A few months ago in our post, Trend Alert: Black Metal, you might recall that I mentioned “Factory Windows” in passing. The particular post was about the widespread popularity and diverse use of “Black Metal” in interiors, homeware and fixtures.
At the time I felt that the revival and reappropriation of Factory Windows is currently such an amazing phenomenon and beautiful interior trend that it deserved a Trend Alert post of its own…
What is a Factory Window?
Let’s first establish what I mean by “Factory Window”. A Factory Window is a big steel-framed, multi-pane window that was often used in factories, industrial buildings and warehouses in the early to mid 19th century (and before).
These windows were popular for two rather practical reasons:
Firstly, the steel grid or “muntins” provided a solid structure to create a much larger window than was the norm of the time. Its size provided an abundance of natural light for the factory workers labouring inside.
Furthermore, small pane windows are not only more affordable to produce but also cheaper to replace. If one pane of glass breaks you only have to replace that one pane and not the entire window.
A Factory Window Revival:
While the resurgence of factory windows is definitely not a new trend – it has been circulating for a few years now – it seems that its popularity has reached a peak.
I cannot read an interior blog or browse through my Pinterest feed without seeing a dozen images of factory windows being used in (un)usual ways. I mean, what is an Industrial styled loft without a stunning (and appropriate) factory window?!
I believe it is precisely due to the eclipsing popularity and longevity of the Industrial interior style that factory windows are currently such a runaway success.
Vintage vs Faux Factory Windows:
The “real deal” vintage steel factory windows would of course be first prize. Many salvage yards and second-hand dealers sell reclaimed building materials from refurbished or demolished buildings. Here in Cape Town for instance, one only has to drive down the Woodstock or Salt River main road to spot vintage windows and doors stacked up on various thrift shop sidewalks.
However, if you can’t manage to get your hands on reclaimed factory windows, there is no shame in “faking it”. Many homeowners and designers choose to have factory-like steel windows custom-made to fit their specific space and purpose. This can however be a costly exercise.
It is for that exact reason that many opt to recreate the factory window effect using wood. Once the window grid has been constructed from square pieces of timber and has been painted in the desired colour, no one will know the difference.
Factory Windows Used as Shower Doors & Screens:
We have spotted one more curious use for factory windows – this time in the bathroom. Instead of using the standard, manufacturer’s glass doors and screens one can use factory windows to enclose a shower. A similar effect can be created by using steel French windows and doors.
Bathrooms are excellent, yet often underutilised, spaces to create decorative features and focal points. Factory windows will add an interesting vintage industrial flavour to your bathroom.
Bright & Colourful Factory Windows:
While black is the colour one immediately associates with the Factory Window trend, it is not necessarily mutually exclusive. Yes, the contrast of inky black against stark white walls – particularly in a monochromatic Scandinavian type interior – is beautiful.
However, a white painted window frame can work just as well, especially if your space has a softer colour scheme or if you are trying to avoid a standout feature. Another popular choice is grey – be it a soft dove grey or a darker gunmetal grey or charcoal. Grey as a colour choice is very much in keeping with that of an Industrial Style colour palette without being as harsh as black.
If however you want to add a playful facet to your home, you can consider painting your factory windows in a bright colour. Sunny yellow and shades of blue are excellent options that will add a happy element to your space.