Industrial Interior Design: Everything You Need to Know

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Now, the continued rise of adaptive reuse projects has solidified industrial design in our interiors…

Now, the continued rise of adaptive reuse projects has solidified industrial design in our interiors vernacular as more than just a trend, but a continually evolving style. “[Giving] these preexisting industrial buildings a second chance at functionality invites a unique allure to these tight, cold atmospheres, redefining our emotion towards how we should occupy them,” says Truong and Dang. 

What is modern industrial design?

The entryway of a Michael Del Piero project.

The entryway of a Michael Del Piero project.  

Photo: Janet Mesic-Mackie

“Modern industrial design is relatively consistent with past versions in that it still incorporates the use of metal, beams, reclaimed wood and other more streamlined materials,” Del Piero says. However, as she noted before, there are still versions that can feel outdated and stale. Older versions of the look included more literal decor objects such as gears or uncovered light bulbs, which are used more sparingly in modern industrial design. “The look of kitchens and baths in these spaces seems to have changed the most dramatically, with a more modern, minimal style being mixed with the heavy industrial vibe,” she adds. 

Vuong and Trang see modern industrial design as an evolution of the grittier look through the amalgamation of various design styles. “Previous versions of industrial spaces definitely emphasized the rawness of its skin and built upon that environment to make the best use of the existing space,” the designers explain. “However, there is an amalgamation of style crossovers happening today that redefines how we think a certain design style should ultimately look.” The pair are finding the introduction of modern elements and farmhouse-style materials (a style that also emphasizes a rustic, natural palette) as a more contemporary take on the look. “Industrial interior design of today has redefined the limited approach of how a space can feel ‘industrial.’” 

Defining elements and characteristics of industrial interior design

To better understand industrial interior design, consider the following list of design elements often found in industrial-style homes.

  • Visible structural elements such as exposed brick walls, exposed beams, or open ductwork
  • Rough wood or concrete floors
  • Neutral color palette with an emphasis on darker tones such as blacks, grays, and whites 
  • Repeated use of raw materials, usually leather and wood in chairs, tables, sofas, and other home decor items 
  • Emphasis on steel and dark metal, both structurally in beams and columns and in decoration, furniture, fixtures, and artwork
  • High ceilings 
  • Large windows 
  • A minimalist spirit—excessive ornamentation and detailing is not often found in industrial spaces

Examples of traditional interior design

If you’re interested in creating an industrial home or space, consider these projects from Del Piero and Truong and Dang. 

Industrial kitchen 

Black counters rustic wood furniture and concrete flooring are on display in this kitchen designed by Michael Del Piero.

Black counters, rustic wood furniture, and concrete flooring are on display in this kitchen designed by Michael Del Piero.

Photo: Costas Picadas

Industrial living room 

The concrete floors woodbeamed ceiling and steelframed doors seen in this room by Michael Del Piero are all core...

The concrete floors, wood-beamed ceiling, and steel-framed doors, seen in this room by Michael Del Piero, are all core elements of industrial interior design.  

Photo: Janet Mesic Mackie

Industrial bedroom 

An industrial bedroom designed by  Michael Del Piero.

An industrial bedroom designed by  Michael Del Piero

Photo: Janet Mesic Mackie

Industrial design style in hospitality spaces 

A burger restaurant with sleek metal and neon signs

In this restaurant designed by Very Handsome Studio, guests are greeted by sleek black metal and exposed ducts, which are classic elements of industrial interiors. 

Photo: Casey Millett 

How to bring industrial interior design into your home

While you don’t have to live in a loft apartment or in an old factory to incorporate an industrial, chic interior design style into your home, there are certain considerations to be mindful of before embarking on a DIY makeover. “Lighting is very important to an industrial style space,” Truong and Dang say. “Due to the roughness of the finishes and rawness of the materials chosen, lighting becomes the key factor to breathe life and warmth into the space.” Generally, the pair say they don’t recommend the aesthetic in rooms or homes with little to no natural light. “It will create claustrophobia and discomfort,” they say, adding that “industrial style interior design is the most alluring when used in a large, high-ceiling area.” 

However, if you’ve determined that your space is a good candidate for the industrial look, Del Piero suggests taking a more modern approach to the style. “Maintain the most timeless design elements of the look, such as large windows, rough textures, and clean lines,” she suggests. Truong and Dang also advise others to consider the color palette and opt for furniture and decor items with dark, neutral tones. “Of course, colors are visible, but they are often seen naturally rather than artificially, like the green in natural plants, the red in the existing bricks, or the browns in the varying leathers and woods throughout the space,” the pair explain. 

Notably, it’s important to emphasize the structural industrial elements of a home like the beams, walls, and floors. However, “if the space is quite tight and shallow, opt for one or two grand gestures when implementing raw construction elements,” Truong and Dang say. “And keep decorations to a minimum; one unique lamp, a few books, and a large catchall is plenty to fill the room.”

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