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Lighting fixtures! So many to choose from, so little time! The selection of the right restaurant lighting fixtures is essential for the success of your endeavor.

The atmosphere and the harmony of any space are dictated by the light and art that it is filled with. Lighting fixtures in your restaurant provide just that. It is really up to you to create the mood that you want your customers to be in, your lighting scheme will decide whether they stay longer or leave immediately.

The selection of lighting fixtures gives an extraordinary opportunity for creativity and how will light will “play” in your “symphony” of shapes and colors, only a real artist will know… Here are some examples of common restaurant lighting fixtures and their uses:

Type of Lighting Purpose Commonly used in the restaurant for
Ambient Lighting General lighting Creating an atmosphere
Accent Lighting Spotlighting Illumination of art and architecture
Task Lighting Concentrated lighting area Small table
Outdoor Lighting Safety and decorations Landscape, porch, walkways, driveway
Emergency Lighting In case of emergency Above doors and alongside walkways

Creating an ambiance

Ambient lighting is typically used to set a particular mood or impression. It is perfect for overall restaurant lighting and can be achieved in numerous ways:

Type of fixture Purpose Commonly used
Chandeliers Focal point Foyer (entrance). Over large tables. Great for tall ceilings
Pendants General ambient lighting if clear or light shades are being used Over tables, bars, host area
Recessed Very popular modern restaurant lighting fixture Great for low ceilings
Flush mount General Lighting Ceilings
Semi-flush General Lighting Ceilings
Suspended Luminaire (Suspension) Accent Lighting, Task Lighting, General Lighting Great for large area
Surface-mounted luminaire General Lighting Ceilings
Full room luminous ceiling General Lighting Ceilings
Extrusion General Lighting Great for bars and large areas
Architectural (Cove, Soffit, and Valance) Decorative  Lighting Architecturally integrated into your ceiling

1. Chandeliers

Chandeliers are popular light fittings that express luxury and design. Most planners use chandeliers in the center of facilities since they provide a lot of illumination. Chandeliers provide light in an elegant style and as well create a focal point in the dining section of the restaurants.

Restaurants that run during late evening hours should consider this kind of light fitting since it gives a relaxing feel for customers who would want to just sit and relax.

Upon hearing chandeliers, one usually thinks of the glass contraptions hanging from grandma’s kitchen ceiling, always finding themselves in the way of moving heads and raised arms. Chandelier lighting fixtures are a much more elegant creature, one which rightfully remains one of the most used and versatile fixtures.

The upside to chandelier lighting fixtures is that they can assume many different shapes, sizes, forms, and therefore applications. They can be made up of two large hanging spheres of light, or of twenty or thirty small light-emitting shapes.

For a restaurant to pull off a chandelier, first they have to acquire the right design. Going too over the top can take a retro fast food place and turn it into a confusing mess of a Sunday afternoon that you will never be seeing again… but the same restaurant installing small retro chandeliers over the bar can set a very fulfilling and modern tone to the room.

2. Pendants

What is Pendant Lamp? The pendant lamp is a light fixture that somewhat resembles a pendant necklace. Like charms and dangles on your necklace, a pendant fixture hangs from the ceiling and gives your interior a personal touch.

This type of light fixture provides ambient and slightly concentrated lighting. To maximize the effect, several matching pendants could be used.

A pendant fixture is one of the most convenient and aesthetic light fixtures, used typically in restaurants with a contemporary and modernistic design. The pendant light is commonly used for general lighting, area lighting, or task lighting.

This kind of lighting is best suitable for areas where the ceiling is not so far from the area that needs to be lit (dining table, for example) because if it’s hanging too high, it may not provide you with enough light. Pendants consume less power than other common fixtures and provide you with that special feeling of “warmth” and coziness.

Common spaces where pendant lights can be found are in entry halls, above staircases, over dining tables, and kitchen stations. Because of its simple and minimalistic design, it can easily replace free-standing lighting fixtures (such as lamps or floor lights).

It can also be used to induce a vintage atmosphere. If designed and placed correctly, this lighting fixture can change the entire mood of a room.

