Industrial Chic tells a story.
To understand this aesthetic, just imagine a workshop from the 1700s. It’s an open space with high ceilings, bare brick walls, wood floors, and exposed pipes and beams. It has no air conditioning or powerful lights; so enormous windows brighten and cool the building providing the potential for gorgeous views. The wide open space also gives the illusion of a larger room.
In your home, you can evoke that workshop with worn and rusty metals like tin, aluminum, iron, and steel. Some people add in copper with a mottled brown and teal patina. Walls of brick or pine slats accent concrete or distressed floors for authentic texture. The colors should stay neutral in gray and white palettes with darker earth tones for warmth.
Architecture plays the starring role in Industrial Chic.
If you want to make Industrial Chic your primary design element, start with your architecture. Open up the ceiling and expose structural supports. If you have brick behind your drywall, invite it into the open. Some older homes may have shiplap walls, which you can reveal for a popular rustic look.
If your home doesn’t already have these elements, you can add metal or wood crosspieces to achieve the desired aesthetic. Or go for reclaimed lumber floors and concrete countertops. See HGTV’s Fixer Upper photos of their Tiny Vintage Home makeover for inspiration.
For furniture, repurpose old cast-offs or look for reproductions with clean lines and emphasis on functionality. A draftsman’s table serves as a dining set. A dinged aluminum workbench becomes a breakfast bar. Add stools, like Arteriors’ Hinkley Bar Stools to finish it off. Sofas of natural or distressed leather in deep honey or coffee colors bring in a rustic touch.
Arteriors’ Hinkley Bar Stool combines rustic wood with iron.
As for accessories, old metal cabinets, typesetter’s blocks, and old-fashioned desk lamps all add to your look. If you love hunting in thrift stores and salvage yards, look for any gritty pieces with a rough past and no polish.
If you don’t have time for treasure hunting, there are plenty of reproductions that give you the same effect. Check out these incredible light bulbs that look like Edison’s surplus inventory, but use LEDs for modern efficiency.
Also consider Trash Deluxe, an offshoot of Industrial Chic in which craftsmen turn “trash” into high-end art and furniture. You may find wet bars built of old wine crates, novelty tables crafted from street signs, benches of reclaimed wood, or accent pieces encrusted with wrenches, nuts and chains.
Rough up other styles with a dose of industrial realty.
If you prefer contemporary, elegant, or traditional as your main design theme, a few industrial pieces will introduce striking contrasts. Consider art made from old road signs, wheels, cast iron counter weights, gears, pulleys, or pitted clock faces, either on your wall or as a display collection on shelves. A marred pine bench or pulley lamp can blend into any style.
Try John Richard’s whimsical desk lamp with tripod legs and counterweight in brass for a unique, light-hearted industrial touch.
For eye-catching variation, combine machine-like pieces with natural elements. Put plants around a rusty balance scale or an openwork iron étagère next to a picture window. And don’t forget the garden; a battered and crusted wheelbarrow, still waiting for its gardener to return, adds poignancy to spring flowers.
If you love mod or contemporary looks, use the Industrial Chic palette with a blast of bright color. Pit a knock-out fuchsia or radio-active green against the matte neutrals. The shocking hues add drama to the room and draw the eye to your showcase pieces.
Explore the softer side with Vintage Chic.
Vintage Chic favors used pieces and exposed materials, with a love of ravaged wood, rust, and peeling paint. The color palette leans more to soft whites and creams, inviting delicate pastels in where appropriate. And the items are mixed with simple linens that soften the rugged look. Old blanket chests, chipped armoires, and antique white iron beds with linen duvets all play well together in a Vintage Chic world. This style leaves space for more frills here and there as well, such as a gorgeous scratched and foxed old mirror in gilt.
Sligh’s Barton Creek Wyatt Desk with weathered wood and metal leg supports makes a great Vintage Chic centerpiece.
You can find Industrial Chic’s romantic yet pragmatic appeal almost anywhere. Look for inspiration in restaurants, office buildings, and even public gardens. And if you’d like some ideas for adding a little factory spirit to your home, contact us at The Guest Room Furniture and Design for some suggestions and examples that complement your home.