When you start your coffee shop, you want it to truly shine. But how can you stand out in an industry dominated by large brands such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts when you have a limited budget? There are ways to make your mark on your community and bring people back just in the design of your café.
7 Low Budget Café Design Ideas are:
- Keep your setup minimalist and clean.
- Create a statement with statement pieces.
- Create a vibe with antiques.
- Use inspiration from the outdoors.
- Inspire your regulars with some inspiring typography.
- Shine a light on the subject with new light fixtures.
- Use your surroundings and incorporate your architecture.
There are many ways to get the look you want without breaking the bank, and you can gain inspiration from the ideas below. Save your pennies by comparing the following design ideas or come up with your own after seeing what you can do with less.
1. Keep your setup minimalist and clean.
An ongoing trend in coffee shops and other smaller cafés is keeping things minimalist. Embrace the idea that less is more through your design, and you can keep your budget low while keeping your area clean and functional. Clutter can not only overwhelm you, but it can overwhelm your customers. Leaning into not having an excessive number of decorations can invoke the feeling of calm, cleanliness, and productivity, which many people will want when they visit a coffee shop, especially when working on various projects or even meeting with friends.
2. Create a statement with statement pieces.
If you like the minimalist design, you can lean into that style while also making a statement by including some statement pieces into your décor. Using unique seating, tables, or even wall art can make your coffee shop pop. Like the image, you can try to find some sort of unique tables or stools to create a statement piece. Try shopping at your local Ikea if you’re looking for something more minimalist, or try a local place if you want to stay with someone in your community. You never know what kind of deals and networking you can achieve when you focus on local businesses. If you’re of the enterprisingly creative sort, you can also try your hand at making your own—not only does it save money, but you can turn a statement piece into a conversation piece.
3. Create a vibe with antiques.
Straying from the minimalist design, you may be the type to enjoy an antique piece of furniture more than those you’d find at a big box store. If you want to easily create a homey vibe but also stay on the inexpensive side of things, try mismatching your seating with antiques. Head out to an antique shop or mall, find some local garage sales, or hit a local flea market. You never know what treasures you might find!
4. Use inspiration from the outdoors.
If you’re not into the minimalist look and you don’t think antiques will fit into your coffee shop décor, consider bringing inspiration from the outdoors. If you have a garden or if someone you know has a flower garden, this décor could be free for you—all you need are enough vases to cover your café in seasonal blooms. If you’re looking for more vases, you could collect some from your local consignment shop, flea markets, or garage sales—and don’t worry about them matching. The mismatched look is “in,” and it makes your shop appear homier and more lived in. That feeling of casual safety will bring people coming back and wanting more.
5. Inspire your regulars with some inspiring typography.
If you’re looking for some easy art for your walls, look no further than the inspiring quotes and phrases. While some might think it’s trite or overplayed, finding the right quote can really show your customers who you are as a company and what your values are. You could even make it a promotional contest, allowing your customers to pick what to decorate your business with. In terms of actually putting it up, you have tons of options, whether it’s hand painted art in a frame, stickers you can purchase online, or painting directly onto your wall. Regardless of how you place your quotes, just make sure they’re good ones!
6. Shine a light on the subject with new light fixtures.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good light fixture! They can make or break your budget and your coffee shop’s look. Depending on what you’re going for, you can change the entire vibe of your shop with a simple light fixture, whether it’s something simple to go with your minimalist vibe or something more antique to show off the natural beauty of your old building. Like previous décor ideas, try your local shops to see what they might be selling, or try those garage sales again!
7. Use your surroundings and incorporate your architecture.
Compared to the other choices, this may seem like a no-brainer. Utilizing what you already have built into your coffee shop and making it shine as is may be one of the easiest ways to create a low budget décor set up for your coffee shop. Whether it’s colors that already exist on your walls or using wood and bringing those textures throughout your entire set up, using what you already have and making it part of your brand will only help you in the long run both market yourself in the style you want and create a statement without breaking the bank.
While you have many inexpensive options to furnish your coffee shop, you have the opportunity to network with other shops in your area when you visit or even purchase from their stores. Consignment shops, garage sales, estate sales, flea markets, and antique stores are all great places to find not only older pieces, but new ones, as well. If you’re interested in looking for your décor online, you can try sites like Ikea, HomeGoods, or Wayfair. If you have some in your area, you can check out a discount store such as Big Lots or TJ Maxx.
Comparing the different styles may be hard to choose from, but in the end, you know your shop and your target demographic. Pick not only what you think they would like, but what you like—and what best represents your shop, your mission statement, and your goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Attracting new customers to your coffee shop means you have to do something better than the competitors. For instance, you could update your menu, provide more takeaway items, and offer promotions or discounts. You can also make your physical shop stand out with some minor updates to your décor. Broaden your appeal to several different generations through your marketing, which should always include both social media and physical marketing. Focus on working with the community to get good press from those who want to improve your area. Click here for more suggestions on bringing in more business.
Because the initial investment into a coffee shop can be very high, you can expect to make about $10,000 a year before you pay off your loans and equipment. After that initial investment is paid off, most independently owned coffee shops make about $60,000 per year. We examine more details about the profitability of coffee shops in this article.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun
My adventure in coffee began when I first launched my first coffee shop back in the early 2000s. I had to figure out so many things on my own and to make it worse within 2 years of opening two large corporate coffee chains moved in just blocks away from me!
As I saw smaller and even some larger coffee shops in the neighborhood slowly lose customers to these giant coffee chains and slowly close up shop, I knew that I had to start getting creative…or go out of business.
I (like you may be) knew the coffee industry well. I could make the best latte art around and the foam on my caps was the fluffiest you have ever seen. I even had the best state-of-the-art 2 group digital Nuova Simonelli machine money could buy. But I knew that these things alone would not be enough to lure customers away from the name brand established coffee shops.
Eventually, through lots of trial and error as well as perseverance and creativity I did find a way to not only survive but also thrive in the coffee/espresso industry even while those corporate coffee chains stayed put. During those years I learned to adapt and always faced new challenges. It was not always easy, however, in the end, I was the sole survivor independent coffee shop within a 10-mile radius of my location. Just two corporate coffee chains and I were left after that year. All told the corporate coffee chains took down over 15 small independent coffee shops and kiosks and I was the last one standing and thriving.
Along the years I meet others with the same passion for coffee and I quickly learned that it is not only “how good a barista is” that makes a coffee shop successful, but the business side of coffee as well.
Hence why I started this website you are on now. To provide the tools and resources for up and coming coffee shop owners to gain that vital insight and knowledge on how to start a coffee shop successfully.
Stick around, browse through my helpful blog and resources and enjoy your stay! With lots of LATTE LOVE!