Scandinavian Interior Design Home Decor Tips

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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The movement of Scandinavian design has had a profound impact on every aspect of the design universe. A wide array of domains, ranging from architecture to product design, has tapped into the essence of Scandinavian Design for inspiration.

It first emerged in the early 20th century in the Nordic countries and rose in popularity during the 1950s.

Scandinavian Interior Design refers to the blending of a minimalistic style using a blend of textures and soft hues to make sleek, modern décor feel warm and inviting. It blends minimalism and functionalism by emphasizing clean lines, utility, and simple, functional, cozy, and beautiful furnishings.

If you’ve been admiring this design style or believe that there’s beauty in simplicity, the Scandinavian interior might be for you. Keep reading as we guide you on how you too can pull off the Scandinavian interior design styles in your own home.

The Main Elements of Scandinavian Interior Design

Scandinavian Interior Design comprises three design principles: Functionality, Simplicity, and Craftsmanship.

  • Airy spaces filled with natural or (artificial) light
  • Wood furniture, wood floors, and wood accents
  • Decorative, statement pendant lights
  • House plants and lush greenery
  • Natural textiles
  • Steel, brass, or copper accents
  • Plush sofas and tactile fabrics
  • Multifunctional and flexible designs
  • Minimalist aesthetic
  • Understated design that follows function and order
  • Light, neutral colors
  • Muted, dark hues
  • Cozy pieces

15 Scandinavian Interior Design Style Tips

1. Less is More

Minimalism plays a big role in Scandinavian design; hence the concept of less is more is really emphasized. In the past, Scandinavian housing was generally expensive and smaller, so it was important to create multifunctional furnishings. An example of this could be a coffee table that can also be used as a storage chest.

Having double-duty furniture and accessories is smart, but they can come in handy in Scandinavian design.

The image below is a good example of a multi-functional shelf.

Scandinavian style bathroom with multifunctional shelf

2. Add Contrast

Scandinavian interiors are normally painted white to help keep the spaces bright. Introducing a high contrast can help break the monotony of the white and create a statement.

You can achieve this through furniture, art, or paint.

Though black and white are not considered a typical theme in Nordic inspired homes, it works in this living space. The home decor features two colors which create contrast through the use of furniture pieces and paint.

Scandinavian style home decor with white and black accent color to create contrast

3. Let in The Natural Light

Scandinavian design is known for its cozy accents, modern furniture, and minimalist color palettes. This is often brought out by their ability to incorporate light into their designs. Light is a key element in Scandinavian design since, for the most part, it's dark due to winter. You can find a way to play with natural light.

Scandinavian inspired living space

4.Clutter-Free Spaces

Many Scandinavian homes were traditionally built small hence didn’t allow for excessive storage. Modern homes are now bigger; however, the principles remain the same. The idea of keeping spaces free of clutter remains an important aspect of Scandinavian design

Scandi bedroom decor look

5. Think Cozy, Think Hygge

Hygge refers to the feeling of cozy contentment and well-being while enjoying the simple things in life. Simply put, the Danes believe you should be able to enjoy your life and the little things that come with it.

So, it should only make sense for it to influence their design majorly. The Scandinavians take the concept of comfort very seriously and try to incorporate the Hygge philosophy in all aspects of their décor.

This might look like fuzzy sheepskins, smooth leathers, chunky cable knits, etc. It's about using texture to create warmth.

Casual chair that embodies Hygge

The interior designer chose furniture pieces. There's the sofa and a casual overstuffed chair. The casual chair embodies the concept of "Hygge."

6. Use Warm Wood

The Scandinavian design incorporates a lot of wood. However, not just any wood. It must be wood that keeps with their light design. The type of wood you will often find used is beech, ash, and pine.

Warm wood tones and sepia hues are popular because they make a room feel bright and sunny without overwhelming bright colors.

Nicole Croughan, an interior designer with Blinds Direct UK, states that Scandinavians' love for nature is well known, and a huge part of their life is dedicated to being outdoors. Hence the use of wood is also a form of mutual love and respect for nature.

Off-whites work well with warm wood tones and sepia and create a welcoming, muted space.

