For many years, my husband and I have included a few industrial items in our home because it’s my husband’s favorite style. (Although, his love of this style didn’t start with home decor, but rather from his love of Steampunk toys!) We have a beautiful iron and wood industrial drafting table, an adjustable wood and steel stool and even a weathered metal mirror. It used to be difficult for me to find industrial items, but now they are everywhere as the trend toward Industrial Chic continues to rise.
So just what is Industrial Chic?
Industrial is a design style that finds beauty in aged, utilitarian design. It’s aged woods and worn textures mixed with forged or welded metal. Tin, aluminum, iron, steel are all used in Industrial design so long as they have a matte finish and little hint of patina. The look is simple and clean with a focus on function, which lends it to looking a bit more masculine than other design styles. And as Lisa Frederick, a contributor at Houzz, points out, Industrial didn’t originally start as a “style” but rather, was a reflection of workday life!
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I refer to my use of Industrial as Industrial Chic because I typically add some feminine elements to this otherwise more masculine style. See below for tips on how you can mix Industrial items with other pieces.
Why It Works?
Industrial Chic works as either an all-encompassing design style or just a small design element mixed with another style. Even if you’re not 100% committed to Industrial Chic as a design style, you can still incorporate a bit of this look through a few individual Industrial items. Plus, Industrial items never have to be used in the manner they were intended, so any individual piece can have many, many uses!
The beauty of Industrial is that it’s timeless, neutral, simple and natural. Given this, you can mix individual Industrial pieces in with any other type of design style, from Shabby…
How to Use It?
How to incorporate Industrial Chic really depends on whether you use it as a Style or as an Element.
Embracing Industrial Chic as a Style
If your style is Industrial Chic, start with a neutral color palatte – think grays and whites. Then, to add some warmth to the space, layer in some warm wood tones. The overall color palette will reflect the colors found in metal, wood and leather. For a contemporary twist, you can add a bright accent color like lime green, tangerine or fuscia.
Use the architecture of your space to your advantage and put the “bones” of the structure on display. Industrial Chic spaces are often wide, open spaces with exposed pipes, brick or beams.
Adding Industrial Chic Elements
The Industrial style is too sleek and “hard” for my personal taste, so instead, I love to add just a few Industrial elements to my home to give it a lived-in look with a bit of history. If you plan on adding just a few Industrial pieces, here are some ideas to get you started.
Tips & Tidbits for Decorating with Industrial Items
1. Incorporate smaller Industrial items with natural elements (i.e. plants, flowers) to soften the lines of the Industrial item and create a beautiful vignette
2. Pair shabby Industrial with formal pieces to create a visual juxtaposition and the look of Casual Elegance
3. Never limit yourself to an item’s intended purpose. Think outside the box and look at each item as decor rather than a functional piece
4. If you have a collection of Industrial items, group them together for a larger impact
5. If you have several different industrial items, try to spread them throughout the space to create a visual echo and a unified look
Where to Buy Industrial Items?
It used to be that you could only find Industrial decor browsing through the displays at vintage flea markets, but today, even the big box stores sell Industrial pieces. And you can find Industrial items in a wide range of prices, depending on whether they are vintage or today’s popular reproductions.
Here are my Top 10 favorite mass market online sites for finding fantastic Industrial pieces:
- Restoration Hardware
- Pottery Barn
- Antique Farmhouse
- Bits of Vintage
- Ballard Designs
- Cost Plus
- Urban Outfitters
- Home Decorators Collection
- West Elm
Industrial Chic is rooted in history with its simplistic form and utilitarian appeal. As a style, Industrial Chic has a more modern feel. As an element, it adds a bit of unexpected vintage flair.
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I have a few pieces that I found along the way here & there. Some are pretty filthy but the blend of rust & patina are amazing. How do you clean items up for home use without taking to much of the old industrial charm away?
Hi Jessie! In all honesty, I just give them a wipe with a rag to loosen any dirt and debris and that’s it. I feel like I should give you some amazing answer for cleaning, but I like the rustic look so I leave it!
Definitely a design style to embrace! Each piece might have a story to go along with it or an alternate use at one time. The industrial chic coffee table/hand cart is a great example of that! Thanks for the inspirational post!
Another décor idea is to style your room in black and white with a pop of one accent color. It makes a bold statement. I decorated my daughter’s nursery in black and white with a pop of green. Not your traditional baby room colors, however I used a repeated damask print that gave the décor a feminine touch. It will also stay in style as she gets older and grows well in to her teens. I can keep the black and white, and simply change the accent color. Black and white adds interest to any room.
While the Industrial style is not right for everyone, I think it is fun to add a few pieces to any style that’s already been chosen. The versatility of many of the pieces you can find, or even make yourself, are numerous to say the least, and can add a great touch of whimsy to your rooms. Decorating should be about having fun and being a little bit daring at times.
I have been looking at for new ways to decorate my home and I like some of your pictures. I think that industrial chic seems like an interesting style. I kind of like the look of aged wood, but I think I am more partial to modern interior design. Thank you for the post.