How to Nail Urban Elegance
I’ve made numerous attempts to describe Urban Elegance and typed and retyped my first paragraph approx. 5 times. Maybe I should entitle this post ‘How to nail the description of Urban Elegance’.
Let’s try this again.
Urban Elegance (in my mind) is about taking specific elements of industrial inspired design and combining them with modern and/or vintage injections to produce a space that is essentially eclectic and therefore much more refined. The success of Urban Elegance lies in the visual contrasts it provides: the coolness of clean lines and raw materials are softened with less extreme designs.
Although, colour and texture also plays a huge role in helping to refine and add warmth to the masculine undertones of the urban, industrial inspired aesthetic.
This contrast of styles, colours and materials ensures that these spaces have presence.
I appreciate that these interiors generally have a very simplistic approach, but I’m not a believer in keeping everything overtly minimal. I definitely believe that providing pockets of visual interest, without cluttering or suffocating the space is a must. This in turn helps to prevent the space from feeling too stark and cold. And at the end of the day, that’s what Urban Elegance is all about: it appeals to peeps who admire industrial inspired design but who also want to dilute its rawness so it’s more palatable and a little more sophisticated.
What should a space of this style include?
Industrial lighting is a must! The rawness and simplicity of bare bulbs seriously underpins this look. Plus, there’s no better visual contrast than having raw bulbs sitting alongside lush textures and warm pops of colour.
Wood, metal detailing and concrete are obvious selections. They don’t ALL necessarily have to be incorporated in one space but two out of three would be ideal. When it comes to wooden flooring, the more unkempt and rustic, the better. The beauty in choosing this type of unrefined material, is that it fits neatly into the urban look but it also provides character, thereby reducing any harshness from the more industrial elements.
And obviously the inclusion of wood adds warmth. Win-win!
Something that’s quite important when pulling together a design for this type of interior is making sure there’s something a little off-kilter or quirky in the scheme. These spaces ooze awesome casual vibes. They should throw caution to the wind and turn their back on convention.
In my design below you can see that there’s a chair acting as a side table, with nothing on the opposite side. I love this look. Generally speaking, traditional arrangements expect conventional side tables either side of a sofa. Not in this space! And what’s even more awesome, is that it works! Super quirky and utterly cool without trying too hard!
The rustic wood, metal detailing on the upcycled coffee table (and copper dotted throughout) and flippin’ awesome industrial inspired lighting are all elements of the urban influence. BUT the rich Farrow & Ball painted walls, combined with the warm shots of orange prevent the space from looking cold and uninviting. High five!
Let’s look at another one of my designs that takes its lead from Urban Elegance styling.
This interior (my Victoria Beckham office redesign), is much more minimally designed with a Scandinavian influence. However, again shots of colour have softened the overall look (yes, orange is PERFECT for this!). The floor is polished concrete, there’s metal detailing, hanging bulbs and lots of white but NONE of these urban elements produces an overall cold and uninviting interior due to the injections of wood, pattern and colour.
Art and objects are highlighted in urban inspired spaces due to the simplicity of these interiors. So careful consideration needs to be given to ALL objects on display. Statement art will positively SHINE in an interior of this style. Art visually lifts, it adds an element of creativity and prevents the space from looking too flat and one dimensional.
A wisely chosen piece of art can completely transform this type of space.
Here’s another example of one of my designs. You can clearly see that the dark backdrop amplifies the colours in the piece of art. This scene has it all: dramatic inky hues, texture, wood, metallics and it STILL looks refined. I mean, it even has OARS for goodness sake (quirky, remember?!).
Yet, it still kinda rocks!
Like any industrial inspired space exposed pipes only serve to add to the overall urban vibe. Obviously exposed brick is very welcome but it’s not a deal breaker and if I’m honest it’s probably been over used in the last few years.
If you’re interested in taking the idea of Urban Elegance to a whole new level, Designers Guild is sure to inspire with their amazing room sets. A lot of the spaces have stone floors and bare plastered walls that are well beyond their prime. But they have an awesome grungy look and combined with delicate floral fabrics they most certainly provide a sharp contrast that I think provides HUGE impact.
So there you have it, my tips for creating a design scheme that channels Urban Elegance:
keep it simple and casual
include concrete, wood and metal
add softness with colour, pattern and texture
Got some tips that you’d like to add? Feel free to drop a comment below!