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Getting Started With Scandinavian Interior Design

One of the most popular interior design trends of the last decade is Scandinavian décor, and it’s clear to see why. Simple, stylish, comfortable and cosy, Scandinavian interior design is extremely versatile, working in a number of property styles, from contemporary homes, modern flats and period houses. If you favour a minimal look, but still want your home to feel welcoming, Scandi décor is a great option for luxury homes, or any home really, and best of all, this trend won’t date either, as it’s already been around for several decades, and continues to rise in popularity.

Read on to discover how to get started with Scandinavian interior design…

Image Credit: Spacejoy via Unsplash

In the most simple terms, Scandinavian design can be defined by clean lines, natural materials, minimalistic style, and a focus on function without compromising on aesthetics. It dates back to the 1930s and originated from the Nordic countries of Norway, Iceland, Finland, Denmark and Iceland, although many of us associate it with Denmark alone.

The style came about due to the region's long winters, which created a desire to design comfortable and cosy homes, that also maximised the available space and light. In Scandinavia, the daylight in the winter is extremely limited, so homemakers aimed to make the most of what little natural light there was, resulting in bright and airy spaces that were also ideal for curling up during cold weather spells and long evenings.

Our 21st century lifestyles are busier, nosier and more demanding than ever before, so it’s not surprising that many of us are turning to our homes for respite. The Scandi style is perfect for creating a space that’s calming, functional and beautiful - everything we need to relax at the end of a long day, or enjoy a bit of downtime over the weekend.

The concept of ‘hygge’ is closely connected to Scandinavian design. The Norwegian word translates as ‘well being’, but really it relates to more of a feeling of cosiness and contentment. Scandinavian décor is a way of creating this feeling, by designing a space that’s harmonious, welcoming and comforting. Many of us are working to become more mindful in our everyday lives, and creating a Scandi-inspired space is the perfect way to encourage and enhance mindfulness at home.

What are the Characteristics of Scandinavian Interior Design?

Image Credit: Collov Home Design via Unsplash

While Scandinavian design can be interpreted in different ways to suit your own unique sense of style and requirements, there are a few key principles that are frequently used in Scandi homes…

Soft Furnishings and Textures

Soft furnishings are used heavily in this style, to create an extra cosy touch and add interest without the use of clutter or a lot of colour. When you are working with a neutral colour palette and taking a minimalist approach to design, the addition of soft furnishings and layering of textures is key to avoid a space that feels stark and cold.

Think large and soft sofas layered up with cushions made from wool, velvets and linens. A blanket thrown over the arm of the sofa, and a rattan basket filled with a couple of extra blankets for good measure. The bed may be dressed with two or three blankets layered across the bottom, and more cushions at the head of the bed. Rugs are a must too, to add a cosy finish to hardwood floors, and add a practical edge by improving heat insulation too.

Don’t forget that textures go beyond soft furnishings - think metals, woods, even polished concrete or naked plaster - there are loads of ways to incorporate texture into your design. The key here is to use lots of varying textures to add interest.

Natural Materials

Scandinavian décor is all about embracing nature, bringing the outdoors in as much as possible. Think natural wood flooring, sheepskin rugs, wooden furniture in organic shapes and natural finishes, and lots of houseplants. In a Scandi living room, as an example, you might find beautiful wood flooring, and an unfinished wood coffee table, dressed with a houseplant to one side. A large wool or natural jute rug on the floor, layered with a sheepskin rug on top, as well as a big soft linen grey sofa with knitted blankets and cushions. In the corner, a large houseplant in a rattan basket, and more trailing houseplants on a white painted bookcase.

Focus on making the most of natural light too. Keep window dressings to a minimum, so that they can be pushed right back during the day-time. Shutters work brilliantly for this style, as they are simple and classic, yet contemporary too, or try white linen curtains.

Light & Muted Colour Palettes

As Scandi décor is all about creating light and airy spaces, muted colours and light neutrals are used to maximise the feeling of space and the natural light available. Choosing your wall colours will be simple, as generally walls are painted white, allowing the natural textures, accessories and furniture to take centre stage. By choosing white for walls and ceilings, rooms look spacious, and contrasting features can be added, such as chairs and tables with black metal frames, or even black kitchen cabinets and charcoal grey accessories. While walls should be kept white, a little contrasting colour is important to add balance.

