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Vintage Industrial Furniture

Updated on January 25, 2018
This is a vintage antique industrial drafting desk. Perfect for writing or sketching purposes!
This is a vintage antique industrial drafting desk. Perfect for writing or sketching purposes!

The Origins of Vintage Industrial Furniture

Just like its name implies, vintage industrial furniture was never really created for and intended to be used for home use. While some pieces of this design aesthetic can trace their lineage further back, quite a substantial amount of vintage industrial furniture can be dated back to the World War II era. During this time, the intent was to really utilize this type of furniture in offices and factories. Because of these fairly unpredictable 'industrial' environments in which these furniture pieces were originally placed, there are certainly some safety considerations to be had when actually venturing out to select pieces for your own home.

I mention these safety considerations later in this article.

Despite some of the safety considerations, vintage industrial furniture is another style of interior decorating that I'm pretty excited by. The concept is simple: over the past hundred years millions of pieces of industrial furniture have been created for a plethora of purposes. Whether outdated or simply worn out, people throw out or sell this vintage industrial furniture, usually selling it for a song! Up until a few years ago, antique industrial furniture was readily available, and you could probably get most of the items you wanted for free or practically free. Nowadays you have a bit more competition, but it's still growing in popularity, so you should probably get in while you can!

Vintage industrial furniture has some great uses that I'll outline in this article. There are ways to make your antique industrial furniture stand out and really pop in the right setting. I hope you'll enjoy the read and get some useful tips out of it.

Your Vintage Industrial Furniture Experience?

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Vintage Industrial Furniture: What Works, What Doesn't

When looking for vintage industrial furniture, you should be aware that certain things will work in your home, and other things won't. For example, a piece of industrial furniture was used in certain ways, and as such it may not be appropriate or safe to place in your house.

If the antique industrial furniture in question is dangerous in any way, it might not be a great idea. Sharp metal edges can be dangerous for house guests or residents alike. Anything rusty or decaying is a bad choice: not only will it make a mess, it can transmit tetanus and other nastiness.

Any antique industrial furniture used in a hazardous way would probably be a poor choice. That large metal cabinet that used to house caustic chemicals, for example, would probably be dangerous and ill-suited for a home environment.

Likewise, you need to consider your current décor, and how the antique industrial furniture will match with it. If your décor is quite quaint and cottage-like, you might have difficulty fitting that uber modern bit of stainless steel printing equipment in seamlessly.

This 'coffee table' is actually an industrial cart. Very cool!
This 'coffee table' is actually an industrial cart. Very cool! | Source

Vintage Industrial Furniture

Vintage industrial furniture is a great way to make your décor really stand out, and there are some qualities you might want to look for exclusively. Look at the shape and the usage of the piece, and decide if it could be 'upcycled' into another use. Sometimes this might not even be necessary: a cabinet is a cabinet, and can be used in either an industrial or a home setting.

I saw a very cool piece of antique furniture with an industrial twist: someone had taken an old mine cart, solidly built out of oak and iron with a nice patina on it, cleaned it up and refinished it, and used it in a living room as a sort of central coffee table. The look was pretty quaint, but it was an amazing item and a real conversation piece!

I've heard it said that metal, wood and glass are the key to a great looking décor. Use antique industrial shelving furniture with nice wooden shelf boards. Instead of a side board, have an old industrial bit of furniture that used to house tools. Even an old industrial trunk can be a great storage unit. Just use your imagination and be creative!

A vintage industrial piece of furniture: a table with slide out stools.
A vintage industrial piece of furniture: a table with slide out stools.

Vintage Industrial Furniture: Summary

I hope this article has inspired you to look into vintage and antique industrial furniture! There are a lot of great ideas floating around, so do some research and you'll never know what you could come up with!

Good Luck!

How cool is this one? A vintage industrial piece of furniture made from an old filing cabinet.
How cool is this one? A vintage industrial piece of furniture made from an old filing cabinet.

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      5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing! Industrial furniture has such character, and wonderful use of repurposing.


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