5 Ways to Update Your Industrial Chic Apartment

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A living area that incorporates a few quintessential features of industrial chic decor, including concrete and exposed crossbeams.

Right around the turn of the 21st century, industrial chic was born. Also called industrial style, it evolved from people transforming old warehouses, schools, manufacturing plants, and other traditionally non-residential buildings into living spaces. The first of these converted flats most commonly consisted of huge single-story units with no walls, rooms, central heating, or conventional ceilings — just the underside of the roof looming very high above open spaces.

Over the past two decades, both professional and amateur designers have worked to transform these early industrial concepts into more welcoming, appealing, and practical homes. The spaces themselves haven’t become smaller, and the roofs still seem to touch the stars, but the atmosphere they create has definitely gained a lot of warmth and tenderness.

The new industrial chic still has the open-plan feel of yesteryear, but it’s tempered with softer accoutrements and scaled-back layouts. The key is to focus on creating a well-mixed, original decor.

It’s Cool To Be Warm

Concrete and metal seem to cool the air, which is why being surrounded by them often makes you feel like grabbing a sweater. Warm accents like wood and wicker work wonders when it comes to taking the chill off. Thriving houseplants, when strategically placed around a unit, can also breath a lot of life into an industrial apartment.

Family Heirlooms

Not many people have cool family heirlooms like Civil War uniforms or hand-carved cuckoo clocks laying around, but chances are you have something that would make a great conversation starter on hand (think grandma’s wedding dress, a family bible, old cast iron skillets, or charred fireplace tools). Items like these add a bit of heartfelt history to the home. Even if your family has none, you can always just pick up some pieces at the local antique store, scrapyard, or flea market.

Throw Some Color on Those Industrial Walls

The muted shades that dominate most industrial spaces are also the perfect backdrop for bright, vibrant colors smaller spaces might easily be overwhelmed by. Think red, yellow, or blue furniture, wildly patterned rugs in mixed hues, oversized prints and photographs in shades that satisfyingly surprise the eye, and appliances and fixtures made from copper or stainless steel — all these things can pump real personality into a home that’s otherwise textbook-industrial chic.

Shelf Life

An industrial space filled with warm wooden elements and eye-grabbing shelves.

Remember that second cousin that had 23 shelves of toothpick holders from around the world proudly on display in his home? You don’t have to go that far, but filling a few shelves with books and knickknacks will definitely liven up your industrial living space. It doesn’t matter if you’ve actually read the books or if all the trinkets and curios have a story behind them. Choose pieces that inspire conversation and baubles that are fun to pass around.

Creating Smaller Spaces

Instead of trying to transform an industrial space into a homey respite, you might opt to create smaller, more intimate rooms within that space by using sofas and long tables as dividers. Play down the unused space by concentrating light on the areas you actually hang out in.

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