Vintage Industrial Decorating Tips + HKLiving

January 13, 2011

Is vintage industrial a style that interests you? If so, you’ll like this find. I found out about HKLiving just yesterday after buying an industrial pendant light from them at Die Wohngeschwister in Hamburg. HKLiving is a home collection offering everything from lighting to furniture and interior accessories and is owned by Dutch designer Emiel Hetsen along with his partners Saskia Wesselius and Sander Klaver. Emiel launched his company in 2008 and along with product design, he also has a background in selling antique and vintage furniture and by the looks of his collection, his background resulted in a strong, cohesive collection. HKLiving has appeared in several European design magazines, you can see a few spreads below from VTWonen and Skona Hem.

Vintage Industrial Decorating Tips + HKLiving

Vintage Industrial Decorating Tips + HKLiving

What do you think of this look? These products are not offered yet in the US, though I’m sure you can find similar products at stores near you and I can bet that you’ll be seeing this look more and more in the states — the vintage industrial look is a big trend here.

If you like vintage industrial but want to mix some elements of it in with your own style to create a look, you can go a few ways with it, try these ideas:

* Go clean and graphic — Minimalistic with bold black as an accent, a large metal initial on the wall, chalkboard paint in the dining room, industrial stools at the bar in your kitchen. This look is mostly black and white with a shot of bold color if you wish. Orange is a nice accent and can be brought it by placing a bright orange metal chair at your desk or an orange vase on your table. Floors can be painted white, black or if you are lucky, natural hardwood that is original and a bit rough around the edges. Polished concrete is another option.

* Go country by bringing in pinstripes in black and white for your fabrics along with creamy white (with a yellow tone) mixed with your bright whites (which often have a blue or gray. Add some pastel color – a pale mint wooden cabinet for instance. Mix in original vintage elements like an old wooden farmhouse table, a farmhouse sink for the kitchen, etc. along with your faux vintage pieces. Style with fresh flowers (pink roses, white peonies or lavender for instance), layer blankets on your bed and mix the patterns of your linens, buy a comfy sofa (brown leathers or white linens work nicely), and add wicker baskets as storage for that pile of magazines near your favorite chair.

* Go bright and have fun by adding in patterns (try gray stars or petite floral prints) and bright colors like red, blue and pink. You can bring in a pink Smeg fridge and colorful Cath Kidston wallpaper. Add a vintage industrial light over your dining table in bold yellow. Paint a crate bright red and use for storage.

* Go the natural route by bringing in lots of warmth and texture with reindeer furs and cow hides (cruelty-free or faux), driftwood and branches in vases. Think “rustic” and natural. Mango wood tables, a whitewashed coffee table, comfortable seating that you can sink into, vintage industrial furniture like black metal lockers for storage or crates on wheels as a bedside table. This is purely optional, but you can bring in some ethnic accents into this look — silver Moroccan poufs, a white wooden tea table with silver metal tray, etc.

There are other ways to use vintage industrial items in a way that suits you. You can even mix and match some of these ideas above, for instance the natural and rustic style can work nicely combined with the country look. With clean and graphic, you can add in some country elements to make it a bit French flea market-esque.

Note: Don’t only go faux or else your home risks becoming a Faux Chateau, a slang term right up there with McMansion that my friend Laurie uses to describe the interior of a home that has all reproduction pieces in it and nothing genuinely vintage or antique. Mix your faux pieces that are beautifully made and look very authentic, like those at HKLiving with those that are actual vintage pieces that you found at a flea market for best decorating results. This is what I do and it works for me and hopefully can work for you, too. :)

What about where you live, do you see this look creeping in or is it already popular?

(images: hkliving + herzlich wohnen)


  • Reply jenn January 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    I really love this look. Thanks for breaking it down into styles … very helpful! I think my favorite, based on your descriptions, are the natural route and the clean and graphic route. Both are so beautiful!

  • Reply Cathy January 13, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    I didn’t realize this was a style! I live in Chicago and have a few of these elements in our apartment. My favorite might be the large initial on our wall. It’s made of a mix of vintage tin ceiling tiles.

