Looking to take your bar or restaurant to new levels of cool? Thinking of a sophisticated new color palette? Or an all-out hedonistic playground that draws tons of new clientele? Oh, and are you looking to pull it all off on a shoestring budget? We’ve got you covered.

Whether temporary or permanent; other-worldly or subtle. Decorating your establishment and giving it a distinct theme is a great way of creating an environment that stands out from others in your area while providing easy entertainment for your customers – in addition to everything else your place has to offer. Get the ultimate bang for your buck by incorporating a few killer ideas into your layout.

We’ve put together some must-try themes and decoration ideas that are sure to increase foot traffic and create plenty of word-of-mouth interest in your bar or restaurant. Check out our list below:

1. Make a permanent style statement

A red studio light being used in Kraken Bar Helsinki to add ambience to the room.
Kraken Bar, Helsinki 

Start with quality lighting. Make sure your patrons can see where they’re going at all times while adding some strobes or neon bulbs around the dancefloor and low-traffic areas.

Depending on the style of bar you're going for, décor is an essential component of crafting your brand. If you're located in a venue that features exposed brick and low ceilings, maybe you want to try a cool hipster vibe: antique furniture, vintage prints, and intimate, low lighting. Or, if you want something more high-energy to match your high ceilings and concrete floors, loud and garish colors splattered on the walls pair nicely with some disco balls and a thumping sound system. These are permanent fixes that will stand the test of time while giving your space some serious charisma.

2. ... or a statement for every season

Bar decorated for a Halloween theme.

For a more temporary style upgrade, shoot for a revolving door of theme ideas that incorporate dates on the calendar: keep it spooky by adding a fog machine and some haunted house-style décor around Halloween. If you've got multimedia equipment and plan on hosting an annual TV event, make it truly unique. Host a Superbowl viewing party, complete with sports décor for the walls and football uniforms for the staff. Or do the same for the Oscars and incorporate a red carpet from the door to the bar. Swap out the existing wall décor for vintage film posters and easy-to-find old Hollywood-style memorabilia.

If your bar is in a year-round warm climate, make the theme a literal extension of the weather – bring in some sandbags and limbo poles and host a weekend-long beach party. Or, aim for a nautical or underwater vibe complete with a bubble machine and singing fish plaques on the wall to really stand out.

3. Soundproofing, but make it fashion

If you’ve got an awesome live venue or karaoke bar that you want to grow into the ultimate place to be, adding some soundproofing to your space is not only a great idea, but it can also give your building interiors a seriously cool visual upgrade. From echo absorbers to ceiling-mounted baffles, the options for surround sound-quality flow are plenty. Turn sound panels into works of art – like some of the options seen here. Foam acoustic panels also look really cool when secured to a wall, and they can be pulled off for very cheap.

Cotton used on the ceiling of a bar to look like clouds and add sound-proofing.
Källarn Bar

Best of all, if your bar is within earshot of neighbors who might not love the noise, soundproofing is a courteous addition that will endear you to everyone –– which is always a nice touch.

4. Cater to the flow of your venue

Karaoke room created from the extra space in Sing Sing bar Gothenburg.
Sing Sing, Gothenburg 

If you’re thinking of an inexpensive overhaul of your bar’s current theme, don’t get too carried away with changing everything (it’s easy to do, we know). For example, you can add new activities, games, and competitive socializing opportunities for your customers. The idea here is to add things that will keep your customers in the venue for longer and add new life the venue. Spring for a pool table, some dart boards, and/or a karaoke room.

5. Party in the bathroom

It may sound silly but having an awesomely decked-out front-of-house means nothing if the bathrooms are a dump. Chances are, everybody coming in to patronize your restaurant or bar will need to use the facilities at some point – so keep the flow of décor going right to the toilets. Because these rooms are typically smaller to update, they can be a simple renovation task.

Make it a theme: for example, if you’ve got an 80’s-inspired arcade bar, incorporate some cheesy electronics and neon lighting into the bathroom settings. Or, if you’re restaurant has a minimalist vibe, throw down some gleaming white tiles – bottom to ceiling – and add some low-cost brass taps and fixtures. You can even consider having a local street artist come in to display their work.

Bathroom street art with kawaii aesthetic.

Whatever the look, people love a good bathroom. And if it’s a bathroom that has a distinct personality, customers will likely take a bunch of selfies and share them with the world, making your space an unofficial must-see destination.

6. Party on the patio

Bar patio with a variety of plants.

If you’re building is zoned for it (and your bar is not situated in the North Pole) a patio makes everything better. And contrary to popular belief, they can be pulled off safely and effectively for relatively low costs. Extend your interior theme outdoors by adding flourishes and décor that matches. Plants are always a great outdoor investment (stick to those that don’t require too much TLC) and make any space – even if your patio is an extension of a parking lot – feel a bit homier.

7. Show your spirit

Alcohol being used to decorate the back of a bar in Vox Box, UK
Vox Box, Hull

A simple and effective décor idea that is always in style (and cheap to execute) is rejigging your bar area to display all your liquors. Not only does it create a colorful mosaic that fits against any backdrop, while also bringing in some additional personality and creative flare but showing your arsenal of spirits lets customers know that your bartenders can create any cocktail on the fly.

8. To booth or not to booth?

A booth in a gastropub.

What is it about a booth in a bar or restaurant that makes eager patrons flock to them? We don’t know – maybe it’s the comfy factor? Or the intimacy that the plump and cozy seating creates? It’s kind of like an at-home feeling – without the home. Whatever the reason, booths are a hot commodity in any hospitality setting. And not only that, but they are also relatively inexpensive to order and easy to install.

There you have it! Some totally awesome décor ideas to build into your bar or restaurant. Update your space with low-cost touches that exude personality and create conversation, and you should start to see your sales figures climb higher and higher.