Industrial interior design in 13 simple steps
Industrial interior design is a historic modern look whose brash toughness continues to draw attention this year. But where do you even begin with the industrial approach to interior decorating? It is not quite as simple as ripping open a wall and exposing a few pipes, so check out these 13 practical tips for inspiration to help you turn your living space into an industrial paradise.
There seems to be no end to the variations of lamps and lights that have been created over the years. From sturdy pendant lamps to old factory light shades, these lamps continue to be welcome additions to interiors everywhere. Especially notable is that while we saw that lamps with tighter and smoother forms were more popular last year, there is a definite preference for more robust lights this year. The more robust and old-school, the better!
Industrial type pendant lamps, also known as factory light shades, got their name from their prevalent use in factory environments. Simply made, these lights can be recognised by their robust and no-nonsense design. One thing that we see more and more of is factory light shades with more open designs. These types of designs offer more exposure to the light source and create a tasteful atmosphere in your interior. Not to mention that they are incredibly eye-catching and can easily be the highlight of your living space.
When choosing a pendant lamp with an open design, it is important to choose one that has a beautiful light source, such as a carbon-filament lamp. This type of light source emphasises the tough character of your lamp, and it really helps capture that old-school feeling. Pendant lamps in this style are also great to use in rural or modern interiors!
Have you got an itching in your fingers to do it all yourself? Then grab an old iron bucket or small barrel, a nice light source and some cable, and build your own industrial-style pendant lamp! This can help you make use of old items you thought you would never use again, and will add a unique and authentic piece to your interior.
I am sure we all know the problem of having an empty space in an otherwise great design, that you just do not know what to do with. Why not an industrial-style floor lamp? It is the perfect solution! Floor lamps are great for providing just that little extra bit of light you need to read a book on the couch, or to avoid making a dark corner look dull and dirty. Aside from the extra light a floor lamp provides, it can also help reinforce the rustic atmosphere of an industrial interior design.
Floor lamps are usually big and in your face, so do not be afraid to show off your lamp! Many floor lamps in industrial interior design feature a three-legged frame which offers the light extra stability. Furthermore, a three-legged frame means the floor lamp takes up more space and looks tougher, more robust. Just as we saw with pendant lamps, floor lamps are seeing a rise in open designs, offering better exposure to the light source.
No longer simply relegated to being only reading lights by the bed, or outside lamps, wall lamps have returned as a full blown light source for any living space. Wall lamps are completely back! And they are definitely allowed to be rustic, tough, cool. In the past wall lamps were all built to hide as much of the light bulbs and interior of the lamp as possible. Now, however, it is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged to hang an open, wooden lamp on the wall, with no measures taken to hide its inner workings. A sizeable wall lamp can easily function as another eye-catcher in your home.
#2 Industrial seats
It is impossible to decorate a modern room without considering industrial furniture, and it is no different with seats. You can see them anywhere: from that new hip bar across the street to that chique hotel downtown. The benefit of industrial-style furniture is that these are easy to combine with other interior decorating styles and easily add a rustic, tough look to any room.
Industrial dining room chairs
Industrial dining room chairs can be recognised by their robust and unfinished look and feel and they certainly live up to the old adage “less is more”. These industrial dining chairs have a minimalistic character because they have avoided superfluous decorations of any kind. Beside their robust and minimalistic style, industrial dining room chairs can be recognised by the materials used in their making.
The seat and back are usually made of (artificial) leather, and displayed in calm colours, such as cognac, gray, and dark brown. These colours combine easily with each other and other furniture. The frame for these chairs is usually made of metal, polished or matte, which has been treated with sanding paper or spray painted black.
An industrial-style armchair is yet another item which can serve as a great centrepiece for your chosen space. Most often built of wood and metal, two materials that combine extremely well, the metal (often spray painted black as well) combines with rough wood to create that familiar industrial character. Furthermore, the wood adds a touch of warmth to your interior that might otherwise be missing. This can often be seen in industrial armchairs with wooden armrests, which combine with (artificial) leather seats with a vintage finish. Add a tough looking (industrial) floor lamp to complement your armchair, and you are good to go!
