<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=245259201272885&amp;ev=PageView%20&amp;noscript=1">

Café & Restaurant
Outdoor Space Design

A guide to creating an authentic outdoor
dining experience for Australian customers.

Outdoor dining, with the Australian climate, is a customer magnet. Utilise space that is unused that will capture more business than your competitors. Leverage your location and design a space that people will strive to occupy, as well as spend more time and more money at.

Want to know how to improve your bottom line? Let’s take a dive into how you can recover your restaurant's unused space to create memorable, authentic dining experiences. Keep reading to find out more about how to grow your hospitality business with strategic shade solutions.



Take this page

Interested in Cafe & Restaurant design? 



Find the best commercial umbrella for your Cafe or Restaurant

Try our Umbrella Selector

Custom Branded Umbrella Case Study

Ironhand Winebar in Southbend, Indiana took steps to address their outdoor space, adding cantilever umbrellas with custom branding.
Not only expanding their dining area but marketing activities. 




  • box_cafe_DJI_0025
  • sqq
  • jeffery-jew
  • _DMM5939
  • unity-umbrellas-restaurant
  • Jeff-jew-lingr-square

Grow your business with an outdoor space

Increase customer spend

No one likes a queue. You're getting impatient and irritated and there are still 4 people in front of you. You then move on to another establishment. This could also happen to your customer.

Limiting your seating options will limit the number of people you can have on-site, enjoying your food and spending their money. 

Improve online ratings

Customers love to fill up the outdoor seating first, it's away from the noise of the kitchen and coffee machine and closer to nature.. Australian's love to dine outdoors. Who wouldn't with our weather! Customers who have a good experience are more inclined to leave a review of your business.

Grow social shares

A strong, influential social media presence is key in today's customer decision making. Wanting to experience a restaurant or cafe after someone you know has shared a photo and given it a big thumbs up.

Spend some energy researching your competitor's social media presence, what's working for them and what can you learn from their successes and missteps.  This will help you create a strong following that will visit and talk about your great establishment.

Create and outdoor space that's conducive to taking and sharing photos - mood lighting, good shade and a complementary colour palette. It's also worth investing in creative outdoor dining features such as a drinks bar or an outdoor pizza oven. 

  • headquarters_P1100543
  • kai
  • box_cafe_P1100355
  • unity-umbrellas-restaurant
  • coffee
  • jeffery-jew

How to design a successful
Australian outdoor dining space

We’ve put together practical design tips to bring your brand-new-money-spinner to life.

The focus is going to be on function, comfort and profit. We're passionate about hospitality and helping proprietors so they can focus on great service, great food and great drinks.

Step 1: Find your who and your why

Look at your outdoor space and analyse it’s potential. Identify who your ideal patron is and what are they looking for. Do you need space for a band, or different seating options for people who need to lounge? Is your outdoor space going to be used for a specific segment of your clientele?

Determining who and what type of activities that will be taking place within the space is an important first step as it will direct the entire exterior design. Once you’ve defined who is going to use the space and what they are going to use it for, you can focus on the atmospheric elements that will assist in creating a memorable experience for your guests.

Step 2: Mood boards and creative choices

Once you’ve got clarity on how you want to use your space, it’s time to gather inspiration. Don’t be tempted to ignore your current interior design choices when moving into the outdoor realm. Consistency is important when designing any hospitality space so think about the fixings you have, your current colour palette, the atmosphere you’ve created indoors and how you want it to flow outdoors.

Visiting other hospitality venues that inspire you is a great way to get a sense of what you like and what you don’t like in a space. Searching online through Pinterest, Instagram and Google Images is a great way of finding designs that move you. Print media is still thriving, so pick yourself up a few design magazines to sink your teeth into. This 3-layered approach gives yourself a chance to explore all your options.

Throughout this phase, you will start to see trends appear in the inspiration you’ve pulled. It might be a colour scheme, a certain style, textures, patterns, materials or an overall ‘buzz’ you can’t quite put into words. Whatever it is, be sure to keep this at the forefront of your design choices. Create a mood board that expresses your design aesthetic and your overall look and feel. 

Step 3: Understand the significance of colour

Colour is a powerful tool in any design arsenal. Colour can improve moods, sway thinking, increase appetite and affect the energy in a space. Think about how you want your guests to feel. How can you inject colour into your outdoor area to influence and amplify these emotions?

Do you want your space to feel fresh and vibrant?
Bright colours such as yellows and oranges can bring this to life by elevating moods and make your customers feel happier. People tend to indulge more when they are feeling happy than when they are calm or sad.

Do you want to increase your average spend per head?
Consider the colour red. Red can increase appetite as it drives up blood pressure and increases heart rate. Try mixing it into your table settings or in large pieces or artwork. As a shading solution, consider red umbrellas, shade sails or awnings. Red is an eye-catching colour so try to use it in a big way if you can as it can drive more street traffic to your business.

If warm tones don’t fit your vibe, cool tones in the right shade can have a similar effect. Green is a colour associated with health, wealth and abundance. Tropical plants paired with a splash of turquoise can invoke the care-free feeling felt when on holiday, causing your guests to splurge more and spend more time. 

