Who doesn’t want to be the hip kid on the block—living in the house with the edgy metal details, stone counters, and distressed everything that screams, “I’m too cool for school”?
But industrial decor looks can quickly veer off the rails; pulling off this design in the home can be tough. Too much steel can make your home feel like the International Space Station, while an overly dark palette just might give you a case of seasonal affective disorder. SAD!
Let there be light—and at least one material that’s not gritty brick! Just make sure not to let these industrial decor disasters cross your threshold.
1. Concrete everything
OK, we’ll give you the concrete countertop or a small sink in the half-bath. But when it comes to pulling your espresso from a cinder block, we have to draw the line.
Nothing about this piece says “cozy cup of joe” or “morning me time.” If anything, it’ll give you nightmares you just can’t shake.
2. Bizarre art
Photo by Shadow Creek Homes
We get it—black, charcoal gray, and silver are rough and tough colors that match the industrial aesthetic. But without a pop of color (floor tile, hand towels), your home risks feeling like a dungeon—or a dirty dive bar.
4. Gear accessories
Must we mount old iron faucet handles, railroad ties, and every other rusty bit found on the side of the road? Castoff gears in particular are sharp and scary-looking, and are bound to catch the head of any little tot who might zoom past.
5. Pipes for days
Sure, it’s kind of neat if your loft space has actual old pipes twisting and turning overhead, but bringing this material in as accents and hardware is a nonstarter for us. There’s nothing wrong with standard-issue towel racks from a big-box store, people.
6. Uncomfortable bar stools
Your kid will dig spinning these around and around—and then launching himself across the room onto the dog—but no one else will voluntarily sit on this perch. For the love of God, find a set of stools with a small back or some semblance of a cushion, lest you and your guests end up black and blue.
7. Rusty lockers
Do you really want to relive your tween years every day with metal lockers made into home storage? Industrial chic touches on vintage finds, especially utilitarian pieces like foot lockers and steamer trunks, but flashbacks to those angsty days isn’t fair. Haul this piece away in favor of a basic cabinet from Ikea.
8. Metal cages
The abundant use of metal is a key characteristic of industrial design, but a wire-grill partition doesn’t evoke a factory so much as it does a penitentiary. Yup—living in a bunch of cages will pretty much feel like jail if you go the route shown above. And when your kid realizes how much fun it is to drag a spoon across this metal mesh, you’ll be holding your head in pain.
9. Industrial spotlights
Whoa—get us some shades! Literally, you’ll be wearing your Ray-Bans just to get out of bed with this type of bedside lamp. Ditto for klieg lights in the home and other “schoolhouse” designs. Frankly, they’re overly bright and painful. Save your vision, and find a variety of lighting, both task and and ambient, to set a mood—unless you’re planning to hold interrogations after hours.