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Style Primer: Industrial

Symptoms of an industrial decor aficionado:

  • Admires exposed brick and timber beams
  • Loves combining natural and man-made materials
  • Rummages for rusty machine parts they don’t plan to use for machines

If this sounds like you, then read on to learn more about this urban-rustic style of interior design.


What Is Industrial?

Also known as utilitarian or loft interior design, industrial decor came about in the 20th century as real estate developers started renovating old factories and warehouses for housing. Instead of tearing down or completely redoing the old buildings, developers would clean up what was necessary and leave the exposed brick, old pipes, heavy-duty lights and bare concrete floors for homeowners to decorate as they pleased.

If you admire the look of heritage brick buildings or repurposed machine parts as decor, then industrial is the style to shop. Look for inspiration from movies like Rent (The Musical) or the office from The Intern, or TV shows like the American version of House of Cards – specifically, Adam Galloway’s loft.

What Does This Style Look Like?

Think of the distressed and natural elements of rustic decor, and add a more urban, steel factory twist. Cast iron pipes, exposed duct work, unfinished wood products, large windows and a wide open living space are just some of the concepts that should come to mind. You’ll want practical-looking, hard-working products and finishes for your space – dainty lace and delicate accessories will be out of place here.

Key Traits of Industrial Interior Design

Function First

Nolita_DiningSince this decor style is rooted in old factories and warehouses, functionality is the most important factor to think about for your industrial haven. Every piece in your home should have an obvious function without too many extras.

Favourite Example: This multifunctional Nolita dining set has a very basic, no frills design. With metal at the base of the chairs and table, and oak-coloured veneers covering the seats and tabletop frame, this set is ready to function for your family meals or dinner parties. Plus, four wine bottle holders rest under the table so you’re always ready to serve your guests.

Combine Wood and Metal

Adler_BookcaseTogether, wood and metal act as each other’s yin and yang – one feels earthy and raw, while the other is smooth and forged. Each substance brings out the best of the other.

Favourite Example: Use it as a bookcase or to store dishes – either way, this Adler steel and wood bookcase exudes the right character for an industrial home. Wood shelves rest on the sleek, black steel to create a harmonious presence.

Accent with Era-Appropriate Pieces

Lightning_Bug_LampSince industrial decor is so closely tied to buildings constructed during the late 1800s and early 1900s, try to find accents or accessories with a vintage or antique feel. Use Edison bulbs in your light fixtures, fill old filing cabinets with dinnerware or even use an antique work bench as a kitchen island. By sprinkling hints to the history of your space, you elevate the factory feeling throughout your home.

Favourite Example: Tall, with a vintage-looking lightbulb inside, this Lightning Bug floor lamp is a fantastic accent for any space in need of industrial glow.

Rummage for Salvage

Samson_MirrorShow off the history of your home by adding industrial-looking accents. Salvaging rusty metal gears, dulled machine parts or broken factory relics is an easy way to amp up the aged look of your home. And don’t worry about cleaning off the rust – polished and shiny is not what you should be after if you are looking to recreate the timeworn facade of an industrial home.

Favourite Example: Made with rusty metal pieced together, this Samson mirror reflects the right way to look for manufactured antiques. Despite the squeaky clean mirror in the centre, the bolted frame provides enough aged contrast to look natural in your home’s brick and metal interior.

Art as Emphasis

Crossbeam_ArtIf you can’t go for a full, top-to-bottom renovation to make your industrial dreams come true, complementary art pieces or home accents can make a great starting point. For art pieces, try to find images made using manufactured products such as scrap metal sculptures or cast iron. Canvas art is another avenue to look at – focus on paintings with antique scenes or cityscapes.

Favourite Examples: This On a Crossbeam painting just screams industrial art. Inspired by the famous photo, Lunch atop a Skyscraper, the metal-based painting features a pop-out of the workers on the beam and a metal cable running along the right side of the picture.

Ready to scour our website for industrial inspirations? Take a look at The Brick’s options to create the industrial home of your dreams.

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