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The Nitty-Gritty of Industrial Decor

Frills, flounces and florals may have been the mainstay of home décor for decades, but here comes a new style that’s turned home décor on its head. Stark, graphic and gritty, industrial décor is centred on salvaging and upcycling old industrial-style pieces. The look is simple and neat; the focus is form, not function. But how do you get it?


Expose it all. The most important rule of industrial décor: Strip everything down. Bare walls may look out of place in any other setting; but here, an exposed brick wall or a textured concrete one often acts as the focal point. Forget about plaster or paint, and retain the building material’s natural texture and look. Try Indian Patent Stone on ceilings or columns – a lick of epoxy brings with it shine and slickness. If you’re keen to go all the way, exposed conduits are great for wiring.


Show your mettle. Metal was the mainstay of industry, so it’s the perfect material to get the industrial look. Be it copper, iron or brass, incorporate metal into your space. Metal with a shiny finish, when accompanied by uncluttered lines, gives a formal look. Unfinished metal is perfect for a rustic appearance. Opt for old cast iron windows instead of modern aluminium ones; use metal pipes to create railings; and experiment with tread plates (steel plates used on stairs in industrial sites) to create unusual shelves. Ensure that the metal is treated to avoid abrasions and rusting – metal items can be electroplated (coated with another nonferrous metal), powder coated, or else treated with anti-rust paint.


Colour it right. To get the industrial chic style, start with a neutral colour palette. Neutrals create the perfect stage for any room, provide good background, can be combined with any colour and build bridges between strong colours. They are ideal for multi-layered and nuanced décor. Create a warm ambience by combining with wooden tones; get a formal one by juxtaposing with metal accents. Choose from hues and shades of white, beige, brown, grey, or greige. Try pairing the neutral with unusual shades—ivory with blue or purple, grey with green or yellow, greige with crimson or charcoal grey, or brown with orange or jade.


Recycle, repurpose, reuse. Add character to your home by keeping accessories to a minimum. Simple shapes and hardy raw materials (reclaimed wood, glass and metal) work best. Scour kabaadi markets and old shops for vintage tables, chairs, chests, and closets. Metal ornaments such as candle holders, wall sconces or mirrors add to the industrial look. One-of-a-kind items such as an antique wire lamp or a dressmaker’s mannequin work as standalone décor pieces. Paint a couple of cabinets in the kitchen with chalkboard paint to add visual interest. Never limit yourself to an item’s intended purpose – it could easily be used elsewhere. Mechanical instruments work as artifacts in this setting; a large one could easily be converted into a table. An old wood and steel stool can be placed by the bar; an old mirror can form the top of a table.


Think out of the box. Instead of regular and colourful mosaic tiles, try shiny metal tiles to create an unusual backsplash in your kitchen (they work well in bathrooms too). Opt for sleek and standout lighting fixtures – metal and glass work best. Use a judicious mix of chandeliers, wall sconces, pendant fixtures and wall-mounted candelabra across your home for a stunning look. A variety of spray-painted metal grilles put up on a plain exterior wall create a striking display. Old metal pails, watering cans, trashcans and wheelbarrows can be painted in bright colours and used as planters. Old metal lanterns can be refurbished and set among plants for mood lighting. A small metal bench or latticed chairs look good in the verandah or garden. Apply polyurethane sealant on the metal to reduce rust buildup. Round off with metal signage—be it name plaques or house numbers.


If you’re wary of treading the industrial chic path, try incorporating small elements with another style. The beauty of this design style is that it offers a neutral, simple and natural aesthetic!

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