You create an industrial look through the robust character of your furniture. A couch is a very important piece of furniture in your space, which means you have to keep a variety of factors in mind. A couch can be beautiful, but it should also be comfortable! In industrial interiors we see a lot of cognac-coloured leather couches. These couches emphasise the raw and unfinished character of your funiture and they make your interior look tough. If you want to go for the rough and tumble look, leather is a perfect material for you. Especially calf leather, for example, creates that robust look, particularly when the leather’s pattern is still very visible. Finally, the couch’s support is its finishing touch, and particularly dark legs emphasise the couch itself and look tough while doing so.
#3 Industrial tables
An industrial table is essential for a rugged interior design. Most tables in the industrial style are also made of wood and metal, usually steel or iron and are usually a combination of two of those.
Industrial dining room tables
A rugged dining room table is a must in any industrial interior design! Most dining room tables in this style are robust with a rough wooden tabletop which is combined with a sturdy metal frame. The wooden tabletop is often created using wood which has an older character. It is important to keep in mind that the dining room table is no longer just the place where we have our weekly meels. It serves as the home base for dinners with family and friends, the place to get updated on the news on Sunday mornings, it is where your children will practice arts and crafts, and where you might work late on your laptop. It is the place where you can easily spend the majority of your time at home, which is all the more reason to consider and ensure that your dining room table has the right atmosphere, quality, and form.
#4 Industrial materials
Using the right materials is essential in creating just the industrial look that you want in a space! In industrial interior design there is a tendency to use “colder” materials, which makes it important to find a balance between these materials in order to create a welcoming atmosphere.
A trademark of the industrial design is, of course, the use of metal. This can be as rugged and applied as extensively as you like. Think, for example, of a robust and cool bar with metal plates, or even iron plates against the wall. Additionally, you can find a multitude of furniture that features metal, such as old locker cabinets or study tables with industrial frameworks. Do you prefer something more subtle? Then you can try steel accents in the form of metal barstools or chairs.
When you think of an industrial building then coarse brick walls quickly spring to mind. Of course the dream is to build a sturdy brick wall, but there are plenty of cheaper and easier alternatives. You can, for example, get special wallpaper that has a brick motif in different colours and designs.
Leather is one of the few materials that suits almost any style very well, but leather meshes extraordinarily well with an industrial atmosphere. Leather lends a vintage and tough character to a home or establishment, and can easily be combined with other materials such as metal and brick. When applying leather to your establishment you can do so extensively in the form of a tough-looking, dark-leather couch or armchair. Alternatively, if you prefer a subtler approach, you can accentuate your industrial design with (fake) leather cushions or brackets.
#5 Creative: DYI industrial lamp
No matter how beautiful a designer lamp might be in your rugged industrial interior, nothing will give you as much satisfaction as adding something of your own design and creation. And an industrial lamp is easy to make yourself! All you need to do is use a metal bucket or round form to be the lamp shade, the more vintage the better! Get yourself a premade light source and cable (or make it yourself if you have the skill!), and voilá, you are done!
Want to get more inspiration for an industrial DIY lamp? Look at these videos:
#6 Industrial walls
An industrial wall is a real statement when you have it in your home. This kind of wall can take many different shapes and sizes, and can be made of concrete, stone, or even brick. Think of old factories with their run down, exposed and unfinished walls and you know exactly what we are talking about. Forget about plaster and painting and just use naked concrete or brick, and you will have exactly what you need to achieve that perfect industrial look.
For example, you can really crank up the industrial feel of your home by leaving one of the walls in your living room completely bare and untouched. And if your wall has already been polished and you want to return to an industrial feel? You can always decorate it or even build part of a new brick wall against it. And finally, an existing brick wall can easily be decorated by colouring the bricks or changing the joints slightly.
#7 Industrial accessories
An industrial interior design can easily come across a little somber and unwelcoming, but this definitely does not need to be the case! A few simple accessories can swiftly add warmth to a space, such as by using soft and warm light to brighten up a place. Furthermore, it is very important to add a splash of colour to your interior in the form of pillows, rugs, or a little bit of colour on the wall. Of course you should keep in mind to keep it simple, because a rainbow coloured room will quickly lose that industrial feel you worked so hard to create with your funiture and design. In particular you should keep a look out for fine, soft materials, such as a beautiful sheepskin for your armchair or a cowhide for a rug.
