Scandinavian decor is a timeless interior design style. Here we look at what it is, how it relates to Hygge and how to integrate it into your home.
Scandinavian design is timeless, classic and beautiful and fits with both modern and more traditional settings. Although it is currently trending, the style itself has remained fashionable and beautiful since it came to be in the 1930’s. So much so it is now considered a design philosophy. Key features of Scandinavian design include: minimalism, practicality, natural light, eco awareness, natural materials, clean lines, neutral tones and being in harmony with the environment around you.
People who integrate Scandinavian design into their home may do so by completely embracing the style and having a home completely Scandinavian in style. It is also possible to take parts of the philosophy and lifestyle to influence the home, as there is so much to take inspiration from.
In the 1930’s Scandinavian design emerged in key Nordic countries Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Denmark. However, it wasn’t officially ‘labelled’ as such until a touring design show travelling through Canada and the US in the 50’s featured the style and used the term Scandinavian design. The style didn’t appear in a complete, packaged way but rather discussed the influences, lifestyle philosophy and showcased well known Scandinavian designers of that time. It was around the same time that exhibitions showing Nordic design made their way around Europe and introduced that part of the world to this kind of interior design. There was certainly resistance from areas of Europe like Britain where the focus and emphasis was on opulence and design influenced by royalty and the political climate. However, it did catch on and continues to influence homes in the UK and across the word.
Some would say that at the very heart of Scandinavian design is the want or need to make daily life better. Which makes sense because the entire style came from people living in Nordic countries experiencing harsh long winters and designing their interiors to make the most of their climate. There is also a love of the outdoors in these countries and so, embracing nature and respecting nature is all a huge influence on the design style as well. Even the fact that natural light is a huge aspect of Scandinavian design reflects the fact that the Winter days are very short in Nordic countries, and so every aspect of the interior design enhances the basic need for natural light.
In modern Scandi-inspired design the focus remains the same and is established with accessories, furniture, various layering techniques and materials, and with practical items like mugs, bedding and even towels. Nature is most commonly represented with plants in neutral pots. In fact a green plant against a white wall is now an iconic feature of modern Scandinavian design. Nature is represented in less obvious ways as well, with natural materials like wooden floors, hand-carved wooden furniture, soft leather, stone, slate and wool. There are lots of parts of Nordic design schemes that work together to provide a look and feel that is so beautiful and chic, however, the following are the key principles of Scandinavian design:
Light flooring is such a large part of Scandinavian design because it creates such a neutral and natural tone to set the rest of the decor on. In most Scandinavian design you will find that the flooring is a light wood, which can of course be achieved with wooden flooring, or a wood effect laminate for a lower cost.
An area rug is a rug that is placed in a specific area and doesn’t cover the whole floor. Commonly animal skins would be used as area rugs in Nordic design however, neutral toned rope knit rugs, patterned rugs or fluffy animal fur ‘style’ rugs all work well.
Areas like kitchen tops and cabinets, or key pieces of furniture are often made from wood. Rarely would you see a key piece of furniture made from something like leather or metal in a Scandi-inspired home. Surfaces that need to be waterproof may include neutral toned wall tiles such as white porcelain tiles and grey grout.
Nordic homes are as eco-friendly as possible and so, anything goes when it comes to making your home more sustainable. Sustainable building materials, eco-friendly paints, organic materials and the use of methods to retain or harness energy are all deeply ingrained in Scandinavian design.
There are lots of white walls in modern Scandinavian design, but that doesn’t mean colours and shades can’t be introduced. Light blue is an iconic Nordic colour but pastel tones of pink and green, or greys and yellows can all work well with this style. You may also find some pops of colour in blankets or even in the form of a few boldly coloured books or accessories.
Practical everything is the name of the game with this design style. You shouldn’t have anything without it having a purpose. So there is no room for mindless clutter, and you certainly should avoid collections of items or objects that are just ‘for show’. That isn’t to say that the items you do choose aren’t attractive, but more that they will be beautiful and practical at the same time. ‘Carefully chosen’ is a great approach when it comes to accessorising your Scandinavian inspired home.
With such little light in the Nordic winters, light is precious and should be a key focus of your Scandinavian inspired home. This could come in the form of roof lights, larger windows and a general emphasis on letting natural light flood the home. But it could also include using lots of candles and utilising the fire in the fireplace if you have it.
Fireplaces are key social areas of a Scandi-inspired home. If you do have a fireplace, to fit in with Scandinavian design it should be light, bright and beautiful. Pretty porcelain tiles work really well on a fireplace, or even floor tiles in the surround. Practical but beautiful embellishes could be thick blanket baskets or wicker log holders, plus plenty of candles of course.
