How to Create an Industrial Chic Space that Fits Your Style

Born from old factories and industrial warehouses, today’s industrial style interiors have become very chic and desirable, whether or not they are in a truly industrial space. While this decor trend became popular at the time when urban areas stared converting lofts to living spaces, today many a suburban home features industrial decor. Sometimes this is carried throughout the space or just included in the form of smaller elements in the house. Either way, there are some key characteristics to industrial decor that should be considered when designing a space that is intended to fit this style — as well as your own!

Mix it Up

Architectural elements of these spaces are exposed bricks, visible pipes, concrete floors, and large windows. The combination of these features helps create an open space that feels like warehouse or factory. In addition, the materials used in the space, along with the limited color palette typical of this design style, can enhance the feeling.

If you have a space that is more refined, using industrial decor elements — even if they are not architectural — can transform the room into an industrial chic style. The easiest and most practical way to create an industrial style interior is to mix the characteristic elements with pieces you may already have. The style is easily mixed and matched with rustic or eclectic decor pieces, especially when keeping to a mainly neutral color palette of cream, gray, brown, tan, and black.

Here, rustic metal containers in a variety of colors add some brightness to an industrial table. The piece features a number of characteristics common in industrial style furniture, such as wheeled legs, wire mesh, metal and upcycled wood. By swapping out the colorful items for more neutral metal pieces, the setting will have a much edgier feeling.

Wheeled legs are common on industrial style furniture.View in gallery
Wheeled legs are common on industrial style furniture.

A basic wood slab table that is found in many a kitchen or dining room can take on a more technical look when paired with industrial chairs done with wire mesh seats. The heavier dose of metal takes the table from a farmhouse to a factory aesthetic.

Surrounding a basic piece with edgier selections changes the decor.View in gallery
Surrounding a basic piece with edgier selections changes the decor.

This is truly a mix-and-match style console. The refined shape of a formal piece is covered with big rivets and sheet metal that has been aged. It’s a great example of how combining elements from different style genres can create a truly unique piece.

Unexpected combinations can yield spectacular design results.View in gallery
Unexpected combinations can yield spectacular design results.

Go Heavy on Metal

Plenty of metal is a hallmark of industrial design, whether it is in the form of furniture, accessories, or architectural elements. The particular metals used can be of any color, but are most often neutral and very often weathered and rustic. The overall look should never be shiny or glitzy and the pieces should definitely not be ornate. Some people consider the metal-heavy look a bit on the cold side, but there are ways to add softer elements an industrial room without making sacrifices on style.

This table has a heavily weathered look and features plenty of metal on the base and shelf underneath. Metal stools in bright colors push the style a bit to the farmhouse end of the spectrum, but if they were painted in a neutral shade, it would definitely be a fully industrial ensemble. Pairing these colored stools with more rugged accessories instead of the glassware shown would also make the setting edgier.

A large statement piece sets the tone for a room.View in gallery
A large statement piece sets the tone for a room.

Not all fans of industrial style like the heavily weathered look, so for those people there are plenty of reproductions on the market that convey industrial style with a little more polish. This architect’s desk has a dark metal base with wheels for height adjustment and is paired with a stool that is mostly metal. While there is plenty of wood in this set, it is the dark metal that dominates.

Choosing new industrial pieces creates a different mood.View in gallery
Choosing new industrial pieces creates a different mood.

A metal side chair with a design that is reminiscent of barbed wire can add a dose of industrial style to a room. Adding a fabric throw softens an interior that is awash in metal elements.

The shape is formal but the metal and the construction make it modern.View in gallery
The shape is formal but the metal and the construction make it modern.

A stand-out bar cart can be used for an industrial touch, especially when it is made mostly from metal. This one is a new production, but certainly has the factory feel. From the glass-front shelves to the side bottle rack that supports the wooden table leaf at the top, it has all the requirements for industrial style.

