Pure and Simple: Six Ways To Achieve Stunning Scandinavian Style

With a design philosophy that’s characterized by simplicity, functionality, and clean lines Scandinavian design has had a resurgence in popularity over the past few years.  The minimalist style we now associate with Scandinavian design first emerged in the 1930s in the five Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.  The term “Scandinavian Design” came from a design show with the same name that traveled through the United States and Canada in the mid-1950s.  The Scandinavian Design philosophy is heavily inspired by nature and the Nordic climate; there’s always a strong relationship between design elements and nature.  While each area of Scandinavia has its own unique take on design, below are the general guidelines to get the simple yet stunning Scandinavian style in your own home.


Form & Function

A key aspect of the Scandinavian design philosophy is that of form and function.  A truly Scandinavian interior is very livable.  Space is used as efficiently as possible with numerous innovating and functional designs emerging from well-known Scandinavian designers.  Scandinavian design believes that furniture should be made to last rather than be replaced, and the trend towards multi-leveled and sized wall shelving reflects the Scandinavian savvy for combining practicality and visual interest.  When it comes to furniture clean lines are the way to go.  Scandinavian design embraces the smooth, rounded edges associated with mid-century modern design.  Think of furniture by iconic designers Hans WegnerArne Jacobsen, and Alvar Aalto when choosing pieces for your Scandinavian inspired space.


Wood and Metal Finishes

Since Scandinavian design is so influenced by nature wood is the main material used.  The natural wood tones bring a sense of warmth and texture to the space that’s important to the Scandinavian countries where it’s cold so much of the year.  Though wood reigns supreme, it is popular to bring in metallic finishes in lighting and accent pieces.  Brass and copper pendants are currently the favored way to bring some shine into the decor.


Neutral Color Palette

Besides wood tones and warm metallics the main color palette of Scandinavian interiors is neutral whites, grays, and blues.  Recently colors like dusty pink and seafoam greens have gained traction as the pop of color in Scandinavian decor.  Though walls are traditionally kept white, any neutral color on the walls will still allow you to achieve the look.  The neutral color palette helps maintain a clean, calming appearance in the space that’s in line with the idea of being in harmony with your environment that’s a part of the Scandinavian design philosophy.


Keep Minimalism in Mind

If knick-knacks are your forte, Scandinavian design is not your style.  Closely tied to the minimalist style Scandinavian design relies on a “less is more” mantra.  Scandinavian inspired spaces are clean and visually relaxing.  Adequate storage is key for keeping your interior clutter-free, and fortunately there are a ton of sleek, modular storage options available.



Lighting is incredibly important in the Scandinavian countries since they can get as few as seven hours of daylight in the winter.  Scandinavian interiors have several types of lighting in order to create various levels of illumination from mood lighting to full brightness.  Pendant lamps are a common choice for overhead lighting, but candles may still be used for tabletop settings.  As part of the quest for light, most Scandinavian interiors have few, if any, window treatments.  Windows are frequently left bare, but if used light fabrics like linen are the preferable choice.


Warm Accents

Since minimalism is so important to Scandinavian design the few accents in Scandinavian spaces are functional ones.  Pillows with geometric patterns or traditional Scandinavian botanical designs will add comfort as well as subtle color and texture.  Warm textiles like sheep skins, wool, mohair, or soft cotton throws add a feeling of warmth and coziness as well as another layer of texture.  Ceramic vases can also add color and texture and serve as a holding place for fresh flowers, which many Scandinavian natives consider a necessity in the home.


Achievable for almost any budget, Scandinavian style has a timeless quality to it that’s worth considering bringing into your own decor, especially if you don’t want to have to change it up often.  Frequently listed among the happiest countries in the world it seems likely that the Scandinavian design philosophy of harmony with your environment and nature contributes to their happiness.  Centered around warm functionality, flawless craftsmanship, clean lines, and an understated elegance, there’s a lot of reasons to embrace Scandinavian design.

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