Industrial Decorating Ideas

boys bedroom
Manufacture distinctive decor by showcasing salvaged industrial objects in interesting ways.

Generate Interest

Choose pieces that rise to artwork status and display them with equally distinctive objects. A great find, this painted cart-turned-table contributes vivid color, a striking silhouette, and displays a rusty metal spring that takes on the role of sculpture. A time-tarnished ship lantern introduces another finish into the mix.

Artfully Exhibit

When you want just a touch of industrial, display a machine part or two. Rusty cogs, cutting wheels, and toothsome gears (like the oversized one displayed atop the mantel) supply striking silhouettes, interesting patinas, and captivating color that warm up monochromatic interiors. Look for mechanical parts at architectural salvage stores, junk yards, and flea markets. 

Revive and Repurpose

Opt for workday furnishings that supply vintage forms that function for today. Steel lockers, whether previously used to stow laborers' lunches, lifeguards' togs, or teenagers' gym clothes, make an industrial-chic statement in mudrooms, offices, and bedrooms. This horizontal configuration of lockers within an iron cart offers storage below and display space up top. 

Cart It In

Goods that had to be moved from one area to another were often transported via wood, steel, and wire carts. Today, innovative artisans have converted these conveyances into way-cool coffee tables and other furnishings. Type vintage industrial cart into your search engine and all sorts of salvage suppliers (in case you want to build your own table) and furniture-maker sites will pop-up.

Expand Your Horizons

Industrial style doesn't only rely on things found in factories. Farm equipment, shipyard building materials, laboratory gear, schoolhouse fixtures, and commercial restaurant supplies add hardworking character to every room in the house. In this living room, a refinished railroad cart complete with its original iron wheels that now work as legs takes center stage as a coffee table.   

Engineer Something New

Be an innovator! Use lighting kits (or call on an electrician) to convert vintage fan cases, protective light cases, metal baskets, and wire bins into pendant fixtures that captivate the eye and capture industrial-age spirit. Bring the period look home by outfitting the fixtures with antique-style tubular light bulbs, available at home centers and through specialty lighting companies. 

Pull Up a Seat

Compact and fetchingly formed, wood-and-steel stools (like those used by assembly-line workers, draftsmen, switchboard operators, and laboratory researchers) make for nostalgic breakfast-bar seats. Vintage versions can be found on sites like eBay, while newly manufactured stools, some made with reclaimed wood, are available through artisans and retailers specializing in reproduction furnishings.  

Creatively Illuminate

Industrial objects work beautifully in eclectically styled rooms where every piece should be a standout. Look for reproduction or vintage task lights that you can use to light a vanity or install as reading lights in a bedroom. In this bathroom, adjustable scissor-arm extension wall lamps add delightfully unexpected profiles and patinas.

Set a Scene

Even the humblest trappings contribute to how modern-convenience spaces look and work. In this vintage-styled bathroom, a beat-up factory stool provides storage; a work light done up in bright yellow pops against era-apt white subway tile. 

Get Cooking

Create the streamlined appearance of a test kitchen or the spic-and-span appeal of a lab at home. Hang high-shine stainless-steel shelves (available through restaurant supply retailers) on white subway tile walls; bring in chrome-framed workplace stools that can be adjusted to different heights.

Stage a Welcome

When shopping for workbenches or factory tables, take note of their width and depth before hauling them home. This shallow, weathered workbench works nicely as an entryway console. The bench bears a cheerful message composed of industrial-style letters and provides a rustic counterpoint for modern artworks. 

Rethink Its Purpose

Vintage factory tables, whether crafted of wood, galvanized steel, or a bit of both, easily move into work spaces as computer desks, kitchen islands, potting benches, and crafting stations. In this den, shop-style lights, bookcases crafted from reclaimed wood, and an old swivel desk chair round-out the industrial look.

Store Anew

Catalogue important documents, craft materials, or DVDs in industrial card-catalogues or filing cabinets. These two large storage units may have once organized machine parts, printers' blocks, apothecary supplies, or even time cards and personnel records. 

Just a Hint

No matter your style, adding just one or two industrial items packs a powerful visual punch. Industrial chrome-shaded lights (like these pendant lights modeled after vintage warehouse fixtures) are well-suited to kitchens equipped with stainless-steel appliances and chrome fittings. 

Mark Time

Factory, ship, and schoolhouse clocks, with their oversize numerals and distinctive cases, create timeless exhibits, especially when partnered with period-apt companions. In this bedroom, clocks set to cover different international time zones make the most of slanted walls.

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