Designing a Cafeteria Students Love
When the bell rings for lunch or the end of the day, students file out and find friends en route to their spot. Where is this spot? That depends heavily on the location of your school. What we do know is it’s very often not the school cafeteria. So how do you create a cafeteria space where students want to congregate?
Our experts have done the research and our designers have developed the plans. The Schoolyard has compiled five of the coolest ideas to consider to provide an engaging, stimulating cafeteria space that your students will love.
1. Copy the Competition
Consider where students are hanging out during breaks and after school. It may be a café, a coffee shop, or a mall food court. It could even be a local park. With this in mind, think about why they choose these places. Are they simply seeking a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere? How important is it to have food and drink available? What do these places provide that allows students to extend conversations and time with their friends.
Recreating this vibe can be anything from a full-scale remodel to a few simple changes. You can even utilize outdoor spaces to mirror the feel of parks and other open-air hangouts young people enjoy. The key is to design a space where students feel safe and welcome while providing amenities that make it their new favorite spot.
2. Power Up!
Speaking of amenities, making students feel welcome means being able to deliver power options and wifi access. This may surprise you, but kids are on their phones a lot! Even the most relaxing atmosphere will quickly empty if they can’t power devices or have access to the internet.
For this reason, consider embedding power options into tables and countertops or providing power towers. This ensures students hanging out in your school cafeteria can keep their devices charged instead of searching for wall outlets. Don’t forget the WiFi!
3. Flexible, Versatile Seating
Creating a welcoming space often hinges on the array of options presented to students. Seating options provide an opportunity to differentiate your cafeteria space. Students may use the standard long rows of identical tables for eating lunch, but they’ll quickly find more stimulating places to hang out with friends. However, a unique space with a variety of zones and seating options encourages them to stick around and make use of the relaxing atmosphere.
Read: Designing Non-Instructional Spaces That Support Learning
The figures below show one example of how a cafeteria can be arranged through a creative design process.
With so many possible combinations, the design possibilities are endlessly customizable. To see more options, check out our Inspiration Gallery, which includes images of food court-style cafeteria designs and a shopping list of everything you see!
4. Stimulating Decor
Perhaps the quickest and most affordable way to update your school cafeteria space is through decor decisions. Rethinking bland furniture colors and empty wall space provides an opportunity to inspire creativity through… well, creativity! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Employ bold colors and designs with your furniture layout. NeoLink Curved Storage furniture adds a refreshing look while providing functional and mobile storage for books and magazines.
- Encourage talented student artists by commissioning pieces to be displayed in your cafeteria design. They could even submit it to us for a chance to win our monthly Student Art Contest!
- Adding interactive displays not only modernizes the look of the space but also provides valuable technology that increases the versatility of the cafeteria.
5. Alright Buddy, Take It Outside
Sometimes after a long day of classes, kids just want to get out and enjoy the fresh air. They may even be already using an outdoor space around the school building. So why not furnish the area and create a safe and accessible outdoor courtyard?
Read: Designing School Cafeterias That Engage and Inspire
Outdoor seating and tables that withstand the occasional elements can make any open-air space feel like a comfortable, welcoming hangout spot.
In Summary, We Love Designing School Cafeterias!
School Specialty has more than just the furniture to redesign your school cafeteria into a cool hangout for kids. We also have in-house designers and learning environment specialists ready to guide you in creating inspiring school spaces. Contact our Projects by Design® team to learn more!
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