Expert insight: Interior design tips for pubs

By Abi Perry-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

The Wheatsheaf Pub & Grill in Farnham, Surrey was refurbished by CDG
The Wheatsheaf Pub & Grill in Farnham, Surrey was refurbished by CDG
Licensees need to get in touch with their inner peacock to capitalise on the latest interior design trends, according to Abi Perry-Jones, principal interior design consultant at Catering Design Group.

Think like a peacock!

“Peacocking” - a term taking from the urban dictionary which means ‘dressing for attention’, pretty much sums up the attitude licensees need to adopt in today’s competitive marketplace. In the same way peacocks use their feathers to lure a mate, licensees need to adopt this attitude with their interior design to retain existing customers and lure in new ones.

A refurbishment of your pub space can provide many great benefits to your business – both financially and operationally. Whether you are considering a complete makeover or simply wish to ‘spruce-up your facilities, a new look will create excitement for existing customers, entice new ones and can also aid operational efficiency.

It’s all about being fun, quirky and glamorous

Interior design trends for licensees in 2014 are all about being more fun, quirky and glamorous, but more importantly, using design to tell your story to your customers. The most successful pub designs use their furnishings and accessories to tell a story. A pile of old books stacked precariously in a corner or languishing forlornly on a book shelf will simply not cut it with today’s discerning customer.

What’s your story?

Storytelling is the ‘buzz word’ in interior design in 2014. Customers want to understand your story and learn about your heritage, culture and values.  Design is an extremely powerful tool in the art of storytelling. Telling your story can be really easy to achieve and doesn’t need to be expensive. 

Use framed pictures, statement wall graphics or maps and memorabilia to showcase produce and local history. Customers still love to see one-off vintage pieces especially if they have a story behind them because they can be a real talking point and provide a unique touch.

Be brave, be bold, be bright with your colours and fabrics

Interior design for pubs is slowly moving away from soft minimalist tones.  Cutting edge pub interiors are starting to introduce strong, hard-edged geometric patterns. Contrasting colours in digital patterns are being seen more and more in fabrics, graphics and floor finishes, alongside bolder more traditional patterns such as ‘hounds tooth’ and checks. Fur and hide are also predicted to become more widely used.


Rich saturated colours are the order of the day. Worldwide colour specialist, Pantone, has named ‘Radiant Orchid’ (left) as its colour of 2014. Poetically described as a ‘harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones’, this colour is truly exotic and all about ‘intriguing the eye and sparking the imagination’. We’re also going to be seeing many more rich saturated colours including yellow, turquoise, navy and indigo alongside bright vibrant shades like peacock blue and cobalt.

Clever use of these vibrant and indulgent colours, alongside vintage finishes, greys or neutral shades will create warmth, impact and interest within your pub space. 

Don’t forget the finishes!

With finishes, we’re seeing an end to lime-washed, faded and blonde timbers. In their place, we’ll be seeing an increase in the use of honey toned woods like cherry and warm mid oaks. Where once upon a time satin stainless steel was all the rage, this will be replaced by copper and even brass.

How do licensees achieve the look?

You don’t need to go over the top. Instead of settling on a single ‘fixed’ look, you can opt for versatile neutral tones and then bring it to life by adding splashes of strong, bold colour and pattern across fabrics, cushions and accessories.


Mis-matched is the new buzz word on the pub scene and is a great tool for licensees looking to create a quirky, edgy look. Think mis-matched furniture, fabrics, textures and finishes which all look stunning within a pub environment. Consider also varying furniture styles – large rustic reclaimed sharing tables for individuals, families and large groups of friends or, if space allows, leather upholstered booths and fixed seating – all of which are also ideal for use in a dining space.

Think like a fashion buyer!

The interior design trends in 2014 may be about being more fun, quirky and glamorous. However, the key is how you use them to make them relevant for your space. I suppose it’s a bit like fashion – we often wonder who on earth would wear those outrageous catwalk creations, but nine times out of ten they make their way into the shops courtesy of designers and fashion buyers who cherry-pick the elements of the design with the widest appeal for consumers and then translate them into a High Street must-have.

If licensees adopt this kind of thinking and find their inner peacock, they’ll be well on trend for 2014.

Abi Perry-Jones is principal interior design consultant at Catering Design Group.

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