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.
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Scandi Style and Light
Natural daylight is a rare commodity for Scandinavians during the long winter months. 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. Therefore 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.
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.
You should 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 will have a much nicer space.
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. these can be either soft duck egg blues, gentle grey greens or pale neutral greys. You can also introduce colour with natural timber.
Related: Let me show you how to use Beautiful Duck Egg Blue
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. Therefore, to be on the safe side, I recommend a neutral grey for interiors unless you are sure about the colour.
Dulux Grey Reflection 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.
Don't despair though if you love colour! Any strong accent colour can be used in artworks and accessories. However, to ensure that natural light is reflected as much as possible, the main colour palette needs to be a white of some description. This will apply to the flooring as well as the walls and ceilings while floorboards are often white-washed or in very pale timbers to create even more light.
Light tones can be partnered with darker walnut furniture and these chairs work well for the look as they have a white seat.
To ensure that you create some definition to this look, the neutral tone of 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
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.
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 also a great opportunity to introduce some soft greys into the colour palette.
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. The best part is you can see how they look in your home and return them for free if they are not right. They have a great Scandi range too. Click Here
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. 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
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.
Unnecessary decorative elements are not used for this style but good workmanship is important. Therefore it is the beauty and integrity of a piece that is important. Accessories should be simple, authentic and well made.
Furniture should be beautifully made but simple in design without unnecessary embellishment. R J Living's furniture suits this style well.
Keeping things simple 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. It is for this reason that these retro pieces (above and below) are still as important to the look as they were 70 years ago.
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.
To recreate Scandi style
Therefore, 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.
I have curated mood boards for your bedroom, living and dining rooms of furniture and accessories for a Scandi Style. These items are ready to buy now from suppliers in Australia. Click on the image below to take you through to my Shop the Style page.
You should always start any decorating project with a mood board. Find out how to put one together with my FREE e-book which can be downloaded here from my FREE Resource Library.
If you still need assistance, I offer an e-consultation service to help you with your decorating project, renovation or new build. From answering one key question that is troubling you to putting together a full colour scheme, I have a package to suit you. Or I can tailor something especially for you. Find out more here.
10 thoughts on “5 key elements of Scandi Style”
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.
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
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.
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
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!
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
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 !
Hi Michele I think you need to opt for a white that has a touch of grey – this still gives you the Scandi look but stands up to a bit more rough treatment! Samantha
Love your section. I am about to restyled my interior. My main pieces of furniture I am wanting to build around are a dark blue velvet arm chair, travertine dining table with taupe leather chairs, white polished porcelain tiles. Now to obtain the scandi look wha would change include add. I’m thinking also of going to a grey paint at the moment it is fair Bianca.
Hi Dianne By the sounds of it a feature dark blue velvet chair and the leather dining chairs should work but the travertine dining table doesn’t suit the Scandi look. You need something very simple, probably in a timber to look right. The mid-century modern pieces of furniture work well with this look. A soft pale grey will work on the walls but just check that there isn’t any underlying colour in your porcelain tiles that will clash. Hope this helps Samantha