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How can I get the industrial look?

We are passionate about design, but, as you know, we have a real soft spot for the Industrial era.
For many people industrial style is just about open-plan spaces, raw walls, big lamps, bare pendant bulbs, metallic furniture and heavy machinery, but it´s more than that; we have prepared a few tips for those who want to create this factory style at home.

Where, when and why did the industrial style start?

The Industrial Style originated, as it name suggests, in the late 17th century during the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain and quickly spread to Western Europe and to North America: it is not surprising, then, that London, New York and Paris are still the most influential cities in this architectural practice.
Many items which have been constructed after the 1800s, but that pre-date the 1950s, belong to this impactful style.

The industrial style is, first and foremost, about utility, functionality and usability; so resistant materials, such as steel, copper, wood and concrete are a central theme; neutral and monotone colours are dually a must.
Some would say that this practical look works only in open-plan, raw, expansive spaces, due to the central elements synonymous with the industrial style being about the exposed hints of history. However, with a bit of careful styling a loft, although wonderful as it would be to own, isn’t necessary for an industrial living; if you are not the lucky owner of a renovated warehouses or open-plan space, there are still plenty of ways to achieve the industrial look.

A bonus with the style is that it is incredibly DIY friendly: you can create, recycle, reuse and, most importantly, let your imagination run wild. It is not surprising that creative minds and crafty hands adore this eco-friendly look.

How to create an industrial look?

  • The 3 wise elements

Wood, metal and concrete are three essential materials that will turn a room into an industrial heaven, the Industrial style started in factories over a century ago when there was no such thing as plastic.

Copper, steel or iron pipes, lamp shades, air ducts, paint stained imperfect furniture and objects reused for other purposes, are all valuable when creating an industrial style in a small space. The industrial era was about functionality, so giving raw, functional objects pride of place is essential.

  • Open-plan space

A 1900s factory, the birthplace of industrial style would have been an open space, every element would have served a purpose, every piece of machinery and heavy material would have been for a specific function.

The strength of this style is in the strong impact of space and function, the pragmatic designs of which overtime have become attractive and decorative in their own right; from functionality comes beauty.

Achieving space without having open space can be difficult, so marrying bold but clean and minimal is essential. Raw materials and naturally weathered finishes will be found alongside concrete and stone floors. This is easy to create with items from our local DIY shop; making a feature concrete or tiled wall, of floor section will open out the space by separating out the room and giving the feeling of depth.

  • Use neutral colours in your palette

Simplicity as your partner is an important thing to keep in mind when choosing your range of colours for the main backdrop of your room,   don´t exaggerate, be enchanted by monochrome: black, white – or any grey in-between, with a touch of a natural tone.


    We come to our favourite section… Lighting!

In terms of lighting, we would go with one of two, but both of course in the form of pendant lights:

Lamp shades; keeping it traditional with the enamel look, or a more modern and unique alternative matte look, either accessorised with an extra-long cable and a gorgeous filament bulb. You could use them both as your principal and as your secondary lighting.

Bare pendant bulbs are very reminiscent of the industrial era. Creativity is your ally in this case and you can choose among hundreds of inspirational ideas.A simple and cheap way of making a bespoke pendant light is to buy fabric cable longer than needed and simply tie it, twist it, knot it, or drape it!

If you’re lucky enough to have high ceilings, using lengths of fabric cable or raw chain to hang lights and drape across the extent of the space with hooks is an incredibly easy way to extenuate the space.

A selection of bulbs clustered can create a bouquet of light (as in the picture) and is again a very easy way to make a low-cost industrial, functional feature in a small space.

Finally, if you are more set on a standing light, items such as piping can very easily be resurrected into a light fitting; you will simply need a few tools and supplies, your imagination and a vintage styled light bulb.

Can’t decide? We have created a special post including a curated selection of Industrial and vintage style lighting. Find out more and discover 10 OF THE BEST SELLING: INDUSTRIAL AND VINTAGE INSPIRED LIGHTING

 In essence, the industrial era is about simplicity and the beauty of functionality, it can be an easy look to achieve in any size space if you enjoy creating and playing with the space around you.

Do you have more ideas or any others tips? Share it in the comments box below or via Twitter using the hashtag #industrialnook

We would be happy to see your creations and we could complete our industrial design manual in another post with all your pictures and tips, comments and advice.

The Nook London team

In this video you can find more ideas for an industrial home decoration

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