Revolutionize Your Apartment with These Industrial Style Tips

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Industrial chic has become trendy in recent years. And, chances are that you’re more familiar with it than you think. While some might associate this style with warehouse interiors, others might think of vintage factories with turn-of-the-century paraphernalia.

Initially thought to be a masculine and cold-looking home design ideal for big lofts in the big city, nowadays, industrial design is one of the most popular styles around. In fact, it’s being applied to homes across the country, as well as offices, restaurants, clubs and even your favorite café interior.

Although high ceilings work best, your apartment doesn’t have to have to be huge or have an open concept in order to successfully incorporate industrial decor. Surprisingly, industrial chic blends utilitarian design, minimalism and monochrome to achieve the coziest of results, no matter how small your apartment is. But, how does it work? Check out these easy industrial home design tips to find out:

1. Bring out the inside

Classic industrial style is all about exposed architecture, which includes stripping down the interior to see how everything works “on the inside.” For example, exposed architecture elements — such as wooden beams, cement floors, exposed piping and even ductwork — are key in giving your home that engineered look. If your apartment doesn’t have any of those, focus on imperfect finishes or metal reinforcement. You can even leave the walls completely exposed for a nod to the industrial revolution or paint them in a darker color. Plus, if your apartment boasts a classy, exposed brick wall, you already have the best canvas to work with.

If you’ve finished drawing inspiration from your city’s industrial buildings, you already know that raw, unfinished materials and simple, clean lines are the basis of industrial chic. The exposed architecture already mirrors the imperfect — yet organized — vibe you’re going for. Take it even further by incorporating furniture with clean lines and few, if any, unnecessary embellishments.

2. Play with metals

Metal is an essential of industrial style that cannot be overlooked. This particular element can be incorporated anywhere, from studios to huge condos. If metal desks and cabinets reminiscent of old factories don’t speak to you, make sure at least the legs of the furniture and hardware around the house are metal. The more metal around, the cooler the overall vibe of the interior.

As a general rule, choose brass, copper, wrought iron and good old stainless steel instead of gold tones and shiny finishes. Remember, you’re going for a used and battered look, which is the pillar of the industrial style. Incorporate as much metal decor as possible and, instead of replacing that old-school, cast iron radiator, just give it a fresh new coat of paint. And, for the pièce de résistance, see if you can add a steel ceiling lamp that looks like it’s straight out of your favorite steampunk novel.

3. Use neutral tones

Industrial style is generally associated with darker tones that create a moody atmosphere, so pay attention to the color scheme you’re about to use. Focus on simplicity, starting from the monochrome walls and minimalistic upholstery the minute you walk in.

Specifically, select earthy tones and metal hues like cooler blues and grays — a combination that offers the perfect aged and worn feel. Then, to warm it up and give the apartment a more refined touch, feel free to play with contrast and add plenty of brown and beige for the furniture or rugs. Keep bright colors to a minimum and only use them on small pieces of decor to increase their influence. Likewise, because you’re going for a dark and calm color scheme, try to stay away from statement colors like red or yellow. Side note: When painting, choose a tarnished or matte finish instead of a shiny one.

4. Bring new life into the old

If you can’t make any significant modifications to your rental, decorating is the way to go. And, when decorating your apartment in an industrial fashion, take inspiration from old-school warehouses, factories and even barns.

What was once a strictly utilitarian purpose can now serve as decor. For instance, mechanical clocks play into the industrial-chic, turn-of-the-century vibe, as do restored manufacturing elements. Think gas lanterns, blueprints, industrial mirrors, rotary dial phones and even tools. Additionally, while metal might be the “it” factor when giving your apartment an industrial makeover, don’t overlook reclaimed wood, leather and even stone to create a relaxed atmosphere.

Industrial style is perfect if you’re looking for contemporary comfort with a vintage twist. Plus, it can be mixed with other styles like cottagecore, vintage and even modern, while still keeping its individuality. Contrary to popular belief, this style can also be used to create a comfortable and cozy atmosphere. If you appreciate raw materials and see the beauty of unfinished design, give the industrial style a try!

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Alexandra is a creative writer and researcher for RentCafe. With a background in e-learning content writing and a passion for knowledge-sharing platforms, she's covered topics from prop-tech to renters insurance to interior design tips. Very familiar with the renter lifestyle herself, Alexandra enjoys researching and writing about renter demographic shifts and residential real estate market trends as much as she loves writing about how to get along with roommates. You can connect with Alexandra via email.

Alexandra’s work includes collaborations with financial and business publications. Her articles have been featured in several national and international online publications, including the New York Times, Barrons, Inman, Forbes, Architectural Digest, Marketwatch, Bisnow, and Curbed. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Japanese and English and an M.A. in Journalism and Cultural Studies.

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