Getting that beautiful Scandinavian look has long been the dream of many a homeowner and it’s not hard to see why. Practical, elegant and simplistic, it’s a style that works across a range of homes and interiors.
Scandinavian design is all about replicating the geographical characteristics of the northern lands from which it comes from. Despite therefore often being represented as very cool and angular, it can actually offer many options to help make your home warm, inviting and cosy.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry. You’ll find all sorts of advice and tips right here in our guide and will be rocking the Scandinavian design in no time!
Scandinavia is an umbrella term applied to several countries sitting in northern Europe towards the Arctic Circle – Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Recently it has expanded out, however, to also include Iceland, Finland and Greenland.
By focussing on minimalism, bold lines, functionality and simplicity, Scandinavian design originally started life in the 1950s. This type of interior design and decor has for many years captivated people across the globe thanks to its very distinct look and sharp, timeless look. Oozing populist appeal, it has also been a favourite in a large number of magazines and design publications over the years and played a key part in the modernism movement of the mid 20th century.
When it comes to Scandinavian, it’s all about balance and proportion. This is true not just in individual pieces of furniture, but in how the eye skims across the whole room. It places great importance on linear geometry in addition to circles and curves, along with the juxtaposition of hard and soft, rough and smooth, worn and shiny, dark and light, new and old to dramatic graphical effect.
Scandinavian design lends itself to a very specific and unique colour scheme. Greys, whites, browns and blacks are often put together to create a calming and very clean look.
The difference with this kind of interior however is that colours are not mixed. Effects are usually created using white as a base colour, with accent colours then added to compliment. These accent colours vary amongst designers, but popular hues include rich blues, sea greens and dusky pinks. It’s this minimalism that gives a Scandinavian interior its clean modernity.
Although Scandinavian interiors are stark and simplistic, homes are not homely without some ‘normal’ type of décor. For example, if you’ve decided on a white interior alongside an accent colour, you could try matching in some artwork or paintings; things like black and white or monochrome posters are great because they add a classy yet highly personalised touch that really finishes off the room.
The Nordic design takes a variety of forms, from soft furnishings and rustic woodwork, to the slick lines of mid-century furniture. Notably though, Scandinavian influenced interiors are not heavy on furniture which is brand new. Instead, furniture should add character to a room by being rustic in appearance but not too antique. The beauty of this as well as that older furniture is easy to source and is often much less expensive than kitting out a room from new. By incorporating rustic elements with occasional hints of colour, Scandinavian interiors are elegantly contemporary and relaxing to sit in. A bit part of Scandinavian charm is found in its versatility. Why not go for a rustic cabin or a nautical theme? Or you could choose a modern look based on shades of white for the ultimate chic appeal. In these cases, wooden or velvet accent chairs offer a homely finish which will act to soften any sparsity.
Winter in Scandinavia is dark with very short hours of daylight. People who live there only see daylight for seven hours a day at best. This means lighting in their homes is very important. Interiors which adhere to Scandinavian design often have a variety of different types of lighting with a mixture of very bright lighting and mood lighting.
Candlelight is also a popular theme and candles indeed offer a warm, cosy glow to your home on the darkest of evenings. Scented candles are also lovely for adding atmosphere and invoking warm memories of summer.
Table lamps and floor lamps are also a key feature in Scandinavian designs to add extra lighting particularly in darker corners. Single-colour lamps are particularly stylish whilst being functional at the same time.
In colder climates, it comes as no surprise that warm textiles such as wool, sheepskin and mohair are very popular, especially for soft furnishings and throws. Not only do they make the whole family feel warm and cosy, they give another layer of colour and texture to a room.
To give your home the perfect Scandinavian aesthetic, a key thing is to always have lots of plump cosy cushions in your living room. Even if your couch or sofa is already nice and squishy, adding cushions offers a pleasing look to a room. It also makes it feel very welcoming. Why not add some pastel accents in a choice of blankets too?
The risk with wooden and other hard flooring is it can make a room feel cold. As Scandinavian interiors often favour such flooring, a great way to keep your toes cosy whilst warming up the room (literally and metaphorically) is to introduce a decent size rug. It will add some cute character too! Bold colours can set off the pale coloured walls beautifully and add a focal point to the room as well.
As mentioned, Scandinavian interiors are all about simplicity. Adding stylish paintings and artwork to your room is great but try not to over-do it. A single coffee table or bookcase alongside necessities like a sofa is really all that’s required.
The main focus with this type of look is on natural beauty and colour. Clutter should also be kept to a bare minimum so plenty of shelving and storage is essential. Keeping everything clean and fresh is really important, so keep “less is more” as your mantra.
Scandinavian winters are much harsher than the ones we’re used to in Britain, meaning many homes have an open fire or log burner in the living room. These are often very grand focal points and are found in the corner of the room.
Winter sun a good source of warmth and light but as the days are so short it’s not going to be nearly enough to keep a family warm. This is why fireplaces in Scandinavian homes are a necessity.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a fireplace in your home, make the most of it as a focal point. Paint the surrounding white and adding some monochrome artwork above it for example. Again this adheres to the typically Scandinavian design ethos of chic yet practical.
Usually, our clothes, especially our outdoor coats, are hidden away in wardrobes and cupboards out of sight. With simple, Scandinavian interior design however, it is not uncommon to have clothing racks – piled with clothes – as a decorative part of the room. Not only are they inexpensive to buy, but they’re also again stylish and very functional.
You’ve probably gathered by now that Scandinavian interior isn’t the same as other interiors. Instead, it’s a clever mixture of rustic and modern with just a little bit of quirky thrown in for good measure. To add to the more traditional feel of it, why not add in a nice big wall clock and a calendar too? You can ditch the technology when you want to know the time or date; simply glance up at your cool new clock on the wall!
When it comes to choosing them, big is beautiful and the larger the size the better! Again, sharp monochrome colours are great against a while or very pale background, with accents of purple, red, blue, black and green being ideal.
In a world where we’re forever connected it’s easy to become overwhelmed and struggle to switch off. Modern technology means we’re constantly working, updating social media and surfing the web, but think how lovely it would be to just shut down and relax once in a while.
The great thing about coming home to a Scandinavian interior is that it’s so simple it just makes you naturally chill out. With that in mind, why not go for an area which is technology free?
Use your Scandinavian designed home to cut off from the outside world with no computers, television or social media. With its plush sofa and cute throws, you can cosy in with the ones you love and forget all about the stresses and strains of modern life.
Now we reckon that sounds like bliss – don’t you?!
Edward is the managing director of Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs. He is an expert in quality, comfortable upholstered chairs.