12 Key Elements of Scandinavian Design + Home Styling Tips

Posh Pennies
by Posh Pennies

Do you love Scandinavian design? You’re not alone! It’s one of the most popular decorating styles. Learn all the ways you can inject some Scandinavian interior design vibes into your home.

I’ll go through all the Scandinavian home design elements so you can make your home look Nordic. We’ll analyze exactly how the Scandinavians manage to consistently create beautiful and inviting bright interiors and how to create the same style in our own homes.

IKEA sofas


Scandinavian style is generally associated with its clean bright minimalistic yet cozy look. I shopped at IKEA long before the look became popular and I was always attracted to the store but couldn’t pinpoint why. I do like to give credit to IKEA for bringing Scandinavian design and the concept to the masses.

Affordable but beautiful furniture

The Scandinavians have a very socially inclusive culture so the way this translates to the design world is that there is this belief that everyone should be able to afford beautiful and functional items in their home.

What is Scandinavian design?

There are three core concepts: warmth, simplicity, and inspiration from nature.

Warm Scandinavian design


Having a warm home, both physically and psychologically, has been an important part of Scandi design for hundreds of years. Their homes have been safe havens in the harshest winters, and include fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, for instance.

Or, use candles, dimming lights, and use warm light bulbs, not bright, white lights. Wear thick socks, place rugs on the floor, and use a lot of soft furnishings for warmth, too.

Simple Scandinavian design


Nordic design roots come from the need to make use of what they had on hand to make comfortable items.

Wood table and plants in glass vases


Scandinavia has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and they have always been inspired by what surrounds them.

Here are 12 specific ways you can also create this style in your home:

Bay window with retro chairs
Mixing old and new in Scandinavian design

1. Mixing old and new

Scandinavians do not use status symbols in their homes. Any item in the home is meant to add comfort and enrich one’s life. Nostalgic vintage items are linked to hygge, for example.

“The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking
Cozy socks and hot chocolate

2. Hygge

Hygge is the Danish philosophy of togetherness, comfort, and well-being. Any place can feel hygge–a restaurant, a home, a bookstore, even a workplace can feel hygge. “The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking explains this concept well.

There are quick ways to create coziness in your life: tidy up, light candles, play soft music, bake something, fluff the pillows, put on cozy socks, prepare a hot drink, and invite friends over.

Large window with natural light
Abundant natural light in a space
Roof light
Natural light in Scandinavian design

3. Natural light

Scandis go from having little light in the winter to having 20 hours of sunlight in the summer so they try to maximize the amount of natural light. You’ll find lots of large windows, skylights, and white walls to help bounce light around the room.

Neutral color palette in a living room
Neutral color palette in a kitchen
Warm neutral color palette
Cool neutral color palette

4. Color palettes

The most popular Scandi color palette is black and white with natural accents. You’ll find grays, pale wood tones, off-whites, soft pinks, sage green, taupe, tan, mustard, hunter green, navy blue, and metallic accents. White is always the beautiful, elegant backdrop.

Living room with framed wall art
Large scale artwork in a living room
Abstract artwork in a living room

5. Artwork

Scandi artwork and sculptural art is subdued but it’s also large-scale because it’s not really busy. You’ll see abstracts, drawings, and moody landscape photography all with minimal frames in black or white. You’ll find the odd oil portrait or textural painting.

Glass vessels
Ceramics and glass vessels are also popular.

Light and bright Scandinavian design
Light Scandi design with darker accents
Light and airy design

6. Light and airy

Furniture in a Scandi room is often elevated off the ground, features lightweight frames, and lots of breathing space between pieces.

Light and airy paper lampshade
Paper lampshades are popular.

Cozy Scandi bedroom
Throw blanket on a bed
Throw blankets and pilow on a sofa

7. Textiles

Textiles, such as throw blankets and pillows, introduce warmth, softness, and texture into a Scandi room. Wool, linen, cotton, and other natural fibers are always preferred.

Scandi rooms also feature sheep skins and other animal hides draped over the backs of chairs or used as rugs.

Solid curtains hung to the floor
Curtains are solid and hung from ceiling to floor.

Fluffy rug
White floor with a rug
Wood floor painted white

8. Floors

Pale hardwood or laminate flooring are the most popular materials softened with neutral-colored rugs. Scandinavians do not use carpets. Floors are often painted white to reflect more light.

Tile flooring in the bathroom
The same type of flooring is used throughout the home, except in the bathroom where there’s usually tile.

Minimalist kitchen table
Minimalist Scandi home office

9. Declutter

You won’t find many knickknacks in a Scandi home. Scandinavians prefer minimalism to allow for more light to flow through the space. They even have great cable management!

Light wood furniture
Wood and leather chair and ottoman

10. Use of wood

Wood is a huge element used in Scandi interiors. Homes, floors, and furniture are all made from a mixture of woods. Birch, pine, or spruce, all light-toned woods, are popular. But wood that is painted white is very popular.

Large plants in a living room

11. Plants

Scandinavians love plants but they don’t overdo it indoors. They usually have four or five plants per room. The “jungle” look is not how Scandinavians use plants in their decor.

Pampas grass
Pampas grass is a popular Scandi decor favorite.

Elaborate molding
Architectural details

12. Architectural details

Lots of older Scandinavian buildings have well-preserved architectural features such as elaborate moldings, old-fashioned radiators, and elaborate door trim. These details are almost always painted white.

Scandi style tips for your home

Bring as much light and warmth as you can into your home with the following tips:

Bright white walls
Paint your walls bright white.

Decluttered living room
Declutter and strip everything back.

Black, white, and neutral interior design palette
Remove bright, highly saturated colors.

Large artwork with a minimal frame
Enlarge your own photos or paint your own artwork and use minimal IKEA frames.

Warm to cool lighting
Assess your lighting and get rid of harsh, cool lighting.

Simple curtains hung high
Make sure your curtains are simple and hung high.

Layering throw pillows

Layer in fur pelts, blankets, and lots of throw pillows.

Scandinavian design guide

I hope that you have a good understanding of what Scandinavian design is all about. It’s easy to create hygge, even if you’re not Scandinavian.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve incorporated Scandinavian home design elements into your space and what you did to achieve it.

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