Industrial Home Decor: A Practical Guide

For those looking for a decorating style that is more urban than country, but still pays homage to the past without sacrificing modernity, the Industrial decorating aesthetic may very well be the answer they are looking for.

Open-air spaces with oversized windows, reclaimed hardwood or concrete flooring, exposed brick, vents, and pipes may seem like elements that could lean more shabby than chic. However, with the right touches, the Industrial style can be a creative way to convert a usual space into living quarters or to decorate your corner tract home so it stands out from the crowd!

Industrial Home Decor: A Practical Guide

What is Industrial Decor?

The conversion of former industrial spaces into living quarters first started in the 1960s and 1970s. With their wide-open room and abundant natural light, they were perfect for artists looking for studio space. The free-thinking idealism of the times lent itself to exploring lifestyle options that bucked the norm.

Nowhere was this more widely apparent than in New York City’s Greenwich Village, which had been a haven for the arts and music scene since the 1940s, but which boomed in the 1960s. A movement was soon started to protect the historical integrity of the area, and reusing the existing buildings over building new was encouraged. This movement has thrived over the decades, and with a push at gentrification that took place in the late 1990s through the early 2000s, many historic industrial buildings have been revitalized into upscale apartment living.

Industrial decor as a modern interior design aesthetic took off as designers integrated and celebrated the aged, historic beauty of these buildings into their design instead of decorating over it.  Inspired by this creative use of formerly abandoned industrial spaces, other areas have jumped on the bandwagon to make use of these buildings instead of tearing them down and replacing them with cookie-cutter apartment complexes. From re-purposing old old factories to the restoration of aging farm buildings, Industrial decor is here to stay.

What Are The Main Elements of Industrial Decor

Modern living calls for modern solutions, and this is no different in an Industrial-styled home. In fact, this style supports a modern lifestyle due to its core elements of open, airy spaces, reuse, and repurposing of vintage elements, and a focus on utilitarianism. It is also a more gender-neutral design style at its core but can be tweaked to be more masculine or feminine, depending on the preferences of the homeowner.
The main elements of Industrial Decor are:
  • Open, Spacious Floor Plans
  • Exposed Pipes and Ducts
  • Metal Surfaces
  • Industrial Style Lighting
  • Cement Surfaces or Flooring
  • Exposed Brick
  • Aged and/or Reclaimed Wood
  • Vintage Furniture and Accessories

Open, Spacious Floor Plans

When designing a manufacturing space, companies generally needed large open workrooms with good lighting to facilitate the production of their products. These same attributes are a must-have in any modern home.

In this Industrial kitchen, all of the elements are there. The high ceilings with exposed metal beams make the most of the light pouring in from the massive window. Instead of creating a traditional kitchen where all of the appliances and cabinetry are against the walls, the designer has created a wraparound island, with seating all along the outside edges, which takes advantage of all of the available space. The high ceilings also allow for the creative lighting from suspended and exposed Edison bulbs.

This loft apartment is the perfect example of how a previously open space has been converted by the addition of an upstairs loft bedroom accessed by a metal staircase, but the rest of the living area has been left wide open. Exposed brick its brightened up by the light from the massive picture window and the glass doors. The key here is to minimize the structure that blocks the flow of natural light.

Exposed Pipes and Ducts

When designing their workspaces, most companies did not see the need to spend extra money to cover up pipes or ventilation systems. These spaces were created purely for work, so it did not matter. Now, these elements are an integral part of the Industrial decor motif.

If you are not privileged enough to live in a converted loft space, piping is an easy and cost-effect way to add industrial flair to your home. Install shelving made from wooden planks and iron pipes to create this look.

Easy to find, and easy to install, a shelf like this is incredibly popular with this style and also crosses over with rustic or modern farmhouse decor.

Click here to find this on Amazon.

If you do have a room where there are exposed pipes, paint them the same color as the surface that they are against in order to ‘camouflage’ them. This allows the pipes to be part of the visual texture of the room, without detracting for the main focal points.

Metal Surfaces

What says “industrial” more than sheet metal or exposed steel beams? This is a really good way to up your look quickly. Replace your appliances with stainless steel, top your kitchen island with a steel surface, have a professional install faux metal beams across your ceiling, or even just replace your stair railing with iron rails. When blended with polished cement flooring or exposed brick, this look really takes on a more masculine air.

A simple black pipe handrail installed against a white stairwell will add instant Industrial charm without breaking the bank.

Click here to find this on Amazon. 

Industrial Style Lighting

Vintage or vintage-inspired light fixtures are easy to incorporate into any home. The key here is to look for metal pieces and old-style Edison bulbs that are exposed. Reclaimed metal or enamel-coated light fixtures from the 1930s to 1950s are great additions if you can find them. Look at antique stores or flea markets for truly unique pieces to add character to your home.

