Inspired by Restaurant Design

A place to eat, relax, enjoy a good drink and company in ambient lighting.  Mellow strains of jazz float above the hubbub of chatter.  The whole restaurant experience can teach us a lot when it comes to our own kitchens and entertaining spaces…

Designated drinker

The glint of lights of hundreds of bottles… the clinking of glasses and a bartender mixing cocktails with a flourish.  Why not replicate the thrill of a bar area in your own kitchen or entertaining area?  Portland have worked on many projects with bar areas tailored exactly to the clients style and requirement… All that remains is polishing up your cocktail juggling.


Lighting plays such a huge part in a restaurant experience, and there’s no reason why you can’t apply the same principles in your kitchen design.  The key here is to subtly layer up lighting; under cabinets or shelving, pendants or chandeliers, strategically placed lamps on worktops, and then the flickering light of candles or a fire.  No harsh overhead spotlights, the trick lies in creating depth and atmosphere through layering different light sources.  Bring on the wine…

A dose of the unexpected

Restaurants often pack a punch through a theme or unexpected twist in the décor.  Injecting a little dose of the unexpected can result in magic – suddenly a dining experience is taken from ordinary to extra-ordinary, upping the ante and creating energy and excitement.  Whether it be playing with perspective or incorporating something so ‘un-kitcheny’…  We love this quirky kitchen, subtle apart from two supersized chandelier hanging low over the table and a taxidermy zebra head lurking on the wall.  Unusual? Yes.  Somewhere you’d like to hang out?  Definitely!

Chef: centre stage

Often restaurant-goers will gather around an open plan kitchen area, or draw their bar stools close to where the chef is creating the next exotic course.  It’s not only fascinating to see the preparation that goes into a meal, it also creates a great social starting point for a relaxed evening.  By designing your kitchen open-plan or with bar stools around a central island, you can shape a social zone for low-key occasions, while the food is being prepared. 

Double vision

Mirrors are frequently used in restaurants because of their ability to expand a space, throw back the lighting, and add visual intrigue.  Often smoked, distorted or antique mirror finishes are used, to make their presence more subtle, as used to great effect on the ceiling of this this bar/restaurant interior.  Easily incorporated as feature walls or splashbacks, mirror tiles can be used to bring your kitchen to life and visually enhance the design.

Herb garden

Following the concept of fresh, local produce, many restaurants incorporate herbs, plants or flowers as finishing touches.  Greenery has the power to add another dimension to a space and breathe life into it, without hardly costing anything!  A display of artichokes on a table, a bouquet of flowers, or a line of herbs in terracotta pots on a windowsill or shelf as shown…

Natural textures

To create atmosphere and positive friction in restaurants, natural and often raw textures are used to give a design more edge and personality.  Exposed brick walls, wood in any form, and leather can easily translate to a refined kitchen area.  These can look especially effective when combined with industrial elements such as exposed pipes, metal bar stools, and pendant lights.

Now all that remains is to turn on some background music, cook up a great meal and enjoy the restaurant vibes in your own home!