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Furnishing Your Home in Industrial Style: 7 Tips

16 April 2024

Exposed bricks and fixtures, dark, cold colours, wood and metal furniture: the industrial style is a popular architectural and design style of late. How to furnish a house in industrial style? In this article we give some advice on the subject, delving into the choice of furnishing elements, colours, finishes and materials.

What is meant by industrial style

Many people buying or renovating a house today are tempted by the industrial style, which has well-defined characteristics and a strong personality.

But what is the industrial style, or industrial?

A style of architecture, furniture and interior design that is actually not particularly modern. In fact, it was born in the city of New York during the 1950s, when the economic boom brought about the need for new living spaces. In this context, old industrial spaces (hence the name of the style), such as disused factories, warehouses, offices and logistics or office buildings, began to be recovered and reused.

In the course of the following decades, old disused work and commercial spaces were thus transformed into real homes. Several films and TV series are set in these spaces, thus giving the industrial style a fair amount of popularity also in Europe, mainly in large cities such as Berlin and London. As is often the case, what comes from a real need becomes a real trend: this is how the industrial style is particularly appreciated by artists, creative people and, in general, by young singles or families who want to live in a modern and comfortable environment.

The typical characteristics of industrial style

The aim of the industrial style is precisely to obtain dwellings that are equipped with every comfort and, why not, even luxurious, while retaining the original style and atmosphere of the old, remodelled industrial spaces.

The main room of the industrial style is that of the loft or penthouse, which has very specific characteristics: large open spaces interrupted only by pillars and columns, very high ceilings, exposed installations, rough cladding, large glass surfaces on the upper part of the walls.

If one finds oneself furnishing a loft or even a real industrial space to be converted into a living space, the industrial style is certainly the best choice because it represents the true stylistic essence of such environments. That said, any type of house or flat can still be furnished and finished to achieve the same industrial atmospheres.

In fact, one can focus on an industrial-derived style, keeping the characteristic details of this style unaltered even if the environment is not typical of an industrial space. Interior design has the task of limiting the cruder parts of this style by proposing something more comfortable, warm and refined.

Furnishing in industrial style: 7 elements to consider

The industrial style is a simple style with sober, sharp, sometimes angular lines; it is characterised by a decidedly practical and functional design, and by furniture elements made of robust materials with great character. What is surprising about this style is its being exactly halfway between vintage and modern, thus satisfying different tastes and preferences. Moreover, thanks to its characteristics, it is also very easy to contaminate with other furniture styles, such as shabby, Scandinavian or a more minimalist and chic modern style.

Like all design styles, industrial design has its own rules. To achieve this and make it instantly recognisable, a number of elements must be combined in terms of materials, colours, finishes, furniture elements and other accessories.

Designing an industrial-style house

A certain design style is not only achieved through furnishings, but also and first and foremost through proper architectural design (where this is possible, i.e., during the initial planning or total renovation of a house).

At this stage, it is possible to consider all the main elements that characterise the industrial style on a structural level, namely:

  • create open spaces or at least spaces that are as large and open as possible, without walls interrupting the continuity of the rooms;
  • design the presence of very high ceilings, which can be used to divide spaces by means of mezzanines that can be used as sleeping areas or study/office areas;
  • leave the presence of any columns or pillars within the open spaces, preferably in cast iron, wrought iron or reinforced concrete;
  • leave or implement exposed metal details, such as ceiling beams or railings for mezzanine stairs;
  • Arrange for the positioning of visible pipes and ducts (safely, of course);
  • if possible, provide for the presence of large windows, reminiscent of those in factories and industrial spaces.

Pure industrial style requires total open space, but this is sometimes not possible. In the case of wanting or needing to subdivide the available space to create clearer and more functional rooms, an optimal solution is offered by partition walls.

They can be made of different materials and have different characteristics but, for industrial style, the most recommended is the aluminium-glass combination such as the one proposed by METRA Building. The all-glass wall, supported by an aluminium frame with dark colours, slim profiles and rough finishes, is in fact perfectly suited to this style, giving it a more sophisticated allure.

The ideal fixtures for an industrial-style home

When designing or renovating your home, you cannot ignore the installation of ad hoc fixtures to achieve the most authentic industrial style.

As seen above, one of the most characteristic structural elements of this architectural style is the presence of very large windows. They provide the house with a great deal of natural light, which is useful not only for the well-being of the occupants, but also to soften the dark tones typical of the industrial style. Furthermore, large windows of this type, with their slender, angular profiles, give the idea of being in an industrial space. The ideal would be to have large windows but divided into many squares or rectangles, some of which are fixed and others with casement openings or bottom-hung sashes, to provide the normal ventilation functions of the house.

Such an effect is only possible by choosing aluminium frames. Aluminium, in fact, is a very resistant metal, and can therefore support large glazed surfaces without the need for reinforcing elements. All this while maintaining thin profiles, only a few centimetres thick, which fit in perfectly with the industrial style.

Industrial-style floors and walls

In addition to the structural elements seen above, the finish given to the walls of the house can also contribute to a perfect industrial style.

Rather than a finish, one could actually speak of a “non-finish”: skilfully peeling walls, rough plaster with a lived-in look and walls with exposed bricks and bricks are what most characterise this style. It is possible to go for one or more of these elements to be combined together, choosing for example a brick wall to be contrasted with other simpler solid-coloured walls.