Here is an example of a lamp that is very Industrial in design, with its old iron piping and reused gauges.

 

Add your own touch of repurposed Industry to your desk with a simple but interesting iron pipe lamp with an exposed bulb.

Click here to find this on Amazon.

Enamel light fixtures that have been reclaimed from old hospitals or office buildings can really impart a sense of history into your look. A lime green enamel light with an Edison bulb really captures the era that it is from.

If flea markets are not your thing, don’t despair! You can still recreate this look. This enamel light shade has a different silhouette, but is similar in feel and comes in a variety of colors, including this awesome vintage green!

Click here to find this on Amazon. 

Cement Surfaces or Flooring

Incorporating cement into your home takes a bit more planning and commitment than hanging shelving, but it can be done! Poured concrete beams can be used as structural supports if you are building a new home, or even just for looks if you happen upon the one you can purchase (and have installed).

If you are looking at a full remodel, polished cement flooring is a beautiful and durable option. On a smaller scale, formed and polished cement also makes marvelous kitchen countertops.

If you are not ready to commit to something on such a are scale, you can also add cement furnishings or artworks, like in this photo. Here a simple square of concrete has had wheels added to it to create an easily moveable coffee table.

Exposed Brick

Exposed brick, whether bare or painted, is a hallmark of the Industrial style. Old factories and buildings were generally constructed from brick in the early 1900s, so this look is very commonplace in repurposed spaces.

There are a tremendous number of options to get this look in your own home, from adding a facade from reclaimed bricks to faux brick tile to wallpaper. Choose the options that work the best for your budget and construction know-how! Here simple brick-patterned wallpaper creates a focal wall in the dining room. An industrial style lighted mirror give the room a punch of flair while making the most of the natural light.

Recreate this look with this easy to use Peel and Stick brick wallpaper.

Click here to find this on Amazon. 

Aged and/or Reclaimed Wood

Aged wood can be used in a variety of ways in Industrial decor. Flooring is the most prominent, as old factories usually had wooden plank floors. YOu can also incorporate wooden beams on the ceiling as shown in this room.

Vintage Furniture and Accessories

The charm of Industrial decor comes from an appreciation of the history of its roots, including vintage industrial items that can be retooled to serve as furniture or decorative items its a great way to get this air in your home. Rustic flea markets or antique shops often carry times like these.

If you are feeling crafty, you can create an amazing wall hanging like this one from an old wheel and gears. Hang this against a bright white or aged brick wall for a real point of interest.

 

Which Materials Are Used For Industrial Home Decor?

The most common material used for Industrial home decor is those that would have been used in the construction of the manufacturing spaces in the early decades of the 1900s.

Metal

Almost any kind of metal will add an industrial vibe to your living quarters, depending on how rustic or modern ou want to go.

For an authentic rustic industrial flair, Copper and iron are ideal. If you prefer a more slick, modern look, then shiny steel and aluminum will more likely work best for you.

The most common look, regardless of the type of metal, is a black or dark gray finish as this works to complement the other decorative components.

Reclaimed Wood

Building constructed from brick typically had wooden plank flooring and support beams. The look of aged wood is really integral to the Industrial decor aesthetic. Use it on floors and ceilings, as planks for shelving, and even decorative elements. use rustic picture frames to display modern art.

Cement

A more modern construction element is cement. Buildings in the latter half of the 20th century rely on concrete for structural integrity, and so can you! It is also a beautiful flooring option. When polished, it has a classy and elegant look. If left rough, it can support a more rustic look, like in the mancave below.

Brick

All shades of brick are welcome here, especially exposed and worn red brick that has survived a lifetime of use. The warm brownish red offsets the other colder, more severe components of this style. Use it sparingly to create a single focal wall, or finish an entire room with it. You can even use two different types or shades of brick to create an interesting contrast or to define different areas in an open floorplan.



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What Color Schemes Are Typical of Industrial Home Decor?

Clean and bright, or dark and moody are both found in this decorating style. White, black, and all shades of gray are typical and look great when paired with the warm tones from vintage brick or wood.

Gray

Start with a dark charcoal wall, and gradually add lighter colored elements in layers. The black iron shelf almost disappears against the backdrop, highlighted with carefully placed lights. A gray sofa keeps the look deep. These seemingly dismal colors are brought to life by the use of a light-colored cement floor, warm wooden accents and copper light fixtures.

White

If dark and brooding is not your thing, then why not take advantage of the light airiness of your room by painting the walls white! This work exceptionally well here, as a crisp and clean juxtaposition to the rough and worn ceiling. This room is sleek and modern in the embrace of its industrial roots.