While traditional Scandi homes may use colour sparingly and instead focus on neutrals, today the rules are a little more flexible. Generally speaking, muted tones work best, such as dusky pinks and blues, sage and olive greens, minks, taupe shades and beiges. These sorts of shades will subtly enhance your scheme, and support the relaxing and calming feel.

Minimalist Design

Traditional Scandi décor calls for a minimalist approach, keeping open space light and airy, and avoiding unnecessary clutter. Function is key to this style - follow the rule of having nothing in your home that isn’t functional or beautiful. Ideally the functional pieces will also be aesthetically pleasing too.

To achieve the minimal look, incorporate clean lines and resist the urge to fill an empty space, instead making a feature out of the space that you have to add to that airy and simple feel. Don’t overcomplicate things - keep patterns in any room to no more than three, and apply the same rule when it comes to colour too. If you must fill the empty space on your wall then I suggest filling it with minimalist wall art.

Layered Lighting

Key to a cosy and functional home is lighting, and Scandi décor should utilise lighting to enhance how you use your home and the aesthetics too. To create layered lighting, you should include brighter task lighting, and various lamps to allow you to create a level of light that suits every occasion. Pendant lights are ideal for brighter lighting - black, brass, rattan and bamboo light fittings all work well in the Scandi home. When it comes to lamps, opt for a larger floor standing lamp, as well as a couple of smaller table top lamps, to create little pockets of warm low level lighting to create that all important ambiance.

Distinctive Décor

Just because Scandi décor is traditionally simple, doesn’t mean you can’t put your own stamp on things. This trend is progressive, and over the years we have seen it combined with bohemian décor, Japanese interior design, and even a maximalist version. Make the Scandi interior design look your own with art prints - try grouping prints together by creating a gallery wall over your sofa, sideboard or bed to create focus. Introduce a few patterns that you love, and enhance your scheme with unique items, styled in groups of three for a professional finish.

What Makes a House Scandinavian?

Image Credit: Spacejoy via Unsplash

If you’ve ever been to Scandinavia, or looked at photos of Scandinavian houses, you probably noticed that they are all beautiful in design. The architecture is considered, the building carefully crafted, all with a laidback look and feel. Traditional Scandi houses are typically constructed from wood, stand two-stories tall, and are often painted in bright colours, with lots of windows to maximise natural light inside.

The interior of Scandi houses often have low wood ceilings, natural wood flooring, and a fireplace with beautiful ceramic tiles or wood stove can be found in almost every room. The second floor may have a loft-like-feel, with exposed beams and low slanted ceilings.

While this style of property is beautiful, of course just because you are creating a Scandi-inspired interior, doesn’t mean you have to live in a home of this type. This style is incredibly versatile, and is suited to almost any type of house. From flats and modern detached homes, to farm houses, Victorian townhouses and villas, the Scandinavian interior design trend works well in any style, as it’s based on very simple key principles.

To make your home Scandinavian, maximise space and light, bring the outdoors in, use muted tones and lots of soft furnishings and texture. It really can be that simple, and this is an interior style that you will love for years to come.


Ready to get started with Scandinavian design? If you follow the ideas in this post, you’re sure to create a beautiful home that’s practical, functional and stylish. Scandi décor is all about creating a retreat to enhance your everyday lifestyle, designed to help you forget your worries as soon as you step through the door.

Creating a Scandi home is a great way to maximise the benefits that you get from the time you spend at home, and while it’s important to incorporate the key principles, don’t forget that you can be creative too, to make this look truly your own.

If you are looking for some new art work then you should check out Versace wall art.

Looking for tips on how to bring Scandinavian style directly into your home? BRIA Homes have written a truly amazing guide on this. Check it out here.

Feel like you are going to need to hire an interior designer for your Scandinavian décor project? Find out what the benefits for hiring an interior designer are here.

  • Posted On: 25 May 2022

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