With many restaurant spaces now as Instagram-friendly as the food they serve, they're a great place to look for interiors inspiration
Restaurants used to be judged on food and food alone. But these days, a good meal no longer cuts the mustard; we want to dine in an environment that's equally as interesting. The ambience and the décor are as much a part of the experience as whatever is tantalising your tastebuds. In fact, we might go so far as to suggest that, be it a quiet drink with an old friend, a romantic date for two or sharing brunch with your rowdiest chums, we're now choosing our venues based entirely on the décor, such is our proclivity for stylish surroundings.
In the last few years, cafés, bars and restaurants the length and breadth of the country have made their décor a top priority. Old favourites have been reinvigorated - step into Wilde at the Westbury Hotel, for one - while new openings - Angelina's - raise the game. We leave such establishments not only with full and happy bellies but armed with ample interiors inspiration, too. Behold, five restaurants in Ireland whose décor deserves to be coveted.
As you enter this unassuming basement eatery, you're taken back in time to 1950/60s Manhattan. The décor is simple, pared back, but ultra luxurious; if Mad Men's Don Draper came around the corner with an Old Fashioned in hand, you wouldn't be surprised, such is the authenticity of Luna. Sociable booths - with leather upholstery so buttery, you might want to eat that too - set the tone for this Italian restaurant, but as for what styling tips to take home? The geometric carpet. It's bold but it works. If you opt for something similar, take a leaf out of Luna's book and let this be your statement colour and pattern in the room. You won't need much else.
CAVA BODEGA, GALWAY
This tapas restaurant draws a major crowd of locals and tourists alike, and while the food speaks for itself, the warm buzzy atmosphere takes your experience up a notch. It's eclectic and a little bit higgledy-piggledy. Everything here has a pre-loved look to it and while they've kept their furniture simple, choosing old-style school chairs, they've offset this minimalism with vibrant walls. You might never have thought that three strong colours - orange and blue and yellow - would work so well together. Cava Bodega proves they can. Resist the urge to match everything to perfection. This Galway gem also makes use of big, colourful cushions to soften the wood. What's more, the candle-in-a-wine-bottle centrepiece will never go out of style.
SON OF A BUN, CORK
Cork city's favourite burger joint feels a little bit like you've entered your favourite, contemporary Pinterest page. They're working with all the hottest décor trends but in the right amounts. Grey isn't going anywhere as a favourite colour for the home, but to keep things fresh, they've paired their grey walls with a mustard-yellow leather - perhaps an ode to the essential burger condiment - with comfy bucket seats. The invigorating pop of yellow will be the biggest inspiration here, but if you're looking for something else to take home, consider the combination of geometric tiling with distressed wooden floors. This is a great way to zone an open-plan space.
BEAN, DINGLE, CO KERRY
Once the go-to place for seafood, live music and spit-on-the-floor pubs, Dingle has, in recent years, embraced the coffee culture essential to a thriving town. Bean in Dingle is constantly buzzing and the décor is as contemporary as you're likely to find on the peninsula. Beyond the Pauchard-inspired stools, it's the subtle yet original chalkboard that wraps around the room - perfect for kids to get creative without taking a marker to your walls - that's most inspiring. That and their upside-down plant pots that hang from the ceiling like pendants. What you'll need for this is some mesh wiring to prevent your plant from falling through. It might be even less effort - with no less impact - if you choose artificial plants. The hole at the base of outdoor plant pots will allow you to feed the cable through.
If you've a penchant for pastels, you'll adore this newly-opened cocktail bar under the Cliff Town House. It's bright, airy and full of quirky ideas to reinterpret in your own home. Urchin demonstrates that a dark space - one that doesn't get a whole lot of natural light - can be transformed with the right décor. Colour is key here, as is a fun and carefree approach to interiors. From vibrant chevron patterns set against whitewashed brick walls, this restaurant will inspire the more adventurous among us, either to add some energy to their kitchen or create a fun space for the kids.