Black

Black is the perfect color to delineate an open space. Paint trim and cabinetry black to match any metal accents so everything looks clear and defined. It also pairs well with brick, as soon here.

 6 Quick Tips For Decorating Any Room in the Industrial Style

1. Minimize Window Coverings to Maximize Natural Light.

Industrial spaces usually have large windows that allow the maximum amount of light. Keep your windows as bare as you feel comfortable. If privacy is an issue for you, then consider a glass coating material that will make your windows opaque, instead of blinds. This will still allow you to take advantage of the light, without your neighbors seeing your every move!

Something like this opaque window stick would work marvelously! It is easy to install and remove, as it is just a peel and stick.

Click here to find this on Amazon. 

2. Choose Your Color Scheme

Creating the foundation for the mood of your room is one of the first decisions that you need to make. Paint is an easy and inexpensive way to change the entire feel of your room. Coat your walls in white or shades of gray. Black should be used for trim and accent pieces. It can be used to help define different areas as well.

3. Add a Brick Accent Wall

The options to create this look are endless! Adding exposed brick will give your suburban home a touch of inner-city loft style. Use it as a backsplash in your kitchen, or as a focal wall behind the bed in the master suite.

If you really want to bring that old warehouse look into your home, try adding a brick wall mural like this one. This mural perfectly captures the look of ‘ghost’ advertisements on brick.

Click here to find this on Amazon.

4. Install a Wood or Cement (Look) Floor

Wood or cement flooring can be expensive but is completely worth it if you really want to upgrade your decor.

5. Add Vintage Indstrustial Furniture or Decorative Items

Check out flea markets for cool items that you can use for decorating. Old metal gears, wooden crates, cast iron odds and ends are all good choices. Pick up a few worn wooden picture frames and be sure to keep an eye out for enamel hardware or lighting.

6. Replace Your Light Fixtures

Another easy way to incorporate the industrial look into a room is to change out the light fixtures. Opt for something in an interesting shape that is made from iron, with exposed Edison bulbs. Or add a couple of cool lamps in the same aesthetic, like this one.

Click here to find this on Amazon. 

Industrial Furniture By Type

As an alternative to going to flea markets, you can also find amazing vintage looking items online to recreate the look you want without the hassle and expense of rummaging through antique stores.

Industrial Tables

This sleek and simple dining table from WE furniture will look great in any industrial style home. A solid pine plank top is supported by dark painted wooden legs.

Click here to find this on Amazon.

Designed to look like a cart used in a factory, this unusual coffee table from Christopher Knight is the embodiment of what you are looking for in modern industrial furniture design.

Click here to find this table on Amazon.

Industrial Couch

Sleek and stylish, this soft gray mid-century sofa will blend in with your living room decor, adding style without diminishing the overall theme.

Industrial Chairs

If you are looking for the perfect seating to turn your kitchen island into a gathering spot, then look no further! This adjustable metal chair crafted with rustic metal and wood will give you just the look you want.
Perfectly aged, this brown fabric mid-century styled accent chair from Versonora looks like it was pulled from a warehouse that has been closed for decades! This chair will add just the right rusty touch to your industrial living room.

Industrial Bed

One might think that it would be hard to find a really great Industrial style bed, but that thinking is wrong! This hammered copper bed from Christopher Knight checks off all the boxes.

Another really great option is this wood plank and metal bed from WE Furniture. It has a really rustic look with the aged wood planks and heavy iron.

Industrial Decor Items

Decorative items are the easiest and most cost0effect way to add style to a room. Check out these great options to get your home looking like a reclaimed factory!

Industrial Lamps

Lamps can really add a lot of energy to a room, like these really unusual table lamps from Dayn. They have a rugged industrial element to their design, which will impart life into any room that you place them in.
If you need a little more light, then consider this track floor light. The housing for the bulb is built in a metal cage-style, perfect for showing off Edison bulbs.

Industrial Wall Decor

Add a soft glow to your decor with this interesting wall sconces, which are sure to add that element of the industry from a by-gone era to your home.

Click here to see these on Amazon. 

Every home needs a wall clock, and this is just the right one! The vintage-looking metal and wood will look great mounted on exposed brick.

Click here to find this on Amazon. 

For a bit of unconventional flair, hang this collection of patent prints. They will give your room’s decor just the right touch of industrial history.

Click to see these on Amazon.

Looking for more Home Decor guides? Try these topics-

The Coastal Home Decor Guide

The Minimalist Home Decor Guide

The Ultimate Boho Home Decor Guide

The Rustic Home Decor Guide

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