Lofts are industrial, commercial, manufacturing, and warehouse buildings that have been converted to residential use. With their origins as industrial and commercial buildings it is fitting that you consider some Industrial Interior Design Ideas when renovating your loft apartment.
I am Jorge Fontan an architect in NYC and owner of Manhattan based architecture firm Fontan Architecture. In our office he have renovated quite a few lofts in NYC. In this post we will be reviewing industrial loft design details while looking at a few lofts we renovated.
You can’t talk about loft design without discussing exposed brick. So first thing, not everyone likes exposed brick. I sure do, but it’s your apartment, so you will have to decide for yourself. I’ve had clients that want me to expose the brick and some that want to cover it up.
If you are looking for an industrial loft feel you will definitely want to consider exposing the brick. Before you commit to this, you should assess the quality of the brick. I personally would not be turned off by a lot of imperfections, but if it is old brick it may not look how you think. It may be inconsistent in quality. This is ok, but it’s not for everyone. I personally think it adds character to the loft. For me exposed brick is an essential detail for an industrial loft design.
I have another post on exposed brick ideas and it’s use for interior design and architecture.
Columns and Beams
Exposing the structure of a loft is a great design idea for an industrial look. As an architect renovating New York City lofts I always discuss this with my clients. Surprisingly to me, many do not like the idea of exposing the structure, but some do. I think it is a great detail to incorporate into your loft design.
First, you will need to assess the existing conditions and determine what type of structure you have. The photo below is of a loft in Soho, this is a building in the Landmarked Cast Iron District. The building structure is brick bearing walls for the exterior walls, with cast iron columns and heavy timber beams on the interior. We will left these structural elements exposed to achieve an industrial loft look as well as showing respect to the historic nature of the building design.
Imperfections in the existing structure can actually be a real design element and add character to a loft. These were built as industrial buildings a hundred years ago. They will have weathered and have all sorts of idiosyncrasies. A heavy timber beam having small splits or discolored wood is actually a pretty cool look. If it looked too brand new, it might not fit as well.
We have another blog post on Loft Architectural Characteristics if you want to read more on the subject.
Don’t be afraid to expose utilities in your loft. In the picture below you can see an exposed sprinkler pipe. This particular loft in the Financial District did not have the super high ceilings that we often associate with SoHo and Tribeca Lofts and originally had a suspended ceiling covering all the utilities. We removed the ceiling and exposed the pipes to gain an extra foot on the ceiling. I personally would much prefer to see the exposed pipes and have a higher ceiling.
Not all lofts or apartments will have the ability to raise the ceilings, but as an architect it is something I want to look into on all my jobs to know if we have the option. If you are going for an industrial look exposed these elements will always work and you can paint them to blend in.
Texture and materials are a major factor in any architectural and interior design. Texture sets a mood and overall tone for a space. If you are planning a loft renovation and want a more industrial look you will want less refined and perfect finishes. You can consider materials with texture such as the concrete wall in the photo below. Exposed concrete can be very minimalist and textured at the same time.
In this picture you can also see various wood details and black metal frame of the table. These woods are all matte finish and have a more natural look. Avoid glossy wood finishes and explore some darker tones.
Industrial Concrete Finishes for Lofts
One of the most industrial materials you will find is concrete. I am a big fan of concrete, having designed and built several concrete houses. If you have actual poured in place structural concrete in the loft, you can expose these areas. They can be refinished, polished, sealed, get epoxy coats… there are many ways to handle existing concrete. You can always leave it alone as well. Sometimes people want to add concrete. This can be achieved through trowel-applied concrete finishes. We have another post on concrete wall finishes if you want to see more.
The photo below is of a loft apartment in a formerly commercial building converted to apartments. Concrete is the primary finish in this apartment with concrete appearing in every space.
