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Everything You Need To Know About Industrial Interior Design

Often thought of as harsh and uninviting, industrial design can actually be adapted to create a welcoming and comfortable home, with a stylish edge. This style works well in a variety of properties, from modern spaces, period homes and of course, industrial buildings updated for residential living. Always cool, interesting and unique, this trend is incredibly versatile.

If you’re ready to transform your home and give it an edgy update, here’s everything you need to know about industrial interior design

How Would you Describe an Industrial Interior?

Beautifully combining function and form, when broken down into the most simple format, industrial design is about revealing parts of a building, construction or item that would usually be hidden. Think non plastered brick, or even unpainted plaster, copper pipes and cracked concrete, exposed bulbs, and even exposed wires. This style celebrates the components that make up a building, or essential features such as lighting and plumbing, making you look at these elements in a different way, seeing them as beautiful, instead of hiding them away.

It also celebrates imperfections. In some interior design styles, paintwork must be flawless, wood without knots or dents, and rugs with zero fade. Industrial décor makes these flaws part of the charm, embracing wear and tear and unfinished surfaces.

What is Modern Industrial Interior Design?

While raw concrete, exposed brick and wires might not sound like a combination that would result in a cosy, welcoming home, modern industrial interior design actually focuses on creating a relaxed environment that perfectly balances practical living with comfort. No longer about minimal, open and cold warehouse-style spaces, industrial décor can be interesting and edgy, while also being cosy.

Many of us would consider this to be a new trend, but industrial décor actually originated in the 1970s. The trend first began when we started converting factories, mills and warehouses into homes. This abandoned spaces lay empty, and it made sense to give them a new purpose, but this created an environment never seen before - the industrial home.

Instead of trying to make the buildings look like traditional homes, in a bid to save money, the big open spaces weren’t chopped up into lots of small rooms, and the high ceilings, exposed steels and brickwork weren’t covered up. Instead they became part of the charm of these new and unique residential buildings, and the look started to catch on.

Industrial décor has remained popular for the last fifty years, however it’s increased in popularity over the last decade. It’s considered that this is due to just how versatile this trend is. Regardless of whether you prefer a maximal or minimal look, have a period property or modern home, industrial décor can be translated in a number of different ways.

The trend has of course developed over the last fifty years and is now more flexible. Once potentially a little stark and harsh, today the look can be combined perfectly with soft furnishings and other touches to add a softness for a cosy and comfortable home. In addition, industrial interior design often works well alongside other interior trends, such as bohemian décor or Scandinavian style.

What are the Elements of Industrial Interior Design

Generally speaking, a space that exposes a building's materials could be considered industrial, but there are a few design elements that are more heavily connected with this trend. This doesn’t mean that if you live in a home that does conceal elements such as pipework, brick and metalwork, that you can’t create the industrial look. There are various ways in which you can introduce an industrial edge to any interior space, from faking exposed brick, to installing industrial lighting and introducing vintage-style décor such as rugs and furniture.

Here are the main elements that are connected with industrial interior design

Exposed Beams

Industrial buildings and older properties often have big steels or beautiful old beams supporting the roof, and this trend encourages exposing and embracing the bones of a building. Steels can be left raw, or painted to create a more dramatic look, while beams are left with their aged marks on show, or can be sanded back and restored for a more subtle finish.

Exposed Brick

Bare brick walls are one of the most iconic looks in an industrial-style home. Stripped back of plaster, paint and paper, the warm colour and texture of brick is celebrated in this trend. Patchy and crumbling mortar need not be touched up (as long as structurally sound), and imperfections, marks and discolouration in brickwork need not be replaced - often the more worn-looking the brick the better when it comes to industrial interior design.

Raw Plaster and Concrete

A few years back ‘plaster pink’ was a key colour in interiors, but what about just leaving plaster unpainted? In industrial interior design, plaster doesn’t need to be finished with paint, and can become a feature in its own right. It also doesn’t need to be perfectly polished, and can be left with imperfections adding to its character.

Raw concrete is another material that’s embraced in this interior style. Many of the factories that were converted into residential spaces were built using concrete, and instead of concealing this, architects made a feature of it instead. From raw concrete floors, to concrete worktops, and even accessories such as plant pots and storage jars, concrete is one of the main materials seen in industrial interiors.

Metals

From copper and brass to stainless steel, metals are used in abundance in industrial spaces. Stemming from the exposure of steels and copper pipes in industrial buildings, metals are now an iconic part of this interior style and can be introduced through lighting, accessories and hardware such as handles and taps.

