Design styles rotate faster than you can say "mid-century modern." Is the Industrial trend queued for a comeback?

Industrial design rose to popularity in the late 2000s and enjoyed almost a decade in the sun before it started losing traction, with homeowners beginning to favor mid-century modern style (again). 

Recently we’ve seen a pivot toward: 

All of that considered, it seems that a resurgence of industrial style may not be far off. 

As home improvement nuts ourselves, we love a good design style discussion, so check out our round-up of industrial design elements below and sound off your thoughts with us on Twitter @Sparetoolzapp!

What Are the Typical Features of an Industrial Style Home?

Modern Industrial design capitalizes on the materials that were prominent in the warehouses and other structures that inspired the trend: exposed natural materials (like brick and wood), unobscured piping and metalwork, and expansive windows--to name a few.

Industrial homes tend to be cube-heavy from the exterior, with lots of sharp angles, minimalist finishes, and glass.

Exterior of modern industrial multi-story brick apartment showing courtyard, brightly lit interior revealed through windows and wide, open glass door

Photo: Architecture Art Designs

How to Make the Industrial Trend Work for You

Personal design style has become an increasingly hot topic in recent years--and it’s no wonder! Millennials are now the largest generation the United States has ever seen, and they are some scrappy-as-hell DIYers. 

Thanks to that DIY spirit--and technology--trends move so quickly that it feels impossible to keep up. Everyone has their own version of...everything. 

That being the case, we are no longer confined by the almighty “trend” that trickles down from the Powers That Be. We’re free to make our own roads. You can use as many or as few elements of the Industrial trend as you like. Here are some tips for owning it, your way. 

Consider Color

Industrial interiors have a way of balancing cold components--concrete, metal, glass--with warm ones--wood, brick, and cozy accents like rugs and throws. It’s a very texture-forward style. But what about color? 

If you want to break away from the standard monochromatic Industrial color scheme, try some dusty greens, grey-blues, and even pink to soften the space. 

Industrial living space featuring high ceilings, red brick wall, natural, white, and grey furnishings, light hardwood floors

Play with Furniture

There are two heavy hitters when it comes to furniture in Industrial design: texture and sustainability. Because Industrial spaces tend to be sprawling and rough-around-the-edges, furniture allows you to soften the room with overstuffed sofas, furry chairs, and more. 

Large, cozy sofa and matching chair in charcoal softens industrial living space

Photo: Behance

Since Industrial design is all about repurposing the old, it only makes sense that this philosophy would extend to your furniture. It’s easy to find furnishings that look like they belong to yesteryear, but all the better if you can find second-hand furniture that’s actually from an industrial location! Not only will your home appear more authentic, but you may get a nice little DIY project as well as you polish it up. 

If you need tools for the job, there’s an app for that


Have we mentioned texture? Rugs! Blankets! Pillows! Curtains! Anything that will soften the gruff framework of your space is king. Use as many or as few as you like, depending on how much you want to warm up the space.

If you’re looking for a whimsical, more accurate warehouse environment, opt for decor that mimics that kind of rustic functionality--wheels, sprockets, antiques, and mixed metals. If that’s a little too on the nose for you, try a more contemporary approach: sleek steel or brass accents, plants, and elegant framed art.

Furniture and other elements featuring a variety of textures softens two-story industrial living space

Photo: Pinterest

Lighting for Industrial Appeal

Exposed light bulbs, repurposed glass, and brushed metals are all typical of Industrial interiors. Lighting is a great way to keep things intimate in an open layout, so consider bulbs that give off warm light. Cluster them around your space and put them on a dimmer for extra-customizable ambiance.

Artfully chosen lighting enhances feeling of intimacy industrial living space featuring soaring ceilings and exposed brick

Photo: Today’s Home Owner

Architectural Elements

If you’re lucky enough to snag a home that is Industrial by nature, the first things you’ll notice are likely the beautiful exposed piping or brick, expansive floor plan, and sturdy wood or concrete flooring. 

If you’re embarking on a home build of your own, these are foundational elements that you’ll want to incorporate. One of the most important industrial style indicators is an open floor plan, so make sure that main living areas--living room, dining room, and kitchen--flow into one another.

There are a lot of creative options for flooring, but you’ll want to consider a few things before you make your selection:

  1. Your Budget. This one’s probably a given, but flooring can be expensive. Finding a good balance between price and quality can be tough, but it can be done.

  2. Pets & Kids. Wood floors, for example, are beautiful but easily damaged. In a classic Industrial space, scratches and dents will add character, but if you want a sleek, contemporary iteration of this design style, it may be prudent to avoid wood. In that case, poured and stained concrete may be a better fit.

  3. Versatility. Chances are good that you’ll want to switch up your space at some point--especially if you live in the same place for a long time. Make sure to select flooring that won’t fight you on style transitions.

Whether Industrial design is queued for a comeback or not isn’t certain, but here’s what we do know: the rules are being exchanged for emphasis on personal style. Even if the Industrial trend is “over,” if it’s something you like, go for it! 

Show us your stuff. How do you flaunt Industrial? 

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