Industrial Style

By Terry Quillen

For New Yorkers from Soho to the Meat-Packing District, loft life is nothing new. Now, it's establishing itself in a big way in Southern cities like Nashville, Louisville and Birmingham.


What better way to complement concrete floors, exposed brick and steel casing windows than industrial-style furniture? After all, most of these spaces were once factories or warehouses. (In the photo, right, Connell Interiors shows how to make the most of the industrial look in an office environment.


The look is clean and linear, which is well suited to the open spaces of a loft or any area where a less cluttered feel is important. Industrial style is the essence of repurposing.


Elements typical of industrial style include wheels and casters, metal mesh, steel edging, and bolts and rivets, as seen in the photo at left. (Details from items by Epic, in Booth T-286 at Gaslamp Too.)


Gaslamp Too is putting industrial style front and center all day Saturday, July 26, with the Kar Kulture Industrial, Retro and Mid-Century Modern Show and Sale.

The eclectic mix will include industrial furnishings.


Industrial pieces are crafted from elements that once had an industrial purpose. It might be an étagère, like the one at right from Epic in Booth T-286 at GasLamp Too. It employs steel mesh and posts with exposed welding, along with old, finely-refinished wood shelves that may have once been part of a work bench or warehouse floor. Wheels or casters once used on transport carts are popular, as are steel rivets.


Usually, an industrial-style setting will feature elements that are practical and useful. We see a lot of steel baskets in every size in this style of décor – some are left empty for an airy feel, others are used for light storage. As seen in the photo, left, designers make good use of wood pallets by repurposing them as a part of a table (one pictured is from Booth T-104), or by simply leaving them in their original form, like the old soap pallets at Booth T-352 at Gaslamp Too.

Metal lockers and bins make clever storage space, as they retain the clean lines while concealing clutter. Some, like the tall ones in the photo, right, serve as attractive and interesting armoires. Old steel lockers and other storage components bring another dimension to the industrial look. (Left: from Vintage Industrial of Phoenix; right: from French Country Corner; inset: from


The look is minimal and usually involves only neutral colors – steely grays, burnished blacks, woody hues. Occasionally, though, you will find pieces that retain the colors of a former life, like the chippy green rack on wheels, photo left, available in Booth T-190 at Gaslamp Too.


Creativity comes into play with lighting fixtures. There are caged styles and filament-style bulbs.  Pendants in multiples work well over dining tables and counters. (Lighting photos, at right, are from Remodelista.)


Practicality seems to be part of our Euro-American ethic, and industrial style makes it part of our esthetic as well. It epitomizes our respect – and affection – for craftsmanship and the human hands that once made the wheels of industry turn.








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