We've supplied plenty of outdoor solutions to hospitality businesses around the globe and we're well positioned to now help you come up with the best ideas to create a space that generates income, improves your business and of course, looks excellent. We're here to help you create a consistent, memorable experience for your patrons. 


Step 4: Leverage lighting

Photographers will tell you the most important part of the image is the lighting. This rings true for your outdoor project too. With the right lighting strategy, you can create ambience and enhance your customer's dining experience (you’ll make it easier for your guests to snap a few shots for social media too).

When planning your lighting strategy, you will need a mix of ambient lighting to allow people to see and navigate through your outdoor space, task lighting for your staff members to complete certain functions and accent lighting to create drama, opulence and highlight focal points in your outdoor space.

Creative ways you can use lighting is with fairy lights, fire pits, outdoor heaters, menu boards, water features, lanterns, candles, string lighting and signage.

Step 5: Shade from the sun, shelter from the rain

If we’re being practical, you will need to consider comfort for all weather conditions.  Your customers will need shade from the sun during the daytime, warmth from the cold during the night-time and protection from the rain, any time.

Think of your shade solution as an investment. You might spend more at first, but your returns will be better in the long term with less replacement and maintenance costs. Be cautious of cheap products which may look great for the first 6 months but deteriorate soon afterwards.

We’ve curated a list of the Top 6 shading solutions available. Read below to find out which shading option would best suit your space.

Step 6: The details

Tables and chairs.  Salt and pepper.  Entrées and Mains. There are lots of little details that go into creating the perfect dining experience in the perfect outdoor space.

The key ingredient is consistency. We’ve talked about this in the previous steps. It’s imperative to create a space where all parts work together. Your staff and customers will appreciate it even if they don’t notice it.

Don’t forget to test and measure once you’re ready to launch, if something’s not working don’t be afraid to modify it, all it could take is shifting one table to improve your numbers.




Your free Catalogue: 



6 outdoor shade solutions

Choosing the right outdoor shade solution is important, you’ve got to ensure you can look after your guests all day long, creating a space that’ll shelter them from the midday sun and the odd shower that comes through.

Outdoor Restaurant Umbrellas - With a commercial umbrella you are assured or a solid investment.  As far as shade structures go, a heavy duty umbrella can enhance your venues aesthetic. Cantilever umbrellas are a quality product built for the hospitality industry, they’re available in any colour and can be provided with custom branding. The canopy fabric provides UV protection all day long. A grey cantilever umbrella can offer a subtle shade solution (pictured right) or a black umbrella with a centre pole can create a dynamic looking space. Check out these instant shade umbrellas that deploy in seconds.

Pergola - This is an elegant four-piece structure, but the roof is constructed with rafters, so they aren’t ideal for shading on their own. Pergolas work best when paired with an outdoor umbrella and some shrubbery for full, safe shade. As pictured right, this type of open pergola structured would need additional shade support to block out the sun's UV rays or rain.

Fabric canopy - These are mounted on a four-pole structure, anchored to the deck and can be retracted when shade is not necessary. Because this is a semi-permanent structure, it may not be a good fit for all spaces.

Trees and plants - Natural shade from trees or tall plants is not always a quick fix and requires regular maintenance. You can create a natural feel to your space but they’re best paired with another shade solution when designing your space. As pictured right, dining underneath the shade of a tree look s picturesque can also be a hazard for diners due to falling branches and foliage.

Shade sail - A shade sail is triangular-shaped and suspended overhead. Popular with schools and shared spaces, they’re a permanent fixture that can be hard to clean and maintain.

Awnings - Attached to the wall, Awnings are good for keeping out of the way, but their size and internal mechanics make them expensive to maintain and replace. They work when you are require shade along the side of the building, but not if you are wanting to shade your entire outdoor space.



Read our blog: The Best Commercial Umbrellas for Bars, Cafes & Restaurants


The benefits of using a specialist supplier to help you create the space


Creating an outdoor space doesn’t have to be overwhelming, there are plenty of online resources you can use to narrow your focus, including this one.

Our key suggestion is to approach your space with a quality-first mindset, which will push you above and beyond the competition. Don’t risk purchasing cheap outdoor furniture and fixings from local hardware stores or in bulk from low-quality manufacturers.

The allure will always be there to save on upfront costs but that can be detrimental to the look and feel of your space. Nothing is worse than spending money on a revamp only to investigate your competitors’ space and realising you’ve brought the same cheap tables and umbrellas as them and now your spaces look the same.

Consistency is key to great spaces

Shade is essential to the design of your product; without it you won’t have enough available space for it to generate significant profits. There are plenty of options that will create the perfect ‘outdoor room’ to keep your guests happy and spending.

Remember to maintain consistency throughout your establishment, it’s vital that the look-and-feel of your establishment is maintained throughout, from the soap to the ceiling paint. It’s all about the experience for your customers.


Looking for shade solutions?

Fill in the form to request a call back from one of our shade experts