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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

Industrial style shelving: ideas, info & inspiration

Updated: Jun 11

This ideas post is all about industrial style shelving where function meets style (if you get it right!). Whether you're revamping your living room or dining room, organizing your favourite books, or transforming your home office into a haven of productivity, a shelving unit is more than just a storage space—it's an opportunity to stamp your style and personality on the space. Picture sturdy open back shelves styled with your favourite decorative objects, supported by heavy-duty black metal frames and crafted from solid pine wood for a genuine industrial look. 

What is Industrial Style Shelving?

Industrial style shelving is a design aesthetic that draws inspiration from industrial settings, such as factories, warehouses, and manufacturing plants. It typically features raw, unfinished materials and utilitarian elements that emphasize function and simplicity.

Characteristics of industrial style shelving include:

  1. Raw Materials: Industrial shelving often incorporates materials such as reclaimed wood, rough-hewn timber, distressed metal, and exposed pipes. These materials retain their natural textures and imperfections, adding to the rugged charm of the style.

  2. Simple Construction: Industrial shelving designs prioritize simplicity and functionality. They often feature straightforward construction with minimal embellishments or decorative elements. The Ladderax style shelving units are a great example of this, practical and simple to adapt.

  3. Metal Accents: Metal elements, such as black steel frames, wrought iron brackets, or industrial pipes, are common in industrial style shelving. These metal accents provide structural support and contribute to the rugged, mechanical aesthetic.

  4. Open Shelving: Industrial shelving units typically have open shelves, allowing for easy access to stored items and creating an airy, spacious feel. Open shelving also emphasizes the display of objects and contributes to the minimalist aesthetic of industrial design.

Materials and construction

Industrial style shelving is not soft and cosy. The whole aesthetic is about hard lines, raw materials and open structures. The most commonly used materials for this kind of shelving and in fact the industrial interior style as a whole are...

  • Metal  Often used for the main structures as well as the supports and brackets. Think steel, wrought iron and aluminium

  • Wood

  • Industrial pipes (genuine and reproductions) Steel or iron pipes are ideas for creating the framework of this open-style furniture. As well as genuine industrial pipe

  • Glass  Often used for shelving for a clean look that lets light through and adds to the open feel. 

  • Concrete Concrete is a popular texture for industrial style furniture and interiors due to its raw and solid characteristics. 

  • Wire mesh

Can I make industrial style shelving?

You can easily DIY your own industrial style shelving. Due to the raw and simple aesthetic of the industrial style there are lots of opportunities to create DIY furniture and display shelves. I wrote about how to make an open shelf from upcycled skirting board and industrial pipe brackets in my how to make and decorate open shelves post. Sustainable wood is easy to source from upcycle projects and reclamations and it can be easily combined with an iron frame or pipe brackets to create a stylish shelf for your favourite books. 

Industrial shelving systems combine the durability of (often reclaimed) wood with the sustainability of industrial pipe, ensuring both style and substance. Say goodbye to cheap particle board and naff plastic and hello to a versatile and heavy duty storage solution, suitable for everyday use that can bring a unique look and industrial feel to your living space. Industrial style shelving isnt just for bachelor pads either, a large bookshelf with steel frame and open sides and back can make a great addition to a modern family home's interior space. Metal shelving or pipe shelves provide clean lines and ample space to store a curated collection of your favourite accessories. Often, the durable metal frame comes with adjustable shelves making it easy to adapt to be the perfect size to suit your space. 

Types of industrial style shelving units

Below are a few examples of how you can incorporate this style of shelving unit into various locations around your home. There are examples for nearly every room from bedroom to living room and even kitchen.

1. Minimal industrial style shelving

Elegant and simplistic this minimalist take on the industrial style will appeal to those looking for a softer way to introduce structure and clean lines into their furniture and decor.

2.  Industrial style corner shelving

Perfect for fitting into corner spaces to optimist storage and make use of every inch. Similar to optimising under-stairs storage, these units are practical for homes lacking cupboard space.

3. Wall-mounted industrial style shelving

Wall mounting storage is great for saving floor space and brilliant for creating a focal point with your styled shelves and curated home decor collections.

4. Room-divider industrial style shelving

Using industrial style storage as a room divider is a great way to break up the space and zone areas in open plan living without blocking light or creating a boxed-in feel.

5. Built-in desk industrial

style shelving

This cool desk provides the ideal workstation for working from home as well as creating a feature and providing storage. Bravo.

6. Industrial style bedroom shelving

This modular bedroom unit demonstrates how you can lean on this style even in a cosy bedroom. The white metal frame has an almost Scandi feel with the lighter coloured wood and works perfectly as a bedside table / vanity area.

7. Industrial style Shoe storage

Shoe storage doesn't have to be boring, as this beautiful piece demonstrates. Practical yet stylish this industrial style storage unit would suit multiple interior styles.

8. Industrial style media wall

This is such a great way to create a media wall that isn't too overwhelming for the space. The open shelves and compartments give the imrpession of structure without boxing in.

9. Industrial style kitchen shelving

Industrial style kitchens are popular and there are plenty of ways to incorporate industrial style shelving into your kitchen storage, plate racks, wine bottle storage (as we saw with ways to decorate above kitchen cabinets)

The benefits of industrial style shelving and furniture

There are lots of benefits and advatages to industrial style shelving here are just a few...

  • The (often metal) frames are durable and easy to clean. 

  • Wooden shelves are sustainable and easy to maintain. 

  • Ideal for small spaces due to their largely open design

  • Easy assembly

  • A mix of materials provides texture and interest to an interior scheme

  • Industrial style furniture provides stability 

I hope this has been a useful round-up. If you enjoy 'ideas posts' you might like some of the following...

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lekor adams
lekor adams
5 days ago

Industrial-style shelving can add a functional and aesthetic touch to any space. One tip from my experience is to use an electric strapping machine to secure and bundle heavy materials efficiently. This ensures that all components are tightly packed and ready for safe transport or storage. By using an electric strapping machine, you can significantly improve your workflow and maintain the integrity of your shelving materials. It’s an invaluable tool for anyone dealing with large-scale shelving projects. Considering how versatile and sturdy industrial-style shelving can be, having the right equipment to manage and secure your materials is essential.


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