  • Reply Ele January 13, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I am a big fan of Vintage Industrial, it’s very much the style I go for in my home (with a bit of mid-century style mixed in). I think it’s because it doesn’t read too masculine or feminine for me, so my partner and I both like it. I’m particularly big on industrial-style kitchens, and shelving.

    Which pendant did you get, Holly? Hope we get to see it in situ soon ;)

  • Reply emma ::emmas designblogg:: January 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    I loved this post, thank you for writing it!

    The vintage industrial look has been all the rage in Sweden for the last year or so, but I believe it will become even bigger in 2011. I also think it will become rawer, mixed with concrete walls, chemistry lab flasks and old school educational posters. Lots of wood, like logs, branches and simple furniture with unfinished surfaces completes the look.

    • Reply decor8 January 13, 2011 at 8:12 pm

      @Emma – Yes, I also see these lab flasks and educational posters in magazine spreads too – I have one that I picked up from a flea market here last summer, a German one with birds on it, for very, very cheap. I never figured out where to hang it though… I’ve also noticed another big thing that can fit into this look — painted brick walls in white. Have you seen this up in Sweden yet? Oh and P.S. do you go to any design shows ever? I was thinking of going to Early Bird in Hamburg or Formland in Herning since they are both close enough. I was going to leave for Maison & Objet in the morning but now I can’t make it.

  • Reply laura evans January 13, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    gorgeous … love that stool! unfortunately no stores close to us … just another reason for a road trip to hamburg with the girls (you post yesterday convinced me it needs to be done).

  • Reply Beth January 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    I’ve recently become very interested in industrial decor. A few months ago, I visited an old textile mill that had been made into apartments. The high ceilings, big windows, and architectural details such as wooden ceilings and exposed brick walls really made me fall in love with the place! Although I did not end up moving, I am now totally jazzed about the industrial look and am constantly ripping pages out of magazines for my industrial decor file. I have long mixed vintage with newer pieces in my home, and I know I already own many accessories — such as an old railroad lantern and antique wooden tools — that would work well with an industrial look. Thanks for giving me even more ideas about putting an industrial spin on my space!

  • Reply Andreia January 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I love the vintage industrial style too. It is a good basis for adding your personal elements in decoration. And it’s functional and clean!

  • Reply Ingrid Jansen January 13, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Like that style a whole lot.

  • Reply Michelle January 13, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I love those pictures. I am definitely a Country girl. I lean toward wood and peeling paint, but I definitely want to incorporate industrial accents in my home.

  • Reply melissa January 13, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    this look has been strong in toronto for the few years…. finally not a look that’s hard to achieve due to the lack of “good” design stores in north america. i love it. it’s a great way to mix styles… especially for couples where one loves modern industrial and the other loves feminine vintage (like me and my husband). :)

    • Reply decor8 January 13, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      @Melissa that is such a great point — it is a great look for couples!

  • Reply Sara January 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I love this look! I wish I would see more of it here (in the states), but I live in a medium sized midwestern city…so we don’t get a lot ;).

  • Reply Sheri@Make It Pop! January 13, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks for all the great ideas! I love how this look will go in almost any home. Vintage – it works! Modern- it works! Could save some money on refurbishing in the long run.

  • Reply Sonia January 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Holly, If you like HKliving you should also like this shop. It’s heaven:
    they sell old industrial furniture and lamps they get all over europe! I talk with the owner and he told me that many treasures are still to find in eastern Europe! You should visit the next time you’re in the Netherlands, just 20 km from amsterdam!

  • Reply Mariella January 14, 2011 at 2:23 am

    I love industrial/vintage style and thanks Holly for your decorating tips! I think a good balance/mix between vintage and clean modern pieces is the thing that always works best for me…and of course, colors! I personally love colors so the orange accents suggestion is great!

  • Reply Nicole January 14, 2011 at 3:21 am

    I’m glad this look is getting attention.

