Industrial Chic Design in Today’s World

Industrial Chic is a design trend that continues to gain momentum and attention.  The growth and renewed popularity of urban areas contributes to the prominence, embrace, and exploration of this aesthetic. 

Barry Goralnick New York Architect and Design Icon Loft Industrial Chic Maura Sullivan
Barry Goralnick from Manhattan Loft photo: Maura Sullivan

Loft-like living spaces are among the most coveted properties throughout the U.S. and are found in some of the country’s most desired developing neighborhoods.  Whether they are converted factory spaces in downtown or waterfront areas or new buildings designed to capture the spirit of these historic lofts, new homebuyers and renters gravitate toward this less formal style of living.  In addition, hotel chains like Aloft are restoring old buildings and redesigning them to feature their industrial heritage.

Large open living spaces, high ceilings, ample windows, versatile multi-function rooms, interesting details imbued with history, and the embrace of casual, anti-formal lifestyles all create high demand for this style of design. 

Industrial Chic Living Spaces

Newly-built Industrial Chic living spaces are staples along the Highline on the West Side of Manhattan between the Meatpacking District and Hudson Yards.  In Brooklyn, areas from Red Hook to Industry City boast incredible loft spaces.  Similarly, Downtown Los Angeles is an anchor of this type of living in Southern California.  From Atlanta to Denver to Seattle, Industrial Chic living spaces are cropping up everywhere.

Jeffrey Czum
photo: Jeffrey Czum

Interior Design

Interior design’s current generation aspires to a greener, more eco-conscious approach to design.  Industrial Chic – and its newer permutations – lends itself to making greener choices.  For instance, incorporating recycled factory elements, such as metal shelving, found materials, and vintage pieces or accessories, contribute to this melding of industrial style with a heart of green.

Classic Industrial Chic spaces include many of these elements:

  • Reclaimed wood
  • Exposed brick
  • Repurposed or unfinished raw materials
  • Cement floors, polished concrete, or antique wood flooring
  • Exposed beams, pipes, and structural supports
  • Barn doors
  • Factory windows (with good seals, of course, to prevent energy-sucking leaks)

However, industrial style today incorporates a much larger range of materials and finishes. 

Defining the Space

One of the keys to successful design with large open rooms is to create smaller areas within the plan.  Therefore, it’s important to define more human-scaled areas, in order for people to feel comfortable.  While the drama of large rooms and high ceilings has great visual impact, residents and their guests need to know where and how the space functions to feel at home.

The first loft I designed was in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. The clients were a young couple who were expecting a child. As a fledgling designer in a small apartment, I was awed by the amount of space that they had. Ironically, they told me that they weren’t comfortable in the vast expanse. So, I created cozier spaces within the loft: seating groups for talking, watching TV, reading, or entertaining.  I even created a life-size dollhouse within their loft for their new daughter to live in.

Currently, I live in a loft that was built as a printing factory in 1910. I designed the loft to be a hybrid between a loft and a more traditional apartment. It is visually open, and I retained the exposed pipes and old radiators. But I created rooms that can be closed off for aural and visual privacy.

Chelsea Loft designer Barry Goralnick Industrial Chic
Chelsea Loft designed by Barry Goralnick

Some elements to consider:

Lighting: Leading the Way

Lighting helps define any space, large or small.  For instance, when an audience sees a stage for the first time, it is the lighting that directs the eye and helps the viewer know where to look, what is important, and sets the visual hierarchy.  Different levels of lighting create drama and coziness within the large space. Systems like Ketra can control the color, dimness, and intensity to focus on art and other features of the space.

Davy Pendant by Barry Goralnick Currey Lighting Industrical Chic

Several pieces in my new collection of lighting for Currey & Company have the soul of Industrial Design, but the glamour of highly polished finishes and jewelry-like details. 

The Davy pendant light, Davy floor lamp, Davy desk lamp are examples of Industrial Chic’s latest manifestation.  Inspired by an antique caged safety light, these decorative statement pieces infuse an industrial touch into any room.

Coffee Table: Signals Seating Areas

The coffee table becomes a key element to any larger industrial space.  It helps to anchor an area within a large loft.  By surrounding a distinctive coffee table with seating, a defined living room area becomes immediately clear. 

