Industrial interior design is one of the most popular home decor styles right now. Versatile and trendy, industrial style decor combines different elements and contrasting themes to create a space full of character. From your living room to your bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, this aesthetic takes inspiration from warehouses, factories and industrial spaces to design a cool look that encompasses modern and old-school charm. Industrial architecture employs a minimalist style by incorporating the use of metal, wood, exposed brick, stone, and concrete. The look might be mistaken as rough and cold, but the result is a chic living area that feels organic and lived-in while looking polished and clean.
Whether you’re interested in modern industrial decor or curious about rustic design ideas, it can be tricky pulling off the proper balance of classy and refined versus rugged and unfinished. To inspire you with decor styles and ideas, we’ve compiled this guide on industrial interior design. If you want to recreate this amazing theme and look, you’ll want to explore everything there is to know about designing an industrial style home.
What Is Industrial Style?
Industrial style is a type of interior design characterized by its use of raw, rugged materials as decorative statements. When people build a home, they usually hide structural elements and building materials under drywall and layers of paint.
Those same features become the star of the show in industrial decor. Steel beams, exposed pipes, concrete floors, rustic lighting fixtures, weathered wood, unpainted brick walls, high ceiling and large windows are just a few of the elements you might expect to see in industrial interior design.
There are many versions of the industrial look, and you can mix and match different types of interior design styles to create your own unique aesthetic. Generally, most designers recommend rustic industrial decor with a focus on pairing modern and rustic styles.
By combining a neutral color palette, distressed materials, comfortable furniture with edgy designs, and the right layout for the theme, you can successfully pull together a modern industrial interior with rustic pieces.
Brief History of Industrial Interior Design
To understand the principles of industrial interior design, it’s important to look back to its roots. The year 1760 marked the beginning of the First Industrial Revolution in both Europe and the United States. During this time period, advances in technology revolutionized manufacturing practices.
Products that were once hand-made could now be made by machines which were housed in large factories. These factories are some of the earliest examples of industrial architecture.
Industrial buildings in this era was designed to be simple and utilitarian because it was all in service of the work. Because electricity wasn’t in use yet, structures featured massive windows to let in plenty of natural light to illuminate the space.
Factories often featured wide-open floor plans which maximized the light and helped make fire-prone factories easier to escape.
Many of the characteristics that define industrial style originated in response to fire risks. Insurance companies had several mandates in place before they would insure factories. They often required roofs to be flat and heavily dissuaded the inclusion of attics.
They also encouraged designs that eschewed nonessential materials that could feed a fire. Features like pipes, air ducts, and brick walls that were usually hidden behind plaster (the precursor to drywall) were left exposed in factory buildings. All of these elements remain hallmarks of the design style.
Advances in technology and energy production led to a second Industrial Revolution which commenced in 1870. Factories became much larger as businesses consolidated operations under one roof for increased efficiency. Structures this large required stronger building materials like concrete and steel which were also left exposed.
While industrial architecture has been around for more than 250 years, this type of interior design is relatively new. The decor style didn’t become widespread until the late 2000s. Many urban areas were facing housing shortages, so developers began converting old factories and warehouses into loft-style apartments.
All of the features that were originally designed to let in light and reduce the risk of fire became distinctive selling points. Over time, industrial design became so popular that people began intentionally building spaces that emulate the style.
Construction companies and designers have also taken structures that weren’t traditionally industrial and added elements and decorative pieces to recreate the look.
As the trend continues, you’ll see more homeowners in major urban cities build or renovate their homes with industrial style designs in mind.
Modern Industrial Style Interior Design
If you prefer stylish interior design that stands out, then a modern industrial style might be the right look for your home or apartment. The aesthetic blends well with many other décor styles so you can create the right balance between industrial and modern. The trick is to find out what elements the two designs have in common and bring attention to them.
One of the easiest ways to mix and match ideas is to pick the right kinds of furniture. Both modern and industrial furniture tend to be made from natural materials like leather. For example, you could stain and polish a concrete floor for a contemporary feel and then pair the flooring with a sleek black leather sofa or upscale glass metal living room table.
In other parts of your home, you could update an industrial kitchen with minimalist stainless steel appliances or have one exposed brick wall in a room and then paint the other walls a clean white color.
If you’re decorating an overtly industrial room, you should pick out low-profile furniture with clean lines to introduce more modern elements. If you’re moving into a space that’s modern and airy, select large, sturdy pieces of furniture to introduce industrial flair. Ultimately, how you structure and achieve your desired look depends on your taste.
Rustic Industrial Style
Rustic industrial design is a décor style that looks almost the opposite of modern styling. Rustic industrial décor is grounded by heavy details with earthy elements like wood furniture, metal light fixtures, vintage pieces, rough textures, and unfinished paint.
Like an industrial look, rustic styling uses natural materials throughout. When designers introduce modern elements to industrial design, the natural elements tend to be sleek and smooth. When you bring the rustic aesthetic into a space, it tends to be textured and distressed, like hardwood floors, exposed wood beams, and a kitchen table made from reclaimed wood.
The decor might also feature large overstuffed furniture as opposed to more minimalist profiles. Metal accents are also popular ways to balance out the decor. Rustic industrial interior will incorporate brushed and rusted material, exposed piping, metal signs, and other decorative pieces with metal frameworks.
One of the main features of industrial design is an open floor plan. Open floor plans have both advantages and disadvantages. The lack of walls can make your space feel much larger and will help you maximize your square footage, and light will flow throughout your home. But it can be challenging to create separate, functional areas. The right layout and furniture placement are crucial.
