5 key elements of Scandi Style

In the global world of interiors, the hot trend of the moment has to be Scandi Style.  Whether we are talking about country style Gustavian  interiors from Sweden, the Scandinavian mid century classic designs of the Modernist movement or the Danish passion for Hygge, we can't seem to get enough of it.

In this post I am going to concentrate on Scandi style in general and look at the different Scandinavian styles in detail in later posts.  For now, here are my 5 key elements for you to consider if you are looking to re-create this style in your home.

Some of the links in my posts are affiliate ones which means I may get a small commission if you click through and purchase something.  This helps me to keep my blog up and running and in no way is an additional cost to you.

5 key elements of Scandi Style
Image – Entrancemakleri.se

Scandi Style and Light

Natural daylight is a rare commodity for Scandinavians during the long winter months and even during the summer the light is softer and greyer than the bright sunlight that we are used to in Australia.

Northern light is quite different and therefore homes in Scandinavia are designed to let in as much natural light as possible and to trap it there. So rather than using paint colours, flooring and furnishings that will absorb light, every element in an interior scheme is carefully curated to ensure that natural light bounces around the room.

5 key elements of Scandi style
Image – Scandia Maklarna

As so much of the year is spent without a large degree of natural light it is also important to pay attention to artificial lighting for a Scandi scheme.  By the way, I believe this is true for any decorating scheme and often an element in interiors that is generally overlooked.

Consider using lots of different types of lighting.

Use a range of dimmable LED downlights with wall lights for mood lighting, floor and table lamps for ambience and good quality task lighting for study and reading.  You won't use them all at once, but each play a crucial role at some point. Remember that a layered lighting scheme is always preferable to a single source.

Related: How to choose table lamps

Just think about the feel of a room with one single overhead light.  It's pretty grim.  Then consider also using a dimmer switch and wall and table lamps and you have a much nicer space.

5 key elements of Scandi Style
My Scandinavian Home

Colour Palette for a Scandi Style

Bearing in mind the need for light, a colour palette therefore in a Scandi scheme is generally white, with a touch of white and a splash of white to complete the look!  Seriously, this is true to an extent but you can also use gently greyed down colours, either soft duck egg blues, gentle grey greens or pale neutral greys.  You also introduce colour with natural timber.

Related: Let me show you how to use Beautiful Duck Egg Blue

5 key elements of Scandi Style
Image: My Scandinavian Home

If introducing a grey on the walls, opt for one that is very light and offset by a crisp white trim with white and light timber accessories.

Remember that all greys have an underlying colour so ensure that you select one that works with the rest of the colour palette.  To be on the safe side I recommend a neutral grey for interiors unless you are sure about the colour.

Dulux Lyttleton Quarter is a good go-to soft interior grey colour.

Related: How to find the right neutral grey

I have put together a Scandi colour palette to demonstrate these ideas.

Scandi Style - My 5 tops tips

Don't despair though if you love colour!  Any strong accent colour can be used in artworks and accessories but generally to ensure that natural light is reflected as much as possible, the main colour palette needs to be a white of some description.  This applies to the flooring as well as the walls and ceilings and floorboards are often white-washed or in very pale timbers to create even more light.

5 key elements of Scandi Style

To ensure that you create some definition to this look, the neutral black is your friend here.  Black framed artworks look terrific on crisp white walls and really help to define the space while the introduction of some darker neutral greys in upholstery add another dimension.

An all white palette can be tricky to pull off as it can appear very sterile and lacking in personality.  You might like to read my article on the mistakes to avoid when selecting white, to help you make the right decision:

Related: 5 mistakes to avoid when selecting white

5 key elements of Scandi Style
Image – Entrancemakleri.se

Natural finishes for Scandi Style

When you are working with a very simple light colour palette, you really need to incorporate as many natural finishes as possible.  Scandi style is all about layers.  Any neutral scheme needs definition and this can be introduced with varying textures.

5 key elements of Scandi Style
Image – Fantastic Frank

Scandinavians rarely install wall to wall carpets, preferring to work with either natural stone or timber for their flooring and employing the use of lots of rugs.  Natural fibres like Hemp, Sisal and Wool in soft neutral colours are an important element of this look.  This is a great opportunity to introduce some soft greys into the colour palette.

5 key elements of Scandi Style
Image: Miss Amara

My recent post on how to choose the right rug for your space could be useful for you to read here:

Related: How to select the right rug

Miss Amara has made choosing rugs easy as they have styling advice and the best part is you can see how they look in your home and return them free if they are not right.  They have a great Scandi range too. Click Here

5 key elements of Scandi Style
My Scandinavian Home

Layers are important too for accessories. 

Introduce cable knit woolen throws, soft cashmere blankets and warm fluffy cushions when accessorising beds and sofas in a Scandi style.

The Danes have made Hygge a global phenomenon and as soon as the weather cools and winter approaches the essence of Hygge and the importance of these accessory pieces come into their own.

