Industrial interior design is with no doubt one of the most requested styles these days. In particular, rustic industrial decor is gaining a lot of popularity. What makes this style so special is its seemingly unfinished character paired with more polished elements – creating gorgeous mix! When it’s time to put it in practice, it can be tricky to recreate this mix of high and low in a way that feels harmonious…but we’re here to help! Read on for expert designer tips and tricks for pulling off a seamless rustic industrial interior design style.
What is Industrial Interior Design?
Originally industrial interior design belongs to old warehouses being converted into urban lofts. These transformation left the architectural elements of the buildings exposed. Think iron or wooden beams, brick walls, cement floors, ductwork, and expansive windows. All of these formed the foundation for a raw, yet beautiful style.
And of course these unrefined features play into rustic decor style perfectly, leading to a favorite industrial decor style mix – rustic industrial interior design. From the typically neutral color palette to its preference for distressed materials, a rustic industrial style looks relaxed and welcoming. And since imperfections are a sought after quality, it is also a style that can be easily recreated – no warehouse loft required. Give some of our designer’s following tips a try to add this style to your home!
Tip: Your personal interior design style can also be a mix of different styles. Take our Free Interior Design Style Quiz to discover your unique decorating style today!
10 Tips to Recreate Rustic Industrial Decor Style
1. Industrial Interior Design Essentials: Natural Palette & Textures
One of the essentials of industrial style interior design is certainly a rich color palette that mixes neutral browns, white and black. So let’s see how to recreate it. To start with, pair different shades of brown and tan to make the space feel relaxed. Then, add white elements to give the room a clean look. And last but not least, finish with black accents to create contrast and add character.
Besides colors, textures also play a very important role in the high-low mix that is typical of industrial interiors. To give you an example, a distressed leather chair would be great to add texture and several brown shades. A plain white wall would be the perfect backdrop for it. And it would create that mix of high and low that makes rustic industrial decor so special. Finally, black metal accents here and there would add character to the space. Plus, they could be used to accentuate certain features in your home. To summarize, the perfect palette for a rustic industrial interior is a mix of many natural colors, that will create a unique relaxed vibe in the space. Also, with so many different colors, it’s a pretty easy palette to achieve and maintain!
2. Mix Modern & Rustic for Flawless Rustic Industrial Interior Design
As we’ve already mentioned, the one typical element of any industrial style interior design is the mix of modern and rustic elements. It’s also important to mention that there is no absolute rule on the proportion of high and low elements that should go into a space. So you’re fully free to create a style that leans more towards the modern or the rustic side.
For example, you could create an equally stunning industrial interior design living room either with a sleek black leather sofa or with a distressed leather one. Also, you could choose to leave the walls rough or paint them in plain white…. You get the point: a mix of modern and rustic is essential for any industrial interior, but how much of each to include depends on your own taste!
3. Open Up the Space
When thinking industrial style one immediately thinks about urban lofts. One of the main features of urban lofts is their open floor plan, a thing that you should try and recreate as much as you can. In fact, an industrial rustic living room is not complete without a kitchen island that connects it with the cooking space. Additionally, a dining table will fit perfectly in this industrial layout, creating the perfect open plan in the day area.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can keep the night area also open. Placing the bed on a raised floor is the classic way of making the bedroom part of the open plan in a modern industrial living room. But if you can’t build a mezzanine, you can still use features other than a wall to “close” up the sleeping area. For example, a curtain, a bookshelf that is open on both sides or a sliding barn door are perfect rustic industrial ideas that will add privacy to the bedroom while blending with your new industrial interior design.
As a side note, open floor plans are also a great strategy to make a space feel bigger than it actually is. So, if you live in a small condo, taking all internal walls down will really help you make the most of your square footage. Plus, it will make your home much brighter as natural light can travel throughout!
Another important factor in any home is functionality. And even in an open plan concept, it’s still important to create separation between different functional areas. How you ask? Big area rugs, room dividers, movable partitions and carefully placed bookshelves are just some of the strategies to create a visual separation without using any wall!
4. Choose Industrial-Style Lighting
Every interior style has its own preferred lighting choices. And if you look for industrial style lighting you’ll find plenty of options too. But there’s one thing that makes industrial interior design special: its ability to turn the simplest light bulbs into statement lighting!
Since this style has become so popular, you can now find a lot of different and beautiful light bulbs on the market. The shape of the bulb itself is the first choice to be made: thin, large, small or big, there’s something for every taste! The filament inside has also become a decorative element and you can find plenty of options for that too. Last but not least is the cable, that can be hung straight down from the ceiling or used to draw more intricate shapes, creating a real statement chandelier with a very little budget!
Other features that are perfect for industrial style lighting are wood or black metal details and unconventional objects (like pipes and chains) repurposed as parts of a lamp. So if you want to make your own DIY industrial lamp, all you’ll need are a few bulbs, a cable and some unconventional objects to repurpose!
5. Switch to Loft-Type Windows
If you search for industrial living room decor ideas, you will find a lot of different interiors with one thing in common: big loft-type windows. And indeed, those windows are a typical sign of rustic industrial decor! Big loft-type windows let plenty of natural light in and their metal structure makes them a decorative feature in the space. So if your renovation includes some work on the windows, this is definitely the look to go for! Even if you can’t make them bigger, changing the structure to loft-type (even better if the frame is black) will already make your space look way more industrial!
