Vintage-Industrial Work Studio

This living room and workstation makeover is filled with vintage art, industrial details and bold colors.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Before: Bare and Outdated

When artist Aaron Foster first laid eyes on the 1950s ranch-style rental property, he ignored its dated decor and inefficient space plan, instead envisioning how he could use each section for his specific day-to-day needs. The area around the fireplace would be ideal for a three-seater sofa, a pair of club chairs and a rectangular coffee table, which would create a lounge space for client consultations.

Work, Play and Live

Aaron turned the common areas of this lackluster rental property into a live/work space indicative of his signature style, a combination of vintage and industrial.


To turn the space which was previously used as a dining room into a cutting and assembly station, Aaron uses the back wall to display his most recently completed pieces before shipping them off to clients. He added a nine-foot-long table made of steel which has seating for six, and integrated lighting directly to the steel table with vintage fixtures which are attached with clamps.

Portable Lighting

The majority of design elements in Aaron's live/work studio space are either antique, repurposed or have been reinvented. To keep his work surface illuminated properly, he clamped rustic caged turn-of-the-century construction lights directly to the top of the table.

Classic Chairs

Industrial style best sums up Aaron's aesthetic as an artist and designer. To keep himself, his associates and clients seated comfortably, he chose classic, industrial 1960s-era bankers' chairs with steel frames and cushy, black vinyl upholstery.

Aaron's Art

Always experimenting with new ideas, Aaron is currently creating chunky 18x14 letters which, when combined, can be used for almost any purpose. The artist explains, "The letters are ideal for simply adding initials to a wall or fully spelling out a person's name. What makes them so personal is that each letter can be made from a different state a person may have lived in or traveled to, which then tells a story. It's a great conversation-starter."

Durable Tabletop

To ensure work surfaces were durable enough to handle the heavy-duty tasks involved with creating his art, Aaron incorporated as many industrial-grade materials into the design of his live/work space as possible. Since his cutting table gets the most use of any space, he opted for one with a top made of silver-toned steel.

Industrial Details

Aaron chose an extra-sturdy table base made of steel with a graphic X-shape design to keep with the industrial look. The hardy material is ideal for withstanding the heavy loads which often grace the top of the table. These include stacks of license plates, lumber and finished art pieces which can weigh up to 75 pounds.

Office Space

Just inches from the front door sits Aaron's computer station, which is made up of a nine-foot-wide rustic farmhouse table with weathered wood legs and a steel top. "Many industrial tables are much longer and wider than residential door openings or hallways," he says. "To get my computer station table in place, I had to remove its legs, then reattach them once in place. Before falling in love with an industrial piece, make sure its legs are removable and that you've measured your doorways and hallways."

Quirky Storage

Some of Aaron's everyday items are contained neatly atop his computer workstation in candy jars. The size and scale of these containers are excellent for keeping sharp objects such as screws and nails within arm’s reach yet safely stored behind glass.

Inviting Entryway

Aaron gave the rental space somewhat of a true entrance by adding an industrial steel bench to the wall opposite the front door, which keeps shoes, messenger bags and books neatly stored below. Just above the bench sit two of his pieces, a red heart and a California state flag.

Lounge Area

While the cutting station is designated to laborious tasks, Aaron assigned the space in front of the fireplace to lounging. Whether entertaining clients or reading up on architecture and design, the artist puts the area to use as a space to unwind after a hard day's labor.

Authentic and Artistic

Many of the repurposed pieces in Aaron's live/work space have been newly updated, complete with brand-new electrical wiring. Other pieces, including this optometrist's light-box eye chart have their original wires, which add to the authenticity of the vintage-industrial look.

Artisan-Crafted Lamp

A floor lamp in the lounge area continues with Aaron's overarching vintage-industrial look. In order to make this, an artisan gathered old, weathered parts including sprockets, chandelier bases and conduit, then attached them with threaded ends.

Personal Pieces on Display

In addition to keeping his own masterpieces on display front and center above the lounge area's mantel, Aaron keeps an assortment of other artists' pieces on display.

Behind Closed Doors

Tucked behind the sofa in the lounge sits a vintage steel console table which keeps Aaron's supply of vintage American license plates organized and concealed.

Legendary Drawings

Music is a big inspiration to Aaron, especially the work of Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Warren Zevon. While living in Los Angeles, he befriended artist Matthew Cardarople, who created this group of drawings of the three musical legends.

Shop Related Products

Next Up

Small-Space Living Room Layouts

Use smart strategies to make your small living room feel larger.

Outdoor Living Spaces: Ideas for Outdoor Rooms

Learn about options and ideas for outdoor rooms and outdoor living spaces.

Living Room Layouts and Ideas

The right layout makes your long, open or square living room attractive and user friendly.

40+ Ways to Turn Any Space Into a Dream Craft Room

Learn how to turn any room into an inspirational crafting studio.

Small Space Ideas for the Bedroom and Home Office

Small space decorating can be a big challenge. Steal these smart ideas to transform your cramped bedroom or home office and maximize your space.