top of page

Do you need an instagrammable restaurant interior 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 the interior design decisions of a hospitality business. To the extent that clients during project brief meetings say that they want their restaurant to be instagrammable, or have an area of the interior designed specifically for "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?

Image by Cotton Bro via Pexels

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 the Instagram app ever did. So if you're someone that believes your independent business and its interior has to be instagrammable, are you actually just asking for a well designed restaurant interior?

If the interior design scheme is thoroughly considered and authentic to your independent business, then people will naturally want to take photos to show friends, or post on Instagram, or leave positive praise 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 beautiful 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 restaurant but there's then nothing really to stop people walking in, 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 independent business! What I'm trying to get at is you can make your restaurant interior 'successful' on Instagram but make sure that this also translates across into your 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 gives them long-term success. 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: I've been enticed to visit an Instagram-worthy restaurant for the food to then not be great (and overpriced for the quality), or the service was seriously lacking and I've had to hunt down a member of staff to put our food order in. Disappointing situations like this can really put people off returning to your independent business again regardless of how instagrammable the restaurant interior is.

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

Don't let your independent business and interior design 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 originally hoping for.

This is where, at Studio SK, I would always advise creating a unique yet timeless interior design over an instagrammable, trend-following design. You don't want your independent business to look outdated in a year. It's not great for you financially if you're continuously spending money on your restaurant 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 finishes and furniture.

So do you need an instagrammable restaurant interior to be successful?

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


If today's blog post has given you some food for thought (no pun intended) and you're looking to start an interior design project, have a browse of my hospitality interior design service page for independent businesses, or my affordable interior design consulting page.


bottom of page