Industrial Design is Full of Steam

by Star Furniture on September 11, 2015

IndustrialFurniture_Blog_Lead The popularity of today’s industrial look in furniture had its beginnings during the Industrial Revolution in the 1800’s when new materials and techniques were developed. Industrial design was bolstered during World War II when a plethora of even more new techniques and materials were discovered and created. This is also when items created for offices and factories (i.e. handling carts, metal stools) began finding good use in meager households that were desperate and lacked funds for new furniture.

New VS. Old Industrial design has made many transformations throughout the years. Today, it is once again gaining steam and can be found in all types of dwellings, from multi-million dollar abodes (see celebrity Kirsten Dunst’s loft) to mainstream homes. Industrial interior design is now often a mixture of new and old. Like the new Adams power sofa and loveseat (above), shown with antique books, an antique typewriter, old bottles, a new table lamp created to look like an old fan and other salvaged objects. IndustrialFurniture_Silo_Blog Industrial Furniture Aesthetics

Industrial furniture and furnishings can be shiny and polished like stainless steel, smooth painted black metal or antiqued and distressed, like the popular rustic aesthetic running through everyone’s veins right now. Think bolts, gears, wheels, steel banding, shopworn looks, worn wood, gears, concrete, fans, pulleys, rust, as well as plumbing elbows, fittings, or clamps. They are often items made from hand-wrought or hammered metals (see metal drum tables above) and often come with rough-hewn woods that resemble something you might find in a factory or workshop (See Pinehaven Cocktail Table above). The design will almost always contain something reminiscent of factories, such as a large gear wheel for a table base or a pulley chain for a chandelier.

0815_RioVistaTables_Blog Rustic VS. Industrial

There is a lot of overlapping of rustic and industrial styles in today’s design environment. So, it’s easy to see why someone could get confused. The characteristics of each aesthetic can exist on their own or together, as shown in the end table, console/sideboard and cocktail table above. Here we see rustic influences in the unfinished / worn wood and rusted metal combined with industrial touches of straight, vintage looking metal legs, pulley-type wheels and riveted joinery. Here are some examples of what to look for:


  • Finishes: Chipped paints, patinas, antiquing, worn metals / rust, and unfinished / worn woods.
  • Materials: Wood, wood stumps, stones, or metal.
  • Styles: Country, southern, industrial, traditional, transitional, modern and almost anything else.
  • Accents: Almost any.


  • Finishes: Rust, aged and shiny metallics, chipped paints, reclaimed/unfinished wood, glossy painted metals.
  • Materials: Metal (almost always), wood, plastic and/or glass.
  • Styles: Industrial is the overall style. Other looks – like rustic or modern – can often enter the mix as a secondary element.
  • Accents: Bolts, fans, wire, shop floor planks, or rivets.

IndustrialLighting_blog_2 Industrial Lighting

The nature of lighting provides the perfect materials for the industrial look to flourish. There are chains, wires, exposed bulbs, metallic finishes and tubing just waiting to be all wrapped up in rope or replaced with plumbing pipes (see above lighting available at Star Furniture). Lighting is also a super easy way to introduce the industrial style to your home, especially since most industrial designed items have elements that pair quite well with today’s current rustic furniture and interior design trends.


The room scenes above show several ways to add or show off lighting, lamps and chandeliers to your home designs.


Texturize It and Mix It Up

Monochromatic neutral color schemes seem to work best with industrial interior designs. However, to ensure your design doesn’t become bored with so many neutrals at the party, make sure you use different textures to break up a possible one-sided visual conversation. When we say texture we mean visually (you can see it) and/or tactically (you can feel it). Tactile texture can come from things like rough/textured upholstery, rust, textured metals, or rough-hewn woods (see Jaden Cocktail and Accent Tables above). We suggest using 3-5 different textures per room, varying from flat or shiny (like the Zinc finish on the Concord Hammered Drum Table above) to rough (like the tactically textured brick wall or the visually textured graphic rug above). Remember, textures can also come from the room itself (i.e. brick wall). You can also create your own textured wall by covering an accent wall with recycled wood pallets or something else you might find at a salvage yard or old warehouse.

Contact one of our talented interior designers at Star Furniture’s 10 showrooms for more ideas, tips and advice on how to create your very own industrial look.

NOTE: Products shown are for editorial purposes only and therefore, may or may not be available at or through Star Furniture. Photos are owned by Star Furniture of Texas or being used with permission. Please see your nearest Star Furniture Showroom for more information, availability and details.


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