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Key Traits of Industrial Interior Design

It’s about proudly displaying the building materials that many try to conceal. It’s about adding a raw, unfinished look to the most thoughtfully designed homes. It’s about selecting pieces that are as much about function as style. It’s industrial interior design, and today’s post celebrates this growing trend. Used in loft apartments, modern homes and commercial spaces around the world, industrial design showcases neutral tones, utilitarian objects, and wood and metal surfaces.

The result: a “warehouse look” that combines a true industrial feel with a range of other styles, from the earthy to the polished. This look isn’t just for “unfinished” spaces. In fact, many design enthusiasts who celebrate upscale interiors are incorporating industrial style into their homes through features such as stainless steel surfaces, metal light fixtures and vintage furniture. Retailers such as Restoration Hardware have helped foster a love of industrial design with their thoughtfully designed pieces based on specific furnishings of the past. Today we highlight a few key traits of industrial interior design so you can bring this look home…

Exposed Pipes and Ducts

One signature element of industrial interior design is the presence of features that people typically try and conceal, such as pipes and ducts. You can imagine what a liberating strategy this proved to be when the concept of warehouse apartments began gaining popularity! Converting former industrial spaces (such as factories) to residential living may have been a challenge, but leaving a few raw elements exposed reminded residents of the buildings’ original purpose and eliminated further construction. [from Lucy Call]

Industrial living room with an exposed ceiling Key Traits of Industrial Interior Design
Industrial living room with an exposed ceiling

What may have started as a necessity became a sought-after style, and many design enthusiasts now specifically seek out this “unfinished” look. [from Apavisa]

Industrial dining room in a warehouse apartment Key Traits of Industrial Interior Design
Industrial dining room in a warehouse apartment

Exposed pipes can also be a fabulous choice for all-white spaces, as the brightness of the walls and ceiling are a sharp contrast to the metal of the piping, as shown below. [from Christopher A. Dorsey]

Industrial New York living room with exposed pipes
Industrial New York living room with exposed pipes

In addition to metal pipes and ducts, the presence of metal on walls and doors is another key feature of industrial design… [from Lucy Call]

Industrial bedroom
Industrial bedroom

People who long for the industrial look may even incorporate the concept of exposed pipes through furniture finds. For example, this Maritime Shelf System in Polished Nickel from Restoration Hardware features metal brackets and tubes finished in polished nickel. Inspired by the pipes that hug ships’ bulkheads, this piece has a true industrial feel:

Metal and wood industrial shelves
Metal and wood industrial shelves

Wood and Metal Surfaces

A plethora of wood and metal surfaces can be found in industrial-style interiors. It’s no wonder that earth tones and neutrals are popular color choices for these spaces. Below we see an abundance of metal on ceiling, staircase and window. Also note the use of wooden panels on the ceiling… [from dSPACE Studio]

Metal staircase in an industrial home
Metal staircase in an industrial home

A wooden table paired with metal chairs. Exposed pipes and ducts. A kitchen with stainless steel counters. These industrial elements combine to create the chic modern home below. [photo by Lincoln Barber for Emerick Architects]

Metallic details in an industrial home
Metallic details in an industrial home

In another photo from the same residence, we see a machined hood, custom stainless cabinetry and exposed ducts, which together create the feel of a commercial kitchen. This stylish approach is also undeniably functional. [photo by Lincoln Barber for Emerick Architects]

Stainless steel surfaces in an industrial kitchen
Stainless steel surfaces in an industrial kitchen

We often see metal and wood incorporated into the same industrial pieces, as shown by the kitchen island and shelving below… [from Natsumi]

Metal surfaces in an industrial kitchen
Metal surfaces in an industrial kitchen

Industrial design enthusiasts often seek out a metallic feel through the use of colors such as gray. The industrial bathroom in the next featured image is filled with stylish details. Weathered gray walls enhance the steely look. [from John Lum Architecture, Ltd.]

Gray tones in an industrial bathroom
Gray tones in an industrial bathroom

Vintage Furniture and Accessories

Let’s talk furniture. We know that industrial design involves the use of metal and wood. It is precisely these materials that combine to create a large number of industrial-style furnishings. Many are truly vintage, while others are inspired by old factory and laboratory pieces. Note how the industrial bar stools in the kitchen below fit the space perfectly. [photo by Eduard Hueber, from Jane Kim Design]

Industrial kitchen with vintage-style seating
Industrial kitchen with vintage-style seating

As mentioned, retailers such as Restoration Hardware celebrate a love of industrial design through new pieces that evoke the past. Below we see the Vintage Toledo Dining Chair in Antique Green, a reproduction of the classic vintage-inspired draftsman’s chair. Metal meets wood for an earthy modern look.

Vintage industrial dining chair
Vintage industrial dining chair

For a backless and slightly more polished version of the seating above, we have the Vintage Toledo Dining Stool in Grey Enamel. Shiny, steely and compact, it makes a big statement without overpowering the room.

Vintage dining stool
Vintage dining stool

The Remy Bar and Counter Stools from Restoration Hardware are modeled after early-20th-century French café chairs. A powder-coated steel frame and an over-sized vertical slat create a sleek industrial look:

Industrial seating from Restoration Hardware
Industrial seating from Restoration Hardware

In addition to vintage furniture, antique light fixtures are popping up in industrial homes, adding weathered flair as they dangle from the ceiling in style… [from ROMA]

Industrial kitchen with vintage lighting
Industrial kitchen with vintage lighting

Let’s not forget about the resurgence of vintage industrial metal furniture in the form of cabinets. In fact, many antique dealers are stocking up on metal doctor’s office furnishings and selling these pieces for thousands of dollars. You can also buy these items new. For example, below we have the Circa 1900 French Linen Factory Medium Bath Cabinet from Restoration Hardware. The piece was inspired by a pair of metal cabinets built around 1900 for a French linen factory.

Industrial metal cabinet
Industrial metal cabinet

This 1930s Laboratory Stainless Steel Storage Cabinet from Restoration Hardware boasts a design based on cabinets that equipped 1930s American laboratories. Hand-welded stainless steel, zinc hardware and bullet hinges give this piece true style…

Vintage-style laboratory cabinet
Vintage-style laboratory cabinet

As you can see, industrial style takes many forms. From exposed piping on ceilings and walls to wood and metal furnishings and accents, there are many ways you can get the industrial look at home. Whether you go vintage or stick with new items, there’s are pieces for every price point.

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