A Guide to Industrial Interior Design for Your Home

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The foundation of a home—construction materials, exposed pipes, metal, and the likes—serves as the foundation for industrial interior design. Evolving from the old 19th-century warehouses and factories left behind from the Industrial Revolution, the industrial style is becoming increasingly popular in modern residences and living spaces, especially for those living in urban environments. Here are some ways to incorporate it into your home.

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The Unfinished Look

If you’re moving into a new home or thinking of revamping your space, you probably have a good idea of what you want. Dreaming of an expansive kitchen island with stainless steel table legs or the retro Edison bulbs you can find at your favorite cafe? Love open layouts and neutral tones? Industrial is the style for you.

The global interior design market was valued at approximately US$ 121.1 billion in 2016. In the US alone, the interior design services market was estimated to be worth US$40.7 billion in 2020. It is important to look for a local firm or interior designer that specializes in the industrial style. Don’t worry, there are plenty!

In true modernist fashion, industrial interiors celebrate the marriage of form and function by showcasing the working parts of a building and turning it into the main aesthetic. It takes all things rough, raw, and utilitarian, and turns them into “unfinished” works of art.

Common in loft apartments, dining establishments, and commercial spaces, industrial interiors rely on neutral tones, open concepts, and building materials like wood and metal. They are defined by the amalgamation of modern and vintage designs, Unlike minimalism, which is stark and simple, the industrial style evokes a more gritty, lived-in feel.

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Photo by Ramona Balaban on Unsplash

Working With The Elements

There are tons of ways to achieve an industrial style in your home. Even if you do not feel like decking out the entire space in exposed brick and metal ducts, incorporating a few classic industrial elements like stainless steel surfaces and vintage furniture can give your home an edge.

Firstly, a neutral palette is a must. You want the space to look clean yet inviting. Stay away from flashy or stark colors and stick to those easy on the eye. Gray, brown, white, and tan are common base colors that can be easily accented with other neutrals, as well as bolder, warm tones like brick red and dark green.

When old warehouses were converted into residential spaces, there was no choice but to stick to an open concept, which can still be incorporated into today’s industrial design. Instead of walls, use furniture, be it a large dresser or screen, to divide living spaces. It is crucial to have negative space, allowing the room to feel as open as possible. Large steel windows are also a defining characteristic of industrial design, making for an airy, light-filled space.

Industrial design is all about exposing traditionally concealed structural elements like pipes and ducts for an “unfinished” look. Exposed pipes or overhead beams provide a great contrast to all-white spaces and are particularly fitting for kitchens and bathrooms. An alternative would be to get creative by using galvanized pipe in drapes, shelving brackets, or even your television stand.

Fired clay brick is a durable and reliable building material that has been used for hundreds of years, so why not pay homage to it with a rustic exposed brick wall? It is an effortless way to add texture without using textiles or linens. Feel free to go all out with a focal brick wall, or limit it to an entryway, kitchen backsplash, or fireplace surround.

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Industrial lighting fixtures are all the rage, and can even be found in homes with a more contemporary or Scandinavian style. Add weathered flair with antique Edison bulbs, or a big pendant with cast aluminum bulb cages or steel glass shades, although any light fixtures with metal finishes will do the trick. They are subtle yet customary elements in any industrial-style home.

No home is complete with furniture. When it comes to the industrial style, the more roughed-up and distressed, the better. Wooden furniture should be made with weather wood, which can be a fun DIY project. For metal furniture, go for an oil or antique brushed finish for a vintage feel. Remember that you do not need to sacrifice comfort for style; plenty of comfortable metal furniture exists.

You can purchase new furniture inspired by old laboratory and factory pieces, but why not keep it authentic by sourcing for real vintages and antiques at flea markets or online marketplaces specializing in second-hand furniture? Industrial bar stools and factory-style cabinets are common. Some designers incorporate salvaged materials like valves, mechanical devices, and hardware into their vintage-inspired pieces. Plus, repurposed furniture is better for the environment.

From mixing materials to incorporating vintage furniture, there are so many different ways to achieve the raw and rustic look of industrial interior design in your home. It’s edgy, it’s timeless, and it’s completely doable.