Scandinavian Houses: Understanding Their Unique Style

Scandinavian houses, both the interior and exterior, are designed with regard to the natural environment. Scandinavia, the northern European countries of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, have a distinct architectural style that is common throughout this area.

These countries share a similar natural environment which has produced a similar aesthetic style. While Finland and Iceland are not Scandinavia in a technical sense, their homes also reflect this distinct Scandinavian style.

Scandinavian Houses

According to Modlar, Scandinavian architecture is known for its clean lines and simple color palette. Yet, Scandinavian style houses are built with more than this in mind. They are built to respond to their location and climate to keep the inhabitants comfortable and able to live well within their natural environment.


Scandinavian Houses: Exterior and Interior Style

Scandinavian houses have a timeless quality that is attractive in today’s ever-changing world. We have gathered some examples of Scandinavian style homes, both interior and exterior spaces to help you understand what creates this classic look.

Exterior Style Elements

  • Natural Materials – Scandinavian architects build Scandinavian homes to blend in with the natural environment both as an aesthetic choice and to allow the gorgeous landscape to stand out. Therefore, they use materials that are common to the natural world and local in specific areas including wood, stone, and brick for exterior cladding.
  • Simple and Innovative Shapes – Scandinavian home shapes vary between innovative and simple. Scandinavian style came of age in the modernist era of the 1950s, so there is always an element of innovation that they cherish. Yet, traditional Scandinavian houses have simple shapes that blend into the natural environment.
  • Simple Color Palette – A Scandinavian style house has a simple color palette, though not always neutral. Many Scandinavian homes utilize whites, gray, and natural wood cladding to blend into the natural environment. But there are Scandinavian homes, like traditional Swedish style houses that are painted vibrant red, blue, and yellow.
  • Natural Light – Because of long winters and gray skies, Scandinavian homes are built to bring in all available natural light. Most home styles have large windows, glass doors, and perhaps skylights to this end.
  • Pitched Roofs – Many Scandinavian homes, though not all, are built with snow and harsh weather in mind. If someone builds a home where they must deal with snow, a steep pitched roof helps to shed snow.
  • Porch or Overhang – Dealing with snow is common in the northern countries of Europe, so having a porch or overhang to remove snow gear and muddy clothes is essential.
  • Minimalist – Modern Scandinavian house designs have few superfluous decorations and a simplicity of line and form.
  • Eco-Conscious Construction – Modern Scandinavian house style exteriors use eco-conscious and sustainable products as these countries have stricter environmental laws and consumers who value this quality in design.

Scandinavian House Exterior Examples

Here are some Nordic-style house designs so you can see these elements in real-world examples.


Savukvartsi – Finland

Savukvartsi - Finland
Honka

This is a modern ecological log home that Honka designed for a city environment. They utilized a non-settling fusion log to frame the house and clad it with spruce. This home has a simple yet architectural shape with a high-sloping roof and multiple windows types to bring in bright natural light.


Hoghult House – Karlsburg, Sweden

Hoghult House - Karlsburg, Sweden

Hoghult House - Karlsburg, Sweden 2

Fabel Arkitektur designed the Hoghult House as part of a large estate in Sweden that contains old farms, large fields, and views of a green forest. The architects designed this magnificent yet restrained home using traditional woodcraft techniques. The wood construction uses no nails or screws in the construction.


Casa Sand – Aarhus, Denmark

Casa Sand - Aarhus, Denmark

Casa Sand - Aarhus, Denmark 2

Casa Sand is a project of Christoffersen & Weiling Architects. Their design imperative was to keep the design of these private beach villas in keeping with the coastal environment.

The horizontal lines of the coast and the idea of simplicity were the guiding light in the design of these simple homes. They used a sand-colored brick to blend with the natural environment. The long linear form and weight of the brick accentuates the coastal lines and settles the home into the dunes to protect it from the wind.


Summer House – Denmark

Summer House - Denmark

Summer House - Denmark 2

GinnerupArkitekter built this simple summer home on a Danish island right next to a coastline and meadow behind. They used a stone cladding so that it would blend in with its natural environment. The large glass windows ensure that the owners can soak in every bit of sunlight and teeming wildlife on the island.


