The industrial style in design combines utilitarian, rustic and modern elements with a marked preference for raw, textured materials, neutral colours and exposed features. It conveys an organic, unfinished and lived-in atmosphere, underpinned by the practicality of its origins.
As the most utilitarian room in any home, the kitchen celebrates function, convenience and practical design, making it the most suitable space for introducing the mechanics, beauty and restraint of the industrial style.
The origins of the industrial style
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Before electricity in the late 1700s, factories had to be built with particular consideration for flow and function – meaning the inclusion of large-frame windows for maximum light and open-plan workstations. There was also concern regarding fire hazards, which meant these spaces were often bare and unadorned. That classic ‘unfinished’ look has become a beloved mainstay in the industrial style today.
As technology progressed in the early 1900s, these buildings were reinforced with steel and concrete. This allowed structures to become enormous, maybe even too large, and their size pushed them out of the city and into specialised industrial areas.
Left behind were large, vast spaces with high ceilings and tonnes of natural light. In the 60s and 70s, the reclamation of these buildings into residential dwellings began. Preserving the materials and exposed features has been embraced in the interior design world, with industrial being one of today’s most revered and on-trend styles.
Expose imperfection to cultivate character in the kitchen
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At the heart of it all, industrial style kitchens are honest. They bear witness to imperfection and honour idiosyncrasies proudly. This means rethinking what we generally know about kitchen design. We tend to conceal the innards of buildings, such as aircon ducting, lighting wires and piping. But industrial concepts encourage the exposure of these mechanical fixtures.
Think dangling lighting over your benchtop, an unfinished feature brick wall, or copper piping snaking around the ceiling. The display of these sturdy fixtures is freeing in a way, shining a unique perspective on how function can be artful.
Materials for an industrial kitchen
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Industrial kitchen design focuses on raw and weathered materials such as concrete, steel, and brick and timber. These elements are innately durable, but their exterior appearance conveys that too, creating that solid and steady ambience that supports the style. Opt for these materials when looking to design an industrial style kitchen.
Concrete benchtops are common, as they are reminiscent of workspaces in old factories. There’s no need to fix up each dent or mark; leave concrete blemishes as they are. They create a characterful piece in the kitchen. If you’re lucky enough to have brick walls in your space, show them off. They establish a rugged, vintage charm while highlighting the strength of industrial kitchen design.
Bold and spacious
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Modern-day industrial style kitchens still retain the ethos of open-plan living. Having clear and free spaces makes moving through them a breeze and allows natural sunlight to create dimension.
When planning your industrial style kitchen layout, we would say a two-galley formation would be the best. A two-galley kitchen features linear sections of cabinetry running parallel to each other and two entry points from each end. It maintains the working triangle, where the three main stations of a functional kitchen (stove, sink and fridge) are placed in the general shape of a triangle to optimise flow.
Most industrial kitchens have this layout, as it works well with the rectangular dimensions of the space and supports a highly sociable atmosphere.
Keep it neutral
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Industrial kitchens have quite a muted colour palette and let the textures of the materials do most of the talking. When highlighting, stick to neutral tones such as black, white, grey, brown and beige.
If you want bold colour, go for it; we suggest keeping it as a feature in your industrial kitchen.
Choose industrial style tapware
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Industrial kitchens mainly feature sleek lines and hard angles, and your tapware contributes to that immensely. Taps are generally metal, which means the finish and shape adhere strongly to the industrial style.
We think that tapware with a robust, square shape will work best in an industrial kitchen. This is because it mirrors the rigid formation of piping and would centre the kitchen space with vigour. Our favourite tap with this shape is the Eden Square Kitchen Mixer.
If you want some softness in your space, try a tap with a gooseneck arch. We suggest the Elysian Commercial Pull-Out Kitchen Mixer, as the pull-out spout is extremely practical.
As for what tapware finishes you should choose, we wouldn’t stray from colours that reflect brick, concrete, steel, and timber tones. We think the best would be brushed copper, matte black, brushed nickel, brushed gunmetal and chrome.
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An industrial style kitchen is typically restrained in terms of ornamentation, but it does exist. It’s just approached a little differently.
Items you frequently use such as bowls, utensils and spices can proudly be displayed in an orderly fashion as decor. It upholds the utilitarian aspect but gives you decorating flexibility.
Kitchen greenery is another great decorative feature. Plants can brighten up any feelings of seriousness and bring in a natural element. Try hanging plants such as pothos – they create a beautiful architectural dimension in the kitchen. Or, if you have an abundance of sun, you could plant some fresh herbs to have on hand.
Need help with choosing fixtures for your industrial kitchen?
Our expert design consultants are well versed in the industrial style, so if you ever need help choosing finishes and products from ABI Interiors for your home, they are just a call away.