Drawing from function and utility, industrial style is all the rage in home furnishings and decor. You don’t have to live in a reclaimed factory space to appreciate this aesthetic either. With a nod to the proletarian past and a natural quality that fits in today’s modern world, you can create an industrial chic space of your own with a few tips.
SHOP THE LOOK: 1 – Inverness Crank Accent Table, 2 – Galleon Coffee Table, 3 – Tractor Barstool,
4 – Watson Round Accent Lamp, 5 – Palma Marie 5 Pc. Dining Group, 6 – Bryce Metal Cabinet
7 – Gibson Accent Chair, 8 – St. Louis TV Stand, 9 – Rowen Iron Bench
History of Industrial Chic
Although industrial chic styling is currently all the rage for home decor, it didn’t used to be a style at all, but more of a way of life. Industrial style has long roots, stemming from the first industrial buildings, which were constructed in the late 1700s. Much of early industrial architecture was influenced by insurance companies, trying to keep safety and function as the top priority. Concern about fires led factories to avoid any materials that would fuel fires, resulting in an unfinished look characterized by exposed brick, pipes, and ductwork.
In the 1900s, new ways of creating energy were introduced, which required larger, more adaptable space and new construction, primarily with concrete and steel. Since these huge warehouses needed a lot of space, factories were pushed out of the cities and the old work structures of the past were abandoned and forgotten.
It wasn’t until the late 1960s that these uninhabited spaces started to be reclaimed in places like lower Manhattan and New England. With abundant, natural light, open air lofts started to be trendy, featuring exposed details and utilitarian accents.
Unfinished Surfaces and Open Spaces
When designing your industrial chic space, take into account the character of your own home. Consider exposing a brick wall, concrete floors, ductwork, or ceiling beams. Embrace natural lighting by using minimalist window treatments, or better yet, by leaving your windows completely uncovered, soaking in the factory design. If possible, consider tearing down a wall to create an open floor plan, using double-sided bookcases and folding screens as space dividers instead of floor-to-ceiling walls.
Working Parts and Simple Machines
Since industrial chic style is inspired by factory life, much of this design aesthetic is centered on no-nonsense functionality. When infusing industrial furnishings into your own space, try to find pieces that have working parts. Details such as wheel cranks, casters, pulleys, sliding rails, or levers are often found in today’s most fashionable industrial furniture. Think like a metal worker and embrace nuts, bolts, screws, and other mechanical elements.
More Metal in Cool Tones
If there is one material that defines industrial chic, it’s metal. Iron, steel, aluminum, and tin all help create an urban factory vibe. Try to splash metal pieces around the room at different heights to keep the theme throughout. Metallic picture frames or mirrors, stools, and overhead lighting will do the trick quite well. You also should try to find pieces of furniture with metal accents such as upholstery tacks, nail head trim, or case pieces with open ironwork. One hint when choosing metals for your own industrial chic home is pick cool metals over warm ones. Try to avoid gold or brass while leaning toward items with matte, rusted, distressed, or patina finishes.
Neutral and Understated Cushioning
Not everything in your home needs to feel cold as a factory, and obviously, you’ll need padded furniture as well. Try to avoid overstuffed or tufted furniture, and seek out items that are simple, frill-free, in neutral colors, and in natural textiles. Typically, industrial chic spaces aren’t popping with bright colors, but you want to make sure your home doesn’t appear one-dimensional either, so mix in different shades of gray, tans, blacks, and whites, while adding tastes of rich jewel tones and soft pastels into the space as well.
Reclaimed Wood with Natural Finishes
With so many metals in your industrial chic space, you’ll want to break it up by utilizing natural components, such as wood or stone, creating a mixed media look. Since much of industrial style focuses on salvaging and repurposing items, choose reclaimed, rustic wooden furnishings with distressed finishes.
Factory Lighting Inspired by Edison
Create an industrial chic mood with lighting that looks like it came straight from the late 1800s. One of the most prominent components of industrial chic lighting is the Edison style, exposed light bulb. You can also look for caged lighting or bulbs surrounded by glass to create a fashionable urban space. Hanging lights make a big statement in a factory-inspired room, so make sure you have a good mix of fixtures throughout your home.
Salvage and Repurpose
Industrial chic style is all about taking trash to treasure, so don’t be afraid to use reclaimed materials, salvaged antiques, or repurposed items in your redesigned space. We love the idea of using a factory cart as a cocktail table or a metal tractor seat as a stool.
Customize to Suit Individual Tastes
One of the best things about contemporary industrial chic is that it blends perfectly with any style, be it traditional, eclectic, or elegant. Many times people try to create a vintage industrial chic aesthetic, choosing antiqued furnishings with heavy patina finishes. You will also find that pieces with a rustic farmhouse feel fit in with industrial chic nicely. The worn country vibe complements industrial elements well. If you prefer a sleeker ambiance, you can choose sophisticated items with clean lines and polished finishes to fit in to your urban living area. Whatever direction you decide to take your industrial chic style, make sure that you have fun, experiment, and overall, make it your own.