Related: How to Hygge

5 key elements of Scandi style
Image – Decordots


The appeal of Scandi style too is that the look is free from clutter. 

Scandinavians don't over-decorate.   Rather they stick to the decorator's motto of ‘assess a finished room and then take one thing away'.  Clean lines and simple joinery are important for this look.

Scandi Style - 5 steps to achieve this
Image: Zanui

Unnecessary decorative elements are not used for this style but good workmanship is important with the beauty and integrity of a piece lying in its simplicity and how well it was made.

5 key elements of Scandi Style
Image: The Design Chaser

This doesn't mean that Scandi style decorating is boring as the appeal is in the pared back beauty of a piece.  The Modernist movement of the mid twentieth century believed in form following function which is an inherent part of Scandinavian style. These retro pieces are still as important to the look as they were 70 years ago.

5 key elements of Scandi Style

Statement pieces

With such a simple colour palette and crisp clean lines, Scandinavians really value and understand the importance of a statement piece of furniture.

Rather than having lots of chairs and sofas crammed into a room, careful consideration is given to a couple of beautiful items.  It is typical for an entire month's salary to be spent on an iconic armchair which will take centre stage in a room.  Take this stunning egg chair by Arne Jacobsen as a perfect example and the Hans Wegner Wishbone chair in the dining setting above.

5 key elements of Scandi style
Desire to Inspire

5 key elements of Scandi Style

To recreate Scandi style

So to recreate Scandi style for your home, remember the mantra of light, white, texture, natural finishes and simplicity and you can start to get a feel of how to successfully incorporate this look. 

Do you love Scandi style?  Let me know how you have used this in your decorating schemes – I would love to hear from you in the comments section below with any questions you may have:

5 key elements of Scandi Style



8 thoughts on “5 key elements of Scandi Style

  1. Avatar
    Caren says:

    Will a blue base counter clash with Scandi Style?
    In another email I hinted at this as I love both the Blue base island and the scandi style. Would white and soapstone work better than Navy- gray and marble?
    I am afraid I might be susceptible to style drift.

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Caren I think you may be a little susceptible to style drift! Blue kitchens do traditionally suit more of a classic style so these kitchens work particularly well for a Hamptons style, modern farmhouse or English country style look. I tend to associate Scandi style with whites and greys etc. However I think you should take a step back – assess the style of home you have, your current furniture and/or items that you would like to buy. Even make a mood board of everything you have to see where your thinking really lies. Perhaps even put together a mood board of everything you love and see which style grabs your heart. Sometimes when you are decorating you can get too involved and then go around in circles. So go back to some original inspiration and build from there and see where it takes you. Both are gorgeous styles and remember the home is yours and has to be what you love – not how you think it should necessarily represent a specific style! Samantha

  2. Avatar
    Carl Eriksen says:

    In my soon to be newly renovated house, I am looking for the clean Scandinavia look. The upper kitchen cabinets will be white . The lower cabinets will be a strong gray. Question : should the island be grey or white ? I am leaning toward white.

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Carl to achieve a clean crisp Scandinavian look I would recommend limiting the use of the grey to the lower cabinetry so I think you are on the right track. Good luck with the renovation. Samantha

  3. Avatar
    Megan says:

    Hi Samantha. I absolutely love the Scandinavian style. We live in a mountain environment, not unlike Norway, and of course our house has natural wood trim (as did all the houses here when we bought it 12 years ago!!). Do you have any advice on how to incorporate / get the Scandi look while keeping the natural alder trim? The wood and architectural elements are beautiful and it’s just too expensive to paint all the trim white. Floors are a light cherry so same tone as natural alder trim. The walls are painted linen white and we have tons of windows that bring nature and light inside, just need some help with the type of furnishings. I can’t find any inspiration online that shows this kind of clean, Scandi look with natural trim. Thoughts? Thank you!

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Megan I agree – I wouldn’t paint this timber as you could never get it back once the styles change. The key is to ensure everything else is light and white – walls, rugs, sofas etc. White washable covers for sofas are a good idea for this look or a very pale linen. With any white scheme you need to also have texture so look for rugs that are textured either in an off white or for more durability a light coloured sisal. White blinds or white flowing linen drapes work well. It is all these elements that will conjure up the right look but keep the timber that works so well in your mountain location. Happy shopping! Samantha

  4. Avatar
    Michele says:

    We have a modern pre-fab cabin with white white walls and black windows. open concept kitchen, dining and living room. It’s on a ranch. How can I do the Scandi look but also be mindful that this
    is a dusty ranch environment? Kitchen cabinets are black on the bottom, white counter, and open-
    shelves on the top. Floors are a light wood (not yellow) . And mostly glass on 2 sides with a black
    swedish wood stove . Very stark but I love it! And as much as I love white (cannot get enough of it)
    I’m afraid the cowboy treatment will turn it dirty in a heartbeat.
    Thank you so much !

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