Born from the exposed brick, pipes and beams of trendy loft apartments reclaimed from converted warehouses and industrial buildings, this design aesthetic has made its way into a myriad of apartment types, locations and styles.
Originally a trend preferred by artist types, young urban professionals and hipsters, the Urban Decay apartment — either salvaged from the remnants of buildings in gentrifying neighborhoods or created from scratch as a design choice — is now a style chosen by a wide swath of renters from all backgrounds.
But Urban Decay isn’t just a single aesthetic. It covers a variety of styles, textures and palates. Climbador recently detailed a number of Urban Decay categories and colors. We’ve highlighted five of our favorites, which we expanded into design elements for you to incorporate into your apartment makeover, whether you inhabit an urban loft or a duplex in the burbs.
Once the scourge of city dwellers, graffiti has finally been recognized as urban art, often of the highest caliber. If you don’t want to tag your apartment wall yourself (and if you do, go to town but ask the landlord first), you have other options.
Purchase a 5’x5′ or larger canvas or poster board and some spray paint, create some wonderful graffiti art and frame it. Then paint the walls or an accent wall of the room you’re designing with a brick or stone solid color base and hang your art. Or purchase some graffiti art lithos to fill the wall space. Finish with a colorful, bright table and chairs in the same color family and your urban wall art.
The yard style is more than simply bringing the feel of the outside in. It’s incorporating the memory of an untended, wild outdoor space into an interior room.
You can recreate this look in your apartment with faux-weathered wooden benches, chairs and patio tables, an earthy, muted paint palette on the walls and artwork featuring green spaces and long-ago-forgotten urban parks.
If metal is your visual preference, you can achieve an abandoned wooden trail oasis by filling your space with a wrought iron table, benches and chairs colored in fiery oranges, reds and yellows distressed to recreate corrosion and illusion of a forgotten tea patio in the countryside. Accent the area with brick-based artwork and knickknacks.
While no one wants to have their apartment looking like an abandoned lot, you can strategically decorate to give your space that open, long-evacuated look. Adorn the room with tastefully-distressed dressers and cabinets painted in light blues and mellow yellows to create a melancholy but hopeful feel. Hang sheets or cloth tarps in doorways as curtain doors and place some soft color area rugs along the floor.
5. Better times
An interior hallway is a perfect place to recreate that empty, deserted space the young couple in the movie looking for shelter in the abandoned town always happen upon.
Paint the walls with cool blue and caramel hues broken up with dark wood shelving to display photo frames and baubles some previous family may have left behind. No furniture is necessary for this look, but if you have space, this is a perfect place for an old, worn hallway piano.
Adding the Urban Decay look to your apartment
You don’t need to leave benches and chairs out in the sun for a year to achieve these trendy urban decay styles. Remember, one person’s trash is another one’s treasure.
Try a few weekends of scoping out garage and yard sales, searching Craigslist (especially the “Free stuff” listings) and antique malls and thrift stores. Estate sales and storage auctions are great places to find unique pieces, as well. An old metal table, weathered picture frame or distressed cabinet can give any room the start of that abandoned look.
Head to your local paint store and thumb through the selection of rust and brown colored spray paints and weather-beaten style wallpaper. Try your hand at a bit of graffiti. Do some spy work at construction sites or hardware stores and ask for some leftover bricks or cinderblocks. With a little industrial adhesive, you can fashion yourself some shelving or a base for reclaimed furniture.
Fortunately, there are no rules or strict guidelines to follow. Just picture your favorite post-apocalyptic movie and use whatever abandoned house the heroes are hiding from aliens or a natural disaster as your muse!