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In the fast-paced world of modern restaurant design, where sleek minimalism and cutting-edge technology can so easily take centre stage, there’s something truly captivating about the timeless charm of heritage interiors. The allure of a restaurant full of character, sympathetic decorative details transporting patrons to another era; creating a warm and inviting atmosphere that sets the stage for a memorable dining experience. Let’s delve into the magic of heritage decor and explore how it can make modern restaurants shine…

The right design can evoke nostalgia for times gone by, offering a sense of comfort and familiarity that resonates with people of all ages. Whether it’s the cosy ambiance of a 1920s speakeasy, the retro vibe of a mid-century diner, or the elegance of a Victorian-era tearoom, each period carries its own unique charm.

Our Top Tips: 

We always recommend researching the history of the building that your restaurant or bar is in; understand its previous life & celebrate its heritage by restoring and respecting features throughout the design. 

  1. Focus on Key Elements: Once you’ve established your theme, focus on incorporating key design elements that are in keeping with this era/theme such as furniture, lighting, colours, and accessories. Like this bar design for 1000 Trades new venue in Bearwood, located in the beautiful Stately home at Lightwoods Park, we selected furniture, fabrics and fixings that spoke to the building’s Georgian heritage. It required a conservation consent for the bar and restaurant. 

2. Mix Old with New: While classical decor is the focal point, it’s important to balance it with modern amenities for functionality and comfort with the interior design. Integrate contemporary technology, comfortable seating, and efficient kitchen equipment seamlessly into the vintage setting. 

3. Create an Authentic Atmosphere in the restaurant and bar design: Pay attention to details to create an authentic atmosphere. Use wallpaper, signage, and artwork inspired by your chosen era to set the mood. Sourcing vintage photographs, original posters, and memorabilia can also add character and storytelling to your space.

4. Play with Textures and Materials in your restaurant design: Experiment with textures and materials to add depth and visual interest to your decor. Incorporate elements like reclaimed wood, distressed metals, plush upholstery, and patterned or embroidered fabrics to evoke a sense of history and warmth.

5. Lighting is Key: Lighting plays a crucial role in setting the ambiance. Opt for soft, warm lighting to create a cosy atmosphere reminiscent of old-aged candle-lit pubs and bars. Using fixtures like Edison bulbs, sconces, and chandeliers will enhance the nostalgic vibe.

6. Personalise the Space: Make your restaurant feel unique by adding personal touches. Select items that speak to your chosen theme, for example displaying vintage cookbooks or antique kitchen gadgets to arouse a sense of authenticity and charm. 

The Benefits of Vintage Decor


  1. Distinctive Identity: Restaurants with some kind of heritage influence stand out in a sea of modern eateries, offering a distinctive identity that attracts customers seeking a unique dining experience.
  2. Warm and Inviting Atmosphere: The cosy and nostalgic ambiance of characterful restaurant design creates a welcoming environment where customers feel comfortable and relaxed.
  3. Storytelling and Engagement: Heritage design sparks conversations and engages customers by evoking memories and nostalgia, fostering a sense of connection and community in your restaurant.

Timeless Appeal: Unlike trendy design fads that come and go, classical design has a timeless appeal that transcends generations, ensuring longevity for your restaurant’s aesthetic

In conclusion, the timeless charm of vintage interiors has the power to elevate modern restaurants and create memorable dining experiences. By infusing nostalgic elements into your space, you can transport your customers to another era, creating a unique experience and talking points whilst offering comfort, warmth and familiarity. So, whether you’re opening a retro-inspired diner, a bistro, tearoom, wine bar or a cosy pub, embrace the magic of classical design and watch your restaurant shine.


If you would like to discuss heritage design project in your hospitality or office space feel free to get in touch

Catherine Jones

Author Catherine Jones

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