Black Steel and Glass Industrial Loft Doors
Another obviously industrial material is black steel or black metal. Exposed metal can provide a very modern industrial look for a loft. You will see black steel and glass as a common theme for modern apartments and NYC lofts. This is because it goes very well with the overall feel of a loft especially when you want an industrial look. These types of metal and glass doors are custom, made to order, so there is a lot of flexibility in design. The thinner the metal frame, the more modern the look. These types of doors are a high end product with a high end price tag. Especially thin metal frames, are even more luxurious, so this will be on the higher end of cost.
The picture below is of custom black steel and glass doors with sidelights for a home office in a loft in Chelsea, NYC The office has a bright red accent wall as well that adds a strong pop of color to the loft. The dark wood table also goes very well with the overall feel.
Steel Details / Handrail
Nothing says industrial more than steel. In this next photo you will see an all white loft in Tribeca with a simple steel handrail. Steel will almost always work well in a loft and you may even have some original steel details in the loft worth exposing or refurbishing. These details do not have to be perfect. Industrial lofts are gritty and the materials can have a little grit to them. It adds a loft of detail and character.
Black Metal Details
Black metal and any type of unfinished or industrial feel metals will be a good option for a loft. In this picture you will see a custom black tube metal coat rack in a concrete entryway. It is a very simple coat rack, but really goes well with the dark mood of this loft.
Dark and Neutral Colors
Dark and neutral colors will go very well in an overall modern and industrial loft. The picture below is of a kitchen in the concrete loft we discussed. The appliances are panel ready which means they have a panel matching the cabinets over them. The walls are painted to match the cabinets. This is a simple modern minimalist look.
Industrial Looking Weathered Materials
Lofts do not need to look perfect, especially if you are looking for an industrial interior / architecture design. Materials affect the entire feel of your apartment or loft. Weathered materials, materials that look weathered, or imperfect finishes are a good option for your loft. They have a more industrial gritty look.
The picture below is of a bathroom that we designed in a loft we renovated in Chelsea Loft, NYC. The bathroom has made with a weathered-looking grey porcelain tile.
Industrial Concrete Bathroom
I already mentioned concrete finishes, but lets look a little closer at a concrete bathroom. This is an all concrete bathroom with concrete walls, floors, and concrete shower which is an ultra modern look for a bathroom.
We have another post on Concrete Bathroom Design, if you want to check it out.
A concrete bathroom is about the most industrial bathroom you can design. Making the walls and floors of a bathroom entirely seamless concrete will really add a specific feel that is monolithic, minimalist, modern, and textural. It is truly industrial.
Industrial Plumbing Fixtures
Plumbing fixture design and finish will greatly affect the aesthetic of your loft. If you are looking for an industrial look, you want to select more modern industrial fixtures that will work with the overall design.
This is a custom black metal ceiling mounted towel bar. Custom details can be a way to really achieve the look you are going for. Simplicity is also a great choice you do not want to over do it. Nothing ruins a design like trying too hard.
Sliding panels and glass are a good way to make a space open or private, but it also works with an overall industrial aesthetic design.
Unique Colors and Materials
Using natural materials like wood can add to an industrial interior design. Bright colors can draw contrast giving a very unique feel to an industrial loft design.
You can not overlook any details in an apartment design. Everything down to door hardware has to be carefully thought out.
Below is a picture of an industrial door pull made of brushed steel in a wood door.
Wall Mounted Toilet
Wall mounted toilets are more modern and a bit more commercial looking. If you want a modern look this is a good choice for an industrial bathroom design.
Linear Shower Drain
Linear shower drains are a pretty cool detail. They are definitely more modern and more industrial in how they look.
Accent lighting will always help for function and aesthetics. Lighting adds a mood to interior spaces and that can go very well with an industrial loft style apartment.
Industrial Loft Design Ideas and Tips
Lofts have a history rooted in industrial and commercial use therefor it is fitting to make the apartments reference that history and play with the original overall character of the space.
Thank you for reading our blog post on Industrial Loft Design Ideas.
I hope this was helpful. Please leave questions and comments below. If you would like to speak with an architect, you can contact us at Fontan Architecture directly.
This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.