The 5 Essential Elements of Scandinavian Design

Today is all about Scandinavian design and how to get that minimal yet cozy look and feel you’ve been craving. Now, let's talk about Scandinavian home design, in particular, and the breathtaking Scandinavian decor that comes along with it.

Scandinavian design or Scandi for short, comes from the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway and has been popular throughout the world since the 1950s.

Known for its long history of innovation and craftsmanship in furniture and lighting, Scandinavian design is marked by a focus on clean, simple lines, minimalism, and functionality, but not at the expense of comfort and natural beauty.

The overall look of Scandinavian interiors features mainly white walls, light wood flooring with high contrasting accent colors, like black, giving it a clean, crisp, yet inviting feeling.

Aspects of nature are also used to add color and texture. Think clean lines, modern functional furniture, light colored natural woods, wool blankets, greenery, and decluttered rooms.

The uncluttered nature and brightness provides a sense of calm.

Here are five essential elements of Scandi design and how to incorporate them into your spaces:

1. Simplify

Scandinavian design emphasizes bright, light, and open spaces. Decluttering is the first step, but with lagom, which is the Swedish word for moderation. The goal here is to create an inviting and comfortable space that functions according to your needs.

Think about what activities take place in each space of your home and then bring in the items that support them.

Combine utility, comfort and aesthetics to create a space that you find not only useful but delightful.

2. Create a neutral backdrop

Scandinavian design relies heavily on neutrals like bright whites and grays with pops of black and tan for a little drama.

White walls and light wood flooring may seem a little stark, but the purpose in keeping these planes light is to reflect natural light, which is in short supply during cold, dark Scandinavian winters.

This neutral backdrop makes it possible for modern, simple furniture pieces and decor to function as accents, providing interest and contrast.

When adding color, blush and soft gray blue tones are frequently used, along with warm tan tones and other nature-inspired neutrals, like sage green.

Patterns are used most often in rugs, pillows, bedding, and artwork in geometric and botanical shapes.

Now, everything I've just said represents a typical Scandi interior, but if you have darker floors or prefer more color on your walls, you can still get that Scandi look.

In fact, some Scandi interiors use dark walls to great effect. Just keep the palette as neutral as possible and bring in those great Scandi pieces for contrast.

3. Bring nature in

Scandinavians have a great appreciation for nature and a love for spending time outdoors. Their bright, airy spaces reflect this, making the most of natural light and exterior views.

You can also bring nature in by using natural materials, like wood flooring, wooden furniture pieces, and natural textural fibers for upholstery and accessories.

Sculptural pieces in rounded shapes, objects from nature, and live plants also bring natural elements in.

4. Add texture

This brings us to our next item, which is the secret sauce of making neutral interiors like Scandi warm and interesting, and that is texture.

Layer in organic fabrics like wool, cotton, and linen in textural weaves, like boucle.

Chunky knits to create a cozy atmosphere, along with some rougher natural textures, like jute, sisal, and burlap.

The play of light and dark on these textures will add loads of interest regardless of their color.

5. Add some hygge

The final touch is a concept you've probably heard a lot about in recent years. Hygge is a Danish word that roughly translates to cozy togetherness, and it's the ingredient that makes the Scandi interior feel like home.

Some of the items you've already brought in, like wood and other natural elements, ceramics and textiles, have started building the hygge of your space.

To increase it, add things that remind you of warmth and comfort, like candles, soft blankets, and cushions.

If you have a fireplace, make it the focal point and a place to gather around.

Add personal touches that make you happy, like a little reading nook and your favorite books. Hygge is very much about relaxation, ease, and connection, which is what home is all about.

Scandinavian home decor

So there you have it, five essential ingredients needed to create a Scandi-inspired space at work or at home. It’s no wonder that Scandinavian home decor is taking over retail stores and websites. It’s just plain gorgeous.

Please let me know if you're using Scandinavian design in your spaces and how it's going in the comments section that follows.

Join the conversation