Industrial Interiors: Décor Inspired by the Industrial Revolution

While modern décor is all about minimalism, open spaces, and smooth lines, it was preceded by a very different type of design. The industrial design theme focuses on attaining a raw and unfinished feeling, inspired by the industrial revolution, when electricity was first becoming a widespread commodity and machines with moving parts were a huge breakthrough. The utilitarian aesthetic of industrial-inspired homes is about sophistication, hominess, and warmth, even though its component parts might seem less than impressive to some.

            While Art Deco, Art Noveau, and Minimalist Zen looks tend to shy away from imperfection and rugged materials, industrialism embraces them. This is because until recently, decorating one’s home was about covering up and hiding the aspects of that home that otherwise would have reminded one that the building in which they are residing is actually built from something. Today, designers, homeowners, and other creative are seeking out if not artificially constructing that raw, exposed look on their own.

            In industrial design, form meets function meets style. Sound confusing? Let us explain. Industrial décor allows functional pieces to be front and center, not hidden under cushions or behind curtains. Anything that folds or slides is a perfect addition to an industrial home. Exposed pipes, ducts, and other structural elements are also welcomed, in addition to the interior structural supports of furniture and decoration.

            You may have heard of steampunk, a sci-fi alternative fashion trend combining a neo-Victorian aesthetic with exciting industrial advancements (that today would seem primitive or boring). In fashion, this often involves combining the dapper top hates and sweeping dresses of the Wild West or 19th-century Britain with copper goggles, ornate wristwatches, metal masks, and more, all with the intricate working parts proudly on display. In fact, industrial décor plays off of this very same theme. Clocks with gears, metal sheeting or beams, pendants, and cast-iron lighting structures go along perfectly with this idea.

            Even though we just spoke about metalwork, wood pieces also perfectly the design’s taste. Wood is a ubiquitous material used in all kinds of material designs, but its natural grains, knots, and darker coloration is often buffed, brushed, or smoothed away. Not on industrial design’s watch! (Get it?) Worn, mismatched, or aged wood adds an authentic, organic feel to the home. Metal accessories incorporated with some raw wood pieces have an unabashed, unapologetic functional look and feel to them. That exact idea is the behind the industrial aesthetic: allowing the functional parts to be on display, celebrated just as they are, and not blended in with the newer or fancier accessories.

              In fact, industrial design highly celebrates contrast in general. Mixed materials such as raw wood and metal go perfectly together. Whenever the utilitarian pieces of an object can be set against a slightly differently-toned surface, that’s a good thing in the industrial designer’s opinion. For instance, dark or shiny metal fixtures, such as bolt heads or hinges, are right at home on their wooden structures. Think about heavy wooden doors, wooden tables or trunks, and shelving. On the same vein, a rough concrete floor with exposed brick walls can be juxtaposed against soft sheets and pillows. Perhaps the best example of this crisp contrast comes in the lighting fixtures. Exposed-bulb lighting, or even wrought-iron lanterns, is a perfect way to incorporate some historical, weathered charm into your home.

            Also called the “warehouse” look, industrial design is all about honoring function and structure and refusing to change it to make it seem cleaner or more modern. That’s why it’s a popular hobby for industrial homeowners to camp out at flea markets, ferreting out some cool salvaged or repurposed materials. A good example would be turning an old-fashioned foot-operated sewing machine into a desk or table. Again, it’s worth stating that clocks with exposed gearwork make a beautiful addition to any industrial home. And if you’re wondering how you’ll coordinate all your new furniture and gadgets color-wise, don’t worry: the industrial theme is about deep earthy towns, like greys, blacks, browns, and whites. Everything is sure to go together.

            If you’re looking for a change from the modern sleek lines found in almost every contemporary home or that trendy bohemian look that so many people seem to love, don’t be afraid to try out an industrial look. Have fun with it! With old collectibles and funky woodwork, no two industrial homes will ever look the same.