  • Reply Diane January 14, 2011 at 5:27 am

    I live in Melbourne and the vintage industrial look is all over the cafe scene here. It’s a good thing I love it so! In fact, there’s a great shop in Melbourne that specialises in industrial products – Enjoy!

  • Reply guada January 14, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Love this style!
    Does anyone know where a cover like that shown in the pictures can be found? That one with those large number on it.

  • Reply visualingual January 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    My first solo apartment pretty much followed these suggestions — almost everything was vintage and, for the most part, the colors were the natural colors of the materials. So, lots of grey and brown. For instance, I had a sisal rug [beige-ish], an antique steamer trunk as a coffee table [shades of brown], wood furniture, etc. I also had some random salvaged items, like a stencil for a box car [silvery grey] and a piece of ornamental wrought iron [black-ish] that I used as a door stop. At the time, it all felt very honest and simple.

    I eventually loosened up, or got bored, and started adding more color, but I still do like the look, especially in the gorgeous photos above. You can how my own style has evolved in these photos [several apartments later]:

  • Reply emma ::emmas designblogg:: January 14, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Holly, I only go to the ones in Sweden, can’t afford to fly around too much right now, and also I don’t want to leave my baby for too long. But I hope to go to the fair in Milan next spring, and Maison & Objet is on my wishlist too. Too bad you couldn’t make it this time! Perhaps we could meet up there next year?

  • Reply emma ::emmas designblogg:: January 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Guada, if you can’t get the one in the pic from HKLiving, there is one in a similar style at HM Home, if you have that where you live? It looks like this:

  • Reply Alan January 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Personally, I’m not a big fan of this style. My wife, however, likes this style to some extend, so we have a mixed up style (at least for now). For example, in our kithchen we have vintage style kitchen table, but everything else is modern style.

  • Reply lisa h. January 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I love this look, but the popularity of vintage industrial items makes them a bit pricey at the flea markets here (NYC). I really like the photo with the simple white shelves and the white fridge — I’ve always wanted a smaller, European style refrigerator, since I’m convinced the massive fridges we have in the US actually lead to more food waste.

    Holly, this is sort of off-topic, but I’ve always wondered how you narrow things down when you put a room together so that you achieve a clean, cohesive “look.” I feel like my taste is kind of all over the place, but not in a way that results in a cool, eclectic room.

  • Reply guada January 17, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Thanks Emma!!!!

  • Reply jared January 17, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I’m a big fan of vintage furniture. Styling the house with vintage or antique furniture gives an authentic & elegant look to the house. I personally love your blog.

  • Reply Laura January 18, 2011 at 2:11 am

    There’s a truly rustic vibe around just now, I think the cold weather makes us long for the warmth of wood and vintage furniture so we can curl up in our winter nests. Janine just mailed me to say that Cally from Callycreates blog has a really French Rustic looking book of the trip she blogged about years ago. Between the photographs in that and the French flea market talk here I’m seriously considering a jaunt to France. Your not just inspiring my home, your inspiring my holidays! Thanks for the great tips.

  • Reply LISA D January 27, 2011 at 9:26 am

    I too, love this type of decor and have been collecting it for years. I thought I might help myself while helping some others who have similar interests in decor. I am in the middle of a home foreclosure and must lighten my load quickly! We have 28 days to be out of our loved home and I am listing as much as possible on eBay at very low prices, mostly in hopes to share the items that are so loved with others who will love them as much as I did, but also attempting to help ourselves financially to restart our lives at almost 50. I am not complaining, I have come to terms with loosing loved items. They are treasures found and someday I will search for more….. Boy what fun that will be. So I found your blog and saw the enthusiasm for this type of decor and thought if it wasn’t illegal to do so I would share my link with you. Nice blog btw. I will be checking back soon!
    Thanks for listening

  • Reply Marta April 25, 2011 at 8:46 am

    I always pictured wood tables and wood furniture when I thought of country, could you still mix those color pallets and heavy wood furniture.

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