Decorate: How to do industrial vintage

Make industrial vintage work at home with these four simple style ideas

Go into any new restaurant opening or fashionable boutique and the likelihood is there'll be a smattering of artfully-placed antique and vintage factory ware. Affordable to buy and easy to get hold of, pieces salvaged from industrial works, old mills and Victorian factories have lovely weathered patina and a functional appeal.

But how do you get them to work at home? Try these tricks.


1. Layer stools and work tables with soft fabrics

What to do: Soften the hard metal edges and dark woods with pale fabrics in tactile materials. Contrast is key. A soft linen makes what was once an industrial work bench into an elegant dining table.

Where to buy: On ceiling, from left: ‘Pirelli Warehouse’ lights, £288 each, Skinflint Design. On table, from left: Linen tablecloth, £54.99; linen napkins, £5.49 each, both Linen Me. Plate, £55, The Conran Shop. Vintage cutlery, £36 for six pieces, RE. Coffee percolator, £6; Very Beryl teacup & saucer, £8 for four, all The OK Corral. Jar, £10, Closet & Botts. Fruit bowl, find similar at Designers Guild. Vintage serving dish, £20, Sunbury Antiques Market. Glass tumblers, £28 for four, Rowen & Wren. Glass jug, £24.95, Graham & Green. On floor, from left: Bauhaus-style stool, £354; metal and wood stool, £59; steel tube and wood chair, £96, all Elemental. Vintage oak chair, £114, Quirky Interiors. ‘Tweed Emphasize’ blanket in ‘Apple’, £195, Mourne Textiles. Vintage folding trestle table, £375, Lassco. ‘Stockholm’ rug, £250, Ikea


2. Seek out the unusual

What to do: Although unplundered industrial sites are fewer and further between they can still be found with a little research. Europe is the place to go. For adventurous types, head to Eastern Europe where the communist legacy has left some fine hunting grounds. 

Where to buy: Paint on wall, ‘Breakfast Room Green’ Estate Emulsion, £38 per 2.5l, Farrow & Ball. Vintage GEC desk fan, £180, Rochesters. Green ribbons, £8 each; emerald green baker’s twine, £6; green Stamford notebook, £11, all The Conran Shop. Green glazed mug, £4, Lewes Antiques Centre. Wooden spool, £4, The Cloth House. Green twine, £5, Homebase


3. Mix industrial pieces with bold accessories

What to do: Strong furniture needs accessories that can hold their own. For a pop of colour, position big mid-century ceramics on coffee tables and window sills. Thanks to their curvaceous lines they make a nice juxtaposition, as do thick-knit cushions.

Where to buy: ‘Bluebell’ sofa in ‘Ash Soft Wool’, £1,540, Coffee table, £250, La Boutique Vintage. Spot floor lamp, £1,476, Elemental. Wheeled side table, £150, Retrouvius. On sill, from left: ‘Berne’ zinc planter, £26, Rowen & Wren. Painting, £50, Lewes Antiques Centre. Green machinist’s table lamp, £456, Skinflint Design. On coffee table, from left: vase, £30, Habitat. Vintage handmade ceramic bowl, £150, Little Paris. Green twine, as before. On side table, from left: vintage plant pot, £25, Blackduke & Cashman. ‘Esterban’ recycled-glass vase, £8, Habitat. Cushions, from left: ‘Shadow Green’ velvet cushion, £72, Kirsten Hecktermann. ‘Mended Tweed’ cushion in grey, £145, Mourne Textiles. Eastern European looped-wool panel cushion, mid 20th century, £95, Kirsten Hecktermann. Cushion covered in ‘Scott’ fabric, 10589/778, £105 per m, Zimmer + Rohde. ‘Hollis’ embroidered cushion, £35, Habitat. ‘Etch’ rug, £350, Habitat


4. Give them life with a seasonal colour

What to do: With mixing-and-matching of styles and shapes to deal with, it's easiest to stick to one colour theme. A lively, natural colour such as this season's bright greens will bring a room to life.

Where to buy: Vintage industrial bank of steel drawers, £575, The Old Cinema. On drawers: brass ‘B’ letter, £44; reclaimed metal ‘E’ letter, £144, both Elemental. Vintage mini glass bottles, £4 each, Sunbury Antiques Market. On sill, from left: ‘Esterban’ glass vase, £30, Habitat. Vintage glass bottle, £39, Little Paris. ‘Battersea’ print, £45, Habitat

Images: Katya de Grunwald
Styling: Marisa Daly

For the full history of industrial vintage and more stylish ideas, take a look in the April issue of Homes & Antiques, out now



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