502 Bad Gateway

502 Bad Gateway


From the creative use of banquette seating to an entire wall of living plants, creative design elements often originate in commercial design — like hotel lobbies, restaurants and bars, and retail spaces. When it comes to restaurants and bars, designers and architects continually travel outside of the box to create truly eye-catching interiors. Plus, with the rise of social media, it has become increasingly important to create picturesque, “Instagrammable” spaces. Commercial design can serve as a frontier for residential design, and these designers and architects are looking to restaurant and bar design for inspiration.

Kitchen with cream subway tile, brown cabinetry, and white glossy waterfall island.
Design by Regan Baker Design | Photo by Sarah Hebenstreit

The Impact of Instagram

Photogenic and Instagram-worthy spaces are often expected in commercial interiors — with a feature wall to pose near or engaging artwork that invites conversation. Whether or not the design world is actively responding to this trend in residential spaces, social media — particularly Instagram — continues to change the way interiors are created.

Why do we choose to capture certain moments of our lives and what makes us want to share those moments on social media? “I think part of what we’re responding to when we snap a pic of an eye-catching installation or neon sign is the way those Instagrammable-moments help a retailer or restaurant communicate their story or point-of-view,” says Regan Baker. “That story or perspective might be something we identify with personally and that’s why we feel so motivated to capture and share. In a way, moments in your home should function the same way.”

Although the function of a residential space is different from that of a commercial space, designers are often inspired by the bold features present in restaurants or bars. This retro-style kitchen, which can almost be almost mistaken for a bar interior, experiments with playful accents — a personalized neon sign and a classic subway tile backsplash that feels vintage. 

Dining room and wine cellar with raw wood shelves, subway tile, and beige shearling dining chairs.
Design by Dan Scotti Design | Photo by Peter Murdock

How Clients Play a Role

Not only are designers and architects looking to commercial spaces for inspiration, but so are clients. “As our clients are communicating their desires during initial design meetings, it is not uncommon for them to refer to design features they have seen in beautiful hotels, restaurants, and private clubs as sources of inspiration,” says Dan Scotti. In fact, this residential space was inspired by the wine storage room at The Maidstone, a hotel in East Hampton, New York.

Scotti notes that, particularly, when it comes to wine storage, “clients have asked to incorporate wine storage into the design of dining rooms, kitchens, and other public spaces.” Previously, homeowners often requested wine cellars or wine storage rooms. “I do believe that this trend was inspired in large part by hotel and restaurant design,” he adds.

Modern family room with yellow sectional couch, pool and ping pong tables, and moss wall.
Design by Workshop/APD | Photo by T.G. Olcott

Creating a Commercial-Inspired Space

If the goal is to create a photogenic interior within a residential space, the outcome will inevitably vary from the look and feel of a commercial space. Restaurants and bars are designed on a larger scale, which is important to consider when looking for inspiration. Whether it’s with faux greenery, neon signs, or creative artwork, find ways to incorporate bold styles on a smaller scale. Position these accents alongside the comfortable, livable elements that are necessary in a home. 

“If you’re going for an Instagrammable design at home, framing the shot is key,” says Brook Quach, an associate and design director for Workshop/APD. Create a space that has depth and richness by layering furnishings, textures, and colors to bring drama to a photograph. Featuring decorative stones, a transparent sculptural room divider, and a textured green wallcovering, this living area is full of interesting textures and colors that make it picture-worthy. 

While striking spaces are top of mind, designers still prioritize function over all else. In comparison to commercial design, it’s important to “think about how a client lives, and how they will use the room every day first,” says Quach. “The end goal is to create a place that’s functional, comfortable, and livable.”

