July 22, 2015

Industrial Style Kitchens – What are the key elements?

Expert Advice

Industrial Style Kitchen closeup

Industrial style kitchens are often a little understood style open to wide interpretation. This has prompted us to share our thoughts on its key elements.

Exposing the inner workings

It’s the complete opposite approach to other kitchen styles, normally you would conceal rangehood ducting, aircon ducting, piping and light fittings. With industrial style, you are leaving these elements exposed for the world to see, much as a factory designer would not bother with concealment in a factory. In principle it sounds like less work to do, however, because these inner workings are always visible any defects or untidiness can not be hidden. More attention and care needs to be put into specifying and installing better fittings (think chromed piping or rigid ducting).

Some exposed fittings and fixtures to consider: –

  • Cutlery rails on splashbacks
  • Open floating shelves in timber or stainless steel
  • Rigid ducting
  • Bridge or bowser style mixer taps

Reusing or repurposing items

Using old items, such as recycled timber on island benchtops, reclaimed furniture, or antiques that look like they belong on a factory floor, add authenticity and character to the industrial space.


Spaces with the elements of a warehouse environment are perfect for industrial style kitchens; tall ceilings, open space, polished concrete flooring and plenty of natural light.

Ideally a warehouse, factory or hall environment

As you can imagine, nothing beats a factory or warehouse space for an authentic industrial look. These spaces are often very raw to begin with; warn flooring with loads of character, aged paintwork exposing the brick pattern, high ceilings, loads of floor space and plenty of natural lighting. Old halls and converted churches also have these characteristics. For a lot of people, it makes sense to choose a kitchen that is analogous with the environment it is going into. However, with a bit of planning, hard work and a little bit of bravery a room within a standard home can take on some of these characteristics.

Aged surfaces

Concrete or wide rustic wooden floorboards are the flooring choice for this style, as they are reminiscent of the practical floor surfaces in a warehouse or factory. Old concrete floors can be polished or surface treated to alter the appearance. Bear in mind concrete is a very practical surface, but it is also extremely cold and hard against feet. If resurfacing, a warmer alternative is to specify an engineered floating floor, available in a myriad of species, colours, sizes and textures (including pre-aged and distressed options). A popular choice for brick walls is to simply paint over the brickwork and keep the brick texture or going a step further by sanding back the paint layer in areas to reveal the brickwork again. Lining the wall with small rustic tiles (think subway tiles), especially around the cooktop and sink area is also a good choice.


Aged & carbonised American Oak engineered flooring from Royal Oak Floors.

Benchtop Materials

One part of the kitchen you will see up close and interact with everyday is the benchtop, so it pays to give it some thought and consider your options. Getting a stainless steel fabricated benchtop is a good idea for a few reasons. The stainless steel will likely match other features, they’re extremely durable, easy to clean and will develop an aged patina over time. Concrete benchtops are also a popular choice for the industrial style but be aware edges do chip easily, periodically need to be resealed and they are not the most dimensionally accurate. For the concrete look without the fuss specify an engineered stone (see Caesarstone’s Sleek Concrete 4003) or a Sintered Ceramic (see Neolith’s Beton top).

Cabinet Style

Expect to see a wide array of door styles from flat panel in polyurethane lacquer or stainless steel, to a decorative recessed panel in a hand-painted finish. Certainly an eclectic mix, but the benefit is you can blend styles together. Take for example shaker style doors merged with the elements industrial style – it’s pretty much become it’s own sub-category.


This kitchen has flat panels in polyurethane (satin finish). 

Timber & iron bar stools

We’re blessed with many choices in bar stools aimed directly at the industrial style. We like to specify stools with a cast iron or steel fabricated base and a timber top. Popular stools include the Tolix Bar Stool, Toledo Bar Stool and the Hinkley Bar Stool.


Arteriors Hinkley Bar Stool Toledo-Bar-Stool

Toledo Bar Stool

Factory pendant lighting

Pendant lighting is one of those features that can really fill a space and direct the eye. Larger rooms with high ceilings can take big heavy industrial lighting [see image], while smaller spaces work better with more discrete pendants (Edison bulbs). Lighting in black, chrome, glass, wood, brushed steel, copper, aged or reclaimed work well.


Warehouse pendant light from Fatshack Vintage in Melbourne


Go for any of the modern European kitchen classics in stainless steel or black. Appliances that look chunky or engineered are also suitable. Appliances from Wolf and Sub-Zero (both American brands) are big and chunky having come from the commercial background. German appliance maker Gaggenau have an engineered and precise quality about them, much like precision manufacturing equipment. Also consider Smeg’s Classic range of appliances, they have looked the same for decades simply because they continue to appeal to the retro/industrial market.


Wolf ovens have a distinctive chunky industrial look, not surprising given their commercial background.  


German made Gaggenau appliances are known for their engineered and precise look.

We hope you find this article helpful in your own quest for achieving an industrial style kitchen. As experienced kitchen designers in Sydney, we regularly draw on these elements to create industrial style kitchens for our clients. If you need further help on your quest, you are most welcome to visit our combined showroom/design office and discuss your ideas with our team.