What are the top interior design trends for pubs?

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

(Credit: Getty/archigram)
(Credit: Getty/archigram)

Related tags Property

The Morning Advertiser caught up with hospitality design specialist Abi Perry-Jones on what's in vogue when it comes to pub design.

Perry-Jones said that competition for customer’s hard-earned cash is fierce in the pub and bar market.

She said: “Customers have a wide choice as to where to spend their leisure time now more than ever. Pubs and bars now need to compete with a wide range of venues including coffee shops, restaurants and competitive socializing out-of-home experience spaces.

“Perhaps ironically, even some gyms and health clubs are becoming known as great destinations for socializing, eating and drinking.

“Due to the cost-of-living crisis people are going out less, and are also spending more time planning their nights out in advance.

“This includes doing research beforehand and looking at images online as well as reading reviews. It’s vital then that the interior design looks great and is eye catching enough to appeal to potential customers looking at photos online.”

The external design of the pub and bar – it’s “kerb appeal” needs also to be really successful in drawing customers inside.

Great signage, lighting, planting or well-designed external seating areas can contribute and of course the glow of the inside of the venue seen from outside can create a warm and welcoming image to draw customers in.

While a wow-factor in the interior design is important, according to Perry-Jones, people have got bored of gimmicks and “edgy, quirky” designs.

Neon signs, selfie spots, and pink, floral, gaudy mixes of pattern and colour now could be seen as over-done in design. 

Interior design choices have to fit with the demographic, she added. Neon signs and artificial plants obviously don’t appeal to everyone however, customers need to feel that they’re in a real special place that’s aspirational and comfortable.

Softer shades

“We’ve got to draw people out of their homes and a great interior design can help do this alongside great service and product,” she said.

Perry-Jones noted that her design studio are still using colour, patterns and vibrancy in their designs in the selection of flooring types, fabrics, wallcoverings and furniture but generally in a softer more relaxing palette with a calmer vibe.

The current trends in interior design include more earthy tones and there is a distinct move away from the industrial influenced trend that has been around for some time.  

She said: “People are looking for somewhere that’s more of a relaxing or uplifting space. Design trends now include more gloss and glamour.

Rather than focusing on the latest design trends which could date quickly, she recommends making the most of the character or architecture of the building, ensuring that the space is planned as efficiently as possible and that the interior design is “really on point” for its intended demographic.

Although she is seeing less of the huge investments into large brand-new sites, her clients are still embarking on significant refurbishments.

“It’s great to see the transformations that can be made by reusing, upcycling and changing existing finishes,” she said. “It’s obviously much better for the environment to take this route. Sometimes, having a smaller budget leads to more creative designs.”

Booths are always really popular and generally worth the investment if there is space. These often are the most popular spaces for groups to sit and socialize offer an opportunity to pre book the space.

High upholstered bar style seating can also work well to save space, she said, and her clients find customers are often happy to share a large table to drink at and that these work well for larger groups to order casual style sharing style food.

Comfortable high stools in front of bar or open kitchen, means you can chat to the bar staff or mixologist and see some of the theatre. Perry-Jones said: “People are going out for an experience, so providing these more social places to sit helps with that.”

The current competitive sports trend which is increasing in venues also influences design, with many investing in gaming machines, photo booths and pool tables.

Perry-Jones added: “People are looking to go out for more than a drink and these elements can help in customers staying longer and spending more”.

Vibe zones

She advised operators to think about the extra space required for these items when planning their site layout and consider partially screening off the space which may be a little noisier.

Good design can help create various ‘zones’ in one venue with different vibes, so people can have different experiences in different parts of the pub.

Lighting is always important in design projects – having a system that creates a mood, she continued. For instance moving from day to night, can work well with lower lighting levels at nights and a more relaxed setting for the daytime.

Lighting incorporated into the back bar can also work really well to highlight a beautifully displayed great range of spirits or tempt with cocktails.

Perry-Jones also said the lines between work and leisure are now blurred, and so potential customers may choose to work from a pub or bar.

Providing a designated zone for this with power and data or even a flexible area as a meeting room could be worth considering, she said.

On the flip side of this, many customers just want to switch off from work and “lose themselves” in a non-work environment when they go out to a bar or pub.

Understanding the demographic and the surrounding community and establishing what could work for each unique venue is “really important” before embarking on a new design project, Perry-Jones added.

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