How do wall colors affect eating habits?

If you’re opening a restaurant, there are some design concepts that should take centre stage — and what color to paint your establishment is one of them. Just like when designing your menu, it’s important to remember that color and design may affect customer behavior — and that takes precedence over your favorite color.

Some theories may seem cliched and outdated, but there’s still something to be said about certain colors being simply more appetizing than others. Always ask yourself what you would like your customers to do and how you would want them to feel — and which colors are best for that.

Do you want guests to…

  • Stay for a long time, slowly sipping their coffee?
  • Eat quickly and leave?
  • Have a quiet, romantic evening?
  • Drink several pints of beer with occasional sides?

Keep in mind that the following suggestions may change depending on who you’re speaking with — and something else like flag colors for an ethnic restaurant may be the deciding factor — but here are a few consistent ideas that we’ve found.

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Blues and Purples

We often hear that, subconsciously, blue and purple tones are associated with toxins and have been shown to decrease appetite. Whether or not the association with toxins is true, the fact that there are not many naturally blue and purple foods is used to explain why the color doesn’t evoke hunger in people. Blue is associated more frequently with beverages or relaxation, therefore these tones are usually used in spas or coffee houses with a bohemian feel. As blues are also considered to actually suppress appetite, gyms typically use the color for their design. All of this means that for a restaurant, the best thing to do may be to reconsider shades of blue and purple.

Greens

Understandably associated with nature, health food restaurants often use green and Earth tones to draw a connection. The obvious association with nature is also the reason that people generally feel quite relaxed in green rooms and may actually feel intuitively that the food being served is healthy and fresh. Green shades with earth tones create a relaxed atmosphere and encourage patrons to sit down, relax and stay awhile — while possibly continuing to order food or drinks.

Yellows

Yellows are often seen as irritating or disturbing tones and are actually used by fast food restaurants in order to encourage people to eat quickly and leave. Shades of yellow are important too — yellow green shades may be more unpleasant in an eating environment than bright yellows. Generally bright yellows and reds lend themselves well to an energetic vibe, not encouraging people to sit and relax, so the use of this color would depend on the type of atmosphere that you are building.

Yellow restaurant walls

Reds

Earth tones or rich reds are best for fine dining restaurants, especially when combined with deep wood tones. When overused, however, they can be an irritant, just like yellows. To create a more intimate environment in a larger space such as a banquet hall, dark, profound reds are a good idea. Reds and yellows are often great colors for accessories and accents within a restaurant, adding punch and playfulness to more subdued colors.

White/Beige/Light Colors

Light colors such as white, beige and light grays can make a small space look larger and less cramped. They also evoke a more leisurely and relaxed feel  making customers feel welcome to spend time comfortably. Something to remember with white, however, is that it can appear stark and may combine with another wall — for example a full wall of red — to create the effect of another color. Be aware of what other colors you have in the restaurant before adding any white elements.

White and beige wall colors for a restaurant

Colors can either entice someone to eat or completely turn them off, but the rules aren’t set in stone — some places might go against these guidelines with great success. Identifying which colors, however, are appropriate for your business is an important step to creating the kind of environment you want create and encourage the kinds of customer behaviours that you would like to.

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Elina Barklon

Elina Barklon

Naturally drawn to synonyms, Elina relishes language, culture and precision in her explanations. “The mind is like a parachute — it works best when opened.”
― Elina and Sir Thomas Robert Dewar