It seems like industrial design has been all the hype in the last couple of years. And I’m not talking just about covers of lifestyle magazines, but also about what we see on TV, in the homes of celebrities, our favorite bars and pubs. At some point, it seemed that I could hardly step out of house without stumbling at the tell-tale industrial lighting, appeal of the decayed and rough exposed brick walls.
Always looking to combine the best of both worlds – old-world charm and modern sleekness – industrial style certainly has a lot of it going for it. And truth be told, it didn’t take long before I decided to give it a try and see what all the hype’s about.
So, I decided to share my experiences with this versatile décor style that is so rich in character and aesthetical expression – richer than I have expected, if I might add! But, at the same time, I would also like to discuss what I see as one of the main misconceptions that still keep this style from becoming a long term household solution and not just an over-the-top
So, what is industrial style?
When you hear about industrial style, what are the first things that come to mind? Lofts with big windows and exposed brick? Decayed and textured concrete? A style for the urban city-dweller? Some of you might even assume that you need the right surroundings to truly pull off this look.
I would like to say that it is not necessarily too. Of course, all of the pictures above are something we have seen countless times. But, they are all over-the-top, pushed a bit too far to exemplify the core elements of this décor. In fact, if you took a better look at some of the first décor ideas that come to mind, you can easily see that many of them would be highly impractical.
So, I would like to suggest something different – for a regular home that doesn’t want to go to the extreme, industrial design is best served in small doses, increased slowly over time if you see it fit. What I mean by this is that there is nothing stopping you from experimenting with various elements of industrial style, adding more and more of them until you feel you found an industrial style of your own.
One can easily notice that industrial style doesn’t utilize a lot of bold colors or vivid and playful elements. On the contrary, this décor is founded on neutral shades which allow the space to appear clean and sleek. However, far from somewhat cold minimalism, industrial style comes with warm and inviting neutrals that are never in too stark contrast. Browns and tans are absolutely a must and industrial style and I would encourage to use them as dominant colors with other neutral shades serving simply as accents.
Another upside of this is the fact that not many elements excel at serving as accents while at the same time being of neutral color as is the case with natural materials, namely wood, stone and metal. Speaking of these, I guess there is not much need to mention that exposed brick or ductwork works as a charm!
Open layout and focus on spaciousness
Of course, urban lofts are somewhat of an industrial ideal, but you can recreate this aesthetic regardless of your surroundings. Open concept layouts are something you should go for if you have the space to pull it off correctly and if not – do not worry, you can easily make the room feel as open as possible.
You can achieve this by clearing out all the unnecessary clutter and focus on the functionality. Think plenty of negative space, wide pathways, multifunctional furniture and other elements.
A mix of metal and wood
As mentioned, mixing old and new is something much of the industrial style aesthetic relies upon. So, while the contrast in colors is certainly not as desirable as is the case with minimalism, contrast in materials certainly is. Juxtaposing different types of wood and metal throughout your place can be a fairly simple and easy way to achieve this. For best results, try to avoid wooden elements that look straight out of the factory, focusing instead on furniture and elements that look as if they have history. What’s more, you can get this style at a bargain if you go through couple of yard sales and secondhand stores.
When it comes to metal, there two main paths down which you may go – an oiled or brushed finish for a more antiqued look or polished chrome for a hypermodern and sleek expression. While I am personally fan of the former, I’ve seen some awesome examples of hypermodern industrial style which ensure that this consideration is absolutely worth your time.
Accessories, accessories and more accessories
Probably the most difficult part of pulling off a successful industrial style is to get enough of industrial-style accessories without creating too much clutter. In order to achieve this, you will have to be a bit clever about the choice of you accessories, focusing on those which also come with a certain pragmatic function. Think Edison bulbs or bar stools with strongly pronounced iron swivels.
Other hanging elements such as vintage photographs or factory machine parts can all be good choices. Ideally, you will want to incorporate these details in a number of different ways throughout your home – from textiles and wall art to lighting and décor items. If you do this carefully, your home will get that special retro-futuristic vibe that you have been going for in no time!