Reclaimed Wood

Think scaffold boards, old railway sleepers, and just about any piece of wood that has had a previous purpose. This trend embraces the flaws, marks and imperfections in wood, and encourages you to draw them out so that they become a key part of the décor in your home. Wood works really well in industrial spaces - from wood worktops, to wooden floorboards and furniture.

Metro Tiles

These vintage-inspired tiles laid in a brick pattern are iconic of this interior style. Seen on the walls of underground stations, in prisons and public toilets, metro tiles have a laid back feel to them and a simplicity that works brilliantly in industrial décor.

How to Create an Industrial Look in your Home

Regardless of whether you live in a converted factory or warehouse, a period property or modern home, there are a few ways that you can create that desirable industrial style in your home. Of course being able to expose beautiful old brickwork, steels and concrete floors will help, but if you’re not able to do this, that doesn’t mean you can’t create an equally beautiful industrial-style interior.

Embrace Neutrals

While of course it’s possible to use colour in industrial interior design, generally speaking, neutral colour palettes work best. This provides you with a blank canvas, allowing the industrial elements to take centre stage and be more impactful. White walls work brilliantly with this trend, but you could also explore greys, black and beige tones too. It’s well worth incorporating black or deep colours into your space if possible, as contrast is important in interiors and will help ground your space.

To add a touch of colour, soft furnishings, or a piece of statement artwork are a great way to incorporate colour into your space, without drawing too much attention away from the industrial elements.

Introduce Metals and Wood

Regardless of whether you have these elements as part of the bones of your building, there are lots of ways you can introduce metals and wood into your space. For a big impact, consider changing your flooring to wood, or installing a non structural wood beam to create the industrial look. For more subtle updates, try a dining or coffee table made from reclaimed scaffold boards.

When it comes to metal, be creative. Update the handles on your kitchen for polished brass ones, opt for metal light shades, sprayed black on the outside, and copper on the inside, to introduce two shades of metals. Metal accessories work well too - think a brass cocktail tool set on top of a wooden and metal bar cart, or copper trinket dishes or tealight holders. There are loads of ways in which you can introduce both of these industrial materials into your home.

Vintage Furniture & Accessories

When it comes to furniture and accessories, vintage, or vintage-look pieces work well in an industrial space. As mentioned previously, this style isn’t about super-polished, perfect finishes, so anything that’s got that faded, pre-loved character is ideal.

Consider the main materials used in this interior style when choosing furniture and accessories, which are of course metal and wood. For example, choose metal lab-style bar stools for the kitchen island, locker-type storage for the hallway or dining room sideboard, open shelving made from reclaimed scaffold boards and pipes, or a vintage wood dining table, with the character of knocks and marks from over the years.

Add to the look with accessories, choosing pieces made from metal, concrete or wood, such as brass metal photo frames, a concrete base lamp, metal candlesticks and wooden display boards.

If you opt for wood flooring, a great way to soften the look and add a cosy feel, while maintaining an industrial style, is to introduce a Persian-style rug. Choose something with a vintage feel, and an authentic faded finish to complement the industrial scheme. Modern designs have the added benefits of being made from typically harder wearing materials, and are generally lower maintenance, which is why a vintage-look rug can be a great alternative to a genuine vintage rug.

Soft Furnishings

Without the addition of soft furnishings in this scheme, your home could end up looking a little stark and unwelcoming. It’s entirely possible for industrial interiors to be cosy, you just have to be clever with your styling.

Generally, it’s best to stick to fairly neutral soft furnishings, allowing the industrial elements to take the lead in your scheme. If you want to add a touch of colour, try muted tones that won’t overpower elements such as exposed brick, metal and natural wood. Greys, white, black, taupes and mink all work well, as well as muted shades of greens, blues and pinks, or some richer shades such as rust or terracotta.

Less is more in this scheme - layering up loads of cushions and blankets looks overly fussy. The aim here is for styling that looks effortless. Try simple white cotton or linen curtains hung at windows with black metal curtain poles, three cushions on your sofa and a single linen blanket thrown over the arm.

Lighting

Lighting is really important in any home, but it’s an especially important element in an industrial scheme. When it comes to choosing light fittings and lamps, think less is more. Avoid fabric shades, instead opting for simple fixtures and oversized bulbs, or metal or glass shades. Keep the look simple, with metals in black, brass or simple chrome, or add a pop of colour with painted metal shades.

Layer lighting for versatility - rooms with pendant lights, large floor lamps and smaller table top lamps won’t just look beautiful, they will also work hard for you, allowing you to adjust the lighting easily depending on the time or day and your requirements.

The modern industrial style home can be cool and stylish, as well as cosy and comfortable. This look is great if you prefer a laid back feel, and want to create a home that feels light and airy, yet has loads of character and charm too.

  • Posted On: 20 July 2022