Scandinavian-Style Decorating

The simple charm of Scandi
By Sandra Shields, Epoch Times
December 12, 2016 Updated: December 15, 2016    

Scandinavian-style decorating—also known as Scandi—is clean, simple, and uncluttered in a super-stylish, natural way. This comfortable and casual decor is organized and functional, never fussy or busy.

The Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are the main influence for this style of decorating. Because winters are long and dark in the region, large windows that let in plenty of natural light are a key factor in designing and decorating Nordic homes. The rooms are usually bright and open without heavy draperies covering the windows. 

A clean look is achieved with white walls, white kitchen cabinets, and simple, high-quality wooden furniture. It’s a blank canvas on which to add design elements with textiles and colour.

The secret to keeping this sometimes stark design stylish is in the layering of textures—rugs, lighting, fabrics, and accessories.

Design Elements

Colour

The basic colours used in Scandinavian decorating are white, soft dove grey, and black. These neutral shades provide a perfect backdrop for a few splashes of colour in the accessories. Touches of pale pink or blue are popular and give cheerful bursts of colour, creating visual impact.

Large windows and minimal furniture is a simple, classic style. The messy bed is also a characteristic of Scandinavian design.  (PlusONE/Shutterstock)
Large windows and minimal furniture is a simple, classic style. The messy bed is also a characteristic of Scandinavian design. (PlusONE/Shutterstock)

Textiles

Fabrics add life to a room. Scandinavian decorating fabrics can range from light-weight soft cottons with small patterns, to checks or polka-dots on a white background, to black and white chevron or geometric patterns that create a punch of drama in an otherwise neutral palette.

To add a touch of luxury, these fabrics are enhanced with sheepskin, wool, and mohair pillows and throws. Chunky knit blankets add a more modern design element. 

Messy beds are a characteristic of Scandinavian design and create a “lived-in” look. Creased, quality linen sheets are draped every which way on the bed, creating a natural, carefree appearance and an unexpected, unique style statement. This is a style best suited to the minimalist rather than the perfectionist.

Bathroom fixtures are elevated off the floor to keep the space open and flowing. (Wolgang Zwanzger/Shutterstock)
Bathroom fixtures are elevated off the floor to keep the space open and flowing. (Wolgang Zwanzger/Shutterstock)

Flooring

Wall-to-wall carpeting in Scandinavian homes is rare. The floors are hardwood or painted white or grey, and decorated with jute or sisal rugs that infuse natural warmth and dimension.

White tiles are common in kitchens and bathrooms. Bathroom fixtures are usually suspended off the floor and appear as if they are floating.

Furniture

Scandinavian furniture has clean lines and smooth, round edges. Sofas are usually in white, grey, or pale muted neutral colours. Light-coloured wooden tapered legs on sofas, chairs, coffee tables, and footstools create an open, airy look that makes the space feel larger.

Hardwood floors,
Hardwood floors, “leggy” furniture, and geometric designs are typical of Scandinavian decorating. (Daria Minaeva/Shutterstock)

Accessories

Accessories such as art, lighting, and mirrors add personality. Large framed graphic artwork or mirrors propped up against the wall create a focal point in this monochromatic style of decorating. Mirrors also reflect more light into the room.

Lighting is a mixture of natural and man-made, and a key component infusing a casual, ambient mood in Scandinavian design. The simplicity of the caged pendant bulb is a popular feature with copper and brass as the current go-to metals. Candles are placed in most of the rooms and are lit on a regular basis creating a soft, relaxing, and beautiful space. 

Fresh flowers and candles are popular elements in Scandinavian homes. (IsakBA/Shutterstock)
Fresh flowers and candles are popular elements in Scandinavian homes. (IsakBA/Shutterstock)

Scandinavians love the outdoors and nature, and bring these elements indoors with fresh-cut flowers—a must in Scandinavian decorating—along with a few leafy green plants to give a cheerful and visually pleasing look. 

While there are a variety of different styles associated with Scandinavian decorating, it is generally known to be warm and welcoming with stylish simplicity, and has become a popular decorating style in North America.

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