Here are a few factors to look into before choosing a pendant lamp for your restaurant:

  1. Size. Bigger and bulkier pendant lights can be utilized in specifically large spaces, where this can contribute to general lighting for the entire area of the room. Smaller pendants typically provide an area or task lighting and quite a few of them would be required to illuminate a big room – something that calls for a messy and disturbing design. Thus, smaller rooms benefit from slender pendant fixtures while larger room sizes mandate larger structures for the pendant.
  2. Brightness. Some pendant lighting fixtures offer more illumination than others. They also carry a heavy cost for electricity as more voltage is used.
  3. Materials. Pendant lighting fixtures are manufactured out of different materials, and sometimes have domes made of metal, porcelain, veneer, and such. The reason you should pay attention to the material that your pendant light is made of is that the amount of illumination that you will get heavily depends on it. The opaquer the material type is, the more concentrated the light will be.
  4. Height. Since pendant lights are hung overhead, the height of these cords should be noted as well. This can be determined after attributing this fixture to a purpose and destination, where an entryway is better designed with a higher-hanging fixture, with the recommended number being seven feet from the floor level. Moreover, low hanging lights are better suited to dining areas as it is a sitting space and head bumps are generally not possible

3. Recessed lights

A recessed light, otherwise known as a can-light is a common type of light fixture. This light fixture works great for low-hanging ceilings. They are installed by cutting a large hole in the drywall and sitting inside the hole.

This light fixture is a safe option, as it will usually not fall out. Its glass pane diffuses the light around the room in a calm manner. Despite this, humidity can build up so the application is best reserved for places with good insulation.

4. Flush mount lights

A flush fixture is the most common of all modern light fixtures. A half-sphere that slightly protrudes from the ceiling, its appearance is nothing special and it can be found in many styles of buildings from old to new. It is the safest option for lighting fixtures, as nothing hangs down and can be touched.

The flush mount light fitting is best for restaurants with smaller dining rooms. They are mounted on the ceiling surface and allow light to pass through them in pieces, appearing diffused as they filter through the glass.

Their glass coverings come with various refractions and give the same crystal illumination just the same as chandeliers but in a more portable design. Flush mount light fittings can come in various models, one of which is the three-light flush mount fixture that has up to two or more glass shades in different colors that makes the room lighting soft.

5. Semi-flush lights

A semi-flush light is an older style of light. It hangs slightly, and the bulbs are surrounded by a circular enclosure. Reminiscent of the 1950s, it is a versatile and popular style of light for new-age restaurants that want to encapsulate the feeling of the old times. This light fixture makes changing the bulbs easy and has a wide range of sizes.

6. Suspended luminaire (suspension)

A suspended Luminaire appears to be a hanging rectangle made of many other rectangles. This fixture can range from a dull, drab, and bland carrier of light to a beautiful and elegant creation.

When done correctly, it immediately brings a futuristic and post-modern vibe to any room. Some of the suspended Luminaire designs resemble retro 80s fixtures, and some are very minimal and seem to blend into the room seamlessly.

It can either stand out or simply add to a room from the background. Overall, this lighting fixture is one of the more appreciated ones, and rightly so.

7. Surface-mounted luminaire

The surface-mounted Luminaire is a lighting fixture that comes in a wide range of designs. Some of them appear as rectangular fixtures, which hang down very inconspicuously.

Others can take up other shapes like spheres or rounded squares. The application can immediately bring modern air to any building.

My favorite designs of this fixture look like they were created by apple. With its rounded edges and rounded face mounted onto a wall or ceiling, this light can bring a subtle yet energetic feeling to a room.

8. Full room luminous ceiling

This futuristic and post-modern restaurant ceiling lighting fixture, which is installed by cutting the desired shape into the ceiling, can seem like a walk through the air and space museum (or a trip into the alien spacecraft of our childhood fantasies).

The lighting fixture’s appearance is that of a giant fluorescent shape that is built into the ceiling. Such as a glowing white rectangle in the center of a large room’s ceiling, or a sphere that touches the outer rims of the room. This lighting fixture is very similar to lighting fixtures such as the cove except for the full room luminous ceiling explains the difference in its own name.

This fixture is meant to take up most if not all of the room’s area, thus becoming a glowing ceiling, and one of the most beautiful fixtures on this list.

9. Extrusions

An extrusion/tape fixture is another one that when built into the ceiling or wall, has one of the most regal and futuristic looks. It’s similar to the full ceiling lighting fixtures in the way that it is built into the ceiling, but the size is smaller.

