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Exposed Brick and Hot Industrial Interior Trends You Can DIY

Updated: July 24, 2024
Exposing original brick walls is an easy, budget-friendly shortcut to industrial style. Salvaged wood introduces organic textures while black metals and steel lend modern edge. Mix distressed and sleek elements like galvanized tubs and marble counters for depth. Add signature touches like edison bulbs, track lighting and reclaimed wood shelving. Customize the utilitarian look over time by layering in artwork, textiles and plants.
Modern office interior designers in gurgaon by InteriorxDesign

I recently helped my sister renovate her small city apartment to create a trendy, industrial look on a budget. We exposed the original brick walls, added black metal touches and made use of other clever DIY projects to totally transform her cramped space into a chic urban oasis with lots of character.

InteriorxDesign, an interior design website all about trendy yet livable spaces, calls exposed brick one of the hottest trends for achieving an industrial vibe at home. As we worked on my sister’s new decor, we learned firsthand just how striking yet easy exposing brick can be. And we realized there are lots of other affordable, DIY-friendly ways to get an urban industrial look that interiorxdesign.com and sites like it encourage.

What Is Industrial Interior Design?

Industrial interior design is all about embracing the gritty aesthetic of factories, warehouses and other urban workspaces within the comfort of your home. Think weathered woods, distressed leather, galvanized metal, subway tile and of course, exposed brick. The industrial style celebrates the structural bones of buildings through raw materials and unfinished surfaces while incorporating sleek, modern touches through lighting, furnishings and tech.

The overall vibe is edgy and modern yet grounded in history. Industrial decor celebrates natural textures that show wear-and-tear to add depth and visual interest to spaces. Practical furnishings allow you to utilize small or narrow floorplans common in urban areas for optimal livability. Clever mixed media pairings blend urban and rural, vintage and contemporary to create something entirely fresh yet nostalgic.

History of Industrial Decor

Industrial interior design draws inspiration from turn-of-the-century factories and metropolitan buildings that exemplified early 20th century modern architecture. Exposed steel beams, unfinished walls and exposed brick celebrated form and function while creating visually striking, wide open spaces.

In the 1960s and 70s, artists seeking inexpensive live/work warehouses to create and display their work began moving into former factories in downtown New York. They embraced the gritty, urban atmosphere by highlighting original architectural details in these buildings instead of covering them up. Exposed pipes, ductwork, brick and concrete lent visual interest while enormous windows and open floorplans allowed light and space for creative endeavors.

As years passed, these warehouses turned trendy urban lofts that embodied a new, modern aesthetic. What was once neglected and decaying became a coveted marker of authenticity. By the 1990s and early 2000s, mainstream interior design fully embraced mixing old and new, rural and urban, rugged and refined to create livable spaces with an industrial edge.

Today, interior designers continue looking to urban warehouses renewed through adaptive reuse for inspiration. Factories turned lofts, offices and museums exemplify harmoniously pairing vintage patina with modern styling for enviably cool spaces. Industrial chic celebrates both heritage and innovation to craft interiors rich in textures, practicality and personality.

Characteristics/Elements of Industrial Decor

Authentic industrial interiors directly showcase weathered building materials and structural elements for texture and depth. They also incorporate contemporary furnishings and finishes to update the look. Common traits include:

  • Exposed brick, ductwork, pipes, beams and other structural components
  • Distressed woods with natural knots, cracks, stains or other imperfections
  • Galvanized metal touches as accents or furnishings
  • Stainless steel and glass for sleek, modern styling
  • Weathered leather and denim for urban edge
  • Vintage signs and factory carts for nostalgic industrial flair
  • Classic subway tile or concrete floors
  • Track lighting or edison bulbs for urban loft ambiance
  • Gritty textures like wrought iron, corrugated metal, or salvaged barn wood
  • Urban garden elements like terra cotta pots, air plants and succulents
  • Streamlined silhouettes with clean lines for modern balance

These raw yet refined touches blend rural and urban, vintage and new, rugged and polished to craft an inviting, livable industrial vibe.

How to Achieve the Industrial Look

The most authentic way to get an industrial aesthetic at home is through adaptive reuse, or turning an old warehouse or factory into livable space. Since that isn’t feasible for most people, you can fake structural elements like exposed beams and pipes. Or better yet, expose what’s already there! Here are some key ways to achieve an industrial look in your home:

Expose the Brick

One of the fastest shortcuts to industrial decor is exposing interior or exterior brick walls. Every home is unique, but many have subtle hints of brick behind drywall, underneath plaster, within fireplaces or on external walls. Exposing the brick retains original architectural details for instant gritty character your space likely lacked before.

We utilized my sister’s pre-existing internal brick wall to full effect by stripping away sheetrock put in by former owners. We also opened up the existing fireplace to showcase more brick. Finally, we removed a small section of siding on an external wall to add an urban focal point in her living area.

Exposing uneven, aged brick makes rooms feel more welcoming and cozy. Interior designer and industrial decor blogger Alison Kandler told InteriorxDesign it lends organic texture and depth while allowing homes to showcase their heritage. She calls it an easy, budget-friendly way to get an authentic industrial feel since the brick is already there.

