iStyle: Hard and fast, concrete design

The quickest way to update your home is to add concrete to the mix, and from lamps to flooring, the high street has it covered. By Trish Lorenz

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The Independent Online

The trend for raw, industrial-style finishes in the home looks set to keep growing this autumn and winter, as brands across the high street launch products with an urban, warehouse feel.

And concrete, in particular, has come up trumps as the material of choice: from BHS to Debenham’s and John Lewis, and across everything from lamps, vases, desk sets and side tables, it is the material du jour.

Concrete has plenty to offer in interiors: beautifully textural, it can vary in touch from silky smooth to something more akin to rough-hewn wood.

It can be coloured or  simply polished to a sheen. Its strong lines lend a sophisticated, urban edge to any room, and its architectural properties (the material is strong and flexible) mean it can be used in a variety of  interesting ways.

Designer Magnus  Pettersen ( regularly uses concrete in the products he creates, from his curvaceous desk set to the Leimu light, which launches next month for Finnish brand Iittala. He  says the secret to using the material at home is not to overdo it.

“Moderation is key with all these hard industrial materials,” he says. “I try to soften the look by using soft, homely shapes and by combining it with other, warm materials.”

If you’re interested in  experimenting with concrete, try adding one statement piece and soften it with  natural materials such as wood and wool: a concrete side table on a shaggy rug  or a concrete lamp over a wooden table.

Shots of bright colour will also ensure the room feels lively and welcoming rather than cold and functional.