Restaurant Design Ideas: How to Do Rustic Industrial Without Dating Your Restaurant

Designers across the country are re-imagining rustic industrial and finding balance with the old and the new in a “Industrial 2.0.”

By GR Chair

Reece Barstools with upholstered seat and black frame at restaurant bar.

For years, rustic industrial  has plagued  become ubiquitous within the restaurant design scene.  While galvanized steel and reclaimed barn wood communicate a handcrafted ethos, it's become so popular it lost its authenticity. Thankfully, designers across the country are re-imagining rustic industrial by opting for refined finishes and subtle color that overlay rustic wood and steel. It still evokes an approachable, handmade quality but feels more finished and polished.  We're dubbing this style "Industrial 2.0."

Here are a few of our favorite restaurant design ideas that feature the new Industrial 2.0 style.

Get the Industrial 2.0 Look

  • Light to Medium Wood Tones: In the original version of industrial rustic, it was typical to use only dark woods. But that can leave a space feeling heavy. Industrial 2.0 is all about using a variety of woods and species. Right now, White Oak is having a moment, but Hickory and Maple are also solid choices for provide warmth.


  • Finish That Wood: Nothing screams industrial rustic from 10 years ago quite like unfinished wood. Finishing a solid wood table top with a protective and glossy top coat instantly updates the look.  Not to mention, poly top coats protect the wood from daily scratches, dings, and lingering bacteria.


  • Subtle Pops of Color: To break up the monotony of greys, browns, and blacks, go for rich, natural colors. We like rusts, forest and olive greens, dusty blues, and pale blushes and pinks.


  • Add Some Fabric: All that steel and reclaimed wood has us pining for a cushioned seat! Think fully upholstered chairs, leather lounges, and stunning tufted booths.


  • Heavy Metal: An all metal chair with exposed welds screams industrial from yesteryear.  Instead of clear coat, we suggest finishing steel chairs in black or dark, pigmented colors.  Pair that seating with a White Oak wood table, and you’re sure to strike Industrial 2.0 design harmony.


  • Balance Weathered Items with Modern Touches: We love a distressed finish as much as the next person, however, instead using reclaimed wood and raw steel and industrial light fixtures, choose one rustic or industrial element to shine and keep the rest modern and clean.

Industrial 2.0 is all about finding balance with the old and the new. For more Industrial 2.0 inspiration, be sure to check out this fast casual restaurant design.