Wood paneled hall with live-plant wall feature and abstract sculpture.
Design by SUBU Design Architecture | Photo by Manolo Langis Photographer

All About Plant-Life

Bars and restaurants often boast beautiful displays of greenery or flowers, whether it’s with a living wall or faux greenery along the ceiling. In this Miami Beach residence, a living wall brings life into a residential entryway. “Instagrammable spaces often need texture, and green walls serve as the perfect background,” says May Sung, founder of SUBU Design Architecture.

Created using the Japanese concept of Tsuboniwa (or a small, enclosed garden), “the green wall creates a connection with the outdoors. It sets a background and frames the composition for the space,” says Sung.

Dining area with exposed brick wall, high-backed upholstered dining bench and upholstered stools at glass-topped dining table.
Design by Posh Exclusive Interiors | Photo by Chipper Hatter

Bringing in Banquette Seating

Restaurant design is a great resource to gather ideas for residential design and can provide several edgy solutions, according to Monique delaHoussaye-Breaux, president and principal designer of POSH Exclusive Interiors.

Widely used in restaurant design, banquette seating is used in residential spaces — like in breakfast areas and open-concept kitchens across all design styles. “Banquette designs are my go-to when interior space is limited,” says delaHoussaye-Breaux, who often uses the style in residential high-rise and condo environments. 

“I think one of the easiest trends to translate from bar and restaurant design to residential projects is the combination of banquettes and chairs in dining areas,” says Quach of Workshop/APD.

This room features a glossy teal credenza with bold sculptures and wall art with flossy marble floor.
Design by Sanjyt Syngh | Photo by Deepak Aggarwal

Experimenting with Artwork

Designers and architects continue to experiment with residential spaces that are edgy and striking. Large, oversized artwork often has a commercial feel — as it does in this space from Sanjyt Syngh, which features large writing along the wall. 

“The essence of the space primarily comes from art,” Syngh says. “Some of the art is quirky, some of it is rebellious, some of it is inspired from memories of childhood and some of it is based on what we as a society have become.”

Syngh, who says “everything is about social media these days,” doesn’t go out of his way to draw inspiration from what he sees online. However, he notes that this space “somehow turned into an Instagrammable corner.”

This room features a black and white striped statement ceiling with illustrated wallpaper and cheetah rug.
Design by Heidi Holzer Design & Decorative Work | Photo by Paul Johnson Photography

Designing a Statement Ceiling

When used in a commercial space, a statement ceiling can determine the atmosphere of a space. It can be photographed and posted on social media to start conversation online, or initiate discussion among guests and visitors. However, an eye-catching ceiling can function in a similar way in a residential space. Designers use bold accents to encourage house guests to notice and talk about a space, and they also create spaces that can look beautiful online. 

This bold, black and white ceiling by Heidi Holzer Design & Decorative Work adorns the ceiling of a changing room. “The painted stripes were meant to suggest being in a tent, or cabana, which is in keeping with the playfulness of the home,” says Heidi Holzer. 

According to Holzer, the ceiling creates a great place for residents to pose for a photo. “The ceiling is bold in design but basic in color, allowing for anyone to stand out in an Instagrammable moment.”

This room pairs green molding and baseboard with blue striped wallpaper, upholstered bar stools and leather armchairs.
Design by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio | Photo by James McDonald

How Does Residential Design Impact Commercial Design?

Comparatively, commercial spaces also draw inspiration from residential spaces. We have seen the move toward a more residential style within hospitality spaces, according to Martin Brudnizki. “Now bars are often designed in a lounge-style, with comfortable upholstered armchairs and sofas mixed together with quirky objects, artwork, and soft furnishings.” The Wigmore, a deluxe pub at The Langham Hotel in London, exudes a residential feel with rich tones and textures, as well as plush seating.

While designers and architects often draw inspiration from both residential and commercial design, and design trends often overlap across industries, it’s very important to prioritize the function of a space over all else. “A home is a very different space to a commercial one, in the way it’s used,” Brudnizki reminds us. “A home is a place that is lived in everyday, not a space that is visited for a few hours each time.” 


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January 15, 2020

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