With rising costs, a huge range of competition and a clientele both strapped for cash and keen for new experiences, many bars are looking to refurbishment to create an attractive offering.

Research target markets and current (and upcoming) competition, but beware of trying to be different for the sake of it or following niche themes. Instead, try to develop ideas that resonate with your target clients. Unless an established brand with a strong design identity is taking over the venue, try researching the history of the building or its locality to uncover unique story-telling opportunities.

Once you’ve established a compelling design narrative, communicate it in every aspect of the design; finishes and furnishings, table dressings and glassware, fixtures and artworks to engage with local history and community. Don’t forget to build upon and emphasise existing features within the building and continue the story in the food and beverage menus, for example cocktails that reference local icons.

Good lighting design is also pivotal to the success of the venue – creating or destroying the mood in an instant. Use spotlights to accent focal points and create drama, whilst the soft washes of indirect ambient lighting create warmth and intimacy. Install a system with changeable settings, so that the mood can adapt across day and night.

Acoustics is another design element that can ruin a venue. Whether the space is vibrant or intimate, acoustic materials, from fixed screens and sumptuous draperies, furniture, veneered ceiling panels, or even a stunning ‘green’ wall, can be seamlessly integrated into the design narrative.