Scandinavian interior design is growing in popularity every year. And this is no surprise! There is so much to love about this design philosophy. Whether it’s the simple design details, natural tones, and materials, or functionality, Scandinavian design is simple, cozy, and elegant. It possesses all the elements that make for a gorgeous, modern home.

But what does it take to create an authentic Scandinavian home? Today, we’re going to break down the core elements of this style of design and show how you can integrate them into your home.

The History of Scandinavian Design

At the core of Scandinavian design are a combination of three distinct features.

First, there is minimalism. Of course, there are various degrees of minimalism, which allows you to cater your interior to fit your needs. For example, while some folks may strive to go extremely minimal with their designs, others may opt for more details while still maintaining an overall uncluttered look.

Second, we have simplicity. In line with minimalism, Scandinavian design is all about simplicity. Complex, elaborate, or busy interior designs are the antithesis of Scandinavian design. Less is always more with this type of interior design. The less clutter, the better.

Third is functionality. Because even if an interior looks great, if it’s not livable, then what’s the point? Scandinavian design is known for its ability to merge style and functionality effortlessly.

Scandinavian design came about in the 1950s but continues to be extremely popular today. It is also considered to belong under the school of modernism, as it shares many characteristics with modern interior design.

What is Scandinavian Interior Design Style?

Scandinavian design is elegant and simple but not sparse. It’s cozy yet simultaneously airy. The style takes its cues from the surrounding nature and highlights natural materials like wood, stone, leather, and wool. It may be mostly white with hints of greenery on the windowsill or a fresh bouquet in the corner, but there’s a warmth and beauty to it. But all in all, it strives to create the perfect balance between comfort and minimalism.

Scandinavian design rose in popularity during the 1950s when mid-century modern design was in full force. After World War II, many people emigrated from Europe to America, including Bauhaus designers and architects who brought their functional but simple designs. The minimalist aesthetic and a clutter-free home were highly sought after, and Scandinavia was already way ahead of the game with that in their interior design style.

Puustelli Scandinavian Kitchen Cabinets

The Colors of Scandinavian Interior Design

Because this type of design can be flexible, you can play a little fast and loose with some of the principles. For example, there are plenty of different directions you can take your interior’s color scheme and still be in line with Scandinavian interior design.

That being said, neutral colors are often most associated with Scandinavian interior design. Hues of gray, brown, black, and white are all prevalent throughout many authentic Scandinavian homes. Some homeowners may love the idea of neutral colors throughout the home. But if you need a little more color in your life, add some rich, colorful details that really pop to liven up the interior. Shades of green and blue work especially well with a neutral interior.

Features of Scandinavian Interior Design

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Hygge is a significant part of Scandinavian design: it’s a Norwegian and Danish word for a cozy or comfortable mood. Basically, Hygge is whatever you interpret it to be, but it is often simply creating a warm, cozy, calm environment in your home. This might mean wearing cozy socks snuggled under a blanket near a fireplace in the winter or laying in bed reading a book with a lovely scented candle in your room. Simple Scandinavian design with neutral tones definitely encapsulates hygge and the feelings you get at home.

Other elements of Scandinavian design include the use of natural materials like wood, stone, and wool. There’s also a focus on clean lines with fewer embellishments or clutter that might take away from the space. Scandinavian design is a minimalist design aesthetic that seeks to establish a balance between style and function.

Here are some of the more broad features you should consider when working Scandinavian style into your home.

Simple Decor

As you may expect, simple decor is suggested to achieve the Scandinavian look. Often times you will find decor to feature natural materials, neutral colors, and occasionally a pop of color (typically blue or green). Once again, you can play around with this and use decor that is still in line with your style. 

Nature Inspired Decor

Incorporating natural elements is a huge part of Scandinavian decor and design, and it’s no wonder that you’ll find lots of inspiration for your home from the surrounding outdoors. For example, you might want to use wood as an accent color in your decor with shelves made out of tree branches or driftwood lamps on end tables or simply set fresh flowers on your dining table every Sunday.

Another way to bring the outdoors in is to have wall art featuring nature. Maybe an abstract painting of a lakeside or a simple line drawing of some pine trees. Maybe you love to hike: collect some pine cones and beautiful rocks to use as simple decor in your home. The options are endless, and you might find yourself seeing inspiration just about everywhere you look.

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Clean Spaces With Clever Storage

We’ve already mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: avoid the clutter within your interior. After all, we could probably all cut back on the amount of “stuff” we have. While you don’t have to go overboard with tossing some of your belongings, it’s not a bad idea to try and embrace the minimalist lifestyle as much as you’re comfortable doing. In fact, owning less stuff may equate to more happiness.

Wood Elements

Whether it’s wooden furniture like tables or cabinets—or any other furnishing for your interior—wooden elements are a must for a true Scandinavian home. Scandinavians are known for their love of the outdoors, and it shows in their interior designs.

Neutral Tones

One of the most significant elements of the Scandinavian style is neutral colors. There are not many bright or vibrant colors included in this style, but it’s more beiges, greens, oranges, browns—basically any color you could find in nature. This neutral color palette brings a feeling of peace and calm to the space and boosts your Hygge if you will. Black and white photography can also accent the space without going too wild with color but still accents against the neutral tones.

