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industrial design ideas yellow stools and exposed white brick wall

Industrial Design Ideas: How to Keep the Look feeling Fresh

Industrial design refuses to go away…

… not that I’m complaining, of course. It’s one of my preferred looks for a home thanks to its hard and edgy, often masculine vibe. Keeping it from going too rust-and-nails can be tricky though, and over the past few years I’ve certainly seen my fair share of venues take the look a step too far.

Bars, cafes and restaurants shouldn’t be the only ones allowed to play with industrial design, of course. The home is ripe for this style – especially in the kitchen, dining room or outdoor areas – and with these ideas from yours truly you can balance the hard with the soft and the cold with the colourful, to create an industrial interior that avoids common decor traps and finds a true sense of balance.

Let’s figure out how to execute a rockin’ industrial design scheme…

Industrial Design Ideas from a City Cafe

Industrial Design Ideas


Considered Colour

You’re going to be hard-pressed to create a sense of warmth and balance in an industrial space if you don’t introduce some colour. The basic elements of an industrial design call for hard surfaces like bricks, metal and concrete, which are all relatively cold in their appearance. To counteract that and provide contrast, it’s important to bring in some colour.

Reds, yellows and oranges bode well for this because they’re all warm hues. Of course, they’re not the only shades you can play with, but bear in mind that using too many cool colours like blues and purples will make the space feel colder than it already is. Always look at the space as a whole; by all means bring in some blue if that’s your fave shade, but consider metallics like copper or bronze to instil a little warmth in the visual story.

Be wary not to introduce too many competing colours though. The soft pastels you see up above are a good guide to mixing colours with a similar tonal value. Because they’re so subdued, they work to give a gentle sense of warmth but they don’t compete for visual attention.

Colour and Warmth in Industrial Design

Warm Textures

As already discussed, the foundations of industrial design are inherently cold. You’ll see a lot of brickwork, metals, rust, concrete and the like. If you don’t introduce warm textures there will be no balance in the space and it won’t feel unified.

The best and easiest way to instantly rectify this issue is to bring in warm woods; it’s a foolproof solution and looks amazing against the colder materials in the room. Be it a more permanent fixture like a benchtop or shelf, or something temporary like bowls, clocks, breadboard and planters – it’s a necessary inclusion in an industrial design.

The more varied texture you have in a space the more welcoming it will feel, so go beyond wood and think about other finishes like plastic, porcelain, glass and more. Fabric is probably the easiest one to bring in here, too. Think about tablecloths, tea towels, curtains and drapes, napkins and the like. They’ll all do wonders to add a sense of warmth and homeliness to the setting.

Colour and Warmth in Industrial Design Interior

Soft Shapes

So, we know that an industrial design is hard in appearance. Again, we need to balance it – and shape is a great way to do this. Look for furniture that features curved, smooth lines.

A Bentwood chair, for example, is a great example of a piece of furniture with these qualities (they feature in the first image in this post). Bentwood chairs are also wooden, so you get your curved lines with warm texture to boot!

You’ll notice the photos in this post feature a tonne of decor items that are circular or cylindrical. It’s a wise move to take inspiration from them for your own industrial interior because they really do soften a room. Go for round bowls, circular bread boards, cylindrical glasses and even fruits like limes, lemons or apples.

Speaking of softness, you might also like to look for homewares that feature soft patterns. Florals are a great idea to bring contrast to a hard-looking industrial design.

Add Colour and Warmth to Industrial Design

Mother Nature

She’s a wise old girl that Mother Nature, and she’s the last thing you need to include in your industrial design. So many of the materials in an industrial interior come from nature but are hard and weathered. Plants and flowers keep the natural aesthetic going but in a much softer sense.

Pick up on colours we’ve already discussed above in your flowers, like pinks, yellows and oranges, or play it safe and simple by placing plants around the room in round pots with plenty of texture.

If you’re in a kitchen, herbs are a really easy way to bring greenery into the space and they’ll make the room feel more homely.

What’s your take on industrial design? Are you a fan? 

* All the photos in this post come from Alexander Waterworth Interiors. They’re of the amazing Hally’s Delicatessen and you can see more of it here.


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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