8 industrial small kitchen ideas for a functional and stylish workspace

Embrace utilitarian style with these industrial small kitchen ideas. Practicality for the win

Black kitchen with marble countertops
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Get in touch with your inner chef with these industrial small kitchen ideas. Oh-so-cool, this utilitarian aesthetic is all about having an edge, leaning into a streamlined way of living, and putting practicality at the forefront. 

Typical features of industrial spaces are cool-toned colors, metallic elements like stainless steel worktops or splashbacks, as well as hardy materials like exposed brick walls or open pipework. While structural changes may be hard to pull off in a small rental, there are damage-free ways you can still channel this vibe with accessories, seating, and a clever lick of paint.

We've spoken to a mix of home experts across the interior and housing industries to nail the eight handy tricks they recommend for transforming your small kitchen into an industrial design haven.

Industrial small kitchen ideas

In a world of cute, colorful, kitchens and leafy Scandi designs, we salute those who love an industrial look. Here are eight ways to transform your kitchen with industrial-themed touches. From wire baskets for organizing to unfussy small-space furniture, it's time to give your place a new and functional look.

1. Get your DIY on with metallic hardware

Kitchen with marble countertops, pendant lights, and rattan chairs

(Image credit: Eye For Pretty)

We know switching out hardware can feel a scary prospect; changing door knobs, installing cabinet handles, putting up hooks — it all sounds like the potentially mor difficult side of smaller DIY projects, doesn't it? But new hardware makes a big difference and changing it is super easy to do. In short, it's a no-brainer. 

Todd Saunders, CEO of FlooringStores explains, "To add an industrial look to your small kitchen, consider swapping out your cabinet hardware for high-shine copper, brass, or steel. Metallic accents are a cornerstone of industrial designs, so purchasing decorative items to match your cabinet hardware finish will help build on this motif.”

If you‘re renting, take care when removing your landlord’s hardware, wrap and store somewhere dry. When you’re about to move out, take your new hardware with you, and replace the original fixtures, keeping your landlord happy and your security deposit safe.

Todd Saunders

Todd Saunders is the CEO of FlooringStores, a website which works with hundreds of flooring retailers across the US, and provides information and tutorials on choosing your own flooring.

2. Swap dining chairs for a bench

Kitchen table with black bench

(Image credit: The Design Chaser)

This tip makes a huge impact and is so easy to achieve. Generally, design is about playing with contrast — we don't want anything to look too matchy-matchy. Keeping one side of your seating arrangement’s chairs and swapping the other for a bench, like this black bench from Wayfair, brings a whole new level of personality and flair. 

The bench doesn't need to be fancy — instead, go to thrift stores or vintage markets and find a simple, low, unfussy bench you can paint yourself. Grab some black paint and give everything — chairs included — a coat, and watch your seating space transform.

3. Try temporary concrete-look wallpaper

Wooden shelving against concrete walls

(Image credit: Simple Shapes)

We're often quick to suggest peel-and-stick wallpapers when redecorating a rental space. But there is good reason. The impact is huge — seriously, your friends will think you've got a whole new place — but everything can be removed before you leave. It's genius!

Alexander Havkin, of home decor brand, Ecoline Windows, totally agrees with us. "You don't need to cover every wall to give your space a rehaul,” Alexander says. “Instead, choose an accent wall and try using an exposed brick, or concrete-style wallpaper for that industrial vibe. It gives a real loft energy.”

You can try out this peel-and-stick wallpaper from Simple Shapes which looks like concrete, with samples starting at just five dollars.

Alexander Havkin

Alexander Havkin is the regional sales and project manager at window and door specialists, Ecoline Windows.

4. Industrial-style pendant overhead lighting

Neutral kitchen with pendant lighting and island

(Image credit: Hornsby Style)

Nearly every industrial small kitchen features pendant lighting. You could say this kitchen lighting is a defining look of this entire trend, so it's an absolute must — especially as it's a way to make an impact without taking up any precious floor space.

For us, a black, metal pendant is generally the way to make an industrial statement, and there are lots online to choose from. This pendant light from AQ Lighting comes in a great range of colors, from bright red to navy blue.

This gorgeous example from influencer Hornsby Style shows you don't always have to go super dark with your color palette to achieve an industrial vibe. With creams, pale grays, and tons of beige, her home looks amazing. 

5. Display accessories with open shelving

Kitchen with light pink cabinets and large window

(Image credit: Shnordic)

Open kitchen shelving is easy to achieve, add vertical storage space, and looks super sleek. In this example, Susanna of Shnordic uses hers to arrange floral arrangements, jars, and cutting boards, for an industrial but beautiful display.

Shlomo Cherniak, founder of Cherniak Home Services, shares how your shelving choice helps leans your aesthetic into industrial. He says, "Replace your upper cabinets with open shelves made of metal or reclaimed wood. This will not only provide a more industrial look but for those who have a small kitchen, getting rid of bulky cabinets will also create an illusion of more space. Bingo — two birds one stone!"

Shlomo Cherniak

Shlomo Cherniak is the Founder of handyman services website, Cherniak  Handyman, operating in Baltimore.

6. Industrial-inspired accessories

Kitchen with tile backsplash and copper measuring cups

(Image credit: Martinas Cosy Crib)

When you're living in a rental, little touches are everything. Bringing in a mix of industrial-inspired kitchen essentials with well-thought out purchases will change the overall vibe of your space.

Shlomo adds, "Industrial style is all about function, so I would opt for a mix of storage solutions as well as aesthetic accessories."

There are plenty of modern home decor buys and kitchen organizers you can snag in this style. "Metal wire baskets look cool, as do copper hanging hooks for kitchen utensils. Another good one is vintage signs, preferably metal and a little beaten up. Together, these things can create an industrial aesthetic in a small kitchen."

7. Lean into cool-toned colors

Kitchen with black marble countertops

(Image credit: Idustrial_Living)

Establishing a color palette is a big part of any decor overhaul and for industrial kitchens, grays, dark blues, and blacks work best. 

This example from Johanna Ericsson at Industrial_Living shows how effective simple monochrome can be. And so, if you're ever in doubt, stick to black kitchens.

For small space paint colors, we love the Black 01 color from Lick as it has an amazing depth of color, whilst black from other brands can sometimes fall flat. It's perfect for industrializing walls, furniture, or cabinets. 

8. Add a metal stool

Kitchen with blue cabinets, wooden table, and barstool

(Image credit: Cottage and Blossom)

A distressed, gray, or black-toned metal stool is one of the 'it' buys for an industrial kitchen. Of course, it's a great casual kitchen island seating option to pull up to a counter, island, or breakfast bar, but it's also an all-around accessory. 

Use a barstool as a side table and position a few books for your coffee to sit on top of. Or, have a plant platform and fill up an empty corner. 

You can even use it as an extra place for storage, and place a wire basket on top to fill with bits and bobs. This $65 version from Home Depot comes in loads of colors and is a bit of a steal. 


Can industrial style work in a small space?

Absolutely. If in doubt, declutter the entire kitchen first and work out as many storage hacks as possible, investing in rustic and industrial storage boxes and trays. Once your small kitchen feels fuss-free it will already start to lean more into this vibe, which you can accentuate with the tips above. 

How can I make sure my industrial small kitchen doesn't look too dark?

Get the basics right when it comes to industrial design with pipework, exposed brick, and metal windows. If you prefer something a little softer, experiment with neutral small kitchens instead, or bring in some plants for a natural accent.