Spencer Cocktail Table from Barry Goralnick Vanguard Furniture
Spencer Cocktail Table from Barry Goralnick for Vanguard Furniture

The Spencer coffee table, from my collection for Vanguard Furniture, is inspired by the nut-and-bolt sorters found in old hardware factories. By re-conceiving the typical horizontal orientation of the cocktail table vertically, its cog-like design provides innovative storage and display options.  What used to be stored or displayed on the lower shelf of a cocktail table is no longer hard to reach.  This type of vertical storage makes access to coffee table books or even classic vinyl LPs easy.

Dining Room: Defined by the Dining Table

The dining room is more likely to be a dining area in an Industrial Chic loft space.  Obviously, the dining table clearly signals where meals are to be enjoyed.  The table itself can be an artistic statement, like a Howard Werner piece, which I’ve used in a project, or can be purely utilitarian.

I also like to specify old factory furniture or industrial pieces as accents, such as these vintage bar stools (see below). Reusing furniture is one of the greenest things we can do. Each year, 6% of the landfill is made up of home furnishings (9.7 million tons) [Source: Sustainable Furnishings Council]

Vintage Barstools in a Chelsea Loft Barry Goralnick Architecture Design, Industiral Chic
Vintage Bar Stools in a Chelsea Loft

Open Kitchens: On Show

Open kitchens are frequently a cornerstone of loft living. Therefore, their immediate visibility means kitchen fixtures and appliances need more attention, because they’ll be seen more.  Thankfully, a variety finishes beyond the standard stainless steel are now available. Mixed metals and colorful enamels are making their way into the design vocabulary.

Clients like the cooking-show-feel of an open kitchen.  Easily accessible counter tops with lots of room make prep and cooking feel more fun and professional.  Plus, the chef is not sequestered in another room away from friends or family.  The cook can be a part of the action and conversation.  Or even be the entertainment.  

Bedroom: Separate Is Best

For me, the ideal loft has discrete bedrooms and guest rooms.  Wide-open living is nice, but if you live with others or have occasional guests, the areas where you sleep should be private, soundproof, and lightproof.  Nothing disturbs a good night’s sleep more than the late-night insomniac finishing their book, the snack-scrounging Ambien sleep-eater, or the early-bird workout fanatic getting ready for an ungodly pre-dawn run. 

All of my thoughts on bedroom design for better sleep still apply.

Bathroom and Powder Room: Privacy First

Bathrooms should be private – especially aurally.  Whether you live in a loft or not, no one wants to hear or be heard when it comes to the bathroom or powder room. 

Color Palette and Textures

Color palettes in industrial spaces are expanding.  Neutral colors are no longer the only tones incorporated.  Designers are using more adventurous colors, exploring far beyond the worn metal finishes, distressed reclaimed woods, and exposed bricks of the 1980s. 

Juxtaposing high-gloss finishes or strong colors to the to the staple design elements of urban chic adds excitement to the usual utilitarian colors. For example, A Luis Barragán-inspired color wall or partition immediately contemporizes the color palette of any loft space. All of this creates a newer, more exciting environment.

Luis Barragan House photo: Amanda McCadams

Layers of old paint convey history and depth. Poured cement flooring with mineral or oil stains provides rich color and dimensions.  Exposed brick contributes time-worn facings.  I like to expose a sliver of exposed brick as a hint of the original structure, rather than a vast expanse, which can become dirty and hard to hang art on.

A new product I’ve recently discovered is Magna GlasKeramik at Walker Zanger.  These slabs are 100% recycled glass, which has been sintered (the same technology used to create glass stove-tops), so that they become a solid surface, similar in quality to granite engineered stone.  The different colors are made from different materials, including computer and cell-phone screens, bottle glass, and auto glass.

Magna GlasKeramik at Walker Zanger made from 100% recycled glass

As I look at some of the origins of Industrial Chic, I’m brought back to the book High Tech by Joan Kron and Suzanne Slesin, which identified the idea of Industrial Design for the home in 1978.  Designers like Joe D’urso perfected the style. In our era, this look has become ubiquitous.  The style has actually endured long beyond a trend. Industrial Chic has become a part of our international design vocabulary.