Rather than taking up the entire ceiling, it can line the tops of doorways, or create a lighted path from the kitchen to the bedroom. Their installation makes them one of the most minimal, futuristic, and elegant lighting fixtures possible.

Just install them inside of the wall, descending alongside a staircase, and the entire atmosphere of the room changes from typical to very very atypical… in the best way possible.

10. Architectural lighting

Architectural lighting fixtures have three available styles: cove, soffit, and valance, all three of which are integrated into the ceiling of the room.

  • Cove Lighting Fixture: Shaping a large hole in the ceiling, shelf, or ledge creates an architectural cove light. Its appearance is very modern, and the light has a great relaxing mood to it. Cove light fixtures do not hang or take up space, and simply appear as a luminescent circle inside of the ceiling.
  • Soffit Lighting Fixture. A soffit fixture can be seen inside of a soffit or cornice near or hanging from, the ceiling of the room. The light emits downward in a triangular radius downwards and can have a very calming effect if placed correctly. Each lighting fixture has a very mall range of light, so they are usually paired with many others of their kind
  • Valance Lighting Fixture. Valance lighting is put on display using wood, metal, or glass valance. The valance (a horizontal hanging rectangular casing) is very similar in appearance to a semi-flush lighting fixture. They are usually mounted high on the wall, but when placed inside of a recession in the ceiling, the light seems to protrude seamlessly in all directions from the ceiling. The effect is a very regal ambiance of a family member’s birthday dinner at an expensive Italian restaurant, especially when equipped with fluorescent-colored bulbs.

Accenting the important details

Accent lighting is perfect for drawing attention to certain architectural elements of your restaurant.

Type of fixture Purpose Commonly used
Wall sconces (Wallchieres) Highlight elements of the wall Front door, bathroom (as vanity)
Picture lights Highlights a picture on the wall Mounts to the wall
Recessed Highlights Close to focal point on ceilings or floors
Track & Heads Since the lighting head is movable, could be used for creating special effects. Mounts of ceiling or walls. Several tracks could be used to maximize the effect.
Under-Shelf To highlight what is on the shelf. Places inside of the shelf

11. Wall Sconces

What is a Sconce Fixture? Sconces (also called wall lights) are light source fixtures that are meant to be hung on the wall. Wall sconces can be used either inside or outside.

Sconce lights are usually used in pairs to highlight certain features of the wall, like mirrors, doors, paintings, or inline, along a corridor or a long stairway. They are also great for ambient and task lighting.

You can either put them on either side of the desired object (door, for example) or in between three sconces in a row. You can even put this type of wall light on both sides of the fireplace, sofa, armchair, or any kind of furniture.

The scone, typically, denotes a wall bracket that holds within itself a lamp, candle, or some other light source. Popularized in the olden times, these scone fixtures are seen lighting up the mystifying hallways of archaic castles in period movies, presenting themselves by holding torches in their iron-cast bodies.

These typical lighting fixtures are deliberately used in cinema and pictures to symbolize an eerie yet entrancing atmosphere – a quality that has been replaced with the more elegant and modernistic features that scone lights come with today.

While the ancient times held traditional torches, candles, or gas lights in the bodies of scone fixtures, we tend to have electric bulbs attached inside the scone for our source of light. When mounted at a corner, they create a feeling of intimacy in dining settings.

For optimal results, you can pair them with candles for accent lighting. Wall sconces appear as a much more delicate and cultured choice of light, especially in a restaurant.

Wall sconces work to bring a sense of wideness to a room as it offers to light up dark corners that would usually give off the false idea of a small place. Because of its low emission of light, these fixtures double as a more convenient and less restrictive space.

Where should wall sconces be placed? Architects and interior designers primarily use scone light fixtures in hallways or long corridors to add an element of interest accompanied by a source of light.

The placement of scone light fixtures in the middle of hallways ensures that there remains no interference in the movement. However, the placement of sconces is not limited to just hallways and corridors but can be seen in a variety of other areas around the restaurant.

If you keep a chandelier hanging in the middle of the room, you are bound to lose light on specific sides of the room due to light not being distributed proportionally throughout, making wall sconces quite useful.

