What is Industrial Design?

Posted In Design - 10/18/2019

Repurposed and Refined

Industrial design is all about our connections to the places we live. Bold but elegant, organic yet engineered, this style mixes modern and rustic vibes to surround you with a rich history. Treasured antiques, salvage finds, and new favorites all have a role in these visually striking yet highly functional homes.

Whether you live in a refurbished factory or just want to give your space some edge, there are plenty of ways to achieve this rugged and lived-in look. Use our decorating guide for easy steps to bring a bit of industrial style into your life.

Industrial Design Basics

Color and Materials

Rustic hues are the bread and butter of industrial decor. Cement, raw wood, and weathered metal are common elements in furniture of this style, so you're likely starting with a neutral color scheme. Choose pieces in beige, brown, and black as the foundation of your palette while adding pops of color to suit your personality.

These rooms often incorporate large-scale art, machinery, and other conversation starters that need a little open space for guests to fully appreciate them. As a result, accent hues here and there add visual interest and reflect your tastes without being distracting.

To liven up an industrial steel and walnut bar set, include brightly painted chairs. A cool shade like deep blue complements the warmth of brown wood furniture, while a vivid crimson would offset a black table frame.


One reason industrial home decor feels so curated and sophisticated is its use of texture. Items combine smooth and rough, natural and machined, raw and finished. Take for example a console with a sleek iron frame and a live-edge wood top. These contrasts produce an appealing interplay of eye-catching details and functional design.


When you think of industrial-style furniture, pipe legs, blocky frames, and squared lines may come to mind. Though this style definitely has strong modern and minimal influences, it also draws from rustic and vintage decor. The sweeping curves and decorative flourishes of traditional styles work to balance clean lines.

Industrial style combines dramatic design and down-to-earth practicality for a homey vibe. Pair a boxy, contemporary sofa with a round concrete end table to create visual variety. On the other hand, a roll-arm leather sectional brings classic comfort to a seating area featuring steel and glass bookcases.

Industrial Decorating by Room

Living Room

With so many structural pieces on display in industrial decor, cultivating comfort is essential. Consider upholstery with a distressed quality for a touch of coziness. Leather, linen, and cotton canvas soften the stark angles of modern couches, chairs, or stools.

The wide-open spaces of many industrial interiors require ample storage to keep clutter at bay. Showcase antiques on a sofa table, organize magazines in a locker-style accent cabinet, and stow coats on a rustic hall tree.

Dining Room

In most industrial kitchens, the dining table is the focal point. For the main gathering area, select a model that attracts attention with factory-inspired detailing, such as rivet borders, trestle bases, and pipe legs. Circle backless stools around your table for a utilitarian vibe, or pick metal cafe chairs for an iconic industrial look.

You can also create a more intimate setting for family dinners and cozy breakfasts using a bar height bistro set. These high-top options are both fashionable and functional, allowing you to sit and relax or stand and mingle with guests.


The bedroom is the spot to truly show off your personal style, and industrial furniture offers character in spades. Repurposed wood headboards carry a rustic theme through your decor. Or, go for a traditional twist with a wrought iron bed. Want a hint of softness? Try upholstered frames offering nailhead borders.


An industrial study is perfect for productivity. Ergonomic mesh and leather desk chairs provide the support you need plus a cool, modern shape. Open-base desks maximize square footage and make small offices seem large. Complete your design with a substantial metal storage cabinet for supplies and files.

Industrial Home Decor


Industrial decorating is about realizing the potential for beauty in functional things. The typical industrial apartment may start life short on comfort but full of history and character. A blend of old and new decorations transforms an industrial space from a blank canvas into a place to call home.

Elements like bare brick walls, exposed ductwork, and wood floors help, but you don't have to live in an abandoned factory to pull off this look. Industrial decor plays a vital role in these sophisticated, welcoming interiors. Vintage-style rugs, oversized clocks, and sculptural art contribute to the authentic feel of the space.

Another option is to supplement your accessories with reclaimed items, rust and all. Give new life to antiques and castoffs by repurposing them as decor. Salvaged cogs, steamer trunks, crates, and old globes lend industrial rooms a storied past.


Industrial layouts are often large and open, so lighting is crucial to creating a warm and inviting ambiance. Form multiple layers of illumination using ceiling lights, task lighting, and accent lamps for an all-over glow.

Hang a dramatic rope pendant over a kitchen island, or add crisscrossing metal sconces to your bedroom walls. Multi-directional floor models work well around sofas or top a set of end tables with a pair of lanterns. Lamps in copper, bronze, or even cement and blown glass complement an industrial decor motif.

Humble Elegance

Industrial style is an invitation to move forward while keeping an eye on the past. Its use of neutral colors, natural textures, and raw materials make this design accessible and simple to pull off in any interior. All it takes is a mix of practicality and vision to fashion your industrial dream home.

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