How to Design a Café

If you are about to actualize your dream of opening a coffee shop, read on for some really useful tips, tricks and advice that will help you, not just plan but also execute your café design smoothly.
BY S.Ag on May 15, 2019

Since I was a child I have wanted to own a café. I would often visualise how I would make it. Right from the chairs and cuisine to the complimentary cookies I planned to serve with coffee, I had thought of every detail in my head!

I am partial to cafés the way I am partial to armchairs. Coffeehouses like armchairs are warm and cushy, and time flies when you are in one!

If you are about to actualize your dream of opening a coffee shop, read on for some really useful tips, tricks and advice that will help you, not just plan but also execute your café design smoothly. 

rustic cafe kernig krafts
Can you smell the coffee?

1. Pick one thing that you feel passionate about 

Whether it’s a cuisine that you enjoy making or eating, a theme that mesmerises you or if you are simply a coffee lover who wants to make delicious coffee for people, focusing on one attribute makes it fairly easy to define the others. 

For example, if you feel strongly about Italian food, you can plan your food menu and decor around it. It will give you a great starting point! I’d recommend doing thorough market research to make sure that there is a lucrative market for your chosen cuisine in your city. No matter how much you fancy something, if there is no demand for it you are bound to fail. 

You can also choose to open something classic, like a patisserie or a sandwich bar. If you are absolutely sure you want to open a coffee shop then you can plan a small food menu that includes accompaniments from your local cuisine while keeping the focus on different types of coffee. 

cafe coffee design tasty
Plan some delicious accompaniments along with coffee

It is always a good idea to keep a variety of food items that fall within your choice of cuisine, in the beginning because you will eventually find out what your customers love and come to your coffeehouse for. You will definitely be tweaking the menu as you come to realise what your best-sellers are!

2. Choose your decoration style wisely

It is easy to fall prey to trends, they look inviting and are easy to follow since they are everywhere but trends come and go. For example, Farmhouse Style and Shabby Chic are having a moment now but so was  Industrial, a style people are now getting bored of, visually. Classic style of decoration never goes out of fashion but it can seem basic. 

To keep the look balanced, I’d suggest furnishing your coffee shop with a theme that goes with your cuisine while considering your target customers. The theme does not have to be directly related to it, people often associate pizza with movies, so with Italian cuisine on the menu you could style your restaurant with the classic Hollywood theme!

There is no limit to decoration themes as there are plenty to choose from so weigh in your budget before you choose. A decorative style like Shabby Chic could be more expensive as compared to a simpler style like Modern. Size matters too. Smaller spaces can feel cramped if there is too much going on or there are a lot of items kept for ornamental purpose. It will also cut down on the sitting space. Some themes I personally like for cafés are Rustic, Scandinavian, Contemporary and Classic. 

You cannot beat a Rustic style coffeehouse. Exposed bricks, wooden floor and solid wood furniture with a touch of color in the form of upholstery, Rustic style evokes nostalgia that creates the perfect coffee drinking atmosphere, whether you want to get creative or catch up with friends.

coffee shop furniture wood
Scandinavian style is simple and minimal

Scandinavian and contemporary are great no-nonsense decorating styles that you can’t go wrong with. Scandinavian style complements smaller spaces well as it is a clean and minimal look with the right amount of color. Splashes of bright color in this style will keep your space from looking boring without overwhelming it! You can also go for a mix of two themes such as Rustic and Classic. 

3. Choose quality furniture that will last

Solid wood furniture is definitely more expensive than other kinds available but it looks classy and lasts a really long time. The elegance that good quality furniture creates cannot be matched by Chinese quality furniture. 

Make sure your furniture designs complement your space and style of decoration. If you have chosen Rustic style you can go for classic furniture. Rustic finish on tables, chairs and stools with leather upholstery looks extremely chic. The warm color palette automatically creates a welcoming atmosphere for customers. Have you ever noticed why you always gravitate towards cafes styled in Rustic-Classic interiors? This is exactly why! The earthy colors draw you in. 

chesterfield sofa cafe design
Chesterfield sofas in Rustic style interiors

To take it up a notch, you can get Chesterfield sofas and sofa chairs. Since people love to sit in coffee shops for long durations it is advisable to use comfortable chairs and sofas with cushioning and upholstery. No one wants to go to a cafe and come back with their backside hurting. Also, leather contrasts with the rustic look beautifully creating an appealing visual space. Wicker is another popular style these days and could be a great addition to your chairs and stools. Wicker is a good choice for outdoor furniture as well, if you have some outdoor sitting as a part of your cafe do consider it!  

If you want something more fun that caters to a younger crowd, you can go for patterned upholstery. But stick to pastel or medium tones for Rustic style. Sofas and chair sofas are a must if your space is medium to large. People always choose them first. Small coffee shops can keep upholstered stools and chairs with simple designs. Large spaces can do a combination of styles such as bar stools, stools, chairs, sofas and matching sofa chairs (like in the image above). It makes the space more interesting and gives the customers more options to sit. 

 4. Make the space warm and welcoming

People often have their favourite coffee shops that they regularly go to. Most preferred coffeehouses are those that are friendly and hospitable. Small things can make a big difference and help you achieve this effortlessly. 

Flowers, small potted plants or even candles on individual tables add a nice artsy touch. You can also keep some magazines and books for people to read. A lot of people come alone for coffee, especially if they want to work, reading a magazine would be a nice break for them. People who love to read adore places that house books and it also shows that you are thoughtful and are willing to take an extra step to make them happy. You can also keep a few board games for people who come in groups!

To store and display the books and games, you can get a sideboard or display unit. A high and narrow display unit will take less space and store more. 

green cafe furniture kernig krafts
The greener the better

Another thing you can do for your customers is keeping indoor plants. Potted plants, plants hung in baskets suspended from the ceiling, on tables or on a separate buffet, the possibilities are endless! Research shows that nature can increase social interaction, reduce stress and enrich mental health! Adding plants to your cafe is an easy and environment friendly way to spread cheer and happiness in your coffee shop. 

pendant lights cafe kernig krafts
Pendant lights look gorgeous!

Lights play an important role too. Harsh lights can be blinding and make people uncomfortable whereas dim lights can cause inconvenience. I'd suggest designing your cafe in a way that brings maximum sunlight into it during the day. You can also use pretty lanterns and pendant lights too! Glass pendant lights with geometric shapes are really popular these days. Yellow light is warmer than white and hence recommended for coffee shops. 

Something I’d strongly recommend is to do an informal feedback session before you officially open your cafe. A few trustworthy friends and family members is all it takes. Invite them over and take feedback on what could be done better. A good idea is to do this when you have some time left to make some changes. There will be certain things that you won’t be able to do anything about but it would be worth it if even one or two suggestions strike you as interesting and useful. 

For more ideas and suggestions about creating your perfect coffee house write to me at and to see custom made, handcrafted cafe furniture click here.

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2 comments on “How to Design a Café”

  1. I like your idea of coming up with a Shabby Chic design for the cafe because the classic style is constant. You're also right about the importance of buying sturdy furniture that will match the coffee shops' interior concept. If I were to put up my own, I'll make sure to place a peel and stick dry-erase board on the walls where the specials would be written.

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