that stands out and has passerbys pausing, wanting to come in.

So how do you do that? Follow these helpful cafe interior design tips and tricks.

What kind of cafe do you want?

Before designing your cafe, you need to work out who your customer is and the type of cafe you’re creating – everything else will flow from that.

Types of cafes:

  • Hole-in-the-wall – eye-catching with a quick and easy to-go setup
  • Vintage – cosy with a ‘living room’ feel
  • Modern and minimal – clean lines with a simple palette
  • Corporate – attract those 9-5ers and become their morning local
  • Hipster hang-out – tables and decor that says “work on your laptop here – you’ll look trendy”
  • Themed – a unique or specific theme that threads through your branding and design

Set the tone

Deciding on the type of cafe and your ideal customer will help you determine your look and feel, which you use to set the tone of your cafe.

When creating your look and feel, think about your:

  • Colour scheme – pick 2-3 colours that represent your brand. (Be weary of purples and blues as they’ve been shown to be colours that make people feel ‘less hungry’.)
  • Fonts and signage – use your brand font to show your personality, but keep the number of fonts to a minimum so you don’t overwhelm the eye.

Light it up

Lighting is key in creating an inviting and enticing cafe.

Maximise your natural light as much as possible. When it comes to artificial light, choose the right lighting for your space – whether they be accent, ambient, downlights, or feature lights – with inviting warm or ‘daylight’ coloured globes.

Steve Condoleon from Total Fitouts Brisbane Inner North suggests “using tri-colour LED lights, if you have the budget – they’re more versatile and allow you to change between ‘cool’, ‘warm’ and ‘daylight’ with a simple flick of a switch”.

Create the right feel

Use your key design elements and fixtures to entice people in, while aligning with your brand.

Key design elements include:

  • Layout – make sure your layout (politely) screams ‘come in!’
  • Materials and textures – materials help spark your desired atmosphere. Luxurious materials suggest comfort while natural materials suggest relaxation, and both can be used to draw people in.
  • Furnishings and furniture – your furniture tells customers what you want them to do. Big, comfy chairs say ‘hang out here!’, while limited furniture suggests get-it-to-go.

(If all of this has you lost, remember your Total Fitouts team can help! Need some inspiration take a look here)

First impressions

We shouldn’t judge books by their covers – but we do because first impressions are everything.

Keep in mind the very first thing a customer will see is the exterior of your cafe. “You need to be immediately attracted to it” advises shopfitter Steve.

Once they’re in the door, think about:

  • What’s the first thing a customer will see when they enter?
  • What can you do to make them feel welcome and draw them in?

If a customer walks in and sees your rubbish bins or the backs of your employees, it’s unlikely they’re going to feel immediately welcomed.

Create a feature or focal point

By having a feature or focal point – whether that be your counter, coffee machine, signage, feature wall or piece of art – it draws the eye and creates a natural flow through the space.

When there’s a natural flow, it’s calming to the viewer which makes the space feel harmonious and more welcoming. It’s also a great way to brand your space and highlight what you want customers to do.

“Green feature walls are very popular at the moment – it has a calming effect, with that eco-conscious, healthy feel. As we move to being more authentic, organic and natural, people are turned off by anything that looks or feels artificial” explains Steve.

Get their tummy’s rumbling

To help your customers order that muffin you know they’ll love, ignite the senses through your interior design.

Some industry tricks that help make people feel ‘hungry’:

  • Lighting – use lights to highlight the key features (if you’ve got delicious looking treats, make sure they can’t be missed).
  • Pick hungry colours – it’s been proven that rustic tones (reds and browns) spark hunger, while we associate green with healthy.
  • Smell – most coffee-lovers love the smell of coffee so make sure they get a whiff!
  • Physical manifestations – use physical manifestations of the foods you’re trying to sell (for example: display or choose art that features coffee or coffee mugs to get coffee on their brains).

When it comes to physical manifestionations, you can get creative and tie in your theme. “We recently fitted-out a dog wash cafe and had the lights form the shape of a dog bone – sounds unusual but it works!” recounts Steve.

It’s in the details

What’s unique about your cafe? WHY should a customer pick you? Ensure you’re threading your unique personality through your interior design.

Elements to consider:

  • Coffee cups: have something bold or unique that people see on the street and think ‘wonder where that cafe is’ – and promptly go and find out!
  • Signage: get creative and show your personality through your signage – the top of your building is the limit.
  • Music: tunes set the immediate mood, create the right ambience through your sound system.
  • Art: pick art that aligns with your brand and values – that might be showcasing local artists, a certain style or a very deliberate quirky mix.

Ready to kick off your cafe fitout? Chat to your local Total Fitouts team today!