In response to the many large-scale projects involving the recovery and repurposing of old buildings that used to house industrial plants and which are often located in urban areas now overtaken by the expansion of the residential suburbs, a specific, very distinctive stylistic trend has emerged.

This trend, which overall we can call industrial style, employs a number of features that evoke the tactile, unfinished materials of the inspiration architecture while also interpreting the relationship between daylight and indoor space in a completely different way to the usual practice in other types of residential building.


An industrial style home: our eight-point guide

An industrial style home can therefore be easily distinguished from other types due to a number of specific characteristics we can summarise in a series of points:

  1. indoor layout comprising very large rooms, with the various functions placed in parts of interiors which are not necessary separated off by permanent non-transparent dividing walls, and are thus interconnected in a fluid, informal way
  2. very high ceilings, with no suspended ceilings or concealment of the building’s structure: the industrial style likes architecture to be in view, its shape and function openly stated, with no pretence
  3. full use of all the natural daylight, reminding us that this was an essential factor in workplace safety when the building was used for its original industrial purpose
  4. use of completely or partially unfinished materials, recalling those used in industrial premises, not intended to meet the demands of the home furnishing market
  5. recovery of vintage features in terms both of architecture and, on a smaller scale, furnishings and fittings: industrial style furnishing does not reference a specific period but comprises a combination of contrasting pieces, chosen to provide an attractive, tasteful interior
  6. finishing of the building envelope - the floor and walls - with materials that provide an extremely high degree of continuity of appearance (such as concrete-effect stoneware slabs used in very large sizes, which can be installed in various modular layouts), or a very striking variety of textures and colours (such as small-block parquet, of the type known as industrial)
  7. no concealment of utility systems, specially for heating and air-conditioning, provided by means of metal ducts suspended from the ceiling, and the electrical system, installed in the various rooms in the form of raceways or cloth-covered cables on the surfaces of the walls and not sunk into them
  8. simplicity and purity, but achieved, not by a process of removal of the superfluous as in the case of minimalist interiors, but by revealing the architecture’s origins and intrinsic nature

The industrial style kitchen: tactile surfaces and free-standing appliances

All the rooms in a modern industrial style home share the same design approach, and many of them are not separated from each other but form a single open space. Therefore, consistency and continuity in the various interior design choices, including the finishing of the floors, the wall coverings, the furnishings and the fittings are absolutely fundamental and essential.

Let’s take a look around a virtual industrial style kitchen in an imaginary apartment created in an old factory building renovated for residential use. For example, the kitchen might occupy a corner of the living area, which in turn is subdivided into the lounge zone, with sofa, armchairs and TV, and the dining-table area, designed to entertain a large number of guests.

On the floor, our ideal kitchen has a series of large-size resin-effect stoneware slabs, which identify this area’s specific function by distinguishing it from the rest of the lounge with its industrial parquet floor.

The walls conserve the warmth and historic aura of bricks, left bare and unplastered. Their red surface is an excellent backdrop for the very bright, shiny steel of the free-standing appliances, which evoke the impression of an industrial kitchen even in a domestic context.

The interior design of the industrial style kitchen is completed by a series of storage units in which bare wood is the dominant material, alongside a number of salvaged items: the chairs and the pottery and tin cookware, placed on a series of open shelves where they are freely accessible and also play a role in the room’s overall decorative scheme.


The dream of a free-standing clawfoot bathtub

We said, when we listed the eight must-haves of the industrial style home, that the utility systems should be in full view. This feature combines very attractively with the use in the bathroom of items such as a free-standing bathtub, preferably old-fashioned in style or even a cast-iron piece salvaged from a demolition site. It will only require some quick restoration of its enamel finish to make it as good as new, ready to tell new stories of intimate and family life.

The simple form of a glossy white ceramic washbasin and sanitary fittings, their elegance slightly enhanced by subtle rounding, stands out against the decorated surface of ceramic tiles which, in an industrial style bathroom, may, for example, imitate the textures of the walls of the Paris metro or New York subway, or create a motif by combining small ceramic sizes and contrasting colours.