Toolbox: The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Lighting


People look forward to dining out so they can enjoy delicious meals with good company in beautiful settings. Beyond mouthwatering dishes and fragrant aromas, one of the first things visitors notice when entering a restaurant is its lighting. However, lighting is often overlooked from the customer’s perspective.

Lighting is key to creating ambience and setting the mood in a space, and this applies to restaurants of all specialties. Identifying your restaurant’s personality is critical when determining the type of environment you want to create for customers. Luminii’s high-quality and sustainable LEDs offer a wide range of colors and temperatures to help you perfect the look and feel of any dining space.

Whether you are new to the magic of simply brilliant light or merely looking for design inspiration, read Lauren Knight’s tips for Ham & High below to discover everything you need to know about restaurant lighting.

Editor’s note: The piece below originally appeared on Ham & High. You can also read the piece here.


Lighting the way for restaurant and café owners to set the right mood and tone that will have your diners coming back for more.

Stephen Bignell from Sera Lighting, LED lighting specialists in St. Albans, explains why finding the right lighting is so important and how it can help you relaunch your business after lockdown is over.

Q: Why is lighting design so important for restaurants and cafés?

A: The lighting you use can completely change the look and feel of your restaurant or café. They can change the way you run your business, help maximize the space you have and create the ideal dining experience for your customers.

Lighting also plays a vital role in the health and safety of your business. Staffing areas must be well lit, especially where hot food and drinks are being made. It’s a legal requirement to install emergency lighting to illuminate the premises in case of a power outage, accident, or fire. We offer a range of drop and suspended emergency exit signs, bulkhead fittings, and lighting packs.

Q: How can I design the lighting to suit my space?

A: Are there areas of the architecture that you wish to highlight or conceal? Work with the space to decide which areas of your restaurant need more lighting, and which need less.

Do you need to turn over tables quickly, or do you want to encourage guests to stay longer for another bottle of wine and to enjoy dessert? Soft, warm lighting is ideal for a romantic setting and will invite your guests to kick back and relax, but bright, cool lights are better suited to a lunchtime hangout where guests can enjoy a good meal and a quick catch up with friends. We have a guide to help you choose what LED Color temperature to buy.

Pick lighting that matches your brand and your food’s identity. Be sure, no matter your choice, that your tables are well lit and will allow customers to easily read the menu.

Q: What type of lighting is best and where should I place it?

A: Track lighting is versatile and can be installed in several configurations to suit any shape or size of a building. It’s easily adjusted, meaning you can change the layout of your restaurant to cater to events, make room for social distancing or renovate without needing to invest in new lights.

Downlights are perfect for work areas – like the kitchen or behind the bar. They will illuminate the area well for staff, without detracting from the atmosphere of the restaurant and pulling customers’ focus.

Add strip lighting under the seats and around the bar area to inject personality and warmth into the space. It’s easy to apply, can be fitted around objects and angles and comes in a range of colors.  

Q: How many lights do I need?

A: Too much lighting can ruin the atmosphere, but too little can make your restaurant appear uninviting, which is why it’s important to strike the right balance. We can advise what lighting will work best in your space and how to arrange it.

We recommend installing dimmable lights that will allow you to control the brightness and color of your lights and ensure no matter the time of day, the lighting in your restaurant is just right.

Q: How can I find the best lights for my restaurant?

A: Using the latest design software, we can provide bespoke solutions to transform your ideas into a stunning design that will complement and enhance your restaurant or café. We stock a large range of LED lighting that’s available for quick delivery to help you get your space set up, in the way you want, as soon as possible. Get in touch to discover how we can help you turn your vision into reality.


Guapo’s Restaurant in Washington, D.C. Illuminated with Luminii products.

Wally’s in Santa Monica, California. Illuminated with Luminii products.