Wall sconces that are available in the market come in different variations:

  1. Half Moon. This type of scone light fixture is rather small and compact in size, used mainly for the purposes of bringing an accent light to your restaurant. While it does emit a moderate level of light, it is only preferable to use when you want to light up a specific wall and not the entire room with it. Having a number of different styles and designs, the half-moon scone light fixture does add a beautiful touch to your restaurant without being too harsh with other elements in a design.
  2. Lantern Wall Sconce. This brings back the enchanting atmosphere that the traditional wall sconces would hold. Typically placed outside the restaurant in order to provide a source of light added with a rustic quality in decor. These lantern wall sconces are better than others mainly because of how bright their light sources are.
  3. Candle Sconces. Inspired by the 1800s, candle sconces contain an ethereal quality that persists even today. Made of either iron, brass, or wood, these candle sconces are usually placed on the interior of a widely-spaced restaurant. With their slow and flickering light, these bring about an antique sense of romanticism.
  4. Picture Light. In order to represent class, and themes, and also give customers something to talk about or something to keep their eyes busy while they eat, most restaurants can have photos, pictures, and artworks on walls around the dining area. A perfect way to throw some light on these pictures is through the use of picture lights. They are designed to look like long slender pipes that have a cord running from the back of the wall picture to the front just above the piece and have its light focused back on the art. As in interior light fitting, they come in several models that keep getting slimmer and slender to shift more focus on the picture instead of the fitting. Picture lights also come in handy when you need to alert customers on a promo or giveaway.
  5. Wallchieres. The name “Wallchieres” comes from the combination of “wall lamp” and “floor torchiere” lamps. This particular type of wall scone serves as a decorative piece due to its body going through a meticulous process of design. With a lot of details integrated into its outlook, wallchieres are, in simple terms, an amalgamation between wall lamps and floor lamps due to their long and slender figures. Instead of having a floor lamp that will take up walking space, this wall scone can get you the same look and feel. These are typically placed next to large furniture or in bathrooms to give off a unique source of light.

12. Recessed lighting

Recessed lighting comes from a small hole in the ceiling and they send a narrow beam of light to an area that needs to be highlighted. Place it really close to the focus area.

13. Track Lighting and Heads

Track lighting is a light fixture that can be positioned in many directions while on a continuous track and can create many focal points at once. They can also be situated on the beams of the ceiling. This “spotlight on rail” system could create quite interesting effects for your restaurant ambiance. With a more concentrated radius of light, the lighting head can tilt, and rotate to give you the ultimate lighting setup.

14. Under-Shelf

The cousin of the under-cabinet lighting fixture, the under-shelf fixture has a more modern feel to it. It is usually placed on shelves where items will be displayed side by side or in a casing used for a similar feature. These are perfect for rows of items like sunglasses. Within restaurants, these would be placed at the bar where glasses are stacked, or built into the hot plate that carryout orders are left on. It gives a very calm mood, and it doesn’t seem to ask for too much attention.

Creating comfort with task lighting

This lighting provides just the right amount of light covering a particular area.

Type of fixture Purpose Commonly used
Pendants Concentrated light (works best with dark shades) Over tables
Under-cabinet The light-up area below any cabinet For kitchen areas
Lamps Light up any area nearby On small tables

15. Pendants

When used for task lighting, the pendant fixture has the purpose of providing better visibility to accomplish a task, such as illuminating the workstation in a kitchen where the normal preparation of food is done.

A pendant is a very versatile lighting fixture that can be easily used for more precise lighting (like a table in a restaurant). They hang from the ceiling and are situated over tables, countertops, bars, islands, and host areas.

Pendant lightings give their aesthetics, providing moderate lighting, especially for romantic dates. They provide excellent task lighting as they allow customers to see the menu at-a-glance.

When in areas above a kitchen space or dining and reading space, pendant fixtures that are larger in size or have bigger domes will suit better. Pendant domes made with sturdier materials are optimal for precise task lighting.

Pendant lighting can also have finishes that are translucent, such as materials of glass, cloth, or plastic. These finishes offer more dispersed lighting as there is less obstruction from their design. Therefore, for general lighting, open shades or domes made of clear glass seem to be the better option.

16. Under-cabinet

This light is usually present in the kitchen of restaurants or at the front desk, as it has a very playful yet serious tone to it. Installed by drilling a small hold in the ceiling or shelf, it is very unobtrusive and simple. An under-cabinet Lighting fixture can be found in many modern homes, and in kitchens especially.

17. Lamps

Probably the most well-known of all the fixtures, the lamp is very versatile as well as very overlooked and under-utilized.

