What Is Scandinavian Design And How To Use It In Styling Your Home


When it comes to designing your home, the interior style should be an extension of your desired lifestyle. Those who enjoy peaceful areas that fit social gatherings may find the Scandinavian aesthetic perfect for their space. But what exactly is Scandinavian interior design?

As a movement, Scandinavian design is characterized by simplicity, minimalism, sustainability, and functionality without sacrificing beauty. The main focus is on simple lines, natural materials, and the lack of clutter, which has already become a trademark of Scandinavian home decor.

All these features come from the Scandinavian lifestyle, influenced mainly by nature: its landscapes, cold winters, and natural materials. Scandinavian house design is known for its grass roofs, one more natural though original feature of the northern region. 

What is the Origin of Scandinavian Interior Design?

Commonly, the Scandinavian design originated in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. However, Scandinavia is often referred to more narrowly as the Scandinavian Peninsula, which excludes Denmark but includes northern Finland. 

Meanwhile, Nordic countries include the sovereign states of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, along with Greenland and the autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands and Åland. 

According to Scandinavian Design: Alternative Histories, Scandinavian and Nordic design have a similar nature: “Thus, in a historical geopolitical perspective, the divide between the Nordic and the Scandinavian isn’t all clear-cut, and these countries’ common history has resulted in a significant cultural unity…”

Hence, in English, ‘Scandinavian’ is often used as a synonym for ‘Nordic’ design. Speaking of history, the interior design style first emerged in the early 20th century, when it flourished in the 1950s, around the same time modern style took hold in America and Europe. 

It originated as a contemporary design influenced by the German Bauhaus School. The designers incorporated industrial technologies into simple household objects, making them functional. After the Second World War, Scandinavian design gained worldwide recognition. Over the years, it has remained one of the most popular interior design styles.

Why is Scandinavian Design so Popular?

According to the independent researcher Rikke Jacobsen’s publication Scandinavian Design: Where does the Myth come from?, after the Second World War, Scandinavian design gained fame through cultural exhibitions, commercial trade shows, and publications. This exposure helped the style spread to North America, Canada, Britain, France, and Italy.

Back in the day, Scandinavian design gained worldwide recognition due to its simplicity, functionality, democracy, quality, and stunning style. It remains popular today because of its timeless appeal, utilization of natural materials, finely crafted details, and a fundamentally human appeal that resonates with many.

What Are the Main Elements of Scandinavian Style?

Now that we have taken a quick look at the background of Scandinavian design, it’s time to move on to its practical aspects. Before starting to style your home, you should know the main elements of Nordic design. Here are some of them:

  • Minimalist aesthetic
  • Decluttered space
  • Multifunctional and flexible designs
  • Light, neutral colors
  • Muted, dark hues
  • Airy spaces filled with light
  • Wood flooring and furniture
  • Plush sofas and natural textiles
  • Metal accents
  • Decorative, statement pendant lights
  • Artworks and gallery walls
  • Hanging plants and lush greenery

While making decisions on your home design, use this list as a quick handbook that accommodates the main principles. Last but not least, how do you put them into play? Let’s go through some ideas on how to style various spaces in Scandinavian style.

How to Design a Scandinavian Living Room?

Scandinavian home decor centers around the living room, where people gather, relax, and enjoy their time together. To achieve this, start by decluttering the space, as it’s one of the basic principles of Nordic design. After that, you can follow the next steps to create a stunning Scandinavian living room.

Use a Textured Rug

A textured rug adds coziness and defines the living area in an open-plan space. If you seek to complement the airy aesthetic of the Nordic style, opt for neutral colors, such as beige, greige, or gray.

Opt for Scandinavian Style Furniture 

One of the most effective ways to add style to your living room is by furnishing it with typical Scandinavian furniture with clean, organic forms. Opt for light, natural materials such as wood, leather, and wool.

Opt for a Scandinavian Coffee Table

Maximize space, create interest, and display favorite items on classic Scandinavian stackable coffee tables. This multifunctional design enhances your living room’s Nordic style. 

Make a Statement With a Floor Lamp


A statement floor lamp can be a great way to add personality and drama to a neutral Scandi-style living room. You can use a floor lamp with a bold shape and metal accents to contrast or complement the rest of the decor.

Decorate With Muted Blue Accents

Cool colors like muted navy blue can contrast the lighter hues of natural materials, such as wood, leather, and wool, often used in Nordic living rooms. Paint brands like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams have both chosen blue as their color of the year for 2024.

Create a Focal Point with a Gallery Wall

Add some personality to the subtle Nordic aesthetic by creating a focal point. Do so by choosing artworks with a neutral color palette and arranging them in a balanced and symmetrical gallery wall.

How to Design a Scandinavian Kitchen?

What is a Scandinavian kitchen design if simplicity, functionality, and durability reflect the Northern culture? This kitchen design is styled to be airy and bright, emphasizing natural materials and incorporating the latest kitchen trends to create a seamless connection between indoors and outdoors. Follow the steps below to find inspiration and successfully transform your kitchen.

Install Smart Organizers

In every Scandi-like kitchen, you’ll find smart organizers known for their functionality and clutter-free design. For a stylish and efficient storage solution, opt for hooks to hold your kitchen tools.

Choose Light Color Cabinets

Cabinets in light colors are a common feature of Scandinavian kitchen design. Beige or white kitchen cabinets create a bright and airy space, reflecting natural light and complementing the wood tones and neutral palette.

