Industrial Interior Design

Industrial interior design is a very distinctive style, combining high visual impact with comfort and livability. The focus on reuse, repurposing, and reclamation make this style just as sustainable as it is fashionable. Let’s learn more about industrial-style interior design, and how to incorporate it into your own space. 

History of Industrial Interior Design

Industrial interior design begins with architecture. In the 18th and 19th centuries, big cities were home to factories, warehouses, and other industrial facilities. Built before electricity, these factories typically had large windows and abundant natural light, wide open floor plans for workers and equipment, and simple, unfinished interiors with exposed structures and materials. 

In the 1900s, modern production methods began to require more space than was typically available in the city center, and manufacturing and industry began relocating to larger parcels of land outside of the cities, leaving these old urban factories unused and abandoned.

Modern industrial style interior design began in New England and New York in the 1960s and 70s, as artists and working people moved into these abandoned factories and industrial spaces. The large windows and lack of interior walls allow a flood of natural light and provide great views while leaving ample room for flexible, multi-purpose spaces. As people inhabited and transformed these industrial urban lofts, the aesthetic of these spaces became more and more popular, creating a unique interior design style that is still popular today. 


Key Characteristics of Industrial Interior Design

Turning industrial spaces into comfortable abodes does require some clever residential interior design. As a result, the industrial style has a distinctive look and feel, defined by these key characteristics: 


  • Mixed natural and manmade materials. One of the defining features of industrial design is the combination of natural and manmade materials in walls, flooring, and furnishings. An industrial interior typically combines wood with metals like brass or steel, and materials like brick, concrete, stone, and leather are also extremely common. 
  • Exposed structures and fixtures. Another key identifier of industrial design is exposed structures. Pipes, ducts, and beams are clearly visible in the space. Bare bulbs and cage lighting are common. Brick and concrete are left visible and exposed. 
  • Distressed and textured surfaces. Industrial interior design showcases surfaces that are worn and textured. Distressed wood and leather, worn brick and mortar, and natural patinas are used heavily in these spaces. 
  • Dark neutral color palettes. Industrial style interiors usually use dark neutral color palettes, focused on the black, brown, and gray of the raw materials in the space. Some industrial designs may use lighter neutral shades or bright accent colors, but dark colors are most typical.


Because of the prominence of wood, leather, and metal in dark colors, industrial interior design is often thought of as more masculine, but these combinations can work in a wide range of spaces. The core principle of industrial-style design is to showcase raw materials and functional elements while maximizing light and space. 

Tips for Industrial Style Interior Design

Not everyone lives in an old factory or repurposed loft, but it is possible to create the unique look of industrial interior design in a wide range of spaces. While you will always get the best results through a professional design process if you want to create this distinctive style in your own home, here are some tips:


  • Visit vintage and second-hand stores. Because industrial design features worn and distressed surfaces, it’s a great choice for people who love thrift stores, flea markets, and vintage shops. Finding items with natural wear and patina creates a more authentic, industrial look.  
  • Choose mixed materials. Metal and wood are the hallmarks of the industrial style. Look for chairs and tables with wood or leather surfaces and metal legs, for example, or mix glass and copper, brass, and stone. 
  • Reuse and repurpose. Industrial interior design is a great option for people who want to DIY. Old pipes as shelf brackets, sawhorses as table legs, repurposed metal containers as light fixtures… the possibilities are endless, and the versatility of industrial style can incorporate all these different elements. 
  • Maximize space. Because open space is such a defining feature of industrial interior design, it is important to maximize space in your home, creating light and height wherever possible. This may mean decluttering and choosing a more minimal style, finding innovative storage solutions, or leveraging the scale of items in a room.  


Industrial interior design is a fantastic style for people who love space, light, and natural materials, and it can be a very environmentally-friendly choice. If you want to explore industrial interior design or find out if it’s the right style for your home, the award-winning design firm of J. Fisher offers virtual design consultations to help you create a home that reflects your unique taste. 


J.Fisher Interiors’ studio is located in east Austin. To schedule your consultation appointment, please fill out the contact form or call us at 512.954.0904. We would love to hear from you!

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