Farmhouse – Halsingland, Sweden

Farmhouse - Halsingland, Sweden
Homes & Antiques

Deep in the Swedish countryside, it is not uncommon to see vibrant red farmhouses. Red was a common home color for traditional Swedish houses in the country as it was a status symbol. Exterior decorations are more common in traditional than modern Scandinavian houses.


Mambo House – Finland

Mambo House - Finland
Honka
Mambo House - Finland 2
Honka

Honko designed this modern Scandinavian style home. They clad it with black siding to disappear into the background of the pine forest. The large windows and sharp mono-pitched roof remind the owners of the forest trips and wind shelters common in Finnish heritage and history.


Interior Style Elements

  • Open Floor Plan – Scandinavian home design favors simple clean lines without visual separation of spaces. This open floor plan facilitates time spent together with those that you love.
  • Natural Materials – Scandinavian houses feature natural materials both in the outside and the inside of the home. This means the use of exposed wood-clad walls, stone facades, and the use of natural materials like wool and leather in home decor.
  • Natural and Artificial Lighting – Natural light sources like large windows are important in Scandinavian architecture as is the use of layered ambient and task lighting inside to keep the home comfortable and efficient through the dark winter.
  • Neutral Color Palette – A modern Scandinavian home will decorate using a neutral color palette that reflects the neutral tones of the landscape. These colors include white, cream, beige, gray, black, and brown. You will also notice brighter accent colors in earth tones of blue, green, orange, and yellow.
  • Energy Efficient Systems – Scandinavian environmental building laws are more strict in countries like Denmark and Sweden than in other countries. Therefore, Scandinavian homes and consumers require but also prefer green energy systems when possible. This also means the use of materials that ensure better energy usage.
  • Comfort – Creating a comfortable environment to enjoy with your family is a vital design initiative. This includes warm and cozy spaces like reading nooks and the use of natural materials to promote serenity.
  • Wood Stoves/Fireplaces – A cozy fireplace or wood-burning stove is a traditional element of interior Scandinavian design. This provides a warm focal point and gives the family a natural place to gather on cold evenings.

Scandinavian House Interior Examples

These Scandinavian interiors will give you an idea of how these ideals are put into practice.


Open Floor Plan

Open Floor Plan
Honka

This Scandinavian style home reflects the traditional open floor plan. In this home, the kitchen, dining room, and living room are contained in one long room. They have a common color theme of light wood and black to tie the design together. The large windows provide fresh color and light in the design.

Natural Textures

Natural Textures

Notice how many natural textures the interior designer uses in this Scandi-style living room including wood cladding and furniture, wool, metal, and natural greenery. The large windows provide all the decor needed. The white walls and lofted ceilings reflect bright sunlight throughout the room.

Neutral Color Palette

Neutral Color Palette
Zip Water

This kitchen has a neutral color palette, but it looks anything but boring. The designer has used bold color tones to create the look of contrast. The upper paneling and cabinets are painted a gorgeous black with a cool undertone. The marble countertops and textured wood cabinets give the kitchen a look of earthy sophistication.

Layered Lighting

Layered Lighting
Marcusse Construction

This bedroom design utilizes layered lighting techniques to give the user the most control over light levels. The large windows provide ample light during the day. The lighting plan also includes the overhead ambient light that spreads a soft glow in the evening when the sun has gone down. The lights beside the bed allow quiet reading before bed without having to get up to turn off the light to sleep.

Comfort

Comfort
Homes & Antiques

Traditional Scandinavian homes like rural farmhouses are more colorful than their modern counterparts. But there are many areas where these designs share similarities. One of these is that they both value comfort in their interior spaces. The comfort of this traditional kitchen includes the ample use of warm wood furnishings, cozy pillows, rugs to keep bare feet warm, and natural accents like fresh cut flowers.

The timelessness of Scandinavian House Style

There are no design styles that stay static over time, but Scandinavian style is one that is as close to timeless as we have. You can see this as you look across the landscape of Scandinavian design from traditional to modern.

While there are differences, Scandinavian houses are still designed with the same attention to detail, quality craftsmanship, the use of natural materials, and a desire to fit into the natural environment.

This will ensure that Scandinavian-style houses are a classic look for our lifetime.