Add Black Metal Architectural Accents

Another fast track to industrial decor is incorporating black metal accents. Matte black hardware, fixtures or furnishings contrast beautifully against exposed brick, wood or concrete. Metal architectural details feel contemporary, refined and a bit avant garde, lending modern balance to distressed, salvaged building materials that anchor the look.

Some easy ways to incorporate black metal include spray-painting existing lighting or upgrading to black factory pendants. Swap out old ceiling fans or dated dining fixturess with sleek new black models. Add a black metal console table behind the sofa or distressed wood dining table instead of traditional furniture. Opt for metal and wood barstools around the kitchen island rather than fabric or woven ones.

Small upgrades like black metal door levers or modern floating shelves make a noticeable impact. Or go bold with a matte black exposed pipe bookshelf to infuse warehouses vibes. Such touches blend raw yet refined styles for an alluring industrial edge.

Incorporate Galvanized Metal Furnishings

Beyond just black architectural accents, galvanized steel furnishings amplify industrial flair while remaining budget friendly. Galvanized metal features a weathered gray finish that celebrates vintage industrial wear-and-tear. Steel mail sorters make quirky console tables in entryways while old toolboxes and lanterns lend gritty character as living room accents.

Vintage galvanized parts like pulleys, wheels and hooks make awesome wall decor when grouped in an asymmetrical cluster. For major visual impact, use galvanized metal barrels, washing bins or livestock troughs as rustic coffee tables. Or turn a galvanized tub into an edgy bar area paired with simple modern barstools.

Such creative touches showcase the juxtaposition of utilitarian rural materials made modern that defines industrial decor. And because galvanized metal pieces feel pleasantly weathered, they instill an approachable vintage vibe.

Mix in Distressed Woods

Salvaged or refinished wood with visible cracks, knots and staining contributes reclaimed allure in industrial spaces. Distressed wood ceilings, exposed beams or accent walls reinforce rustic ambiance when balanced by sleek stainless, black metal and galvanized steel touches.

For budget-friendly ways to work reclaimed wood into your existing decor, opt for indoor benches or console tables featuring imperfect barn wood. Use a reclaimed wood plank mantel or floating shelving to inject organic texture without overpowering a room. Even a cutting board made from salvaged tobacco barrels or a live-edge wood side table makes an attractive natural statement.

See if local woodworkers sell barn wood by the plank to create unique accent walls on a budget. For something a little more subtle yet still industrial, paint existing cabinetry or walls a muted charcoal or deep gray/green for an on-trend warm neutral background. Then add pops of light and dark distressed woods to tie the look together.

Best Practices/Tips for Industrial Interior Design

While authentic architectural details like exposed surfaces and salvaged goods form the foundation of industrial decor, intelligent furnishings and finishes elevate the aesthetic. Here are some top tips for gracefully marrying rugged and refined elements in your home:

  1. Highlight pre-existing brick, concrete ceilings and beams or install faux finishes if needed.
  2. Paint existing cabinetry, walls and trim a muted shade like charcoal, deep green or gray-brown for an earthy yet modern backdrop.
  3. Sand and seal exposed wood elements like beams or brick walls to prevent dust and accentuate texture.
  4. Add black metal and galvanized steel for contemporary urban edge.
  5. Incorporate reclaimed wood in smaller accents like floating shelves or console tables.
  6. Choose streamlined modern furnishings with clean lines in sleek metallics or wood. Leather and denim touches add welcome softness.
  7. Paint existing lighting, ceiling fans or hardware matte black or invest in affordable black fixtures.
  8. Mix glass, tile, stainless steel and marble finishes for light and shine to balance distressed textures.
  9. Add signature Edison-style filament bulbs or adjustable track lighting for an urban loft ambiance.
  10. Layer in artwork, plants, books and other personal touches to customize the look over time.

Balancing exposed brick walls with modern polished concrete floors and clean-lined furnishings prevents spaces from appearing too cold. Grounding galvanized metals and black accents within warm woods, comfy textiles and artwork infuses cozy personality. Take care mixing and layering over time for a collected yet curated look.

Conclusion

Exposed brick walls may be synonymous with industrial interiors, but the aesthetic encompasses so much more. Creative mixing of salvaged building materials and sleek modern metals blends heritage and innovation for authentic yet livable spaces. Showcasing the structural bones while infusing weathered woods and galvanized metals makes rooms uniquely yours with serious style.

The industrial trend creatively embraces imperfections for approachable depth and dimension difficult to achieve with pristine decor. For budget-friendly ways to add reclaimed edge through distressed woods, galvanized metals and utilitarian accents, visit InteriorxDesign. Their DIY guides, designer tips and inspiring room reveals showcase just how personalized this adaptable look can be.

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By

Mr. BS Parasher, Founder @ Interior x Design & UrbanDAC, For more than 20 years in the industry, He is the Top Interior Designer in Gurgaon & India's Premier Home Theater and Home Entertainment Designer, A Hi-end AV Expert with a deep passion, vision and knowledge about Interior Design.

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