But don’t worry if you’re renting or you can’t make any change to your windows! If you follow our other tips for choosing the right furniture, finishes and decor, you will still achieve a beautiful rustic industrial style in your home!
6. Use Distressed Wood in Your Rustic Industrial Interior Design
When selecting wood for industrial interior design, texture is key. The best choice you can make is distressed wood with visible knots and a slightly rough touch. Also, the color of your wooden pieces doesn’t have to match perfectly. Actually, it’s even better if it doesn’t match! Indeed, non-matching pieces will bring in a variety of colors and add to the relaxed feel of the space. Plus of course, making it easier for you to handle!
Given the popularity of this style, you’ll find a lot of furniture on sale that already comes with a distressed finish. But you can also make your own! With relatively basic DIY-ing skills you can turn a simple piece of reclaimed wood into a side table, or make shelves out of it. And – if you have access to more material – you might even decide to go for an entire shiplap wall!
Thrift stores and garage sales are also great occasions to find distressed wood furniture. The best advice we can give you here is to leave your mind open when shopping. Maybe an item looks too distressed or old when you first look at it, but when paired with more modern items and looked into the context of the finished interior it might be just the right choice! To help you decide, try taking a picture of that object and put it close to the other inspiration images you’ve collected. Seeing everything together will surely help you choose! Finally, don’t forget that furniture can be altered! A coat of paint and new drawer pulls can make a huge difference and let you save some money!
7. Add Metal Accents
In an industrial interior design, metal pieces are often used to introduce a black accent. So black is certainly the best color to choose for your metals. You might now think you’ve got no choice, but you still have plenty of room to play with the finish! In particular, polished metal will look sleek and modern, whereas brushed and rusted metal will add to the rustic side of your interior.
We’ve already said that a rustic industrial decor is meant to feel relaxed and inviting. So yes, you’re definitely welcome to mix more than one finish! The only important thing is making sure that the final result still looks cohesive. A pro designer tip to achieve that is choosing 2 or 3 different finishes and repeating them throughout all rooms. This careful repetition will show that the design was planned and is not just something that happened by chance!
When thinking about metal accents remember that, in a rustic industrial interior, metals are not just faucets and cabinet pulls. Actually, everything is an occasion to add a touch of metal! For example, look for shelving units with a metal structure, tables and chairs with metal legs and even metal accessories!
8. Leave Structural Elements Exposed for True Industrial Interior Design
One of the best ways to add character to a rustic industrial interior is leaving finishes and structural elements exposed. Brick walls and concrete floorings are an absolute staple in this style! Consider that they’re both rustic elements so, according to how modern or rustic you want your space to be, you can leave them entirely exposed or keep only a portion to create a focal point. Another obvious advantage of not having to cover all surfaces with a new finish, is that you can save some money in your renovation…and who doesn’t like that?
Wall and floor finishes are just one part of the story though. All sorts of structural elements also look great when left exposed in a rustic industrial style! Wooden beams, pillars and columns, ductwork and pipes…if you have any of these features in your space, don’t cover them! On the contrary, try painting them in a contrasting color and let them shine! Besides being typical features of an industrial style, these elements are unique to your space and will give your home a special character!
9. Consider Faux Features
Not all interiors are equal. And if you’re trying to achieve a rustic industrial decor in a space that has totally different bones, chances are that you’ll have no finish or structural element to leave exposed. Should you then quit the idea of a rustic industrial style? Not at all! All of these features can be faked! For brick walls there exist wallpapers that recreate the pattern to an incredible level of detail. Alternatively, you can go for 3D sticky tiles that will look real also at the touch! For concrete floors, you can install floor tiles or vinyl floorings that recall the look of concrete.
Even pipes, ducts and beams can be added as a decorative feature. Strictly speaking, they will no longer be structural elements, but they will still add that industrial vibe to your space! And that’s what we want!
All these “fake” options are also perfect if you’re renting and you can’t make permanent changes to the structure of your home. In particular, wallpaper and vinyl flooring are the simplest to remove when you move out. And features like decorative pipes, ducts and beams can all be installed with systems that are as easy to remove as nails in the wall!
10. Finish It All Up With Industrial Style Decor
Accessories are always a must to add personality to an interior, and rustic industrial style is no different. Pillows, artworks, table lamps and other decorative pieces can be your friends for a number of reasons. They can help complete your color palette and add a personal touch. Or even adjust the overall vibe by bringing in more of a rustic touch or taming it with more of a modern vibe. Once again, you’ll find plenty of industrial-themed accessories in home decor shops. But for this style in particular, you can often make your own at a fraction of the price! Try repurposing pieces of wood, metal pipes and chains, car plates, pulleys and whatever other objects that match the vibe of an industrial interior design…you’ll be surprised by what you can come up with!
For example, some industrial lounge room ideas would be a gallery wall of mismatched car plates. Or, why not, a pendant lamp fixed to the ceiling with a vintage pulley. In fact, repurposing objects that come from a factory environment is one of the things that gives the most character to rustic industrial interiors. To start with, this creates an occasion to let your creativity run wild. And when the making is over, you’ll have plenty of unique pieces that will make your home personal. Without even mentioning that each and every one of those will be a great conversation starter when you have guests over!
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