Black-and-white wallpaper that appeals to Instagrammers

In the last decade, a new reality gradually became clear: Restaurant designers have to re-evaluate the way they create their interiors, and pay attention to their appeal to social media users. With a large number of customers choosing dining venues based on their online presence, and with the constant hunt for the next best Instagram picture, they are forced to consider how to do restaurant design for social media.

 Photo above: 3D Pizza Shop Wall Art by UniSinda Home Decor on Etsy

There are few ideas that have proved to work in making your restaurant, cafe or dessert shop perfectly Instagrammable. Here are only a handful of them that you could implement as a way to attract the visually hungry customers.

1. Bring in the color

Yes, neutral colors are elegant and classy, but it’s harder to fawn over them online. While many proved that traditional designs with sophisticated, toned-down colors are definitely beautiful, your best chance to online fame is chromatic bravery. Bright colors translate extremely well in eye-catching pictures, so give the eye what it desires.

Frozen yogurst store design for social media, that uses wall graphics, bright pink and unique lighting

Penny Lane frozen yogurt shop design by Mindful Design Consulting

Especially when you own a dessert, ice-cream or frozen yogurt shop, choosing bright, vibrant colors not only makes for excellent photo material, but also suggests the abundance of flavors in your treats.

Picture-worthy bubble tea store in pink, orange and purple

Can’t Top This boba tea and frozen yogurt shop design by Mindful Design Consulting

2. Use plants

While green plants have a place in almost any interior design, one or two isolated pots of unremarkable size won’t turn you into a social media darling. Like with everything else in the age of visual supersaturation, you may have to go over the top. That doesn’t mean that you are to turn gaudy, but that you can create an enchanted, magical place that is irresistible to the eye.

Using indoor trees when doing restaurant design for social media

The Florist, Watford, England. Photo via

When planning your restaurant design for social media, going for the unexpected has more impact, so surprise yourself. Flowers growing upside down? Why not? Arch trellises leading to your seating area? No problem! Trees inside your restaurant? Bring it on!

Restaurant ceiling covered with flowers that offer a great background for social media pictures

SERRA Fiorita, NYC. Photo via Pinterest

3. Define a theme

Deciding on a clear restaurat theme helps you create an unambiguous design that doesn’t look accidental and that has something to say. Your theme can be related to your cooking philosophy, your ingredients, your location, your passion, a certain period in time or anything that makes your heart jump with joy. 

Designed by Mindful Design Consulting, Besties Cool Treats ice-cream parlor in San Diego, California, adopted a mid-century design theme and successfully catered to customers’ nostalgia for simpler times. 

Ice-cream parlor with a mid-century diner theme to attract nostalgic Instagram posts

Besties Cool Treats ice-cream parlor, San Diego, California, by Mindful Design Consulting

Every corner is filled with color and details that ask for an Instagram voice. An overload of pastel colors, wall art, rotary phone, diner-style upholstered benches, striped scalloped awning, retro-camper playhouse, carefully selected finishes, window frames that induce happy domestic memories, generous lighting and a lot of character come together into an tempting combination of photo opportunities.

Frozen yogurt shop with colorful mid-century interior design

Besties Cool Treats ice-cream parlor, San Diego, California, by Mindful Design Consulting

4. Show your secrets

The best way to make your restaurant worthy of a picture is to offer an irresistible view. However, great views are a high commodity, and this is often not possible. If you are operating on a small budget, and if your location doesn’t come with such views, you must think outside the box.

An alternative is to show your customers something that they don’t have access to in other restaurants or shops. This may be your kitchen, your ingredients, your cooking process, or anything that you can find worth sharing. Ninina Bakery in Buenos Aires, for example, offers a full view of the kitchen.

Exposed kitchen in elegant restaurant, that attracts social media posts

Ninina Bakery, Buenos Aires

Customers can relax on a padded chair and watch while the magic happens under their eyes.

Restaurant design showing customers th einterior of the kitchen

Ninina Bakery, Buenos Aires

The inner workings of a building are sometimes well worth exposing. Inspired by the greenhouse concept, Madero Cafe in Guatemala City turns the watertanks used for collecting rain water from the roof into colorful pieces of background decor. 

