Here's why you should consider a cafe refurbishment

Emma Deriu

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Refreshing the look and feel of your cafe is an essential part of growing and staying ahead of the competition.

And if it’s been a minute since you refurbished, a new fit out and fresh lick of paint could elevate your business, increase visibility and attract new faces.

If this sounds like you, read on for cafe refurb tips, design ideas, associated costs and financing.

Benefits of refurbishing your cafe

The prospect of temporarily closing doors might be intimidating, and having concerns about a potential loss of profit is understandable.

But a cafe refurb is more than just an interior refresh—it provides an opportunity to focus on more meaningful business growth as opposed to the day-to-day running of your cafe.

Maybe you’ve been meaning to retrain staff, update your menu or clean the premises from head to toe. A refurb gives you the opportunity to get to the bottom of your to-do list and make proper, lasting change.

Upon completion, loyal customers will notice the difference and new ones will be left with a great first impression. As long as you take the time to carefully plan and execute your refurb, the long-term benefits will far outweigh any short-term losses.

Tips for a successful cafe refurbishment

Do your research

It might be tempting to dive into the fun part—picking a new colour scheme and shopping for decorations—but first you’ll want to create a budget and find reputable builders. You might also want to consider taking out finance to cover costs without having to dip into savings or cash flow.

Some lenders specialise in refurb and fit out finance so you might want to do some digging and make enquiries. Alternatively, you can chat with a Valiant expert to connect with lenders who offer fit out and refurb financing tailored to your specific needs.

Develop a clear vision

When customers head out for a coffee, they aren’t paying for the coffee itself. They're paying for an experience. Some want fast, convenient service, others want to escape their day for a few minutes and chill out. Great coffee is essential, but the right vibe is just as important.

Do you want to create a wholesome space for people to hang out and chat? Or a grab-and-go style cafe that attracts busy workers on their way to the office?

Get inspired and take some time to brainstorm. Then work with your design team to map out a look and feel that’s both aesthetically pleasing and functional, with your budget, space and customer in mind.

Give neighbours a heads up

Cafe refurbs aren’t pretty until they’re complete. But the noise and disruption is only temporary, and neighbours will be understanding if you give them plenty of notice to plan ahead.

It’s always a good idea to build and maintain good relationships with your neighbours from the get go, and address any concerns they may have. When you’re back in action, offer them a meal on the house or a week’s worth of free coffee to show your appreciation.

Cafe design tips and ideas

Personalising your space is where the fun part begins, but if you're not sure where to start, here are a few tips and areas to explore.

Consider your customer first, then nail out a concept

Are you looking to attract a younger crowd, weekend brunchers, office-goers, big groups or couples? What does your typical customer look like, and how can you create a space they’ll love and tell all their friends about? Identifying your ideal customer is the first step. Then you can nail out a relevant concept...

Create a sensory experience

The ‘soul’ of your space comes to life through choice of colour, lighting, decorations, music and scent. An airy, open plan layout with plenty of natural light and greenery will create a very different vibe to a neon-lit retro fitout.

Even the difference between warm and cool lighting can create a drastically different atmosphere, so it’s important to combine elements that work together in harmony while attracting the right audience.

Bring the outdoors in (or the indoors out)

Incorporating nature into commercial spaces has become popular, and for good reason. Mother nature has a comforting and calming effect, so embracing natural light, using raw woods and adding pops of greenery to your cafe can create a sense of tranquility. And, if you have access to a courtyard or outdoor space, make the most of it!

Keep things cosy

Cafes should have a sense of homeliness to them, no matter their size or location. Whether you’re creating a cosy coffee hub within a bookstore or a pitstop in a bustling CBD, customers are seeking one thing when they wind up at your door for a warm beverage: a break in their day. Make them feel welcome and they’ll be customers for life.

Do at least one thing differently

It’s easy to play it safe with a neutral design that no one will hate. But in a saturated market, a cafe lacking character is a huge missed opportunity. You can’t impress everyone but you can stand out. Don’t be afraid to play with colour, lighting and layout, or better yet, let a trusted designer take free reign and do something really quirky with your space.

How much will a cafe refurb cost me?

Your total bill will depend on the size of your cafe, choice of fit out and builder’s fees. But to give you an idea, the average cost of a cafe refurb in Australia totals around $80,000 - $170,000 according to Petra Group (excluding plumbing, electrical and design). A cafe on the larger side typically costs upwards of $250,000.

Get in touch if you need help financing your cafe refurb

Valiant can help you secure refurb finance in as little as 24 hours. Rather than providing the loans, we connect you to lenders offering finance tailored to your needs, then apply and settle funding on your behalf. Our platform compares finance from over 80 lenders—both banks and non-banks, so there are a range of options to choose from.

If you’re relatively new to your business, you mightn't have the trading history required by major lenders, and a non-bank lender might be more appropriate. Give our lending experts a call on 1300 780 568 if you’re interested in comparing refurb financing options suited to your space.


Emma is our Senior Copywriter at Valiant. Working closely with our lending experts, she enjoys educating SMEs on the latest in business finance, and empowering them to achieve their entrepreneurial goals.

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