Industrial chic is one of those looks that has stayed around for a while but hasn’t lost its freshness. Ever since most major advanced economies went post-industrial, the lines and materials common to industrial application have found a new home in domestic and hospitality design.
Industrial style bathroom design can work fabulously. In this piece, we’ll see why, as well as seeing how you can easily achieve it in your own bathroom.
So what does the industrial style look like?
Think industry. Think heavy machinery, fumes, noise, grime. No, it doesn’t sound much like your ideal bathroom does it? Mind you it does sound like the sort of thing that would make you crave a bath.
The thing about industrial style is that it takes the look and feel of industrial design and leaves the associated negatives behind. A bit like the way the trad school takes the decorativeness but eschews the TB.
One of the biggest advantages of bathroom industrial design is the minimalism and clean lines this entails. This makes for two plusses.
Firstly, the reduction of form to fit function means that there are less frilly bits to clutter up the room. Bathrooms tend to be fairly compact, so plain surfaces like modern shelving can really help to preserve a semblance of space. Secondly, plain surfaces are easier to clean, which is an absolute godsend in the never-ending clean-repeat cycle of bathroom maintenance.
What can industrial style include?
There are a few features that usually characterise the industrial look, that don’t include a clock-in facility or a hazard warning. However, having said that, hazard tape has actually become a component of some schools of industrial chic. The yellow/black tape can make for an eye-catching element of detail that can define wall edges (and warn you of any low hanging head bumping potential).
Other features can include exposed pipes and stark brickwork. In short, the industrial look means taking the necessary elements of the old school industrial workplace and making them desirable from a recreational design point of view.
One of the crucial elements of industrial design is lighting. In the workplace, bright light is key for productivity and the avoidance of accidents. It’s also great in the bathroom too, enabling the close-up magic involved in beautifying yourself in the mirror, as well as giving you that wake up boost in the early morning.
So, think bold, think bright. You can go for exposed Edison bulbs on eye-catching ropes. Caged pendants can look incredible. Or you could go completely in the other direction and decide on recessed LEDs that elicit a much more office-type industrial atmosphere.
For a long time, bathroom design focused on boxing up all the functionality and making things look neat, tidy and, well, possibly, a bit dull. Nothing wrong with a neat bathroom, but the truth is that you can end up hiding some very interesting bits and pieces.
Exposed copper piping can transform a bathroom. With some burnished metalwork, you can aim for a particular subsection of industrial style – the steampunk look. You can even embellish things with the odd added extra – a big old valve that looks like it belongs on the Nautilus can give your bathroom personality in spades.
No, it doesn’t have to actually do anything. So, in a way, this kind of addition runs counter to the functionality aspect of industrial design. But you can effectively ape functionailty by including ingredients that look like they do something but are actually cosmetic.
You can even take pipework in directions that it doesn’t have to go. Think about creating a pleasing pattern – those copper pipes with their bulky junctions can add interest to an otherwise bare wall. On the subject of which…
Beautifully smooth, plastered walls rendered calming in an attractive muted shade have their place. And walls decorated with pictures can make a bathroom an interesting and stimulating place to be. But, for a real industrial appearance, you can’t beat large areas of brickwork. So, let those babies come forth and bestow their glorious geometry on your bathtime.
Of course, not everyone’s lucky enough to have pristine brickwork, but this doesn’t have to stop you trying for that unadorned, stripped back ambience. Consider a distressed look, or go for that timeless option – white and black. By making it a symphony of extremes, you’ll give it a palette that delivers note of 1920s early modernism, as well as having notes of digital-style on or off and nothing in between.
An exposed beam or two can hark back to the roots of industrialism, as well as giving an element of warmth.
Or if you hanker for bricks but your walls can’t deliver, you might want to consider a brickwork wallpaper pattern. In the right setting, this can give just the background you’re after. It doesn’t have to look entirely authentic in order to do this. It’s flavours you’re looking for.
Here’s where industrial chic really comes to life. You can explore modernism in all its angular wonder with something as simple as the right tap. In fact, the tapware can utterly transform a bathroom environment, so think carefully about what you can bring into the room to up its industrial edge.
Something very blocky, positively Minecrafty, like the Cube Basin Mixer, will fit an industrial milieu beautifully, as well as being a tactile joy to use.
Shower units that rejoice in exposed pipework are a must, with the head itself giving you a choice of old school round patterns or maybe something that’s resolutely angular.
And don’t stop there. Basins can totally evoke that workplace washroom vibe. Take a cuboid vanity, especially one in an industrial hue, like the Inalco in cement grey, and you have instant stark chic.
And last but definitely not least, think about the toilet itself. You could go for a bit of contrast here. Why not go for steampunky victoriana – set against brutalist surrounds, a single piece of decorativeness can stand out and make your humble toilet a positive talking point.
Go to work!
The nice thing about bathrooms is that you can afford to be adventurous. They’re usually fairly small so you don’t have to invest hugely to transform the room. The odd well-chosen item of furniture can have you on your way to a whole new look.
And you don’t spend masses of time in there so you can go wild, safe in the knowledge that you won’t be in there long enough for the new look to end up grating on you.
This is why industrial looks are so much better-suited to the bathroom than the bedroom or lounge. So, don’t be afraid to experiment in there. But, if you are experimenting, don’t go the whole hog and end up with laboratory chic. It can make people feel a little like they’re under observation. Not a nice feeling at the best of times, but especially not in the bathroom.