This type of piece is easy to add to room that is already furnished.View in gallery
This type of piece is easy to add to room that is already furnished.

Repurpose and Recycle

A big part of industrial decor is repurposing and recycling. All those old factory pieces that were designed for the dump can have a new life in imaginative industrial decor. Vintage items or those that are inspired by retro appliances, gears, or gadgets are great for this style.Spaces done in the industrial style highlight raw materials and natural finishes, yielding rooms that are eminently casual and without pretense.

This fabulous console table repurposes an old tractor hood as the base, with a simple piece of glass for the top.  Its weathered paint slightly downplays the brightness of the red, making it a perfect pop of color for an otherwise muted color palette.

Old machinery frequently stars in industrial spaces.View in gallery
Old machinery frequently stars in industrial spaces.

While a real industrial interior would never have this much glitz and glam, the cabinet below is definitely from this decor style. The drawers are reminiscent of an old library card file with their hook and label knobs and wheeled feet. Adding this kind of piece to a glam setting like this indeed adds a subtle industrial touch to the space, while not changing the overall decor style.

This demonstrates how it's possible to add an industrial piece to virtually any space.View in gallery
This demonstrates how it’s possible to add an industrial piece to virtually any space.

Again, a repurposed drawer unit is placed atop roller feet and topped with wood to make a marvelous side table or nightstand. Paired with quirky accessories and a large vintage element like this antique clock face, the grouping is definitely industrial. As a matter of fact, the clock face is a common element you will see in industrial interior designs.

Play up the repurposed angle by changing the accessories and wall decor.View in gallery
Play up the repurposed angle by changing the accessories and wall decor.

Sometimes a repurposed piece serves as a model for new reproductions. This table base was created to resemble a piece of factory machinery, with its large wheel for adjusting the height via the scissoring mechanism. It’s not as rough and tumble as a truly repurposed piece, but still lends the room an industrial vibe.

All-metal pieces like this are clearly industrial in style.View in gallery
All-metal pieces like this are clearly industrial in style.

Rough and Raw

Wood that is in a weathered or raw state is perfect for an industrial chic space. This minimalist raw plank shelving unit is a wonderful base for any type of accessories. Change out the things you display to either enhance or downplay the industrial feeling of a piece of furniture. Here, the lamps also make use of raw wood for a rough flavor. The lamp with red accents is more polished but still fits the industrial decor scheme.

Bobos Intriguing Objects has a wide variety of industrial chic pieces.View in gallery
Bobos Intriguing Objects has a wide variety of industrial chic pieces.

Even a small bar cart can help pull in an industrial tone. Raw planks are combined with a heavy metal frame and larger wheels that make the cart anything but prim and proper. It has an edge — but a versatile one. Its lack of shine and formality is perfect for a masculine space too.

No matter what goes on this cart, it is decidedly industrial.View in gallery
No matter what goes on this cart, it is decidedly industrial.

Casual bar seating gets the industrial treatment in this design. Large, heavy metal bases are combined with thick wood slices for a unique look. Modern foot rests lend a little shine to the set, but do not detract from the raw mood that the pieces convey.

Lots of metal and slab wood are also a good combination for an industrial space.View in gallery
Lots of metal and slab wood are also a good combination for an industrial space.

Repurposed crates are ideal for rooms that are done in an industrial chic style. Whether they are DIY or purchased pieces, items like this ottoman pair a weathered wood element with leather upholstery, adding another texture to the space without softening it too much.  In fact, leather is a popular material for industrial decor styles that need a soft touch.

This style can incorporate upholstery as long as it is on the masculine side.View in gallery
This style can incorporate upholstery as long as it is on the masculine side.

Large, chunky wood is a perfect material for accents as well as furnishings. These mirror frames that are like big gears — a really popular industrial shape — really push the feel of the space.  Even using just one would be a great accent, but arranging them as if they were a set of working gears makes a dramatic wall decor statement.

