Salvaged Style: What's Old Is New Again

With spring cleaning said and done and the endless summer upon us, we can't think of a better use for your time than converting your newly cleaned space into a fresh look.

Like anything trendy — food, fashion, phrases, and even pets — home décor has its share of fad pads. Plowing its way into the design world a few years back, and gaining steam in stodgy landlocked states such as ours, is the hottest or, shall we say, coolest trend we've seen yet — the industrial interior.

From restaurants and coffee shops to hotels and homes, everyone is shifting gears into more mechanical style. With its budget-friendly fusion of salvaged statement pieces and wide-ranging aesthetic, industrial design is a style almost anyone can get behind. 

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For the modern man, industrial is clean, streamlined décor that's no-frills, not to mention robust, with bold materials that are as unpretentious as they are unbreakable (steel structures, concrete floors, etc.).  

For the thrifty shopper, industrial décor delivers history and, in turn, character. Whether you're using your salvaged pieces for their original functions or not, the reclaimed aspect of your industrial artifacts — be they retired machinery, vintage sign letters, or repurposed lockers — will give your home some story-worthy pieces. By opting to search for relics rather than replicas, you can ensure that your home, despite being consistent with a trend, remains, at its core, unique. 

These same qualities boast major points with the eco-conscious crowd that prefers to keep its carbon footprint to a minimum and can do so by breathing new life into once-discarded scrap. 

So, how can you manufacture the industrial look in your own space? First, you need to set the stage. Given that many industrial goods come from large spaces (factories, schools, warehouses), it should make sense that they look best in a roomy, clutter-free environment. Remove the unnecessaries from your space or, at the very least, store them — because tchotchkes and industrial equipment go together like scotch and milk. 

Once you've done that, it's time to pick your pieces. While it's easy enough to buy a mass-produced piece of furniture from West Elm, CB2, or Restoration Hardware, the real art lies in finding the real deal. Depending on your patience for DIY and your desire to get your hands dirty, you can either make your way to the more rugged resources of salvage yards or peruse the found treasures of expert pickers in vintage shops and consignment stores. If money is no object, and you prefer to have things brand-spanking new, look for artists and designers who build custom work. Trust us, they're out there, but they're not cheap. 

Finally, try to keep things naked and neutral. One of the defining aspects of industrial style is that it's raw. It stands on its own, offering form and function. Don't tarnish its aesthetics by painting flashy colors, bejeweling it, or stenciling dumbass inspirational quotes you found on Pinterest. Of course, you'll want to break up the factory setting of your home (there is such a thing as too much heavy metal), but do so with unopposing neutrals and solid textiles (leather, canvas, anything slightly tufted or curved to break up the sharp angular action in your house). 

Put on your work boots and let's get going. Who knows? If you use your summer days wisely, with our list of the best places in town to find industrial salvage, you might just have a space worth showing off this fall. 

Vintage Industrial: Operating out of a large warehouse in downtown Phoenix, Vintage Industrial produces brand-new "vintage-inspired" furniture designed and built to order and boasts a list of high-end clients including the MGM Grand, Four Seasons, and Guy Fieri. Because everything at Vintage Industrial is custom, and the business itself is not zoned for a public showroom, visits to the warehouse are arranged by appointment only. (45 W. Buchanan St., 602-524-7411,

Paris Envy: Generally not the first place that comes to mind when you think industrial décor, Paris Envy carries a surprising amount of European industrial furnishings. While metal carts operating as credenzas and industrial knickknacks featuring motifs such as metal fleurs-de-lis are scattered throughout the store, the real point of pride belongs to the lighting fixtures. Think Thomas Edison as an interior designer. (UNION at Biltmore Fashion Park: 2502 East Camelback Road, #148-D, 602-266-0966,

Davis Salvage: For the DIYers who don't mind getting their hands (and shoes) dirty, Davis Salvage is certainly a spot worth checking out. The metal salvage yard confusingly located on both sides of Washington and 33rd Street (you'll want the north side) carries both scrap and ornamental metals as well as a giant salvage yard that you can browse through at your own risk. (3333 E. Washington St., 602-267-7208,

Sweet Salvage: We don't know how those junk fiends do it, but every third Thursday through Sunday of the month, the good folks at Sweet Salvage deliver a warehouse full of discarded treasures and functional flotsam to make scrap-savvy shoppers swoon. Despite the eclectic collection of antique school desks, mattress springs, and baking racks, all reclaimed retail is tied together with a monthly theme. And though sleeping on big purchases is usually a good a idea, at this popular pickers' spot, the early bird gets the worn-out leather wingback. (4648 N. 7th Ave., 602-279-2996,

Modern on Melrose: At first glance. Modern on Melrose appears to be more of a haven for well-polished vintage home furnishings than eye-catching industrials. But work your way to the back of the shop and you'll find an outdoor graveyard of vintage sign letters, iron gates and tables, as well as a miscellaneous shed of salvaged goods including desks, filing containers, and even medical equipment. (4610 N. 7th Ave., 602-264-4183, [email protected])

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Katie Johnson
Contact: Katie Johnson