I absolutely love Scandinavian interior design styling; the minimalist yet cozy feeling this styling brings is a winning combination. Charcoal grays paired with light warm wood floors, furnishings, and walls, modern forms, and soft chunky natural fabrics bring comfort and wellness to every room.
As an interior design movement, Scandinavian design began its reign in the 1930s; However, it did not hit its peak in the US and Canada until the mid-1950s. The trend continued in popularity throughout the 1970s and produced some of the most influential furniture designers of the modern era.
This design movement is distinguished by functionality, minimalism and simplicity with an element of warmth and beauty. It’s also defined by affordable accessibility. These are some of the reasons Scandinavian interior design has regained popularity in recent years. Many furniture designs of the era are still in high demand today.
One of the most creative and prolific furniture designers of his day was Hans Wegner. In 1914, Wegner was born in Tønder, a town in southern Denmark, to a cobbler. Among Danish furniture designers, Hans J. Wegner (1914-2007) is considered one of the most innovative. He created over 500 iconic furniture pieces; and was commonly referred to as the master of the chair. Some of his most iconic designs are the peacock chair, the shell chair and probably the most well-known, the wishbone chair, which has been in continuous production since 1950.
Click here to read more on well-known Scandinavian designers
According to the 2016 World Happiness Report, Denmark ranks as the world’s happiest country, and that the positive statistic can be attributed to Hygge. (pronounced Hueguh).
Wikipedia describes it as a Danish and Norwegian word for “a mood of coziness” and “comfortable conviviality with wellness and contentment feelings.” Translated, it means cozy throws, minimalist fireplaces, fuzzy slippers, relaxation and ease. Also think of warm light-colored woods, strong contrasts, nubby fabrics and soft colors. Bringing in Hygge to your space is about arranging seating areas to promote comfort and coziness and support the feeling of togetherness. Clean white lines softened with warmer textures and light colors. Natural light, indoor plants and organic, textured fabrics add to the coziness of this styling.
Here is a Scandinavian interior design style guide for visual reference.
Most Scandinavian homes are built with the environment in mind. Natural materials as well as energy efficiency and design to maximize natural light.
There is not a lot of clutter in Scandinavian interior design. You need to give your space room to breathe to create a calm and airy vibe, and you should limit your accessories. Keeping things minimal is a key component of this design concept.
When designing a room with a Scandinavian design approach, think natural and neutral colors with pops of earth tone for contrast.
Whites, charcoal gray, soft gray, soft pinks, terra cotta and ochre, deep green brought in by plants and indoor herb gardens.
Create contrast in your design by mixing dark and light neutrals, utilitarian and coziness, wavy and straight lines. This can all be achieved with your selection of furnishings and lighting.
Scandinavian winters are frigid, so a fireplace is essential in this design style. But this is a perfect time to think outside the box. You will often find this in the corner of a room or free-standing. Or the fireplace may be clean and modern with a single round stack to the ceiling. Unlike more traditional settings, these are usually not the centerpiece of the room but rather off to the side with a robust and functional heat element.
Quality and craftsmanship, along with the functional form, are hallmarks of the Scandinavian design style. Lean into the investment of high-quality furnishings and accessories. Light wood floors are commonly used and add to the light but warm, airy styling. Upholstery is comfortable without being bulky and fabricated in natural linens, mohair, wool, sheepskin, jute, burlap.
Wood is an essential element in Scandinavian design, in furnishings, lighting and walls. Wood types like oak, teak, mahogany, and pine in natural finishes are typical species found in Scandinavian design styling.
Outdoor gardens and indoor plants are an essential element that contributes to the feeling of open and airy and adds to this styling’s intimate, organic essence. Think of indoor plants that add to the air’s purity, such as Chinese evergreen, bamboo palm, weeping fig and fiddle leaf fig.
This style began its heyday in the mid-1950s around the same time as US mid-century modern and is sometimes confused with this style. Although these two styles pair well with each other (think mid-century modern table with Scandinavian style chairs), they are different in many ways.
The Scandinavian styling is light and airy, emphasizing washed wood finishes, while the mid-century is bolder in color with a deeper wood tone and more substantial form. The most common misconception of the Scandinavian minimal and modern is that it is cold and bland. Layered texture and cozy elements like chunky blanket throws, sheepskin and light woods alongside contrasting and bold charcoals and whites – it is anything but cold and bland.
It is minimal yet cozy with an intimate airiness. I love it!
As in all design styles, Scandinavian design has evolved through the years to include modern elements of the new movement like bold color block and monochromatic artwork, floating shelving and worn leathers with a stronger emphasis on eco-friendly design.
In Scandinavian design, the latest buzz word is Logom (Wikipedia), a Swedish and Danish word meaning “Just the right amount.” The element of “just enough” or “in moderation” is a more sustainable alternative to consumerism’s hoarding extremes. It begs the consumer to lean into valuing quality over quantity and repurposing over replacing.
This styling pairs well with Wabi- Sabi minimalism, mid-century modern and modern farmhouse. Not sure what interior design style best fits you? Take this quiz to find out!