This arrangement combines metal, wood and leather.View in gallery
This arrangement combines metal, wood and leather.

Hit the Salvage Yard for DIY

Repurposing items and DIY style pieces are perfect to use in this type of decor style.  If you like to create DIY projects, hit the salvage yard and see what you can find that will fit your space either in its raw condition, or that can be painted and revamped. Everything from small accessories to larger architectural elements left from old industrial locations can be used in some way. Here, wood gear mirrors are turned into accent tables and a Ferris wheel element becomes a conversation piece accessory.

When trying to incorporate salvaged pieces, let your creativity go wild.View in gallery
When trying to incorporate salvaged pieces, let your creativity go wild.
These accent table combine gears, vintage clock faces and plenty of metal.View in gallery
These accent table combine gears, vintage clock faces and plenty of metal.

Combining natural elements with industrial pieces can bring life to space. This arrangement incorporates industrial holders with a variety of old-fashioned glassware, including test tubes. By styling them with greenery and adding small pots of ferns and herbs, it creates a montage that injects some natural elements to soften the hard-edge of a mainly industrial decor style.

Greenery is a great way to add a lighter touch to a heavy metal decor style.View in gallery
Greenery is a great way to add a lighter touch to a heavy metal decor style.

Go for Statement Pieces

Choosing a statement piece in an industrial style really sets the tone for a room. It doesn’t matter if the aim is to add a little edge or to create a full-on industrial chic space, a statement piece can do the trick. Before investing in a piece of furniture, it’s important to consider the area being styled and what materials will best convey the look. Enough metal already? Then perhaps a statement piece made of rough-hewn wood will do the trick. Space feeling too cold? Warm it up with a slouchy, weathered leather sofa or chair. Need one last dash of pizazz? Try an eye-catching console or sideboard.

This cool chair combines metal and leather in an aeronautically inspired design.View in gallery
This cool chair combines metal and leather in an aeronautically inspired design.
Plenty of metal and rivets make this an instant focal piece for an entryway.View in gallery
Plenty of metal and rivets make this an instant focal piece for an entryway.
A number of unique elements make this console/wine storage cabinet a real conversation piece.View in gallery
A number of unique elements make this console/wine storage cabinet a real conversation piece.

Art with an Edge

Sometimes all you need is to make statement with some edgy art, which can be just the right touch for adding an undercurrent of industrial chic to a room. There are lots of options when it comes to edgy art. Besides paintings and collages that have an urban edge, repurposed signage — vintage or reproduction — as well as other three-dimensional wall pieces are possibilities for amping up the space. This lounge sign is perfect for a living room that is edgy and casual. Flat signage that is weathered also adds industrial flair, depending on the subject of the piece.

Three-dimensional signs are extra cool wall art ideas for a room.View in gallery
Three-dimensional signs are extra cool wall art ideas for a room.

Anything with exposed internal workings has an industrial edge. This clock was created to highlight the inner construction, putting cogs, wires and connections on full display. While this piece has a real industrial edge, it would be appropriate for more styles of decor than just this one.

Rusted metal is a very appropriate finish for industrial decor accents.View in gallery
Rusted metal is a very appropriate finish for industrial decor accents.

Last, but certainly not least, every space, no matter what style, has room for some whimsy. This take on a mounted deer head combines a modern metal base fashioned from strips. It doesn’t matter if the antlers are faux or for real — your choice — but the edgy take on a kitschy decor piece is a fun way to lighten up an industrial space that might be feeling too serious.

Elements of fun are important in any type of decor and industrial is no exception.View in gallery
Elements of fun are important in any type of decor and industrial is no exception.

While industrial decor has a number of elements that are characteristic of the style, there’s still a lot of freedom to style a space that fits your particular preferences and lifestyle. How strictly you adhere to the palette of colors and materials typical of the style is up to you, as well as how many industrial elements are included in a space.  Overall, it’s a modern — and sometimes minimalist — look that is easy to make your own.