Scandinavian interior design is one of the most popular home styles of the last decades. This home style, known for its neutral color palette, earthy decor, and simple style embodies ideas that go beyond an interior design aesthetic.
According to the Scandinavia Standard, Scandinavian interior design ideas are meant to “compliment the art of living well by a simple home environment”. This edited home environment allows one to embrace a life that is not weighed down by excess. This home style encourages a simple lifestyle in the present and contributes to a more sustainable future.
What is Scandinavian Interior Design?
Scandinavian interior design style emerges from a group of countries that are known together as Scandinavia. These countries include Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Finland and Iceland are sometimes included, but these belong to a broader group called the Nordic countries.
The history, culture, and geography of these countries bind them together. While the modern Scandinavian interior design is similar, they each have a style that is unique for each country.
Traditional Scandinavian interior design has a long history. It came to international attention in the 1950s. It emerged around the same time as the modern movement in Europe and North America. It was a design style with the core ideas of simplicity, minimalism, and functionality.
The designers that embodied the Scandinavian style wanted their style to be available to all people, not just the rich and powerful. Therefore, they utilized mechanisms that made the style available at a lower cost. These designers forged a unique blend between industrialization and craftsmanship. Some of the most famous Nordic designers were Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton, Eero Aarnio, and Eero Saarenin.
Scandinavian Interior Design Basics
- Simplicity – Scandinavian style interior design is known for its simple and uncluttered aesthetic. This mindset and lifestyle allow the people in the home to live an unencumbered existence free from both physical and mental distractions.
- Nature – Scandinavians value their deep connections to nature, so you will see an abundance of natural materials in their interior designs. This keeps the connection to nature strong even when they are indoors and promotes a deep sense of peace and beauty.
- Neutral Colors – One of the most important Scandinavian interior design characteristics is the use of a neutral and light color palette. In traditional Scandinavian interior design this was a way to brighten the indoors during the long gray winter days and dark nights.
- Form Follows Function – Scandinavian furniture and decor have clean and simple lines and lack superfluous ornamentation. The interior design styles embrace open space and do not have every space filled with extra pieces.
Scandinavian Interior Design in Practice
So how do you put these Scandinavian interior design principles into practice? We have gathered some interior design examples to help flesh out these ideas. Through these examples, we can help you understand how to use these principles in your own home spaces.
Neutral Color Foundation
Scandinavian countries are known for their gray skies and long dark winters. This geographic influence has led to the development of bright but calm interior spaces. These light interiors are the foundation of cozy Scandinavian interior design. This means light and neutral-colored walls and foundational furniture is the norm – think white, cream, beige, and gray.
If you don’t know where to start, check out the Hygge Paint Colors from Benjamin Moore. This palette focuses on warm and nuanced neutrals that blend together to create a seamless whole.
Earth Tone Accents
Most Scandinavian interiors have a neutral foundation, but there are also decor accents with vivid earth tones. This means colors that reflect the outdoors including sky blue, burnt sienna, evergreen, deep ochre, midnight navy, sage green, and muddy brown. Accent with these colors on walls but also in accents like throw pillows, wall art, area rugs, and furniture.
Scandinavian interior design does not contain superfluous items that sit around and collect dust. Instead, include just the items that you use or that you love. This does not mean that you are embracing minimalist Scandinavian interior design.
The Modern Dane suggests that those embracing Scandinavian design aim for lagom. This is a Swedish word that means “just right”. In other words, strive for balance in your space between items that you want and need and those you don’t.
This is not just a one-time endeavor, but it is a lifestyle that you embrace and strive for through every purchase that you make for your home decor.
Add Natural Elements
A deep connection to the natural world is one of the most grounding features of Scandinavian design interior spaces. Include elements in your designs that utilize materials like stone, wood, glass, wool, and cotton.
In this Minneapolis bathroom design, Vintage Elements use a stone cladding for the walls and pale wood for the cabinets to maintain a natural look. The large window and greenery also emphasize the deep connection with nature.
Open Concept Living Areas
Scandinavian interior design favors a simple and unadorned style, so it is no wonder that Scandinavian architecture favors open floor plans. These floor plans maximize the light and minimize the visual separation and clutter that walls between rooms create.
If you are designing your Scandinavian home from scratch, utilize an open floor plan for the public areas like the kitchen, dining room, and living room.
Choose Scandinavian Furniture
This may seem an obvious guideline, but you can create the most authentic Scandinavian design interior style by using Scandinavian-style furniture. Focus both on style and on quality pieces as both are important.
Much of the Scandi furniture style is simple and mid-century modern like the classic elbow chair design from Hans Wegner used in this Scandinavian modern interior design. If you buy classic-style furniture that is good quality, you will not need to replace these chairs often.
Focus on the Foundation
The most favored floor choice in Scandinavian interior design is wood. Wood flooring is valued for its earthy texture, warmth, and color. If you prefer a softer surface, don’t consider wall-to-wall carpet. Think instead about large-area rugs to define the space in your home. Rugs are helpful in defining the distinct areas in an open living space and for providing a splash of color in the design.
High contrast is a common design feature of Scandinavian interiors. It is easiest to achieve this by using light and dark colors. Kaitlyn Wolfe created this Scandinavian interior design bedroom by creating a dark wall as a focal point and placing a white bed against it.
You can also create contrast by using differing shapes, vintage and modern furniture, and abstract and diverse textures and surfaces.
Natural and Artificial Light
Because of the long and dark winter season, the interior of Scandinavian homes are built to reflect as much light as possible. Keep the windows as open as you can. If you need to add windows for privacy, use curtains or shades that are light and natural in texture and color.
It is also important to add multiple layers of warm artificial light to your design. Consider this modern rustic Scandinavian interior design. Swanson Homes kept the windows unadorned and layered both task and ambient light sources to allow the owners to adjust the light throughout the day and evening as needed.
Add Some Hygge
The Danish word hygge, pronounced “hoo-gah”, is synonymous with warmth and comfort. It is an important concept in Scandinavian style. This does not contradict minimalist design as Scandinavian minimalist interior designs is a popular and well-beloved style. Rather, hygge softens all versions of Scandi style by bringing in plush textures, soft slippers, side tables for books and cups of tea, candles, and a fireplace.
Hygge also embraces the idea that your design doesn’t need to look perfect all the time, so the unmade bed and the draped throw blanket is right at home in Scandinavian style interior design.
What are the New Trends in Scandinavian Interior Design Style?
Scandinavian interior design is a style that has a timeless quality to it, but all styles change in some fashion with the passage of time. Look for a use of brighter colors in Scandi interiors as well as throwback designs to retro style that were popular in the 80s and 90s. Also, look for broader use of patterns and use of luxurious materials in Scandinavian design.
How Can I Add Scandinavian Interior Design Style to My Home?
The easiest way to begin adding a Scandi edge to your interior spaces is by changing the foundation colors of your rooms. Paint your walls with light neutrals and add light neutral rugs. As you can, begin to buy foundation furniture that has a simple style and neutral color scheme.
Add in natural decor like plants, wood furniture, leather, and stone accents. Change your window coverings to make them more minimal and pare down all the furniture and decor in your home.
Scandinavian interior design is one of the most popular and the most enduring interior design styles of our time. It has remained popular since the 1950s because of the gorgeous look of the style and because of the ideas that undergird the style.
This style gives us all the chance to simplify our lives and focus on the things that matter most. That is a style idea that we all can embrace.