Hygge, the Danish lifestyle trend has been around for a long time but has recently appeared and seeped into all areas of life, including interior design. If you haven’t yet heard of Hygge, pronounced ‘hoo gah’, it is a Danish lifestyle word that could be summarised to mean ‘wellbeing’. It refers to that very special feeling you get when things just feel good in all respects. Walking home laughing with friends after a wonderful meal out, sitting round the fire exchanging stories and toasting marshmallows, or simply snuggling up at home on a rainy day with a hot chocolate and your favourite music playing.
When it comes to interior design, Hygge is not a thing and you cannot buy a Hygge item. Rather, you can harness the core values of Hygge to make your home a happier place. Making yourself a little secret sanctuary, creating a clutter free space to free the mind, emphasising social areas so you can enjoy your home with friends – both Scandinavian decor and Hygge seamlessly fit together. So it is actually very easy to integrate Hygge into Scandinavian design, providing you with a beautiful, chic interior with a lot of depth and thought behind it.
Scandinavian inspired homes are extremely chic, timeless and effortless, but a lot of effort does go into them. If you want to create a completely Scandinavian home then the best place to start is by reading about the different principles, the history and the designers who focus on this type of design. Without a grasp on why everything is as it appears in a Scandinavian home, you might struggle to get the look right. However, if you are looking for a Scandi-inspired home then there are lots of little adjustments you can make to embrace that Hygge feel, and that all important Nordic look.
Here are some suggestions to help you embrace Scandinavian design in your home:
Lighting is a life source for those in Nordic countries so it has to be a key focus for any Scandi-inspired design. An easy way to enhance your home Nordic style is with lots of candles. Have candles everywhere you can place safely, and don’t be afraid to play with scent to add that extra something to your space. You might also want to ditch any harsh lamps or pendant lights that take away from the ambience.
Beautiful but simple designs are key to Nordic design so if you are about to make a furniture purchase, consider a modern piece with soft aspects to it, like smoothed edges. Most Scandinavian furniture is also made from wood that is natural in aesthetic.
You will rarely see a Scandinavian home without a bookshelf. It is the ultimate practical and yet aesthetically pleasing accessory. Opt for the odd bold book colour to add interest to the space.
Many people focus on the light wooden floors within a Scandinavian home, but there are other areas of the home where you can bring that Nordic feel with flooring. For example: bathrooms might have light floor tiles with underfloor heating for extra comfort during winter. Or the kitchen might have beautiful heated stone floor tiles for that connection with nature.
Sure, the easy way to get that Scandinavian look straight away is to place a green leaved plant in front of a white wall. However, there are more colourful ways to embrace nature and aesthetics, such as by treating yourself to a beautiful bunch of flowers. Get a chic, sleek glass vase and fill it with your favourite blooms. This brings a splash of colour to your home, brings nature in, and also provides that Hygge feeling because you’ve treated yourself to a bunch of flowers.
If you’re looking to quickly turn a room into a Scandinavian inspired haven then the easiest and quickest way to do that is to neutralise it. Any dark or moody colours, vibrant patterns or loud accessories just won’t work. Everything should be very pale and calm. You can easily achieve an excellent base look by decluttering, giving the walls a quick lick of paint (in a light colour) and switching soft accessories like cushions and blankets for lighter types, preferably in natural materials and differing textures to add a layered look.
Not only is this a free way to harness the Scandinavian design potential your home has, but it is a way that could make you money. Your entire home likely holds boxes upon boxes of items that you don’t need, want or that you would prefer to switch for cash. Declutter one room at a time making boxes or bags up for charity, to put into storage or to sell. Commit to keeping the items you sort out of your home forever. With the right selling method, you could easily make yourself enough cash to start your decorating pot.
Scandinavian homes tend to avoid anything that blocks light. So any window ornaments, window plants, blinds or curtains should be removed. If you do opt for a window covering choose a natural blind, or simple light curtains.
With both Hygge and Scandinavian design being cosy is huge and is always a goal. So make sure your home has lots of cosy spots or ways to get cosy, like nooks with cushions in, blanket baskets and inviting areas where people will be drawn to sitting together.
Scandinavian design is chic, timeless and beautiful and it suits most traditional and modern homes. If you are going to completely embrace the decorating style, then consider looking into its principles and history, and how it links with lifestyle as the changes it can make to a home, are more than just visual.