As far as flooring is concerned, parquet is also one of the best solutions when it comes to industrial style. The important thing is that it does not have too elaborate patterns and that it is chosen in muted tones, such as bleached oak. Other possible options for floors, which also give the house a more contemporary tone, are industrial resin or concrete: in general, any smooth material without joints, thus recalling the continuity of floors in old factories.

The materials of industrial style

Wood, cement and metals such as aluminium, iron, steel, copper: these are the main materials of the industrial style. Everything must maintain a sober and essential tone; it is better, therefore, to leave the materials in their raw form, avoiding polishing, lacquering, frames and any other type of embellishment.

The wood-metal combination is particularly interesting in the industrial style, because the coldness of metal is balanced by the warmth of wood. For railings, shelves, tables and other forms of furniture, wrought iron, aluminium and steel can be chosen in all their versions, although the raw form is always preferred. For window frames, as we have seen, aluminium is the absolute best choice for a question of both performance and aesthetics and style.

As far as furniture is concerned, raw-touch or richly textured fabrics such as linen, jute, cotton or velvet are preferred in the industrial style; but, above all, leather or eco-leather is used to cover sofas, poufs and armchairs. For certain furnishing accessories, such as coffee tables or lamps, leather is also particularly popular when choosing to furnish a house in an industrial style.

The colours of industrial style

As with other elements, typical factory and work space palettes must be kept in mind when choosing colours for the industrial style home.

Wood, the main material, should be kept as untreated as possible, or treated with special varnishes that recall its aged effect. As far as metals are concerned, the warmth of raw wood can be balanced with some cooler, darker shades, such as all shades of black, grey and brown. These colours are a perfect match and can be well mixed with a brick wall, a concrete floor or a plaster in lighter shades.

In the case of frames, entrance doors, interior doors and partitions, the beauty of aluminium also lies in its easy and extensive customisation. Through oxidation or painting operations, in fact, aluminium can be treated to obtain any colour or finish one desires. Analysing the finishes proposed by METRA Building, for example, it can be seen that Anodic lends itself particularly well to an industrial style home; but each customer can choose the finish they prefer in order to give their home a unique character.

Brown, dark brown and black are the colours most reminiscent of the industrial style in fabrics, leather and hide used in the furnishings. Curtains and other details can be chosen in lighter tones, such as beige and taupe, to soften the final effect. Furniture elements can be added that stand out, such as glass objects or even colours that are completely off the palette, such as burgundy, mustard, sage or teal. The important thing is to find a balance and avoid overdoing the choice of too bright and contrasting shades.

The best furniture for industrial style

When furnishing a house in an industrial style, it is important to visualise an ambience that is the perfect combination of modern and retro, and that conveys the feeling of a distinctly urban space. The lines are simple, more angular than rounded, and the furniture elements are often unique pieces, perhaps salvaged from old industrial spaces.

Green light, therefore, to gear clocks, large green glass bottles, carpets with geometric patterns, posters of old industrial advertisements, typewriters, travel trunks, old leather armchairs or vintage lamps. Typical office furniture is also in vogue, whether it is real and re-functionalised or created ad hoc: filing cabinets, desks, archives, document holders, perhaps to be reused as tables, bedside tables or TV furniture.

Not too many elements are needed, but it is important that each one tells its own story. In fact, the main concept of industrial style is the constant feeling of ‘lived-in’ that can be perceived in every room.

The most appropriate lighting for an industrial style

The lighting points in the industrial style home follow the same rules as before: salvaged objects found in antique markets or former offices lend themselves perfectly to this purpose. One can therefore choose bulb lamps, wrought iron or leather lampshades, or classic pendant lamps arranged in rows and made of metal. Also in this case, the preferred lines are sharp and geometric.

Obviously, lighting choices depend very much on the needs and habits of the tenants. In general, in an industrial house one can alternate between floor lamps and spotlights, large chandeliers and more discreet pendant lights. In the case of pendant lights, leaving the wires clearly visible will not be a mistake, on the contrary: it will again recall the typical factory style.

With regard to lighting, it should not be forgotten that an element that contributes greatly to the adoption of the perfect industrial style is large windows. As we have seen, they are perfectly reminiscent of the atmospheres of old, large industrial spaces, and must therefore be reproduced as faithfully as possible, as far as one’s home allows. In the case of large windows, aluminium is absolutely the best choice, both for its mechanical resistance and because it fits perfectly into the industrial style context.

Choosing aluminium window frames for an industrial-style home

When planning the creation or renovation of a home in industrial style, windows and doors must be taken into consideration because they contribute to achieving this style in many ways. And, when it comes to industrial-style windows and doors, one can only choose aluminium as the main material.

Aluminium has such mechanical strength that it is possible to obtain glazed surfaces of any size, even very large ones, while keeping the profiles of the frames very slim and slender. This contributes to creating an ambience typical of old industrial spaces. This is enriched by the possibility of customising the aluminium according to one’s preferences, transforming it into a window frame that truly looks like that of a factory: rough, with dark tones and a worn effect.

Aluminium is not just aesthetics; it is first and foremost functionality and performance. The thermal break guarantees excellent thermal insulation for a home that is always comfortable and oriented towards long-term energy savings. Sound insulation and high resistance to weathering and burglary contribute to high living comfort and the feeling of living in a safe and cosy home.

For all these reasons, and for its many other advantages, aluminium is the material of choice when it comes to installing windows – but also doors and partitions – in an industrial-style home. METRA Building manufactures aluminium windows and doors as well as other structural elements with professionalism and experience, and will be able to recommend the best elements, characteristics and finishes to customers who dream of furnishing their homes in an industrial style.