Between managing budgets and finding pieces that work for your space, it can be hard remolding your school. Don’t stress over finding the furniture that is the perfect fit for your school’s lunchroom. If you are unsure of how to update your lunchroom, explore these seven modern cafeteria furniture trends for redesigning schools.
An Emphasis on Comfort
A school cafeteria is one of the few places in the school where students feel like they can relax and enjoy the company of their peers. Especially in middle and high schools where recess doesn’t exist, this might be the only time all day that students have to themselves. That’s why an emphasis on comfort will help pupils recharge and refocus for the remainder of their classes.
A simple but effective way to increase comfort is by embracing individual seats rather than tables with built-in seats. Individual seats have seat backs and sometimes cushions so students can sit back and rest. Unlike with bench or stool seating, students will be able to have their own space, adjust their distance from the table, and have something to support their backs. Also, it is vital to consider the size of chairs because what fits a first grader will not hold a senior in high school.
The Café Style
Your school might not be Paris, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lunch like a Parisian. Embracing smaller, round, café style tables will increase the social opportunities in your cafeteria. It’s not uncommon for schools to have an ongoing noise problem from the cafeteria bleeding into nearby classes, disrupting learning. This style of cafeteria furniture addresses the noise pollution, as students will easily be able to speak with each other, and they won’t have to shout down long tables to one another.
Also, the café style has an emphasis on comfort, harkening back to our earlier point. Students typically prefer a café style because of the privacy it affords the people sitting at the table. The typical cafeteria follows a design like a German beer hall with long tables shared by multiple groups. This design, though ideal for taking advantage of the space, can make students feel overcrowded. Embracing a round table might seem like a small change but can have massive impacts on student happiness.
Accepting Interior Design Trends
Restaurants, homes, and other spaces have recently been adopting contemporary Scandinavian designs. The Scandinavian mid-century modern look is sweeping the interior design field, and embracing that style for your cafeteria could make it feel more like a trendy restaurant than a school lunchroom. Moving your school towards designs that reflect outside culture rather than what looks like traditional school furniture will give your school a modern chic look that can help in attracting new students.
The only problem with trying to be too trendy is that trends fade over time. So, this approach could make furniture seem outdated sooner than other, more timeless pieces.
With hundreds of students in a cafeteria at any given time, it is typically the most crowded place in a school at any given moment. So, making sure your space has a natural flow in which people can quickly move around is essential. Emphasizing space flow will help students move through food lines more easily and help with students moving in and out of the cafeteria between periods. In the case of emergencies, it will help evacuate students quickly and safely.
To help space flow, place tables in small clusters with more extensive walkways between them. Also, avoid placing any tables or stations near doors and food lines. Students should be able to move in either direction without overcrowding each other.
The cafeteria of yesterday included metal, wood, and grey plastics. Functionality was the school’s only concern, but that is no longer the case. Today’s cafeteria functions more like food courts at the mall, with an increasing emphasis placed on the students’ experience while dining. Getting tables and chairs in your school’s official colors will liven up the room.
However, you shouldn’t feel limited by team spirit. Consider color psychology when picking out a scheme. Each color evokes specific emotions and understanding how that will affect students is essential to creating an effective space. For example, red projects power and confidence, while blue is associated with stability and trustworthiness.
When picking out furniture, consider the room’s wall color. White walls with all white furniture will make the lunchroom feel sterile, like a lab. Also, a problem with all white in cafeterias where hundreds of kids eat is that the white furniture will highlight messy areas.
Ease of Use
At the end of each day, the cafeteria gets deep cleaned to remove the filth left behind from lunch. Custodians can spend hours washing every table and seat, then mopping the floors. If the furniture is too bulky or can’t be easily moved, the room will be harder to clean. Those hard-to-reach areas under tables can go uncleaned for days or weeks.
If a school chooses to address this problem as a top concern, getting tables that easily fold or have wheels will be the route you’re looking for. With these mobile tables, the custodian will easily be able to move tables into a small area, opening the whole floor for deep cleaning with a tool like a floor scrubber.
If you’re getting individual chairs, make sure that they are stackable. Otherwise, your school will be dealing with an ongoing chair-clutter problem until they get replaced.
Consider Social Distancing
If your school is still enforcing social distancing, you must recognize how the furniture affects this practice. For example, round tables will make it hard to have six feet of separation between students. Long tables, though, with students sitting in a zig-zag pattern will maximize the space while still being safe. If long tables aren’t a practical option for your cafeteria, placing acrylic glass sheets between seats will have the same effect.
Finding the right furniture at the right price can make remodeling school cafeterias a daunting task. Thankfully, now that you know these seven modern cafeteria furniture trends for redesigning schools, you’re prepared to discover which lunchroom style works best for your school and student body.