Restaurant Lighting

By: Russell Neal

Restaurant lighting by a skilled and multi-disciplinary design firm will enhance the specific interior design, ambiance, furnishings, and decorations that distinguish a fine restaurant as a unique, exclusive establishment. Because of the many points of differentiation that make an upscale restaurant truly one of a kind, each restaurant lighting system features a high level of customization and specialized lighting effects specific to the individual client. By gaining a clear picture of the many lighting layers and lighting effects, a lighting system can be custom engineered and installed that will synthesize each of these various elements into an individualized restaurant lighting theme that reflects and enhances key elements of design, ambiance, atmosphere, and patronage.

In order to achieve the appropriate lighting levels and effects necessary for custom restaurant lighting, it is necessary for lighting professionals to cross train periodically in parallel industries. When developing a restaurant lighting theme, consultants often draw from partnerships with architectural and an interior design firm whose imparted expertise enables them to catch the subtleties of building style and ornate decorum with just the right mood, level, and colors of light. Things such as ceiling height, coves, placement and position of tables, entrances and hallways, color and texture of flooring and carpet, and fine are decorations all can function as anchors around which the lighting design system is developed.

Additionally, windows are very important considerations for the restaurant lighting designer to take into account. Windows allow natural light to filter into the room, and this can potentially conflict with interior lighting arrays. A superior design firm will design a system that incorporates available natural light into the illumination of the interior.. For country club, hotel, and resort restaurants, many firms such as ILD in Houston, Texas will develop complimentary exterior, landscape, and architectural lighting themes that completely illuminate and bathe the entire property in light and set apart the building as a more refined, relaxed, and better reality than the surrounding world.

Establishing ambience with low-level accent lighting just inside the front entrance is also a very high priority. This creates a refined, romantic mood that distinguishes the world within the restaurant as a place of enjoyment, comfort, and retreat. Depending on the material build and interior architecture of the entrance, any number of ambient and diffused lighting themes may be created that are characterized by subtle shifts in luminosity and color that calm emotions. This often involves combining accent lighting with indirect lighting that descends gently in a "wash" of light from suspended luminaries or cove lights in the restaurant vestibule ceiling.

Such themes can then be extended into the interior, moving around corners and around the walls with decorative lighting fixtures and special effects lighting used by colored lamp housings and proprietary lighting projectors.

Overhead recessed lights installed on dimmer switches allow for controlled levels of task lighting and seating areas. This creates visibility without overpowering the eyes. Chandeliers are excellent fixtures to use in this aspect of restaurant lighting design because they create just the right level of lighting in most dining areas and provide ornate, visual pieces suspended above the room.

A good restaurant lighting design reflects the best elements of dining, decorum, and escape. Make certain that all of these elements are appropriately addressed before signing off on a final proposal from a lighting design firm. Custom designers such as Illuminations Lighting will often offer restaurant owners to co-develop the general aspects of what they want to create for their particular establishment and develop a lighting system that expresses client expectation.

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