The Basics of Industrial Style
Industrial design is a stylish nod to the efficient and utilitarian architecture of early factories and manufacturing plants. Industrial-style spaces manage to combine functional simplicity with visually interesting elements, such as exposed wires and nailheads, casters, and grainy reclaimed woods.
While the industrial look is a style all its own, it’s easy to blend industrial elements with nearly any other design style. Rustic, transitional, bohemian, and traditional spaces all look sharp with industrial furniture scattered throughout, from statement pieces such as tables and bookcases to subtler accents such as Edison bulbs or metal bar stools.
We’ll walk you through the basics of this gritty-chic design style and show you our favorite ways to incorporate the look …
Featured Design Elements
Industrial spaces can be identified by their incorporation of factory-friendly design elements. Metal pipes, corrugated metal, and visible wires and studs are common fixtures, while decorative steampunk details such as gear and clock motifs, armillaries, and blueprint-inspired artwork add another touch of old-school style.
Industrial Materials & Finishes
Materials and finishes are some of the most important elements of industrial style. If gritty utilitarian designs aren’t quite your taste, you can still incorporate the industrial look through materials such as brick, concrete, distressed metal, reclaimed wood, and natural textiles such as leather and linen.
The industrial color palette is generally earthy, though the style itself doesn’t exactly evoke thoughts of the great outdoors. Shades of brown, black, and gray are the building blocks of an industrial color scheme, and these hues can easily be updated depending on your tastes. Try a deep shade of chocolate or mahogany for a more traditional look, or use tones of camel, copper, or cream to make a modern statement.
Metallics also play a major role in industrial design, but they’re often far from glitzy or glam. Rather than high-shine metals such as chrome or polished brass, look for burnished and matte finishes to keep the space feeling no-nonsense.
Industrial design never has to be perfect – in fact, the look’s defining characteristics are its simplicity, practicality, and unfussy combination of materials and silhouettes. If you just focus on pieces that feel practical, durable, and mechanically-inspired, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the style.
Industrial furniture is a vision of simplicity and practicality, often relying far more on function than form. Sturdy pieces made of metal and wood provide plenty of durability, and their ability to blend handsomely with myriad design styles means you can update your look as often as you want without buying all-new furniture.
We’ll take you through four different spaces that can easily be infused with industrial style. Keep reading to find out some of our favorite ways to get the look in the living room, dining room, bedroom, and office …
Industrial Living Room Furniture
The living room is one of the easiest places to incorporate industrial furniture. Coffee tables, TV stands, accent chairs, and end tables require the durability and functionality industrial style demands, and can easily be combined with other styles of furniture and décor. We love a traditional linen or leather sofa paired with a wood-and-metal coffee table – it provides just the right amount of softness to balance out the look.
Industrial Dining Room Furniture
Industrial furniture also works perfectly in the kitchen or dining room. Much like a coffee table or TV stand, dining furniture demands sturdy construction and practical design, both of which industrial style delivers in spades. Try a hearty wooden dining table with matte metal legs, paired with some industrial-chic dining chairs.
Industrial Bedroom Furniture
Well-appointed industrial pieces are perfect for creating a loft-like bedroom. Decorate with a light hand to keep the space serene and relaxing, but feel free to rough up the edges with a metal pipe bed or distressed wood-and-metal dresser.
Industrial Office Furniture
The stark and utilitarian nature of industrial design is perfect for creating a distraction-free work space. Use industrial wood and metal desks and bookcases to add just the right amount of edge, and finish the look with an industrial-inspired desk chair. (Dining chairs or bar stools work too!)
If you’d like to incorporate industrial design without breaking the bank on new furniture, there are plenty of ways to get the look through simple décor updates. Industrial motifs such as globes and armillaries, gears, and decorative pieces in industrial finishes are perfect for adding a touch of gritty style without going all-in.
We’re exploring three different categories – lighting, wall décor, and decorative accents – and sharing some our favorite ways to incorporate industrial style. With these small-scale upgrades, you can quickly and easily transform your space.
Lighting & Ceiling Fans
Light fixtures are some of the easiest ways to get the industrial look – and when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The discovery of electricity ushered in the industrial age, so early electrical fixtures and vintage-inspired bulbs are perfect for carrying industrial style throughout a space. Use pendants, sconces, lamps, or chandeliers to get the look.
Industrial Wall Décor
Industrial wall décor pulls double duty by providing both functionality and style. You already know that industrial design prides itself on practicality, and its decorative accents are no exception. Mirrors, clocks, and wall shelves provide the style you crave, plus the functionality you need to make life a little easier.
If you’re looking for décor that’s purely aesthetic, choose wall art that’s heavy on industrial or steampunk motifs: think gears, blueprints, bicycles, or early automobiles.
When it comes to decorative accents, there are countless ways to incorporate industrial style. From the heavy-handed (gear-shaped bookends, anyone?) to the subtle (galvanized metal baskets or trays), you’ll have no problem finding pieces that add just the right amount of industrial flair. Use pieces that explicitly feature industrial motifs to make a statement, or add just a touch of the style with traditional designs in industrial finishes.
Industrial Outdoor Furniture and Décor
Adding industrial patio furniture to your outdoor space is a great way to combine the natural and the man-made. And luckily for fans of this design style, industrial materials such as concrete, stone, and wrought iron are perfect for the great outdoors.
Look for pieces with all-over metalwork, cement tabletops, or industrial-style details. Whether you’re shopping for a full patio dining set or a few decorative accents, you’re sure to find the industrial-chic style you love.
Mix it Up: Industrial Fusion Styles
As we mentioned earlier, the industrial look is one of the easiest to marry with other design styles. From industrial-rustic to utilitarian-chic, there’s no limit to the ways you can mix and match styles. Here are three of our favorite hybrid looks ..
Both rooted in practical design and durable construction, farmhouse and industrial style are perfectly suited for one another. To take a look from heavy-metal to farmhouse-fresh, use lighter shades of wood and a slightly earthier palette – lighter browns, creamy tans and ivories, and the occasional floral element.
This fusion of styles produces a look that handsomely balances the masculine with the feminine, the man-made with the organic, and the harsh with the homey.
Take the vintage feel of industrial design into the modern era with this pared-down, elevated twist on the style. Signature industrial elements such as casters, matte metallic finishes, and exposed nailhead trim are paired with plush textiles and heavy layers of texture, creating a look that’s invitingly tactile while still maintaining its gritty charm.
A lighter, brighter color palette keeps the space feeling airy and refined, and can be complemented by statement pieces in traditional industrial finishes.
To add industrial flair to an otherwise classic space, focus on materials and finishes rather than industrial silhouettes and motifs. The marriage of preppy upholstery with down-to-earth woods and metals creates a look that’s approachably elegant – try a set of matching industrial tables in the living room, or a wood-and-metal dining table surrounded by classic upholstered dining chairs.
Need some more inspiration? Check out these industrial-chic spaces and take notes on what makes them so special … Whether you’re crushing on a color palette or smitten with a certain piece of furniture, you’re sure to come away with some valuable ideas.
This dining space perfectly toes the line between industrial grittiness and down-to-earth style. The distressed wood elements are light enough to retain their farmhouse flair, while black metal accents and a chic Edison bulb pendant keep the look decidedly industrial.
Now that you’ve got the scoop on industrial design, you can start bringing the look into your own home. Whether you’re looking for a gritty-chic coffee table or a set of distressed decorative trunks, Hayneedle has everything you need to create an industrial space that’s uniquely your own. Browse our curated Idea Gallery for additional inspiration, or get straight to shopping industrial essentials.