Upon first thought, a lamp is the last thing any new building owner would think to invite into their post-modern, retro restaurant or office space. Having wall-mounted or hidden fixtures seems to be the first thought of everyone, but what a lamp holds over the rest is something that can change a room on a micro-scale and add up exponentially.

Lamps can be in many different shapes and sizes. Some lamps are made with the appearance of a quartz rock or elegant geometrical shapes. Some resemble people, and other places or common things. From corny to absolutely breathtaking, lamps are foundational. One of the other benefits of lamps is simply, that they can be moved. If one is in the way or a hazardous situation arises, the lamp will not become an issue. Lamps are also categorized by their location ie. floor, table, etc. They are by far the most versatile lighting fixtures.

Creating “magic” with outdoors lights

Outdoor light fixtures are uniquely designed to withstand all-year-round weather, but their durability depends on your restaurant’s geographic location and where you want to place your exterior lights. These fixtures should be specifically designed for the outdoor environment.

Do not experiment! Excess moisture can easily damage your fixture and create an unsafe environment.

Type of fixture Purpose Commonly used
Ceiling Fans Illumination & air movement Porch
Post Lanterns Illumination and atmosphere Walkways, Driveways
Wall Washer Illumination and Highlights Walls
Recessed Illumination and Highlights Great for landscape accent

18. Ceiling Fans

Ceiling Fans are great for outdoor patios and create the circulation of air throughout. This is another lighting fixture that can be mistakenly overlooked, as everyone has seen them many times throughout their lives.

They definitely stop being special once it hits you for the fifth time in one sitting. Childhood aside, the ceiling fan can be used to display regal beauty and breathtaking magnificence built of glass and diamond, or it can be a simple wood stick that spins around.

Regardless of which side of the fence it lays on, the ceiling fan is usually equipped with a light, making it, more often than not, a lighting fixture. Cooling down a room while also applying some soft ambient light?

Sounds like a plan. Adding these to your room will ensure everybody feels at home. As long as it isn’t decked in diamonds that is.

19. Post Lanterns

Post lanterns immediately grab the guests and bring them on a trip back to old-time England, America during the revolutionary war, and wherever harry potter is from. Their appearance must be burned into the subconscious of every human on earth by now.

Long loved and treasured by grandparents everywhere, the post lantern is a classic standing light fixture.

Halfway between a small streetlight and a lantern, this fixture would be on either side of a gated mansion that Scooby-Doo, foolishly, decided to investigate. Their place inside a restaurant would be touchy if it weren’t a vintage old-time décor.

But if done right, they can add just the right amount of vintage record crackle to a room.

20. Wall Washer

Used often inside public and state buildings, wall washing is a technique for illuminating large surfaces. It can create an awesome and dignified look in any room!

It’s used often in landscaping, especially in-state / government-run procedures. It’s never the first choice only because it is truly expensive but can single-handedly take a room from unnoticeable to unforgettable.

21. Recessed

This type of lighting can gently highlight the walls of your establishment with a beautiful and even flow.

Playing it safe (emergency and utility lighting)

Of course, no one wants to think that anything bad is going to happen, and it probably will not. But you always need to be prepared for an emergency. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

Type of fixture Purpose Commonly used
Utility General Lighting Great for kitchen and storage areas
Emergency Lighting Emergency assistance Should be placed to illuminate escape routes

22. Utility

Utility lighting is a very common type of lighting fixture, which has been present for many, many years. Its appearance is that of a long rectangle.

Installed simply into the ceiling, this light fixture has the advantage of a hidden look, but a disadvantage of a very stale look. It’s a no-nonsense light fixture and emits a very bright and long-traveling light.

23. Emergency Lighting

In order to comply with state building and fire codes, insurance standards, etc, you will need to have emergency lights.  The main two types of emergency lights are:

  1. In the form of “EXIT” signs. They should be placed above doors and working all the time.
  2. Special emergency lights that run on batteries in case of power shortage. Those should be placed around exit areas and walkways that lead to them. These lights will only be powered in case of an emergency.

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Attention! This article is for informational purposes ONLY and is NOT a replacement for a professional advice! All statements, prices, contact information, recommendations, and reviews contained herein are based on the information we believe to be reliable, but the accuracy or completeness thereof is not guaranteed. You will need to visit company's website for details and updates, as well as consult your local specialist for appropriate solution to your problem..


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