Urban Décor

Urban Décor

You don’t have to live in the heart of the city to enjoy this popular trend.

By Diane Franklin  

Urban décor is a major decorating trend, especially among millennials and emerging Generation Z. But you don’t have to be in a specific age bracket or live in the heart of the city to bring such a look to your own home.

What is Urban Décor?

When you see the word “urban,” you may thing of a style that is dominated by industrial looks—hard edges, steel, concrete, brick—but actually urban décor is softer and more comfortable than that. While the style can have elements such as exposed brick and steel surfaces, the look is tempered with textural fabrics, muted colours and environmental components such as plant life, water features and large windows that welcome in the sunlight.

Urban décor is typically best achieved in homes or apartments with open floor plans. City living in loft apartments is an ideal setting for exhibiting an urban flair. However, you can also feature urban décor even in a suburban home where the great room is the focal point.

Here are the elements that will allow you to take your décor in an urban direction.

Paint Colours

Neutral colours are the star of most urban decorating endeavors. Gray is an obvious on-trend colour that can be used prominently. Other colours include browns, taupes, terra cottas and deep oranges. The warm colours provide a wonderful background for the other elements in the room.

Brick is another major element that is often used in urban stylings. You can use actual brick, brick panels or “faux brick” to provide the effect. You can use a brick effect on an entire feature wall or use “exposed brick” elements to provide the desired urban ambiance. Don’t overdo it, though, or the look can come off as looking amateurish.

Accent colours typically are blacks, whites and muted blues, with occasional pops of colour—jade green, mauve or pink—being limited to artwork or accessories.


Hardwood is one of the most compatible flooring choice for the urban style of decorating. Reclaimed wood works well in such environments, and one particularly dramatic look is to use hardwood that has a mix of light and dark floor boards for a contrasting effect.

If your space has a concrete floor, it can be honed beautifully to go along with the urban style. An acid-washed floor, done in warm reddish-brown tones with a high-polished sheen, can be quite dramatic and set the stage for the rest of your urban look.

Area rugs serve a two-fold function in urban décor—they define the space in an open floor plan, and they also soften the overall environment. Modern designs such as geometrics are the most appropriate for the urban sensibility. Area rug colourations also can provide a pop of colour—such as orange, red and/or green—in an otherwise neutral décor.

Furniture and Fabrics

Modern furnishings work best with urban décor. What that means is sleek lines, exposed wood and structured upholstery, but other elements such as throws and accent pillows can be used to soften the look. Textured fabrics in neutral colours—i.e., whites, browns, navy blues—likewise provide a softening element to the décor.

Often reclaimed furniture pieces—such as dining tables, buffets or dressers—can add a nice touch to an urban décor setting. They can be repainted using a distressed painting style to fit in well with the rest of their surroundings.

Windows and Window Treatments

Wide-open windows are a major element of urban décor, which is why many choose to be minimalistic in their window treatment selections. To go along with the style, draperies should be simple—in white or neutral colours—that stack back so as not to obstruct the view.

Other window treatment options that have an urban flair include Roman shades, woven woods, 2-inch wood blinds or wide vertical panels in neutral colours.

Artwork and Accessories

Modern-themed artwork is an effective way to complement your urban decorating style. Thematically, cityscapes and abstract designs fit in well with the décor. Artwork that has the look of a graffitied wall can likewise be an interesting urban element to add to your décor. As another choice for your walls, you can use peel-and-stick wallpaper in these themes to further enhance the urban sensibility you are trying to achieve.

Appropriate accessories for urban décor include new or reclaimed items made from metal, glass or natural materials. Various biophilic design features—large potted plants, water features, exposed wood ceiling beams—are similarly consistent with the trend.

Fitting Your Style

No matter where you live, don’t be reticent about using urban décor if it fits your style and personality. Urban living is not so much a place as it is a state of mind.