Raw, utilitarian, stripped down, cool — these are just some of the words that come to mind when talking about industrial interior design. Popular in commercial areas like café-slash-restaurants and flexible event venues that can turn into art galleries or speakeasies, industrial design style is mainly focused on utility and versatility. In their simplicity and adaptability, industrial styled interiors are logical in almost any space.
For the home, industrial interior design manifests itself in the form of the contradiction between the coolness of hard metals and concrete structures, and the warmth and comfort of softer seating and natural light. In order to make an industrial style abode feel less like a run-down factory and more like a personal oasis in the middle of the city, designers and decorators have to master the harmony of strong materials, cozy furnishings, and unique personal touches.
If you have a penchant for the industrial, take a leap and begin designing your home with materiality and character in mind. Read through this simple guide to get you started, and furnish a space that's sure to attract deserved praise and awe.
Expose what others may want to conceal.
The idea of "unfinished" interiors is characteristic of an industrial design style. Pipes and ducts which are typically concealed in new builds are deemed stylish when you think of warehouse design. Walls are left bare and floors are left unpolished, or they are treated as minimally as possible. Lighting fixtures, for example, use Edison style light bulbs that expose the wirings inside the open scale cages.
Industrial interior design is all about emphasizing the beauty found in constructing spaces, hence the inclination to leaving much of the space untouched and raw. The skeleton of the building — beams, vents, and stiles — almost serves as art in a way, especially since an industrial style interior focuses more on the build itself rather than the decorations that embellish it.
In terms of color palettes, it's expected that in a utilitarian, contemporary design like industrial style, neutrals and muted hues work best. Highlighting the materials that make up an abode connotes that colors are present in order to draw more emphasis to the structure. Woods and metals are able to stand out in a sea of whites and blacks. And if "bolder" colors must be used, industrial style designers and decorators often opt for darker greens and and burnt oranges versus anything that's bright and saturated. Brick reds and brown-heavy yellows are also a preferred choice for accent hues.
It must be said that while industrial style interiors seem unrefined and almost effortless in execution, there is actually a lot of thought and craft that go into every design decision. More often than not, it's the simplest designs that require painstaking work to pull off and perfect in order to create impact. There's an art to showcasing the natural beauty of materials and structures without falling trap to a disordered and unkempt space.
This can be achieved by mixing modern and rustic elements to not only make a home feel timeless but also still interesting. It's up to you as the home designer and decorator to determine which elevated modern furnishings to bring in alongside the aged rustic pieces. The juxtaposition between high and low elements stands out when posed over natural materials that shed emphasis more on function rather than form.
Work primarily with metals, concrete, and wood.
Industrial interior design arose from a need to simplify construction and focus on the necessary elements of a home. Linked to this is the use of hardworking and functional materials that allow spaces to be as practical and straightforward as possible.
Combining metal, wood, and concrete is a no-brainer when it comes to following the industrial aesthetic. In terms of utility, all three are sturdy natural building materials that can survive all sorts of climates. In terms of visual interest, the coolness of metal and stone paired with the warmth of wood makes for a balanced, versatile look that can be rustic, modern, or eclectic.
Complementing these 3 main materials are other natural media like leather and linen for textiles, and glass and brick for walls, doors, and windows. Since it follows a primarily minimalist design aesthetic, industrial style relies heavily on textures and shapes to emphasize visual interest. In this case, rugs and textiles should be free of intricate patterns, and large scale furniture has to be low profile with strong and defined lines.
As using simple and natural materials as a base allows the endless possibilities of design and décor variations (intricate wrought iron is rustic while clean stainless steel is a bit more modern), more people are amenable and can relate to industrial interior design.
Consider using vintage or reclaimed materials and ornaments.
Following industrial interior design's focus on simplicity and utility, most designers and decorators who subscribe to this aesthetic tend to gravitate toward secondhand furnishings and recyclable materials. The imperfection of many vintage ornaments and the character of antique furniture all lend to the idea that the industrial design style celebrates the rawness of objects and the beauty of simple living.
Now, vintage and old don't have to mean worse for wear and fraying at the edges. There has to be meticulous attempt to care for antiques and items living second, even third lives precisely because they're much more fragile and can easily rust and fracture.
These home pieces have to be cleaned and should stay clean so long as they're in your personal space. There are few situations worse than coming to a home that looks like it was decorated with trash, especially since most designers and interior decorators don't intend that to be the case. Instead, homeowners such as yourself have to be diligent in cleaning and maintaining, and restoring your beloved home ornaments if needed.
Moreover, maintenance and restoration of high quality antique items serve to only increase the items' values and utility moving forward.
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