Scandinavian interior design strips away the usual complications of home décor, focusing solely on simplicity, clean, eco-friendly design and functionality. The environment you create within your home is as good a reflection of the state of your mind[i] as anything else, and this can work in reverse. Scandi spaces are calming and easy to take in, promoting a simpler life and a clearer mindset.

The sleek look of Scandi design is timeless and crops back up in the history of interior design repeatedly. In 2021, it’s becoming ever more popular, with geometric shapes, stripped-back furniture and stand out features cropping up in homes across the nation.

The origins of Scandi design

Firstly, let's take a look at where Scandi design came from. The name itself is self-explanatory as the style emerged from the Scandinavian region, appearing prominently in Nordic countries: Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Norway. However, the term ‘Scandinavian design’ was popularised by a design show of the same name, which was hosted across Canada and the USA during the 50s[ii].

From its conception in Nordic countries in the 1930s, the main principles of Scandi design have been improving quality of life. Designers achieve this by providing sustainable, good quality, visually stunning interiors that are available to everyone – no matter their budget.

Get the Scandi look

It is easier than ever to achieve Scandi perfection in your home, and we’ll show you how you can get the look in your home by understanding Scandi design principles and applying them to your own space.

 Minimalism

Scandi design is a minimalist’s dream. There is no clutter, and each feature makes its own statement without having to be complicated by numerous accessories. Less is definitely more when it comes to Scandi design, where functionality and sleek, elegant fixtures come together. Achieve this by:

  • Investing in stylish storage solutions which act as feature pieces themselves or blend into the room seamlessly. Under table lidded boxes and wooden sideboards lend themselves well to Scandi minimalism
  • Choose neutral colours that work well together, adding pops of colour through natural features. Let your houseplants be the stars of the show
  • Consider the flow of your space and how you need it to work for you. Re-arrange your furniture to accommodate your daily habits and movement patterns.

Approach the minimalist side carefully, and don’t get too carried away with throwing out your belongings. Use it as an opportunity to de-clutter, but don’t lose the personal character of your space.

Lighting

With Scandi design, you can have some real fun with lighting options. They are key to the functionality of a room, so they take centre-stage. Do away with the cheap lampshades and go for something simple but spectacular.

  • Hanging mirrors effectively to bounce light into darker corners.
  • Placing sturdy, statement lamps that can easily be adjusted to direct light where you need it. Seating areas are the best place for lamps.
  • Installing statement ceiling light fixtures. Choose industrial, stand out, metal fixtures that add permanence to your space.
  • Get rid of blinds and curtains (if you can) to allow as much light in as possible.

Wait until you have an idea of what you are doing with your space before playing with light, but don’t be afraid to experiment with it until you get it right.

Furniture

Mid-Century Modern furniture is extremely prevalent in Scandinavian design. IKEA is the place to go for this kind of furniture (especially if you’re on a budget), many of the Swedish companies’ collections are inspired by popular mid-century modern designs.

Look out for simplistic furniture with smooth, clear lines, natural materials and block, neutral colours.

Colours

Bright, bold colours do not belong with Scandi design. Choose neutral colours like shades of brown, greys, dark greens and off-whites. Accentuate with natural features like houseplants and flowers. Too much colour overwhelms a space and can make it feel claustrophobic.

Texture

A room without texture can feel cold, uninteresting and unwelcoming. Textures draw the eye to important elements of the room, and draw the clean, sometimes sparse elements of Scandi design together. Add texture by:

  • Adding blankets made with natural materials to chairs and sofas. Perhaps a basket with rolled up throws inside it might look inviting.
  • Wood is a valuable resource for Scandi design and brings an important natural element into any room. Use it on walls, for flooring and for furniture.
  • Use natural materials like cotton and linen for upholstery and other fabric features.

Remember not to overdo it when it comes to textures by sticking to a couple of textures per area.

Flooring

Do away with hard to maintain, easy to ruin carpets and go back to basics. Nordic countries aren’t big on carpet, so you should opt for light and sturdy wooden flooring where possible. Its miles easier to clean and can be accentuated with a large rug to add some texture.

Paired with underfloor heating, wooden flooring really captures the essence of functional Scandi design.

Walls

Repeat after us – do not choose patterned wallpaper. It very rarely lends itself to Scandi design, which is a blessing in disguise for those who are scared of loud wallpaper. White and off-white walls are a very common feature of Scandi interiors – with light grey, beige or brown feature walls.

Leaving your walls as a blank canvas leaves room for you to exercise your creative muscle when it comes to accessorising.

Be smart with accessories

A pretty important mantra of Scandi design is to not clutter or overcomplicate the space. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t accessorise. Be clever and bold with your choices, sticking to the Rule of Three with clusters of plants, cushions or vases.

Wall art is an important feature when it comes to accessorising the space, and your most cluttered areas should be open shelving units. Use these spaces to show off your personality and interests. Love photography? Hang vintage cameras from existing features. Can’t go ten minutes without listening to music? Set up a vinyl player or sound system and place a few choice record sleeves on your walls.

Consider the environment

Eco-friendly elements are huge in Scandi design. Do you know where your furniture and textiles have come from? Choose pieces that have been sustainably sourced if you can, and try to stick to natural fabrics when to comes to upholstery.

You should also follow in Sweden’s footsteps and ensure your house is as eco-friendly as possible. Upgrade to triple-glazed windows to keep the heat in, make sure your walls and roof are properly insulated and choose a more efficient heating system.

Simplicity is key

Whilst planning and implementing your Scandi interior design, don’t forget to keep it simple. Take time to carefully consider the impact of each item in the room and how they affect the overall flow of your interior design.


References

Formica, M. J., 2008. How the Environment We Create is a Reflection of Our State of Mind. [Online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/enlightened-living/200807/how-the-environment-we-create-is-reflection-our-state-mind [Accessed March 2021].

Smith Brothers, 2016. The Philosophy of Scandinavian Design. [Online] Available at: https://smithbrothersconstruction.com/the-philosophy-of-scandinavian-design [Accessed March 2021].

Sources

[i] https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/enlightened-living/200807/how-the-environment-we-create-is-reflection-our-state-mind

[ii] https://smithbrothersconstruction.com/the-philosophy-of-scandinavian-design