Unique restaurant design with colorful exposed watertanks

Madero Cafe, Gutaemala City, by Taller KEN. Photo: Marcelo Gutierrez via

5. Mind your floors and finishes

You would be surprised how many customers take pictures of their feet against your floors. So make your floors count. Remember that Instagrammers are not only looking for a wonderful dining experience, but also for great shots to populate their online accounts. Give them an interesting background and let them use the time before their order arrives to snap some colorful photos. 

Floor design in restaurant aimed for social media

In the same line of thought, think patterns, patterns, patterns. Don’t waste your wall space. Instead, use it wisely (even when it comes to your restrooms) to appeal to enthusiastic picture takers.

Eye-catching wallpaper with nature inspired pattern as a great example of how to do restaurant design for social media

Photo: Douglas Friedman via

6. Design a social media wall

Designing a social media wall or a selfie wall is an extensive topic about which we wrote before. Murals, photo props, decals and neon signs are just a few of the tools you can use to create selfie-taking opportunities.

Colorful cartoon wall graphics in dessert store interior, designed as a selfie wall

Urban Bubble, San Diego, California, by Mindful Design Consulting

If you don’t have the room for a wall entirely designated for picture taking, don’t worry. You can get creative with placing your smaller-scale Instagrammable wall art in any accessible corner.

Selfie wall above restaurant table, aimed for social media

Pizza Wall Decal by Brooklyn Sticker Shop on Etsy

7. Have good lighting 

When doing restaurant design for social media, you need to pay extra attention to lighting. This is because Instagram-worthy pictures need to be clear, and because you need to put your customers in the best light. Nobody wants to post a bad selfie or the confusing photo of a barely visible plate of food online.

While warm and romantic, dimly illuminated spaces are not the best for taking pictures. LED lights are another option that will not give your customers the best shot to a great photo. Your best choice is plenty of natural light enhanced by indoor lighting. You can even use adjustable light fixtures to allow your customers to control their lighting.

The light fixtures themselves can become the main point of attraction and feed the desire to capture a unique or creative design.

Unconvetional lighting with book shades that make for a great subject for a social media picture

Book Lamp by ElephantCollection on Etsy

8. Have beautiful menus 

Using every tool at your disposal to create a pretext for a photo means making sure your menus, coasters, loyalty cards and all other pieces of your marketing collateral are worthy of a picture. A coaster with an inspiring message, a cake box with a fun shape, a glass with your etched logo, or a sleek menu that complements the colors of your restaurants, all make for good photo props. 

Elegant menu for a Vietnamese restaurant, that looks well on a social media post

Menu of So 9 Vietnamese restaurant, Waterloo, Sydney. Photo:

9. Take it outside

Instragrammers love taking pictures outside and using natural light to come up with great photos. A colorful mural or some bold or dainty signage may convince them to stop for a picture and enter your business.

Including dainty and unique outdoor signage when doing restaurant design for social media

Photo: Pinterest

10. Be unique

In the end, nothing counts in your attempt to do restaurant design for social media if you are not creative. Ideas are copied and rehashed, and their appeal fades in time. Yes, finding inspiration in what others do is good, but failing to use this as a springboard for your own unique creations is not. Look around – the ideas are everywhere. Create an atypical menu board. Use unique wall art or an unexpected wall finish. Incorporate a chandelier made of musical instruments into your design. 

Saxophone chandelier in New Orleans cafe shop well-suited for social media

Starbucks, New Orleans. Photo: Matthew Glac for Starbucks

Also remember that, if your idea is successful, chances are you will be copied. While the Instagram crowd is large and hungry enough to still serve your marketing purposes even if you stop being the only one with a clever selfie wall, it’s even better if you give them something harder to copy. 

Greenhouse-inspired cafe interior design with indoor plam trees, car and watertanks

Madero Cafe, Gutaemala City, by Taller KEN. Photo: Marcelo Gutierrez via

If you are thinking to open a new business or are in the process of rebranding and remodeling your existing business, contact us to get a free consultation from Mindful Design Consulting. Click HERE to price your project design.

Also, take a look at the “Branding By Interior” e-book, the only book written on this subject at this time. It brings insight into how you can turn your business into a market-dominating competitor by using human cognitive responses.

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