Casual chair that embodies Hygge

7. Use of Clean Lines

Clean lines are a key element in Scandinavian design. Furniture is considered to be beautiful but not ornate. It is more common to find pieces that are modern, clean-lined, and solid. These are true definitions of the Scandinavian design style.

Pendant lights cast light on the wooden dining set

8. Muted Colors

Winters are long and dark in Northern Europe, so Scandinavian design uses whites, greys, and tans to make a space feel bright and uniform. Scandinavian design usually boasts a neutral heavy color palette.

There are also accents of blue and green and other bold colors that are incorporated to create contrasts. Other hues that feature include beige and cream as well as muted brown colors.

These, however, tend to feature mostly due to an abundance of wood flooring and wood furniture.

Scandinavia inspired open plan living room and kitchen

9. Fireplace in the Corner

Scandinavian fireplaces are usually in the corner of a room, and the living room is designed accordingly. One way to go about this is to have smaller accent chairs that float closer to the fireplace while the sofas act as the anchors in the middle of the room.

This leaves room for people to walk around.

Corner fireplace in Scandi inspired home decor

10. Eco - Friendly

Eco-friendliness is a big aspect of the Scandinavian home. Scandinavian homes and design focus on sustainability, environmental influences, and efficient design.

Eco friendly scandinavian living room

11. Lighting

Nordic countries experience longer periods where they don’t have sunlight. Lighting is an essential element in Scandi Design. There are various ways you can achieve this. You can layer artificial lighting.

You can also have an overhead pendant light or consider having table and floor lamps. There are different ways to go about this.

Its all about finding the lighting style that works for you. The aim is to add some extra warmth and visibility.

Pendant lights in Scandinavia kitchen decor

12. Embrace Greenery

It would only make sense that house plants also feature in Scandinavian Interior Design. After all, we are talking about people who are “obsessed” (and we mean this in a good way) with sustainability and eco-friendliness.

Greenery can brighten up spaces and add life to a room.  Window treatments tend to be minimal in Scandinavian interior design style and, more often than not, the plants are put on display so that all the available natural can shine in.

Scandinavia inspired artwork

13. Incorporating Artwork

Though colorful artwork is rarely used in Scandanavian interiors, it still features in graphic multiples. 

One way to go about this is to keep the space simple. The image below features a dining room with Scandinavian design. The furniture has been kept simple with midcentury chairs and a floating buffet.

The candles are the hallmark of hygge style, and they often come in simple brass candleholders.

Artwork arranged in multiples in Scandi dining room

13. Add a Pop of Color

Color is often used in bright hues or small bursts in Scandinavian interiors. The aim is to either provide contrast or provide a sharp burst of color. The home below is a good example of Scandinavian style with a dash of color.

It’s very different from the classic white Scandi style interiors and instead uses a blue and yellow color scheme to create a bright and vibrant space. The space screams energy and color.

Scandi style home with bright and vibrant color palette

Scandinavian style also depends on personal taste. Some might lean more towards colorful textiles from the likes of Marimekko in the 60s pop vein, while others might be more decorative Josef Frank from the 40s.

14. Mix Textures

The living room features simple, clean-lined furniture and muted gray tones that can easily give off being cold and inviting. However, the inclusion of photography and a cozy mix of textures like the kilim rug and the sheepskin create a welcoming and warm feel.

Scandinavian interior with a cozy mix of textures

Scandinavians enjoy playing with patterns. Don’t be afraid to go bold. You can incorporate patterns and design into wooden floors and drape fabrics. Let your creativity go wild. Its all about finding patterns that work.

scandinavian home decor

15. Learning The Art of Layer Bedding

When it comes to layering bedding, no one beats the Swedes and Danes. They are especially skilled at doing it in the most welcoming way. This tends to include a blend of linen sheets, wool blankets, and a small collection of accent pillows, often in muted tone on tone hues.

Lighting plays an essential role in Scandi bedrooms. The ceiling fixture and bedside lamp often make a modern statement in Scandinavian interior design.

Scandi styled bedroom with layed bedding
Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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