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12 Ways to Get the Industrial Look for Less
Shop surplus, raid the hardware store and press black paint into service. Your budget will warm to these ideas for cool industrial style
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From the original converted old factories and warehouses that caught the eye of artists and designers looking for cheaper rents, to today's sleek contemporary lofts, industrial style has caught on and stuck. It's more popular than ever and shows no signs of going anywhere — and of course, with popularity comes a higher price tag. But you don't have to spend a fortune to get the look. With a bit of ingenuity and persistence, you can pull together authentic finds, DIY projects and budget pieces to give your pad cool industrial style. Here are 12 ways to bring a little or a lot of industrial style to your home for less.
1. Sawhorse as clothing rack. The industrial look is all about utility — and what could be more utilitarian than a sawhorse? Pick up one of these at the hardware store, plunk it down in your bedroom and toss that pair of Levi's over it instead of in a heap on the floor.
2. DIY modern photo display. Using cable and horn cleats (like they use on boats) or brackets, create your own unique display space for your favorite photos — black and white, of course.
3. Shop the army-navy surplus store. Pick up real-deal army blankets, trunks and tin plates for the kitchen at bargain prices at your local surplus store. Rough wool blankets are superwarm and tough, and they look great on beds, on sofas or just stacked up on a shelf. Browse through your local store with an eye to repurposing — you never know what treasure you might unearth.
4. Turn an army blanket into a pillow. Old army blankets with holes in them can be often be found at a discounted price — simply cut away the unusable portion and sew up the good part into a new cushion cover. You could also use parts of old wool blankets to cover a seat cushion on an armchair or a sofa.
5. Go thrifting for metal chairs. Metal, or metal and wood, chairs can bring an industrial vibe to any room. These are great pieces to hunt for in thrift shops and at yard sales, because (unlike with upholstered pieces) you don't need to worry about hidden mildew or bugs.
6. Paint it black. Paint anything black for an instant industrial update. Paint the base of an old claw-foot tub, your trim, the radiators, picture frames — really, the sky is the limit.
7. Dip paint something black. Solid black a little ho-hum? Try dip painting instead. Unless you are painting a small object, like the handle of a wooden spoon, you may actually want to tape off the part you want to keep paint free (or use a rubber band), and use a brush-on or spray paint to coat the rest, rather than dipping the piece in paint. I love the combination of rustic old wood and a lick of black paint, as with the stump shown here. Chair and table legs are another natural choice for dip painting.
9. Put great big casters on an old table. Oversize casters and other wheels are hallmarks of the industrial look. Why not put an old wooden coffee table on casters instead of spending a fortune to buy a new table? If you're feeling especially crafty, I bet you could make something pretty amazing with a reclaimed wood table top, pipe fittings and vintage wheels.
10. Hang an American flag. Raw, bare concrete floors and white walls bring the American flag squarely into industrial territory. The flag makes a big statement, so leave the surrounding walls blank for maximum impact. And to display it correctly, be sure to hang it with the stars on the upper left.
11. Galvanized culvert as planter. Search Craigslist for a freebie culvert section — if it's too big, you can pay to have it cut to your specifications. These work as is outdoors, but if you added a bottom and finish the top edge they would make amazing planters inside the house.
12. Stick with a black and gray palette. One of the easiest ways to master this look is by limiting your decor to a fairly strict palette of black, gray and white, with some natural wood thrown in (the more worn, the better). Shop budget-friendly stores for lamps, bedding, pillows, towels and more, in shades of gray, black and white — solid hues like these generally look good at any price point, so why spend more?