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.

Tidbits&Twine Drafting Table Desktues
My desk in the master bedroom consists of a rustic iron and wood drafting table paired with a trumeau mirror and French-inspired chair. As is my habit, the mirror is leaning against the wall, but in this case, it’s so the angle captures the reflection of the chandelier. (P.S. – Can you tell I just got that frame and haven’t yet put pictures in? Lol!)
Tidbits&Twine Drafting Table Desk Gears
Working gears allow the table to raise, as well as tilt.


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!

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!

A rustic cart is used as a side table in this living room design. Image: Kasey Buick

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…

Industrial bar stools and light fixtures mixed with beautifully shabby cabinets. Image: House Beautiful

…to Traditional…

Image: Cynthia Marks – Interiors

…to Modern.

Image: Place Architects


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.

Image: dSPACE Studio Ltd.
Image: Jute Interior Design


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

via Pinterest. A vintage scale used as a plant stand for an indoor herb garden.
A vintage scale used as a plant stand for an indoor herb garden. Image: Pinterest

2. Pair shabby Industrial with formal pieces to create a visual juxtaposition and the look of Casual Elegance

hydrangeas in rusty bucket - Tidbits&Twine
Beautiful flowers in a rusty bucket for a look of Casual Elegance.  Image: Zinnia Cottage on Etsy
Vintage Dress Form with Pearls 2 - Tidbits&Twine
I’ve paired my vintage dress form with three sets of pearls to mix the rustic with the refined.


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

A factory cart used as a coffee table
A factory cart used as a coffee table. Image: The Old Painted Cottage


4. If you have a collection of Industrial items, group them together for a larger impact

A collection of machinery gears used as a sculptural display. Image: Restoration Hardware
A collection of machinery gears used as a sculptural display. Image: Restoration Hardware


5. If you have several different industrial items, try to spread them throughout the space to create a visual echo and a unified look

Image: Pottery Barn
Image: Pottery Barn


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:


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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  1. Jessie Sandoval says:

    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?

    1. 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!

      :) Kim

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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