#8 In the picture
An industrial interior design is usually filled with rugged, unique eyecatching items. Some of these items are so impressive that we could have dedicated whole articles to them. However, to keep things brief, let us show you a few unique and eyecatching items to really give your space a unique look.
#9 An industrial fireplace
You can finish off your industrial interior design with a beautiful fireplace in that same style, provided you have room for it. An industrial fireplace is often made of metal, like steel, in a tough dark colour, but we are even seeing fireplaces made of concrete, which is always a novelty. The placement of your fireplace is also important; whichever room you choose to host the fireplace will draw the most comparison to an old factory. The fireplace’s form fits perfectly with the theme of old iindustry that is slowly disappearing. Talk about nostalgia! Check out these unique fireplaces in industrial style below!
#10 An industrial loft
The loft is making something of a comeback in modern interior design. By loft we usually mean a large open space that can be decorated entirely by whoever buys it. Lofts are often characterised by lofty (guess where that came from?) ceilings, which create a lot of space and contribute to a natural industrial feeling. Most lofts are also found in old factories, warehouses, and schools.
Spaces in a loft are wide and allow for a lot of light. Through the use of white walls and a lot of natural light you can really emphasise this aspect of your loft. Of course space and light are wonderful, but they also increase the need to ensure you have the perfect interior design for your loft, because every part of your interior will be on display. Think of using the aforementioned warm materials, partition walls, and mood lighting to complement the natural qualities of your loft. The high ceilings, large windows, and the natural industrial feel of a loft can make it difficult to nudge the atmosphere closer to a warmer, more rural feel.
Make sure that you choose fitting colours and furniture, because these will be the determining factor in the character that your loft exudes. But! Do not allow yourself to be tempted either, and avoid placing too many large pieces of furniture to fill in the loft’s natural space. Keep it simple and modest, and use only what you need to achieve the atmosphere that you want.
#11 Industrial doors
Provided the space allows it, placing industrial sliding doors is a great way to add that industrial character to your space. Furthermore, sliding doors are extremely practical: when you have fewer guests, you can simply use the sliding door to close off part of the space and create privacy for your customers.
Sometimes you just want to partition off a part of your (living) room, for example because there is a draft, someone is watching television, or just to be able to divide the space a little more. A regular door is the most obvious way to go, but glass and steel doors are very popular at the moment, and very beautiful! These steel and glass doors add to the rough and rugged atmosphere in the house, and they help to create a sense of space because they do not close off a room visually as much as a regular door would.
The attention in industrial interior design is always drawn to the raw quality of the walls and the build of the house. Exposing these qualities and you will draw forth the industrial look almost immediately. The industrial look is all about allowing the rough basis if your home to come forward by removing polishing features like carpet or parquet and allowing more of the framework to shine.
This approach to the industrial look can be applied in almost any aspect of your interior: from little details in a rugged vase on the kitchen table, to a large and barebones concrete wall or floor in the living room. And if you want to go all the way with the industrial style, you can remove the radiator for an old fashioned, cast iron substitute, or you can try to emphasize the presence of the existing raditor or piping to achieve a similar effect.
#13 Industrial colours
An industrial interior’s colours are based on the factory buildings and interiors from the 19th and 20th century. As a result, naturally, there is a distinct lack of any particularly bright or obvious colours. Neutral colours such as black, white, and gray are the most prominent. Particularly gray screams industrial design, and it has a large variety of different shades that can serve various purposes and each can provide a different atmosphere.
Choosing the right colour for your home is incredibly important, because the basis of an industrial home is often very austere. However, we are seeing a shift in colours for industrial interiors: where previously only gray, black, and brown were used, we are now starting to see more of these colours with shades of others. For example warm colours such as ochre yellow and stone red lend itself perfectly for adding that little splash of colour that we talked about. These warm colours combine very well with shades of gray and black.
Other colours that are coming into fashion are shades of blue and green, particularly in the most rugged and tough design styles this year. This is probably due to the fact that these colours are close enough to gray that they allow for very easy and natural combinations of the two. Blue and green are both colours that create sensations of calm, of relaxation, and what more could you ask for?
Did you find some inspiration after reading our blog about industrial interior design? Tell us about your creations in the comment section below!