There are many things you can do to create distinct spaces in an open floor plan. A large island can help your kitchen feel more discrete, while a sectional sofa creates the illusion of an independent living room space. You can also use elements like area rugs, bookcases, and room dividers to create a sense of separation.
Industrial Style Living Room
Industrial living rooms are popular in large part because they are comfortable and functional as well as visually interesting. Spaces usually have an open floor plan, so you’ll need your furniture to help create a sense of separation and expansiveness. A large L-shaped sectional sofa can help create the illusion of a separate room.
Mounting your living room furniture on heavy caster wheels introduces an industrial design element and also adds some practicality because it allows you to move furniture around.
Use lots of natural elements to balance out the exposed concrete and brick you might find in an industrial room. This might include leather furniture, a cowhide rug, and tables made from reclaimed wood. Each element in the room should feel strong, sturdy, and solid.
Industrial Style Bedroom Decor
Some people may be resistant to incorporating industrial design into their bedrooms out of a fear that it could feel too cold or institutional. With the right decorative touches, you can create an industrial style bedroom that is both cozy and trendy.
If your bedroom features a brick wall, you can paint it white or light grey. That leaves the brick texture but helps the space feel more finished and warm.
Bring in large, overdyed rugs to soften the impact of a concrete or hardwood floor and infuse the room with romance with an iron chandelier. You can also soften up a metal bed frame by piling soft pillows and blankets in neutral colors on the bed.
Generally speaking, industrial design features neutral colors. Black and white both feature prominently, along with various shades of gray and brown. Using neutral tones throughout the home helps it feel more spacious and lends a sense of continuity. Using neutral tones can also help the industrial details in a room pop out even more.
Even though neutral tones are de rigueur in industrial design, some people like to bring in pops of color as well. While this is acceptable, it’s best to use them sparingly and to stick to earthy tones like rusty reds and sage greens.
These rustic-style shades can enhance the beauty of features like brick walls and hardwood floors and help ground the design.
With many interior design styles, people rely on furniture to bring in exciting decorative materials. With industrial design, the building materials themselves also serve as decorative materials.
Utilitarian materials like concrete, wood, brick, and metal all anchor this style. Using metal and wood in your interior will epitomize the industrial aesthetic, especially if you’re going for rustic home decor.
When you introduce textiles, they should be made of similarly rugged natural materials like linen, canvas, leather, and suede. The textiles need to be striking enough to hold their own against the rough-hewn architectural details without feeling insubstantial.
When it comes to furnishing an industrial space, the pieces you choose should reflect the architecture. Industrial architecture eschews unnecessary ornamentation, and industrial furniture is similarly simple and straightforward.
The furniture silhouettes are similar to modern styles in that they both feature clean lines. But while modern furniture lines tend to be straight and dramatic, industrial furniture has a little more leeway. These furniture pieces can be square, blocky, and masculine, but can also boast organic curves and look feminine.
Industrial architecture showcases structural building materials like metal, wood, concrete, and brick as decorative features. Therefore, complementary furniture should feature the same utilitarian materials. Look for sturdy and solid furniture made from materials like wood, iron, and stone.
Even upholstered furniture like couches and chairs can feel industrial with the addition of details like hairpin metal legs. You can also combine multiple elements in one piece, like a wooden table on an iron base.
The industrial aesthetic is still popular enough that it’s not difficult to find new furniture at a variety of price points. But you can also curate vintage or secondhand pieces made from materials like reclaimed wood in service of this style.
Lighting and Accessories
Natural light is one of the hallmarks of industrial style. The architecture pre-dated the use of electricity, so many buildings featured floor-to-ceiling windows to let floods of natural light illuminate the interior workspace.
Large windows have continued to be a hallmark of this design style. Industrial lofts in particular might feature a wall of windows encased in sturdy metal frames.
In some styles, lighting sources are meant to be discreet and unobtrusive, but the opposite holds true in industrial design. Industrial light fixtures are often a bold and eye-catching conversation starter. You might see table lamps made from reclaimed iron pipes and outfitted with an Edison bulb, or large iron chandeliers.
Because industrial furniture and architecture tend to take a no-frills approach to design, you can bring in unconventional lighting that makes a real bold statement as a counterbalance.
Flooring is similar to all other architectural elements of industrial design, in that it is usually made from natural materials such as wood and concrete. A concrete floor would feel unfinished in many other spaces, but it adds some real visual impact here.
Concrete can be left a plain gray and polished or stained to give it a more old-fashioned patina, which can bring in an interesting textural element.
Concrete floors can feel cold and impersonal to some people, so they often gravitate towards another natural flooring material like hardwood.
If you’re doing a traditional take on industrial design, you would select distressed floors made from reclaimed wood. For a modern spin, you might choose polished wide planks of wood instead.
Some people choose to take a minimalist approach to industrial flooring and leave it all exposed. But other people may bring in area rugs to help delineate and define separate spaces. You can position these rugs carefully to create spaces like a living room and a dining nook. Proper rug placement is one of the easiest ways to help an open concept floor plan flow more naturally.
How To Get The Industrial Design Style
- Utilitarian design elements inspired by old factories and warehouses
- A neutral color palette featuring black, white, and shades of brown and gray
- Large windows that allow plenty of natural light into the space
- Spacious open-concept floor plans
- High, fully exposed ceilings with no attic space
- Clean lines that can be straight or curved
- Structural building materials like brick, metal, wood, concrete and stone are exposed instead of hidden
- Uses architectural elements such as brick walls, concrete floors, exposed wood beams and high ceilings
- Natural textiles like leather and linen for furniture and decorations
- Distressed or reclaimed decorative pieces