Scandinavian interior design

Plants and Flowers

In addition to wood, other natural features and elements should be included in your interior design layout. This includes plants and fresh flowers which will add a nice contrast to the neutral tones and liven up the space.

Natural Lighting

Natural light is such a huge part of Scandinavian design, as it helps create that sense of warmth that it is known for. So, while large windows are more of a structural design feature as opposed to interior design, any opportunity to include more natural light should be utilized.

Cozy Textiles

Want more Hygge? Try incorporating cozy, fuzzy textiles into the space and textiles found in nature like wool, mohair, or even faux fur. The cozier, the better! Textures are also important: think about woven fabrics on your couch or rug, earthy tones in the carpeting and upholstery, natural fibers like wool for cushions, or some worn leather for your comfy chair. Everything in the room has a texture that can be felt and touched, and it creates a very interesting and engaging space. Natural textiles allow you to immerse yourself in the space and create a very welcoming atmosphere.

scandinavian modern design

Simple Patterns

This might not be for everyone—some people love bright colors, and others prefer simplicity that’s calming and soothing, but you can’t deny how clean Scandinavian design looks in its use of white on white.  The design is so simple and clean in its use of patterns, but the pattern doesn’t distract from what’s important in the room.

Again, think of patterns you might find in nature, like horizontal lines symbolizing the knots of a tree, or horizontal lines like the horizon, or even wavy lines to signify a swaying prairie. You won’t want to include anything overly ornate in Scandinavian design: just keep it simple. In fact, a current trend is to embrace irregularities found in nature such as knots in wood. While this is used primarily in furniture and flooring, it further emphasises the core of Scandinavian design in nature. 

multiple textures mid-century modern

Statement Pieces

Just because this type of design remains very neutral and simple doesn’t mean you can’t inject some decorative pieces that stand out, like a large canvas print or statement lighting. In fact, statement lighting is crucial to Scandi style as it becomes such a focal point in every room.

Lighting is essential to any design style: it sets the mood for a room and makes spaces feel inviting. Scandinavian-inspired lighting might be clean lines with minimal embellishment that still look chic or a chandelier with a nod to Scandinavian design. A modern take on this style might be sleek pendant lighting or even a wicker hanging lamp that brings the outdoors in.

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How Can I Decorate My Home Using Scandinavian Elements?

If you want to decorate your home using the Scandinavian style, just remember these three things:

  • Use natural, organic textiles to create a cozy Nordic vibe.
  • Create warmth with light from Scandi-style lamps and fixtures that highlight the spaces while remaining simple in its design.
  • Go for neutral tones, textures like wool or wood accents, and geometric patterns inspired by nature.

If you want to get really serious about your interior design, here are a few tips to give your home a truly genuine Scandinavian interior.

Head to IKEA

IKEA started as a small Swedish furniture company but has since grown into the home goods conglomerate it is today. The IKEA style is affordable, comfortable, and perfectly captures the essence of Scandi design with its minimalist + functional elements.

You can find everything from Scandinavian furniture to home decor and pick up a coffee table, fluffy duvet, botanical prints, and Swedish meatballs all in one place. You can honestly get stuck in there for hours, but you can also furnish your space for just a couple hundred dollars if you do it right!

Plan for Form + Functionality

Form and function are some of the main components of Scandinavian interior design. You want your pieces to work well in the space but also act as functional pieces. For example, you might find bed frames with built-in drawers underneath, or box storage shelves that allow for storage bins, or act as a knick-knack shelf. Everything can be easily converted and used in multiple ways.

Lastly, one thing you’ll notice in Scandi design is the furniture is much smaller, which not only makes it easier to fit into smaller areas, but smaller pieces mean they open up your space, making it far more functional and open for use. So you won’t see a lot of bulky couches in IKEA, but you will see sofas that sit lower to the ground, and have smaller arms so that you can use every inch of the sofa and also give the illusion of taller walls because it’s taking up less space height-wise.

Organize, Organize, Organize

It can be tough to incorporate this style into your home if you have too much stuff. The essence of minimalist design is that there is little to no clutter. You will want to make sure you purge any unnecessary items and store the rest away. For example, a Scandinavian living room might have one or two things on a table instead of a huge sofa table filled with family photos and duel lamps. It’s just not the style. However, gallery walls and shelving can help alleviate table or floor clutter and instead raise up any of your tchotchkes and photos that are near and dear to you while hanging onto the minimalist aesthetic.

Puustelli modern black kitchen cabinets

The Best Way to Bring Scandinavian Style to Your Home

Scandinavian interior design is perfect for anyone who wants to simplify their lives, declutter, and create a space that feels like home. If you want to bring Scandi design into your kitchen or other parts of your home, Puustelli can do that for you! Our gorgeous kitchens were designed with form and function in mind and would be the perfect accent to your Scandinavian-inspired home. Check out our beautiful gallery for kitchen inspiration or contact us today to learn more!

For some further reading on Scandinavian design, check out these blogs:

Scandinavian Kitchens: Looks, Function, and Why They Aren’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon

Scandinavian Flooring Guide: What to Look For When Choosing

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