Does your restaurant interior need to be instagrammable to be successful?

Oh, Instagram. There's no doubt about it that over the last decade this little app has had more and more impact on hospitality businesses such as restaurants, bars and cafes - and I don't just mean from a marketing point of view.

Instagram is quite literally impacting how commercial interiors look and how they're designed. To the extent that clients during initial project brief meetings say that they want their restaurant to be instagrammable, or have an area of the interior designed for specific "Instagram moments".

And by all accounts, Instagram and it's success for many independent businesses isn't going away any time soon. Which got me thinking, as an interior designer, does your restaurant interior, or bar interior, or cafe interior, need to be instagrammable to be successful?

Does your restaurant interior need to be instagrammable, or just well designed?

Instagram is a great and powerful marketing tool for independent businesses. It's essentially a free app for you to promote yourself from, where followers and customers can also help promote you further via tags in their Instagram posts and stories. I know there's plenty of hospitality businesses that put their fast-growing success down to Instagram and use it as their only form of social media marketing.

A lot of people when searching for a restaurant on Instagram or Google will decide if they want to visit that place based on the images of the interior. There's no point denying that many of us judge businesses like a restaurant or cafe on its interior and aesthetic - it's one of the first things that likely attracts you to a new place!

But here's the thing, successful restaurants, bars and cafes with great interiors existed way, way, way before Instagram ever did. So if you are someone that believes your independent business and its interior has to be instagrammable, are you actually just asking for a well designed interior?

If the interior design scheme is thoroughly considered and built well, as well as authentic to your independent business, then people will want to take photos to show friends, or post on Instagram, or leave on review sites like Tripadvisor and Google regardless.

Does an instagrammable interior equal revenue for your independent business?

Here's another viewpoint to think about with an Instagram-worthy interior. You've got great photos of your restaurant interior on Instagram generating you lots of positive publicity and encouraging a wider reach of new customers to want to come and visit... But is it also resulting in lots revenue for your independent business from these visits?

Yes, Instagram is bringing people to your location but there's then nothing really to stop people walking into your restaurant, getting the photos in front of that "Instagram moment" feature wall they want for their own Instagram account and walking back out without spending a single penny. Okay so if someone is to do that, that's on them to be that ballsy and not show some support to your lovely business! What I'm trying to get at is you can make your restaurant interior 'successful' on Instagram but make sure this also translates across into your independent business' financial success too.

Now, this might sound counter-intuitive for me to say this as an interior designer, but it's not just beautiful interiors that makes a hospitality business successful. It's all about the overall experience that makes them successful in the long run. So if you want lots of positive reviews and loyal customers visiting your restaurant, bar or cafe on a regular basis, it's all about the trinity of great interior, great food and drink, and great service.

I've been there, when I've been enticed to visit an Instagram-worthy restaurant to then find the food wasn't great (and overpriced for the quality), or that the service was seriously lacking and had to hunt down a member of staff to put our food order in. Disappointing situations like this can really put people off visiting your independent business again, or recommending others to visit.

Are you risking your restaurant interior falling into an Instagram trend trap?

Don't let your independent business and interior fall into the Instagram trend trap. Designing a restaurant to be instagrammable is all good and well, but interior design trends seen on Instagram change at an obscene pace. Styles can become outdated within several months! An interior design style may be popular right now on Instagram (or Pinterest for that matter) but by the time you decide on a design and physically build your restaurant interior based on a particular trend, it might not have the big buzz and appeal you were hoping for.

This is where I would definitely advise creating a relatively timeless design over an instagrammable, trend-following design. You don't want your independent business to look outdated in a year or two. It's not great for you financially if you're continuously spending money on your restaurant's interior to avoid it looking outdated, and it's also not great from a sustainability point of view if you keep ripping out and installing new features and furniture.

So, does your restaurant interior need to be instagrammable to be successful?

I think the main takeaway from today's blog post is to focus on Instagram being a marketing tool, not a design tool, for your restaurant, bar, or cafe to help further promote it to a wider audience and grow a community of people that love and support your independent business via the social media app. Don't allow Instagram to be the sole thing that determines what your interior should be or how your space is designed.


If today's blog post has given you some food for thought (no pun intended) on your independent business' interior or you're wanting to start an interior design project, check out the services at Studio SK to find out how we can work together. I offer one-to-one consultations as well as a full interior design service.

Cover image by Cottonbro via Pexels.