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Scandinavian Interior Design Ideas

2019-07-24

Ideas for how to add elements of Scandinavian interior design to your space. Clean lines and a minimal, yet natural look define Scandinavian style.

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I love how Scandinavian interior design elements can help modernize and streamline a space.  We are going to walk through the key elements of Scandinavian interior design,  And, ideas on how you can add these into your space.

Scandinavian, or Scandi, design come from the nordic countries of Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden.  Probably the most recognized example is everyone’s favourite giant blue and yellow box store – IKEA!  And, while I love me a good haul from IKEA, Scandi design has a rich history and is so much more.

The 1940’s and 50’s saw, for the first time in history, design pieces mass-produced at affordable prices.  Artists, designers, sculptors, and architects influenced each other like never before.  And, it was during this period that Scandinavian interior design exploded.

So, what exactly are the elements that define Scandinavian design?  While normally clean and uncluttered, Scandinavian design is never cold or clinical.  Think cozy, natural, and unpretentious.  A place for family and friends to relax and unwind.

Uncluttered

In Scandinavian interior design, spaces are uncluttered and decoration is minimal.  But, as noted above, this isn’t a strictly minimalist look.  Scandinavian decor is often functional – think a cozy throw or natural wood coffee table.  Items that are purely decorative tend to stand out due to the lack of clutter.

Scandi design is easy on the eyes, therefore, there is a flow to it, whether through a room or an entire home.  So, an easy way to introduce Scandinavian design into your home is to control the clutter!  Purge what you don’t need, and sell, donate, or recycle it.   Then, allow the pieces that you really love take centre stage.

Vintage camera collection

If you do have a cherished collection, keep it contained in one area rather than all over your room or house.  I am a book lover – like, I have a problem –  and all of my books are showcased on one shelf in my living room.  I’ve seen beautiful displays of vintage cameras, pottery, baskets, and rolling pins (!) grouped together to great effect.  And, it’s a lovely way to inject your own personality into your space.

Natural

Scandinavian interior design typically incorporates natural elements.  For instance, think wood, plants, and natural textiles like wool and linen.  Connecting with nature is an important aspect of the Scandinavian lifestyle.  Therefore, it’s no surprise that in nordic countries summer homes are abundant, simple, and well-used.  Spending time in nature is almost ritualized.  So, natural elements feature prominently in home decor.  In addition, Scandinavian design takes cues from the forms of nature.  Shapes are often organic and imperfectly asymmetrical.  

cactus plant in white circular vase on wooden tabletop

Consider adding more natural elements to your space, like a butcher-block countertop in the kitchen.  Or, use wicker and rattan baskets and furniture to warm up an otherwise minimal space.  Natural textiles can  be used on throw cushions and furniture upholstery.  For instance, a wool or linen sofa or armchair will add subtle texture to the living room.  Or, consider linen tea towels and bath towels in the kitchen and bathroom.  My absolute favourite online linen source is Rough Linen.  They carry beautiful natural textiles for every room of the house.

Houseplants are another way to bring the outdoors in, and there are so many plant options to choose from.  You can find plants that thrive in windowless, humid bathrooms.  Or, those that love a sunny windowsill.    Here’s a link to an article from Good Housekeeping on 30 Easy Houseplants to help you get your green thumb on.

Scandinavian bedroom

Casual + Cozy

While Scandinavian interior design is uncluttered, it is never cold or clinical.  A home is supposed to be a place to enjoy family and friends, and to make everyone feel welcome.  A Scandinavian home should feel, well, homey.  And, comfortable.  And, cozy.

Some ideas to incorporate Scandinavian cozy into your space are things like wood-burning fireplaces and chunky knit throws .  Also consider candles, woven rugs, or a stack of family boardgames.  Strive for a look that invites snuggles with loved ones, and putting your feet up on the coffee table.  Glass of wine on the sheepskin rug, anyone?

Living room with minimal decor, white area rug, coffee table and slippers

Clean Lines

Scandinavian design features clean lines that lets your eye easily flow through the room.  Even curvilinear shapes are pared down and simple.  There is no Baroque or Rococo excess here!  Expect exposed legs on furniture.  And, cantilevered sideboards and shelves that look like they are floating.  Walls and windows are often simple and clean with lots of white space between items.

Floors are typically visible, with rugs used to cozy up a space, rather than wall-to-wall carpet.  Kitchen  cabinets may be unfitted, or have exposed legs on the lowers.  Furniture often hugs the floor, meaning more space between it and the ceiling.  All of these things keep even a small space looking clean and crisp.

Natural Light | Light Colours

Often, the light, neutral colour palettes of Scandinavian  design are enhanced by a flood of natural light.   That’s not say that you don’t see darker, moody interiors in Scandi design.  But, typically, walls are white or light-coloured, and if there are darker elements these are grounding pieces like sofas or area rugs.  Interiors might feature blond woods and white furniture.  And, those white walls, are warmed up with pops of colour or pattern.

white bedroom with platform bed and black and white diamond area rugNatural light, even if it’s from a small window, is amplified by the white/light paint, and helps bounce light around the room.  In Scandinavian design think of the walls as the canvas that serves as the backdrop for the rest of the decor.  There is a reason gallery walls are usually white, and that’s because white walls allows the art to take centre stage.  A light, bright room likewise lets the lack of clutter, natural materials, and clean lines of Scandinavian design shine. 

So, there you have the key elements that make up Scandinavian interior design.  Try adding some to your space or project.

Do you already have a Scandi interior, or have added some Scandi vibe to your space after reading this post?  Tell us all about it in the comments!

Happy Designing!

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