Finding the right decor for your restaurant can be almost as important as the menu. Adding some artwork can really bring the place together and give it that extra bit of wow factor.

While it is your choice, there may be some pieces that don’t work very well. You want your restaurant to do well and look good, so putting some thought or research into the artwork you choose can make a big difference.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Sourcing Artwork For Your Restaurant

One of the biggest questions any restauranteur will have is “how do I find the right artwork?” Typically, your interior designer should be sourcing the artwork from local stores, or better yet, local artists. Some of that is covered below. Aside from this, depending on how high end your restaurant is, you may want to use an art buyer who can source original fine art for your restaurant. This can not only elevate the feel of the restaurant but will give your patrons another unique feature to tell their friends about.

Color Theme

Modern bar interior

You don’t need to be a fine dining place to take a bit of pride in the decor and artwork. Finding a few nice pieces that accentuate your color theme can really bring out certain aspects of your wallpaper, your upholstery or even your dishes and even uniforms.

Try to find artwork that is going to highlight the lest dominant color in your place. If you have blue upholstery, say, with small accents in another color, find artwork that will highlight the lesser colors.

Food Themes

Artistically drawn or painted pictures of food that you serve or reasonable likeness is abstract can encourage people to order those items. If you are an Italian place, have interesting and even actual pictures of your food. People do it all the time, anyhow.

You could also have paintings of wine, cheese, wheat fields, fruit and vegetables. It’s a nice way to advertise your menu and still have interesting pieces of artwork on display.

If tomato sauce is a major item you use, there are plenty of ways you could use tomatoes, the color red and pictures of prepared food to display your menu and still make the artwork, work.

art-for-restaurants-2

Locations

It’s also nice to have landscapes or pictures of certain locations or historical sites for your artwork. A Chinese food place can have pictures of the region the food originates or a Mediterranian place could have olive trees, locations in exotic locations and images of white buildings and the sea.

Even older pictures of what your building used to be, how the street looked when the city was first built and other historical pictures of the neighborhood are always interesting to locals and newcomers, alike.

Artist Theme

If you have an Italian restaurant, images of Italy or prints from the old masters can really add a nice bit of class and sophistication to your room. You can find prints for a very reasonable price and they would definitely add to the decor and theme.

Your Own Theme

If you are a sports pub or casual restaurant, you can get fun or funny artwork to fit the theme you have going. Pictures of local sports figures, sports memorabilia, jerseys, baseball cards, or artifacts that add to the flavor of the place.

Maybe your restaurant boasts ‘home cooking’. Pictures of family dinners, a Norman Rockwell-type of artwork or even a collection you may have that was done by your own family.

Empty cafe or bar interior, daytime

Support Local Artists

Many restaurants rotate their artwork by allowing local artists to display their own work for a limited time. It’s a great way to get free artwork, get people interested in their local artists, and help out someone who could likely really use it.

Rotating the artwork, say every month is also interesting to your regular customers and they will often come back just to see what’s new. It can give them a great opportunity to showcase their work and give you an ever-changing decor.

Things to Avoid

While it is up to you, using artwork that has overly heavy religious themes, war depictions, and other acts of violence are not often recommended. You honestly never know what might set people off or offend them.

Pictures that show animals can be nice but not if they are actually offered on the menu. People often find this upsetting. You also would likely want to avoid cutesy pictures of kittens or puppies. They are fun but better suited for a place for children, not a restaurant.

Pictures that show gore, blood, and other acts that are of a violent nature should also be avoided. People want to see nice images and while they are not there for the artwork, you do not want to put them off their meals with upsetting images.

Artwork Matters

Of course, whatever you decide to do is up to you. Just have fun with it and be aware people will get offended and want to express an opinion, even where it isn’t needed.

Preston Zeller


Preston Zeller is an abstract artist, entrepreneur, and founder of Zellerhaus Art. His creative endeavors span music, film, design, photography, and publishing.

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