Say Hello to Industrial Chic in Decorating Your Personal Space

If traditional or minimalist decorating approaches are not your cup of tea, then try going industrial. This path is a little off beat but the straightforward, no frills method of this design strategy is currently making waves.

Decorating Personal Space

Like fawning over British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, the appeal that industrial decorating presents may be hard to fathom. The thought of living in an area surrounded by cold steel structures and distressed metal surfaces are not as romantic as marble or neo-classical statues. As the name conveys, industrial sounds better left alone as a modern musical genre or as an era in human history – but with a closer look, you will find that the emphasis on utility and geometrical patterns has its charms.

Spaces with high ceilings and interesting structural features are perfect candidates for an industrial makeover. As such, abandoned factories and warehouses turned into expensive residential units gravitate towards this design. However, other living spaces such as condos and studio apartment units can effectively use this method as well.  These spaces may lack the high ceilings and wide floor areas but with the appropriate industrial elements, it is possible.

Here, the tenets of industrial decorating can work well with modern minimalist. As we can discern from trends in design, differences become blurry and the changes tend to be subtler with each passing season. In the end, we create a look that is unique and original. That screams personality, yes?

Decorating Personal Space

So what are the basic principles behind industrial decorating?

  • Expose structural features.  To industrialists, visible structural features are not eyesores. Use beams, wooden floors, concrete, and bricks as important design elements. Think of how Victorian workshops may have appeared and use those structures to your advantage.
  • Accentuate with man-made materials. Use a lot of steel, glass, concrete, and bricks. In industrial decorating, radiators are as valuable as contemporary steel sculptures.
  •  Do away with curves. The emphasis is on clean, geometric lines and a prominence of rounded corners or curves is veering away from the industrial look.
  • Go for sleek and shiny surfaces. Sharing a similar principle with the minimalists, industrial favors shiny and metallic surfaces. Rooms inspired by industry would go for metallic tables, for example. Another way is to use stainless steel tiles, these ultra-modern tiles work well with traditional building materials.  Stainless steel tiles are not easy to maintain but they are also hardy against rust and moisture, making it perfectly suited for a kitchen backsplash or a bathroom accent/border.

Decorating Personal Space

  • Décor. You can say that industrial decorating is eco-friendly as well. Décor – along with iron framed shelves – relies on recycled materials. You will find that industrial spaces have a taste for old lockers and steel filing cabinets. To add a touch of warmth and cheer, use hand-woven rugs or potted plants.
  • Look at your lighting fixtures. The lighting scheme plays a significant role as well.  Together with your general lighting, install pendant lights and use track lighting to highlight focal points. 
  • Change the color palette. Industrial prefers neutral colors. Choose shades of Gray, Browns, old metal, and copper that will complement the lighting design.

The industrial look is easy to accomplish. With only a few accent pieces and an emphasis on strong architectural elements, industrial is very straightforward and practical. There lies the charm. The even better surprise is that it can be quite fashionable and intimate in the end.

Roberta Madison works for, a leading provider of tiles products. You can follow on G+.


Erin Emanuel