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Living in an urban loft is a dream come true. You have high ceilings, a free-flowing floor plan and an exposed brick wall that adds just enough color to warm your space. Plus, you have floor-to-ceiling windows that flood your home with natural sunbeams. What more could you want? Truthfully, you could use some light fixtures. Whether you need to illuminate a dark corner or override the sun’s awkward shadows, you’ll need at least a few industrial pendants to light your way.
How to Define Industrial Style
The bare-bones industrial style is clearly defined by its past. In the late 1700s, manufacturing facilities were built as big open boxes, so production flowed more efficiently. But the industrial boom of the 1900s changed everything. That’s when old factory buildings were abandoned and replaced with larger structures in the vast suburbs.
The original buildings remained empty for a few decades before artists and other urbanites saw an opportunity to transform these spaces into residential dwellings. Thanks to an appreciation for history and character, most of the industrial elements were left intact. That’s the reason for exposed pipes, brick walls, concrete floors, and bell-shaped factory lighting. These are the trademarks of industrial design.
Other industrial-style features include:
- Open floor plans
- Large windows with metal framing
- Grainy, weathered wood accents – either on the floor or in furnishings
- Steel or iron stair rails
- Neutral color palettes, especially black, white and shades of gray
What’s Trending in Industrial Lighting
Industrial lighting has evolved from those functional factory days. While the latest designs still pay homage to the industrial era, they’ve evolved to be more universally useful for different decorating styles. You’ll still see rugged materials and exposed light bulbs, but you’ll also notice these modern influences:
Geometry – Circles and squares are classic shapes with staying power, but they’re no longer your only option. Industrial pendants have also taken on new shapes and forms. Expect to find a variety of polyhedrons.
Lighter weight – Industrial lights were originally designed to fill large voids left by two-story loft ceilings. To accommodate today’s lower ceilings and one-story spaces, industrial pendants have become a little less clunky and a lot more airy with clear glass shades and thinner metals.
Retro glass – The bell-shaped glass shades that were common in old factory lighting are getting a facelift. While the open-bottom, bell shape is still popular, this retro glass trend looks more like a decorative vase hanging from your ceiling. Designers are adding sultry curves and completely enclosing the filament light bulb.
Mesh panels – Metal mesh offers an innate industrial feel, which is why it doesn’t have to be a flat, rectangular panel anymore. Lighting designers have incorporated mesh into their fixtures in ways that make it feel lighter and more interesting.
Metal cages – Like the retro glass shades, metal cages are nothing new to industrial design. Cages were originally faceted as a safety precaution. Now, they’re used in industrial pendants less for their protective properties and more for their decorative capabilities. The cage designs are no longer made into a traditional grid pattern but are open and sometimes polygonal.
The Purpose of Industrial Pendants
Pendant lights are true taskmasters. They cast direct light over kitchen counters and provide just enough glow to read in a cozy corner. In fact, you can hang these fixtures almost anywhere and they’ll get the job done. But when it comes to industrial-style lighting, there’s the added benefit of infusing personality. Thanks to quirky shapes, moody color palettes, and multi-light arrangements, these home décor essentials bestow much more than function. They can be actual artforms in a pared-down room.
Here are some examples of industrial pendants that are sure to upgrade your space:
In the kitchen:
For practicality in the kitchen, pendants usually hang above an island or dedicated prep space. Keep in mind that large islands or long countertops can handle the weight of multiple pendants in a row or one large fixture with several bulbs.
1) The Quoizel Emery island light is a perfect example of a large fixture with multiple lights. Its bell-shaped lamp shades in Palladian Bronze are classic industrial design. But the moody finish is also a nice contrast to white cabinets and porcelain floors. Of course, you can also choose chrome or nickel if you want the design without the weathering.
2) With its retro glass covering and exposed filament light bulb, the Quoizel Morroco pendant looks elegant in any interior. It adds just a touch of industrial style, but it does so with grace and sophistication. For an eat-in-kitchen nook, one pendant will do. To hang over your kitchen counters, you’ll want two or three.
3) Embrace the metal cage design in this Sea Gull Lighting Perryton pendant. Indeed, the blacksmith finish mimics steel beams from a factory, but the classic lantern style makes it feel homey. It’s the perfect combination of tough and tender so you won’t think twice about hanging it in your kitchen.
4) If you have ample ceiling height and counter space, fill it with the Murray Feiss Lumiere island light. The four-lamp fixture has semi-exposed filament bulbs and a heaviness that works with any open-concept industrial home. Yet its rope accents and weathered oak finish could also complement a traditional or farmhouse kitchen.
In the dining room:
In the dining room, it’s most important to work with scale – not only for functional purposes but to be sure your lighting doesn’t overwhelm dinner guests. Industrial pendants in the dining room should make a statement but never interrupt sight lines.
5) With its looped lines, the Mitzi Daisy pendant looks like an old-time factory fan turned face down. It’s been completely modernized, though, thanks to a globe filament bulb and polished copper finish. The copper might remind you of exposed pipes from industrial days, but this petite fixture also offers a light, artistic touch in a modern dining room.
6) For true industrial design, look no further than the Murray Feiss Urban Renewal mini pendant. The simple, single-bulb fixture with its classic grid cage was a warehouse staple. But when hung with multiple strands at varying heights, it becomes an eye-catching centerpiece at your dining room table.
In the living room:
Living rooms are places to gather for chit-chat or watching television. You don’t necessarily need a lot of artificial lighting, here. Instead, turn your focus to form and fashion; think of industrial pendants as bold accents in your living room or den.
7) Because of its delicate mesh design, you might think the Kronos pendant by Elegant Lighting was made from scrap metal. But the polyhedral shape and polished copper finish prove it’s a modern attempt at an old favorite. Give it a go in your living room, either hanging over the coffee table or nestled in a reading nook. Those tiny mesh holes actually help create a soft glow that feels utterly relaxing.
Pair Industrial Pendants with any Home Décor
Thanks to modern flourishes, industrial pendants can fit nearly any design style. Forget living in an expensive Manhattan loft, you can enjoy the rugged charm of factory lighting in a farmhouse kitchen, French country den, or even in a mid-century modern dining room. The key is choosing the old elements you love in a new shape or color that suits your space.