9 Decorating Secrets The Scandinavians Know (That You Don't)
Understatement of the century: Scandinavians know a thing or two about interior design. Their decorating style has been admired the world over for its functional and relaxed aesthetic since the turn of last century.
But while it might look effortless, recreating Scandi style is a lot harder to achieve than you might think. Its minimal without being stark, and cosy without being stifling. Getting the balance right comes down to these nine decorating secrets the Scandinavians have known for years.
Let's look to these forward-thinking Nordic countries––Norway, Denmark and Sweden––to lead our interior decorating decisions. And yes, it involves much more than shopping at IKEA.
1. A muted palette
When it comes to Scandinavian style, one of the most defining elements is the colour used––or lack thereof. A muted colour palette of neutrals––think greys, white and beige––work together to create a cohesive and calming space. That's not to say bold colours are forbidden, but they're to be used sparingly as decorative accents.
2. Play with texture
With such a neutral colour palette, texture is used to create interest in a Scandi home. While wood and metal are used for much of the furniture, these "hard" elements are offset by soft throws, blankets and cushions to create a cosy vibe.
3. Add some greenery
Plants add so much life and warmth to a space. Scandinavians like to bring the outside in, so don't be afraid to add more than one. Place a large-leafed green plant beside the couch, on your bedside table or even in the bathroom to feed energy into the space. Experiment with tall metal planters or sleek white pots to complete the Scandi style.
4. Get hygge with it
Hygge, a concept engrained in Danish culture, is dedicated to bringing comfort and cosiness to everyday life. When it comes to decorating a home, this means prioritising a cosy and warm environment. Try adding a woollen throw to the couch, adorning your bed with cushions, and lighting candles in your living room.
5. Clear the clutter
Scandinavian spaces are simple and functional. You won't find an overwhelming stack of magazines or shelves full of ornaments in a true Scandi home. Instead, they decorate with a "less is more" ethos, allowing the space to be visually relaxing. Yep, the minimal life was popular long before Marie Kondo came along.
6. Light wood
Wooden elements are used heavily throughout Scandi homes, from flooring to furniture legs and chairs, but the trick is keeping it very light. Avoid rich mahogany or teak, and instead opt for pale oak or white washed wood. This keeps the colour palette neutral throughout the whole space, yet still adds a slight touch of warmth.
7. Mood lighting
Some parts of Scandinavia only get seven hours of sunlight during the winter, so you can see why lighting is an important part of their decor. Sculptural pendant lights are a great investment if you're attempting to recreate the Scandinavian look, but you can just as simply add temporary lighting elements on a budget. Think long candlesticks in brass holders, or white fairy lights strung up along the walls to create a warm, inviting atmosphere.
8. Clean lines
Simple, clean lines define a Scandinavian space. From the furniture to the architecture and accessories, shapes that create contrast and interest are a mainstay. Try searching for sleek armchairs, round mirrors and graphic artworks to upgrade your space.
9. Furniture is art
While furniture's functionality is key, its form is just as important. Armchairs and couches take on an art-like element within Scandi homes, especially when you consider the work of iconic Danish furniture designer Hans Wegner or more contemporary Nordic brands like HAY.
Enjoyed this? Read the 11 Decorating Secrets the French Know (That You Don't).