What is Industrial Décor?
12 Minute Read
Industrial décor feels very much like a contemporary interior design look, since it is incredibly popular on social media, but the look has been slowly gaining traction since the first industrial revolution forced the building of the factories with industrial architecture about in the 1760s. During housing shortages in urban areas of the US during the 2000s, factories began to be converted into industrial, loft style apartments, which meant the industrial décor trend caught on once again. The most recent wave of popularity – apart from being driven by Instagram and Pinterest social media – has been revived by the Scandinavian trend that also incorporates lots of industrial elements too.
What defines industrial interior design?
While industrial décor sounds like it should be logical to create – and in most cases, it can be – it certainly isn’t the same as making your home look like a workplace or a factory. There are seven main defining features of industrial interior design, so let’s take a look.
A neutral colour palette
While industrial décor can be minimalist, it isn’t quite the same as the minimalist style when it comes to the colour palette, because you won’t be looking at all white everything. Black and white – and all the shades of grey in between – as well as natural shades of brown all complete the industrial look.
Lots of natural light
Getting as much natural light as possible into your home is almost always a good idea, but when you’re looking to create an industrial space, this is even more critical. Large windows with grid patterns contribute to this look. If you don’t have large windows in the space you’re working with, turn to industrial window shaped mirrors with black grid patterns to create the look of a window, and to help bounce the light around and brighten the space.
Focus on architectural elements
The industrial style doesn’t cover up exposed brick, wooden beams, pipework and so on – it actively highlights them to make the most of those architectural elements. Concrete, or hardwood floors (or vinyl or laminate with these effects) are best for this look, but depending on which room you’re decorating, a metallic effect for flooring may also be appropriate.
Use repurposed materials
We love an upcycle, and in the industrial look, this is absolutely key. Making use of existing furniture with industrial elements such as castor wheels, creating storage from old ladders and crates, and using metallic elements such as metal brackets on rustic wood shelving, and hairpin legs all contribute.
Bare Edison bulbs are a good choice for the industrial look, and there are plenty of light fittings, lamps and so on that can show off these types of bulbs – just be sure to get decorative LED bulbs to make the most of the look. But if you don’t want single, unprotected bulbs, there are loads of light fixtures that work with the industrial look. Multiple pendants with metallic domes work perfectly above dining tables and kitchen islands, tripod floor lamps that feature cage designs are great in living rooms, while track lighting can create the right look in multipurpose rooms such as spare bedrooms that act as a home office. For something a little more light-hearted, strings of festoons can keep the look tough, while maintaining the industrial aesthetic.
Hard, straight lines
Curvy furniture isn’t the thing when it comes to the industrial look. Tough, straight lines are – on furniture, windowpanes, and even any patterns on soft furnishings. Typically these are black metallic looks, and so look for those, and when you’re choosing blankets, cushions, and so on, look for hard geometric shaped patterns.
Soft furnishings in natural materials
As we said before, you don’t want your home to feel like a factory – and so items like sofas, armchairs, cushions, and throws are the key to create the softness you need to relax in your space. Natural materials such as unbleached cottons, linen, and aged leather all work well for the industrial look, and take the edge off all those hard lines and materials.
What are the advantages of industrial style?
✅ It is incredibly adaptable – and depending on the features of your home, and the accessories you choose, you can create a really unique look. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have exposed brick walls, or great architectural features – and you can add as many accessories as you like to get the perfect look for your home.
✅ It is a statement look – when you want your home to have a striking look that people will comment on, industrial style is definitely one to consider!
✅ It is environmentally friendly – because it makes use of the existing architectural features, (so you don’t need to use paint or other wall coverings) as well as natural materials, recycled, salvaged, or upcycled pieces.
✅ It is affordable and easy to achieve – if you’ve just moved to a new home and don’t have the budget to tackle a makeover project yet, then the industrial style can make your home look pulled together without needing to plaster walls.
How can I achieve the industrial look in my home?
If all this feels like it could work in your home, you’re probably right – industrial décor style looks great in most homes, and here are some of our favourite ways to bring in industrial elements into your spaces.
The kitchen being the working hub of the home means that there are plenty of opportunities to make the most of industrial styling. This isn’t about mimicking working commercial kitchens though – it is about moody shades of charcoal on cabinetry, countertops in neutral hues, and black and chrome accents. Some of the looks we love include:
- Rustic kitchen tables with metallic legs. Choose from kitchen tables with A-frame legs, hairpin legs, square or trapezium frames, V-frames and X-frames
- Choose benches for seating that matches your kitchen table
- Pendant lighting above kitchen islands and tables
- Customisable track lighting that allows for spotlights and downlights above the sink and counters
- Bracket shelves for additional storage
Whether we refer to them as the living room, the lounge, or the den, comfort is key – it is where we relax after a busy day! A simple sofa with clean straight lines will be the focus of the room, with cushions and blankets in neutral shades, but you can add toughness to the look by adding these elements.
- Rustic coffee tables with steel frames
- Rustic side tables for sofa ends
- Solid wood rustic mantels – these can be fitted above fireplaces to give an architectural look
- Open wood shelving for storage and decoration
A bathroom can be simple and boring – but with the right bathroom suite, it can look pretty industrial too. Even if you aren’t planning a complete bathroom refit, you can bring in the right accessories to incorporate the industrial décor look to this space too – and they don’t have to cost the earth either.
- Industrial coat rack – perfect for towels and robes
- Rustic benches with steel legs
- Accessories such as mirrors and toothbrush holders in sleek black
- Bracket shelves for additional storage
- Spotlights in brushed steel or black finishes
Industrial décor in the bedroom? You’d be forgiven for thinking it might feel a bit too – well, industrious – to make you want to relax and sleep, but as we saw with the living room, there are ways and means of getting the look without it being overwhelming. A solid wooden bed frame, or perhaps an iron one is a good place to start – and then layer in the accessories.
- Rustic rattan chair – as an accent (and for holding the next day’s clothes!)
- A coat rack – for the back of the door to hold your dressing gown
- Bracket shelves for photo frames and jewellery boxes
The home office is a logical room to apply the industrial style to – it is where you work from, after all! Bring in these accessories to make your home office the industrious space you need it to be.
- Rustic office desk – our range includes styles with A-frame legs, hairpin legs, square, trapezium, V-frame and X-frames
- A spare chair for visitors
- Bracket shelves for your books and office supplies
- Pendant lights and Anglepoise lamps
- A metal filing cabinet in black or steel grey
Our final thoughts
Industrial décor is often regarded as quite hard and very masculine, which of course can be the case, but with careful styling, and paired with other interior design looks such as the Scandi style, it doesn’t have to be. And remember, you don’t have to go all out – just adding elements of industrial styling can help add a little toughness to a room, without it completely taking over. If you’re looking to make a statement with your interior design, then the industrial look is certainly one that you should be considering.
If you’ve been inspired, and you bring industrial styling into your home, share your Instagram posts with us by tagging us @bensimpsonfurniture, and while you’re there, don’t forget to follow us for more inspiration, giveaways, and special promotions.