||Iron gates, railings,
banisters, and furniture have long been a fixture in
western architecture and landscaping. Many are familiar
with the ornate work of an iron fence around an estate
or a cemetery, the iron balusters and railings on a
residential stoop, or iron window frames fabricated
for breathtaking architectural effect. However, what
may not come to mind at first glance — but what
is gaining steam in the interior design world —
is ironwork inside a home, residential building, or
Iron has a very classic, timeless look that evokes richness
and stability. It can skew both modern and traditional
depending on how it’s used within a space. For
these reasons, designers have increasingly been being
drawn to using ironwork indoors.
Iron initially gained decorative steam in the mid-seventeenth
century, where it began to be used ornamentally in Europe.
Using iron to create banisters, stairways, and gates,
Europe embraced the classic look of iron in a big way.
Later, in the United states, iron became a common installation
for gardens, estates, cemeteries, and public spaces.
In truth, today’s “ironwork” is not
always iron. Whether true iron is used to achieve an
iron look depends on the fabricator and the budget of
the project. Alternatives include steel, stainless steel,
and bronze, which are worked in such a way that look
like traditional ironwork but at varying costs. Of course,
most ornamental iron is made by hand, so the cost of
labor is certainly a factor. However, for some perspective
on materials, steel is typically around $1 a pound,
bronze is around $15 a pound, stainless steel is around
$5 per pound.
Blacksmiths are responsible for forging ironwork, with
the help of a furnace. With the iron at the proper heat,
it can be cut, spiraled, bent, and twisted. Many balusters
for railings are twisted, creating an ornamental feel
that is also functional. In addition to architectural
structures, wrought iron also finds its way into the
home in the form of pre-made pieces, such as curtain
rods, candlestick holders, fireplaces, and fireplace
One ongoing concern with iron work is that it does tend
to rust fairly easily. Exposure to oxygen rather quickly
leads to rusting. Darker irons with black finish show
rust less than lighter variations. Iron that is coated
properly will not rust, and to keep everything inside
the home from rusting, one must consistently watch for
rust and if it appears, clean the iron down to the bare
metal and coat it again. Painting over rust will result
in the rust beneath the paint continuing to corrode
the iron, so this is not a recommended fix to a rusting
Maintenance aside, iron is being used in a variety of
ways inside the home to evoke both rich and rustic atmospheres.
Iron has long been considered rich and sophisticated
in both rural and elegant settings, hand therefore it
is no surprise that it is continuing to find its way
into interior spaces.