Posted in Apartment Design, Architect, Barry Goralnick, Currey & Company, Furniture, Interior Design, Lighting, Pendant, Uncategorized, Vanguard Furniture | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Industrial Chic Design in Today’s World

Bedroom Design for Better Sleep

Bedroom design for better sleep is one of the many ways a thoughtful interior designer can help a home look better, while improving the lives of those who live there.

Blue Bedroom Design Better Sleep Barry Goralnick Architect
This bedroom design for a Central Park West client is a serene place to recharge.
Photo: Hector Sanchez

As an architect and interior designer, my primary goal is to help clients live better lives through good design. Beyond making a home look beautiful, I try to create a place where my clients can recharge, be restored, and feel rejuvenated.  The bedroom is a key place to help clients achieve this by getting a good night’s sleep. 

Over the years, I have heard several clients remark that they often sleep better in hotel rooms than at home.  I’ve experienced the same thing.  Simple features of hotel rooms can be included in the design of the bedroom at home to help get a better night’s sleep.  Here are some essential bedroom ideas that help with better sleep.

Blackout Shades: Sleep In the Dark

Blackout shades keep the room dark, which helps to regulate the Circadian Rhythm.  We naturally wake up when light filters into a room.  It’s why hotels have blackout curtains.  And it’s why I recommend installing blackout shades in every bedroom I design.  A good resource for this is The Shade Store. They offer a wide variety of fabric options, provide automatic operation, and will field measure for accuracy.

Modern Bedroom Design Better Sleep Blackout Shade Barry Goralnick Architecture
Over-scaled blackout shades in this maisonette block the light from the large garden beyond.
Photo: Raymond Namin

Bedroom Thermostat: Keep the Room Cool

Installing a temperature-regulating thermostat in the master bedroom, which regulates the temperature of the bedroom allows clients to set an optimal temperature for the bedroom alone without cooling or heating the rest of the home.  The ideal sleeping temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Again, hotels have individual controls for each room, so this is not an unreasonable luxury.  Whether you have a modern bedroom or traditional bedroom, temperature is one key to better sleep. 

Red Before Bed:  Limit Blue Lights and Screens

One of the first things I do in every job is put almost every light on a dimmer. This includes bathroom lights, living room lights, pendant lights, and chandeliers. A proper level of lighting is crucial to the successful design of any room at any time of day. But an additional incentive for a dimmer is that any bright light right before bedtime can make it harder to get to sleep.  That’s because light sends signals to your body that it’s not time to go to sleep.

According to Harvard Health, “blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night.”  Therefore, dim, non-fluorescent red lights are best before bedtime (Personally, I would never install fluorescent lighting in any bedroom.)  These are especially appropriate for use in lights on nightstands, floor lamps in the bedroom, or nightlights.  I still prefer the warm glow of an incandescent bulb, though LED lighting technology is making great strides in this area.

Ketra, which is part of the Lutron family of lighting, is a state-of-the-art lighting system that allows you to create a multitude of lighting scenes with different intensities and colors. It can be controlled by Alexa or Google Home, so you don’t even have to leave your bed to change the effects.

Ideally, you’re not supposed to look at any screens – phone, computer, or iPads – a few hours before bed.  But for an avid reader like me, that’s just not possible.  I always have an eBook waiting for me on my bedside table. So, I recommend that if clients are reading on iPads or tablets at bedtime, they use the nighttime setting, which limits the amount of blue wavelength lights.

For more on how blue light affects your body, read here.

Soundproof Windows and White Noise Machines: The Sounds of Silence

When it’s reasonable, I recommend that the bedroom design be as soundproofed as possible.  It doesn’t need to be as silent as a recording studio, but the quieter it is, the less likely clients are to be awakened in the middle of the night. 

For clients who live in the city, I encourage installing city windows, such as CitiQuiet. These double-paned windows create an airspace, which acts as a sound buffer.  And a good seal around the window cuts down the noise that reaches into the bedroom.  This helps to create the perfect sleep environment.

For clients who can’t install such windows, due to co-op boards, existing conditions that prevent installation, or historical landmark limitations, a simple white noise machine on the side table can be effective. 

