What’s the best colour scheme and design for a cafe business?

It's no secret that the cafe culture in Australia and New Zealand is building steam. Baristas seem to be popping up left, right and centre, and people can often catch the scent of delicious coffee beans wafting through the air along many side-streets and laneways. 

Some cities within these countries are especially renowned for their quality caffeine – Melbourne in Oz and Wellington in NZ in particular are hailed by coffee enthusiasts as meccas for mouthwatering brews and well-roasted beans. 

If you're the owner or manager of one of these cafes, it's essential that you make yours stand out from the raft of others on your street. Of course, the quality of your baristas and the taste of your cappuccino or chai latte are sure to attract customers, but the look, feel and vibe of your decor matter too. 

With that in mind, here are some handy interior design tips to entice and awaken customers more than your strong beans could!

1) Coffee-toned walls

Thanks to its warm brown hue, coffee is a neutral colour that would look lovely echoed by wall paint. Creamy, rich, deep brown tones would work very well in a cafe context – here are three such options:

  1. Resene Brown Pod
  2. Resene Coffee Break
  3. Resene Toffee

However, if your cafe is tucked away on a street with little natural lighting, having such dark walls can make the space look smaller than it actually is. For this reason, you're better off using lighter, milkier coffee colours, such as these three paint shades:

  1. Resene Rich Cream
  2. Resene Melting Moment
  3. Resene Clotted Cream

2) Chalkboard feature wall menu 

Save paper! Show off green business values by writing your menu directly onto chalkboard walls by using Resene Blackboard Paint. Not only does this look stunning for a hip cafe-culture appearance, it also shows patrons that your business prioritises sustainability by having a paperless policy for menus.

"Practises that reduce energy and waste (among other things) can also reduce cost, reduce risk and add to profits – and that's even before we consider the marketing and sales appeal for customers who care about buying a product or service from a sustainable business," emphasised Mark Bernstein, senior vice president of MWW's Energy, Clean Tech and Sustainability Practice, in a guest article for Return on Reputation.

Mr Bernstein's words draw attention to a recurring research theme around the world in recent years – many consumer studies are finding that people want to buy products from green businesses. If you wish to, you could further capitalise on this by selling fair trade coffee options, or giving patrons a small discount if they bring along a keep-cup for their coffee instead of using the paper or plastic variants. 

Bonus design tip: The industrial-chic look of a chalkboard wall can be enhanced even more if you hang naked bulbs from the ceiling from black cord or wire, or use minimalist iron light fixtures. 

3) Whitewashed wooden furniture 

As a cafe owner, you have likely seen the beautiful patterns milk makes as it is blended into coffee. White and brown together are very complementary in terms of a colour palette, so maximise on this potential by using whitewashed furniture to boost the walls. 

This need not be expensive – simply purchase run-of-the-mill wooden tables and chairs from a furniture or hardware store. Jazz them up yourself with coats of Resene Colorwood Whitewash for a rustic, organic look that has connotations of a charming seaside house on the beach.

The milky-white tones of this paint will be a dreamy treat beside the brown wall colours, and monochrome is always lovely so the whitewashed furniture will pop against the black chalkboard feature wall too. 

Have an espresso shot and get painting!

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