Conversely, Go for Dark-colored Cabinets

Dark kitchen cabinets, particularly black ones, create a striking contrast and add sophistication to the kitchen. Black became a part of Scandi’s interior design in the late 20th century with the influence of industrial elements like metal, concrete, and leather.

Opt for a Wooden Dining Table with Comfy Chairs

A natural wood dining table with comfortable, high-quality chairs is integral to the Scandinavian interior. A spacious dining table reflects the importance of family and social gatherings, which perfectly describes the Danish hygge lifestyle.

Opt for a Scandinavian Pendant Lamp

Every Scandinavian kitchen needs minimalist Nordic-style pendant lights for a homely atmosphere and diffused light. They also add a touch of elegant and luxurious aesthetic.

RELATED: 42 Kitchen Light Fixtures to Brighten Up Your Space

Add Functionality With a Wall Clock 

A minimalistic wall clock can enhance the design of a Scandinavian kitchen by adding functionality, with the option to match the clock to the kitchen’s color scheme.

How to Design a Scandinavian Bedroom? 

A Scandinavian-style bedroom is characterized by its serene color scheme and incorporation of natural elements. The focus goes on using top-quality materials, expert craftsmanship, and paying close attention to every detail. It’s an ideal choice for those looking for timeless bedroom decor that can be enjoyed for years. So, how can you design a Scandinavian-inspired bedroom by yourself?

Transform Your Bed With Soft Bedding

Natural, soft bedding is a key element of any bedroom, as light and airy textures create a welcoming atmosphere. Choose bedding in neutral or pastel colors. Layer it with pillows and throws in natural fabrics, such as linen, cotton, or wool.

Get a Wooden Chest of Drawers

As the uncluttered space is the main feature of the Scandi style, use a wooden chest of drawers to store your belongings. Reflect your taste by displaying decorative items like plants, lights, books, or vases on top of it.

Add a Unique Lamp to Your Nightstand

A minimalist nightstand is the preferred choice for the Scandi bedroom. Add some pizzazz to it by placing a modern table lamp on top of it. The contrast between the sleek Nordic lines and the lamp’s organic form creates a stunning visual effect.

Add a Plush Rug 

A plush rug is a key element in creating a soft atmosphere, especially matched with a neutral, natural color palette. You’ll love stepping on it in the morning during the cold winter months. 

Decorate in Neutral Colors

Neutral colors are an essential Scandinavian design feature that plays a crucial role in bedroom decor. For a Scandi look, opt for functional home decor pieces like woven laundry baskets in beige or white hues.

Hang Some Calming Art

Abstract art can create a soothing and relaxing mood in a bedroom, complementing the Nordic style. Whether you choose soft shapes or geometric patterns, hang it on the wall above your bed, dresser, or nightstand.

How to Design a Scandinavian Bathroom?

A Scandi-like bathroom is all about mixing and matching different textures and colors. You can mix natural and artificial materials, as well as cool and warm colors, in the same space. Wondering what to choose while styling your bathroom? We have you covered, from Scandinavian design furniture to decor.

Choose Subway Tiles

Consider using white subway tiles to achieve a clean and bright look in the bathroom. These tiles are easy to maintain and match, making them popular in Scandinavian interior design.

Choose Wooden Vanity

A floating wooden vanity provides a striking contrast against the sandy hues and sleek fixtures typical of the Nordic style. This vanity design is aesthetically pleasing and practical, making it a perfect addition to a Scandi-inspired bathroom.

Install Open Shelving

Scandinavian bathrooms frequently feature open shelves that preserve the clean, minimalistic look and offer additional storage for essential and decorative items, such as plants or artwork.

Choose Smart Storage Solutions

As the Nordic design is uncluttered, smart storage solutions help keep the space tidy and organized while maintaining the minimalist and functional design. 

Opt for Plush Towels

Comfortable and warm plush towels are a must-have in the winter season. Apart from that, you can neatly display them on open shelves, hooks, or baskets to create an inviting and clean space.

Light up Scented Candles

Scented candles are a lovely way to add some aroma and ambiance to a bathroom. Choose natural fragrances like pine, birch, mints, berries, or warming cinnamon to infuse Scandinavian landscapes into your bathroom.

Questions About Scandinavian Design, Answered (FAQ)

Suppose you find the Scandinavian style’s practical aspects challenging, or there’s something you feel uncertain about. In that case, we’re here to assist you and address your most frequent questions.

Are Scandinavian Designs Good Quality?

Scandinavian designs are known for being both well-made and stylish. Typically, they use high-quality materials like solid wood and natural fabrics, focusing on good construction, durability, and functionality. Scandinavian sofas, accent chairs, and various storage solutions are the most well-known. 

Are Scandinavian Designs Expensive?

Scandinavian decor and furniture are generally more expensive than other styles. However, Scandinavian design isn’t only about aesthetics but also about functionality and durability, which can make it a worthwhile investment for some customers. The price also depends on the brand, the design, and the availability of the products. 

Is IKEA a Scandinavian Design?

Yes, IKEA is a Scandinavian design brand that originated in Sweden. IKEA is the most famous and affordable Scandinavian design store in the world, offering a wide range of furniture, decor, and accessories. From kitchen systems to smart storage solutions—IKEA has designed every home object.


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