White noise helps to block out annoying city sounds.  I have found that a whirring fan in my bedroom creates enough of a white noise backdrop that it keeps irritating nighttime noises from waking me unnecessarily (and once I’m awake, it’s hard to go back to sleep).  The white noise has made a remarkable change in my ability to sleep through the night – even in Manhattan. 

Eclectic Bedroom Design for Better Sleep Barry Goralnick Bracelet Lamp Visual Comfort
Luxury bedding envelopes this client in Chelsea. Photo: Raymond Namin

Gravity Blankets or a Luxe Heavy Blanket: Under the Cover of Night

I’m always looking for a good reason to incorporate a luxurious comforter or bedspread into the bedroom design.  I’ve read articles and a few studies about the benefits of weighted blankets, so in addition to high thread-count sheets, I figure there’s no harm in furnishing the bedroom with luxury bedding and a comforter that’s worth its weight in gold. 

To be honest, I’ve never gone as far as purchasing a weighted blanket for a client. They can range from 4 pounds to 25 pounds!  Attractive gravity blankets are offered by Luxome.

Lavender Spray: The Smell of Sleep

Lavender-scented pillow and sheet spray is used by high-end boutique hotels during turndown service. It’s known for its calming and stress-reducing effects – plus, it smells wonderful.  So, when a job is finishing up, I make sure clients have a simple lavender linen spray they can use themselves, like this Lavender Linen Spray.

Other sleep tips that go beyond decorating ideas that I’ve recommended to clients are:

CBD Lotion as a Natural Sleep Aid

CBD lotion is a popular new solution to help with sleep.  Many people find that rubbing a cream with a CBD component on the soles of the feet helps induce a more peaceful sleep. I have been using the Moisturizing Body Cream by Indigo & Haze and find it to be very effective. Positive side effects are smooth skin and the benefits of a lovely fragrance. A growing group of my friends have all become proponents.

Watch What You Drink

I know limiting caffeine, especially after noon, can help.  I’ve learned to watch out for decaf, which is not un-caffeinated, and I’ve given up sodas with caffeine.  Also, drinking less alcohol can help (though this could make an extreme dent in your social life).

We all make choices in how we live.  I work with the lifestyle choices my clients make and offer the best in interior design to support their lives.    

The bottom line is, a client’s bedroom design should be one of the most luxurious, restorative places in their lives. And I sleep better knowing I’ve created a room designed to help create a place in which they can relax and rejuvenate.

Posted in Apartment Design, Architect, Barry Goralnick, Circa Lighting, Design, Lighting | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Bedroom Design for Better Sleep

Hot Stuff – ICFF

Here are my favorites from the ICFF Fair. Many of these are practical solutions that will enhance any project, and a few are just plain fun.

Day One – lots of ground to cover.

Cabinet Knobs by Frank and Allart of Connecticut

UK, HArdward, Accessories, Morotcycle, Susex

The coolest both was by Buster and Punch , 2 British architects who design everything from motorcycles to accessories.

gel, fireplace, hearth, modern

HearthCabinet is the only approved gel fuel fireplaces in New York. They had some funky designs as well as some that can beautifully integrated.

windsor, chair, wood chair,

Coolican and Company has produced this simple, modern take on the Windsor Chair.

Brass plimbing faucets spouts

WATERMARK has the most beautiful options for their new collection of faucets. Brass rules!

silver, ewer, pitcher, Viennese

This ewer by Otto Prutscher, Krug, Entwurf is from the 1930’s. The Wiener Silber Manufacturer has made gorgeous cutlery and accessories since 1882.

Great tub by Villeroy & Boch lifted gently on chrome legs

sink, stone, jewel

This stone vessel sink by Stone Forest brings new meaning to the phrase “jewelry for the home”.

And finally, Melody Rose made us chuckle with her insouciant tableware.

Posted in Accessories, Apartment Design, Architect, Art, Bathroom, Brass, Chair, Design, Design Diary, Fixtures and Fittings, Furniture, Hardware, Interior Design, Kitchen, Lighting, New York Design, New York Design Center, Nickel, NoMad, Photography, Plumbing, Table Top, Uncategorized | Leave a comment