Scandinavian home design will never go out of style. Combining the ‘less is more’ approach of minimalism with a healthy dose of home comforts, the ever-popular approach to interior design is a masterclass in moderation. While we all want to live in a tidy home, the minimalist mansions favoured by celebrities can too often end up looking like abstract art installations dedicated to beige. There is a balance to strike between clean and cluttered, and the Nordic countries have found it.
Emerging in the 1930s, the Scandinavian design movement was driven by the desire for modernity and innovation — following the First World War, Danish designers favoured natural materials and soft shapes in reaction to newer industrial styles. Ever since then, we’ve been drawn to this lighter touch in our living spaces.
If you want to implement some Scandi style in your home, here are a few simple principles to follow.
Colour with care
To lay the foundation for your Scandinavian design, you’ll want a clean canvas. A light colour palette is the way to go to make a room feel open and airy, so be sure to paint your walls with off-whites, neutrals and pastel tones.
Once this neutral backdrop is in place, think of contrasts. Simple, bold coloured art pieces are a great way to liven up the walls and add some character to your interiors — ultimately, these details are what keeps Nordic design looking fresh and inviting rather than sterile. In keeping with the theme’s trademark neatness, you should hang art in an organised fashion, for example as a series of repeated motif prints across a wall. To achieve the cleanest finish you can, it’s always wise to get help from professionals to reliably frame and hang your pieces. Improper framing could stain your art or leave lasting damage on your walls if you lack the tools and techniques to get the job done well — you want to give them a pop of colour, not destroy their plaster.
Scandinavian design favours simple, quality furniture that is made to last. By investing in a select few pieces, you can anchor a room to its purpose. Think functionally: a space for relaxation needs somewhere to sit, by way of a cosy sofa area, while an office needs somewhere to work, with a desk and chair. By working in these simple terms, you can build an effective and purposeful living space without superficial embellishments crowding your home.
Scandinavian furniture is made with a timeless aesthetic in mind, adopting simple silhouettes and clean lines. Taking inspiration from the organic world, tastemaking designers such as Hans J. Wegner used wood and natural finishes to craft their sophisticated chairs, tables, and cabinetry — a legacy still replicated by market leaders like IKEA. Decorate with streamlined and unadorned furnishings to bring harmony to a calm living space.
Have a soft touch
In Danish culture, the philosophy of ‘hygge’ (pronounced hoo-gah) refers to the comfort and warmth that is valued culturally. As part of the Danish national character, hygge encourages relaxation and indulgence, both in lifestyle and physical home comforts. In recent years, the trendy ideology has exploded around the globe, with many cultures incorporating elements of a softer Danish way of life into their day to day. But how can you bring hygge into your home?
Prioritising cosiness in your decor is key. Adding layers of soft furnishings to your lounging areas can cultivate a welcoming atmosphere for guests: think a tactile blend of blankets, throws and cushions. By layering with different textures about your home, you can create an inviting surrounding without overfilling the space. Importantly, these details don’t compromise on the stripped-back vibe of Scandinavian style, if placed with intention in the rest spots of your living area.
Keep it clean
Open space is everything in Scandi design, and decluttering is the essential step needed to achieve it. There are many different techniques for tidying up, such as the comprehensive KonMari Method, popularised by famed organisation consultant Marie Kondo. However, in the interest of classic Nordic simplicity, the most straightforward thing to do might be to start from scratch and think about your possessions individually: what value does each add to your home?
This way, you can sort your decor with discipline. This doesn’t necessarily mean binning everything but the sofa you sit on, but instead thinking of rehoming non-essentials and tidying away the bits you rarely use in storage. Taking on this new mentality is sustainable, too, as you can prevent unnecessary purchases and cut down your carbon footprint. Scandinavian design lends itself perfectly to a more sustainable lifestyle because of its emphasis on simplicity, and only holding on to those possessions that are functional to you.
If you follow these simple philosophies when designing your home, you’ll achieve your perfect Scandi-style interior in no time.