There’s a hot design scheme that embraces the symbols of a mighty age, even as that era is passing from the scene. The industrial age ruled North America and Europe for more than a century. Economists tells us that this era, the one into which most of us were born, has given way to the information age, a fact that can be supported very simply by counting the number of hours we spend on social media. But something inside many of us longs for the “good old days” of that period of muscular manufacturing and production.

The trending use of industrial architecture in residential housing is partly nostalgic. Industrial is now vintage, the new hip retro look.



This design scheme in residential architecture started as a cost-effective way to convert empty industrial space into residential housing. It was cheaper to leave the I-beams, pipes, commercial ductwork, concrete and bricks exposed rather than cover it all up behind drywall and drop ceilings. In time, the raw, utilitarian look became part of the allure for a younger crowd moving into converted industrial space. It became an essential element in the revitalization of urban centres in places as diverse as Seattle, Moscow and Melbourne.

What started as an economic necessity quickly became a fashionable design scheme even in new construction and the remodeling of housing that never had an industrial look. Soon, furniture, cabinetry, flooring and lighting were being produced with the industrial vibe, and the design style was complete!

Today, industrial residential architecture and design is a sought-after style in post-industrial cities throughout the world. More than a decade after it took hold, it is showing excellent staying power.

Pros and Cons of Contemporary Industrial Architecture in Housing

Every style has its pros and cons. Here are the strengths and weaknesses of industrial design in residential housing.

Let’s start with the advantages in industrial architectural design:

  • Remodeling industrial space into living space is cheaper than tearing down a warehouse or factory and building from scratch, and this should, at least in theory, produce lower rental and purchase prices

  • The structure of many warehouses and factories is in excellent condition, and many have useable ductwork, windows, wiring and plumbing

  • Many of these buildings are located in urban neighborhoods that are hot places to live and which offer walk-to-work proximity, an attractive feature for young urbanites concerned with reducing the use of fossil fuels

  • Industrial building materials such as brick and metal are recycled and recyclable and they last indefinitely, making this a green architectural style

  • With the production of industrial-style furniture as well as exterior features such as entry doors and garage doors, your comprehensive design comes together brilliantly

  • Wear and tear to materials and changes in appearance with age are expected, viewed as character and not as detrimental



There are a few disadvantages of industrial residential design to keep in mind:

  • Furnishings and décor featuring industrial design are produced in smaller quantities, and while this is seen as a plus by those who don’t want mass-produced pieces, it does make them more expensive

  • Remodeling your home’s exterior using the industrial architecture style is risky since your house may be the only one like it in your neighbourhood, and this could make it harder to sell

  • The danger with trendy styles is that they tend to fall out of favor with homeowners faster than more enduring styles like traditional, contemporary or French country

Where to Find Housing with Industrial Architecture

If you’re intrigued with the idea of living in space with a distinctive industrial feel, the place to begin your search is in a large city near you. Many buildings and factories are being converted into beautiful, functional housing units. You might want to lease a place with this design scheme for a couple of years before you buy to see if it is really what you want long-term.



Designers are also employing industrial architectural design when remodeling apartment buildings and homes in urban and near-suburban locations. If you own your own home or own rental properties, the nearer you are to an industrial hub, the more it makes sense to invest in contemporary industrial architecture. It’s not such a good idea away from the city in rural settings where industrial design might look out of place.

Contemporary industrial architecture embraces the spirit of a great age while employing a forward-looking philosophy of “repurpose, reuse and recycle.” There’s something to embrace there for all of us.