Minimalism may be trendy, but there is one iteration of clean design that will never go out of style—Scandinavian interior design. It’s no small feat to be able to exercise restraint in your décor choices, while still managing to make a space feel cozy. The style is so popular because it speaks to both our tidy tendencies and our desire to live in inviting and comfortable settings. Want to get the look that Nordic countries are so well-known for? Take note of these beautiful layered spaces.
What Is Scandinavian Design?
Scandinavian interior design is a minimalistic style using a blend of textures and soft hues to make sleek, modern décor feel warm and inviting. It emphasizes clean lines, utility, and simple furnishings that are functional, beautiful, and cozy.
Play With Natural Light
Scandinavian interior design is known for its minimalist color palettes, cozy accents, and striking modern furniture. Designs often play with natural light which is a hot commodity in Nordic countries.
High contrasts are the hallmark of Scandinavian interior design. In this all-white dining room, stark black sculptural furniture helps create a dramatic, impactful statement. Modern furniture also contrasts with the ornate architectural details that are common in historic buildings in northern Europe.
Choose Mod Furniture
Even in newly built contemporary spaces, mod furniture is key. Tulip tables and swan chairs are warmed up by blonde-wood accents and rich cognac leather tones. Sculptural branches also help make the space feel more organic.
Choose Muted Colors
In this New York City apartment, interior designer Tali Roth embraced her own version of Scandinavian style. A George Nelson-esque Flos table lamp stands atop a mirrored cube. The colors are muted tones of taupe, ivory, and sage. Black-and-white photography, olive branches, and a small brass bowl all serve as minimalist decorative accents.
Incorporate Colorful Art in Multiples
Colorful art is seldom found in Scandinavian interiors, but when it is, it’s often in graphic multiples, like in this series of botanical prints. In the dining room, furniture is often kept simple: midcentury chairs and a floating storage buffet. Candles are the hallmark of hygge style and often come in simple brass candleholders.
Speaking of hygge, the Danes try to incorporate this philosophy in all aspects of their décor: Make it as cozy and comfortable as possible. In this small space, the unmade bed is pushed up against the window and takes up the whole space. Curtains separate the sleeping space, further adding to the coziness.
This living room features simple, clean-lined furniture and muted gray tones, which could easily feel cold and uninviting. But with striking photography and a cozy mix of textures, like the sheepskin throw and kilim rug, it feels welcoming.
Corner Your Fireplace
Scandinavian homes are known to have fireplaces in the corner of a room—not centered on a wall. Thus, seating arrangements are often designed accordingly. Smaller accent chairs float closer to the fireplace while sofas generally anchor the middle of the room, leaving walking space behind it.
Use Warm Wood
Warm wood tones and sepia hues are popular in Scandinavian interior design because they make a room feel sunny and bright without using overwhelming bright colors.
Off-whites, sepias, and wood tones work well together and create a welcoming, muted space.
Swedes and Danes are skilled at layering bedding in the most welcoming way. This often includes a blend of linen sheets, wool blankets, and a small collection of accent pillows, often in muted tone-on-tone hues. Iconic lighting is also common in Scandinavian bedrooms, often using the ceiling fixture and bedside lamp to make a modern statement.
Add Small Bursts of Color
When color is used in Scandinavian interiors, it’s often in small bursts or bright hues—almost in a gallery style. For instance, in this light-and-bright living room, a neutral base is brought to life with rugs and throws in blue and purple hues, while the various artwork provides a sharp burst of color.
Mix Décor Styles
Though they veer more on the modern side, Scandinavian interiors often feature a mix of periods and styles to make a space feel layered and cozy. In this muted dining room, oil paintings in ornate gilded frames hang above a collection of apothecary jars. Above the stark black dining table hangs an oversized industrial pendant.