5 Pub Design Tips To Help Boost Business

Fionuala Lennon of The Pub Design Company offers five successful design tips that she says will attract more customers and help boost your business.  With over 25 years in the Pub Design business, Fionuala and her team have designed over 100 venues many of them hugely successful and they are still going strong. They have designed and advised all kinds of hospitality businesses from schemes for small pubs to full design concepts.



Many people decide whether to go into a Pub by assessing it’s external appearance. This is a subconscious process which is based on many criteria. If you get the first impression right, it can make a big difference. Personally, I want to feel comfortable walking in somewhere. I don’t want to feel intimidated so the more welcoming and well presented the frontage is, the better.

  • Use colour effectively. You can’t go wrong with bright and cheerful colours or a well chosen combination of colours. Stand out from the rest. Modern doctors and psychiatrists have proven that colours have a vital effect on our happiness.
  • Clear Signage. Be clear about the pubs message. For example; if the pub is well known for live music, create a sign, a feature or notice board which makes this clear. Gable ends are a huge opportunity to tell potential customers what your unique selling point is. Make sure all signage is well lit.
  • Flowers and plants. Flowers are music to a shopfront. They make people smile. The more flowing they are, the happier a Pub will look. Use a permanent watering system on a timer which comes on at night so that the water has drained away by morning. Choose flower colours that compliment the shopfront colours.
  • Declutter and Maintain. Get rid of all stickers and unwanted signage. Create a notice board in the lobby for info sheets. If notices have to go in the window then get a simple A4 black frame and sit it in the window like a picture. Keep the frontage clean and tidy and always have a pot of paint to touch up any chips or scratches.


These service stations at The Hudson Rooms, Liffey Valley, Dublin, are discreet and uncluttered. Designed by: The Pub Design Company



Sometimes Pubs and Bars have quite male environments and women can perceive this atmosphere as unwelcoming and sometimes intimidating. Often owners are unaware of this and can be missing out on an opportunity to attract female customers. Women make decisions quickly on whether they like a place. It is well known in the industry that it is usually the woman who makes the decision on where to go on a night out. If Pubs are more female friendly then business can undoubtedly be improved.


[vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]What puts women off: 

  • Dark, masculine unwelcoming shopfront
  • Pool tables
  • Too many sports pictures
  • Unattractive toilets
  • Line of men standing at the entrance smoking cigarettes

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]What women want:

  • Clean and smart fabrics on seating
  • Good lighting – not too bright, not too dark
  • A warm welcome
  • Warm water in the toilets for washing hands
  • Good lighting at the bathroom mirrors for make-up
  • Hook on the back of the toilet door for a handbag (Toilets are so important!)




Do you have something fun, original, a piece of heritage or an unusual quirky feature that will get people taking selfies? With the rise in social media and the fact that 86% of Irish people own or have access to a smartphone, a selfie spot can be a game changer for a pub.

In our recent design at Butler and Barry Gastropub we designed a swing in the shape of a birdcage located where it has a spectacular view over Bray seafront. This has become their selfie spot (by design). The name in the background becomes part of the shot and when it is shared on social media it broadcasts the brand and the fun atmosphere of the venue. And a selfie feature doesn’t have to be inside the Pub – it could be at the front of the building or in the beer garden – a statue, a vehicle or a floral extravagance, anything for a Selfie!


Now that food service is becoming so important in many Pubs we have to look at how we cater for food while retaining a Pub atmosphere.

Open kitchens are very on trend. Customers have more confidence in the food offer when they can see it being prepared. In London we saw bar and restaurant open kitchens with as much thought and money put into their design as the interior of the bar. They had beautiful tiles, custom metalwork canopies and counters that felt like bar counters. Kitchens can be designed to appear to be open but actually they are behind glass – this can help with controlling smells. A well ventilated system is important so the pub doesn’t smell like a restaurant.

Service stations should be discreet and uncluttered – drawers work well to hide items. We recently used old dressers and painted them up and aged them a little – a great, inexpensive way to create a service area. Square or rectangular tables rather than round are more flexible for dining as they can be pushed together. Table layout info for staff should also be small and discreet. If it has to go on the wall then put it in a nice frame.



If you can have different offers from day to night you can maximise profits. What is the chameleon effect? Like the reptile, the pubs’ surroundings can be easily adapted or changed to blend in with the ambiance and atmosphere required to suit the particular offer that is being presented at that particular time. Different offers require different set ups.

The Chameleon Effect can be achieved with the following:

  • Adaptable lighting to change atmosphere and ambiance. It must be consistent and managed well.
  • Stage areas can be invisible during the day by being used for seating and then exposed at night to reveal a backdrop.
  • TV’s can be off and/or hidden during the day. Some pubs only turn theirs on for Sports events.
  • Spaces can be divided or opened up using curtains, moving walls or pivoting /folding/sliding doors.
  • Timber blackboards or painted signs can be double sided so messages can be flipped at appropriate times.


There is a TV Hidden behind this mirror in O’Reilly’s in Dusseldorf. Design by: The Pub Design Company

For more tips on Pub Design visit www.thepubdesigncompany.com

This feature first appeared in the November/December 2017 issue of VFI Voice

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