Simply put, lights are not just there so your customers can see what they are eating and drinking. Equally, having fixtures that match the décor doesn’t necessarily mean you have got your lighting covered. Studies have shown that the level of lighting can seriously affect whether your customers come back or not – or whether they even stay in the first place. If you want to stand out in the hospitality industry, it’s time to put the spotlight on your lights!
These ten top tips from us here at Arrow Electrical are useful not just if you’re creating a new bar or restaurant, but also if you’re considering renovating your existing building. Many are quick fix solutions to add a new edge to your hospitality venue without a costly overhaul.
Making Shadow Patterns, But Watch For Bounce Back
As well as adding colour, another way to add interest to areas of your bar or restaurant is to use light shades and screens to create patterns on walls. Placing floor lights or up lights behind columns and furniture can create interesting patterns on the ceiling for example. Lighting is sometimes one of the first things to be installed in a new venue before work begins on fixtures and fittings. Good planning beforehand will avoid a common pitfall - creating fabulously balanced lighting and then spoiling the whole effect with mirrored walls, chrome bars, furniture and other shiny surfaces. If your customers are looking at a menu with a bar spotlight bouncing into the corner of their eye, they may choose to find the illuminated exit sign.
Too Much or Too Little Can Make Moody Customers
Light affects mood and getting the balance right can be tricky. Too dark and people find it oppressive and depressing; too much and they feel dazzled and exposed.Here comes the science – serotonin is a chemical produced by our brain, which regulates mood. Its production is closely tied to light levels, which is why we all feel better when the sun shines. That doesn’t mean to say all bars and restaurants should blast artificial sunlight to create happy customers. It’s all about balance.Getting the lighting right in a commercial setting adds to the mood. This is known as ambient lighting. If you’re aiming for your bar or restaurant to be bright and uplifting, or mysterious and romantic, getting the level of light right can make a crucial difference.
Vary Your Lighting
Having just said you need to balance the amount of light to ensure your mood matches your type of bar or restaurant, you may also want to consider varying that across your floor space too. So, for example, you might want pendant lights (single fixtures in the ceiling) over tables to provide illumination for diners. However, it could be that you need less light around fireplaces and lobbies where you want your customers to relax. Near work areas such as the pass or tills, you need to be able to see clearly, so extra lighting keeps safety and productivity high.
The human psyche is affected not just by the amount of light available, but also the colours of those lights.Unless you’re going for a psychedelic explosion or looking like Christmas all year round, you might want to choose your coloured lighting with care. A word to the wise - red lights are rarely welcome in respectable bars and restaurants.However, modern lighting technology means you can add a splash of colour in all sorts of ways, even having changing displays in areas of interest, such as along bar structures.If you have a colour in your venue logo that lends itself to some subtle lighting, then it’s a good way of keeping your corporate identity on display.
Light Can Change Space
This may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but lights can expand, reduce or even distort space! Placing lights around the edges of bars, for example, can create the impression of much more space. Up lights (fixtures that shine the light to the ceiling), can make ceilings seem higher. The art of illusion is not just smoke and mirrors, it’s light too. You can make more of your space by accentuating key features.
Installing dimmer switches can be extremely handy, enabling staff to set up, clear up and clean without missing anything, before lights are dimmed to suit the mood you’re trying to create.They also enable you to control your lighting bill by varying the amount of brightness according to the seasons and times of day.
Walk Towards the Light
If you want people to move around your premises in a particular way, you need to think about the way the ambient lighting (the natural and artificial stuff that affects mood) works with your accent lighting (the fixtures that enhance).For example, if you don’t want too many people clustered around your inner doorway, make it a little darker, with progressively larger, brighter ceiling lights coaxing them inside and towards the bar.
Bar lighting & restaurant lighting clearly serves an important function, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be “dull”.Innovative technology alongside gifted designers means that the structures and fixtures you use to shed light can become a central feature of your design.At one time it was considered quirky to stick candles in a wine bottle, but these days you can have artificial (but very realistic looking) candle lights underneath glass jars for example. Or how about you cover your lights with specially designed umbrellas, or pendant lights that look like teapots? The list of possibilities is endless. Look for a good range of ideas before choosing what will add an extra design dimension to your theme.
You Don’t Always Have To Throw Away The Past
Though styles and options are constantly changing and offering up new possibilities, there is still a place for retro style lighting in many establishments.In fact, some bars and restaurants can look spectacular with bare bulbs (in different sizes) in simple pendant fittings, if the aim is a stripped back “warehouse” type design. Fixtures that echo industrial lighting or feature burnished metal can prove that sometimes classy comes from using the past as a template.
Don't Forget Outside
It’s amazing how many establishments illuminate their external signage and think their job is done. Having a well illuminated car park, with strips of light to lead to your door, and a well-lit doorway, can attract people towards your bar and restaurant and make visitors feel safe and secure going in and out of the premises. Having lights positioned correctly, so passers-by can see hints of the fun going on inside your bar or restaurant is far more likely to entice them in than darkened windows and doors. Quite simply, lighting matters and should never be an afterthought when making your bar or restaurant stand out. Asking for design and planning help from Arrow Electrical means tapping into over ten years’ experience and in depth knowledge of the latest designs and technology.