If you’re a D.I.Y hobbyist who thinks Scandinavian design begins and ends with IKEA, prepare to be educated. Yes, IKEA is Scandinavian, and yes, its products are emblematic of Scandinavian design, but there’s a whole lot more to Scandi style than flat-pack furnishing. From clean simple lines to raw, natural woods, from minimalistic furniture to neutral color schemes, Scandinavian design manages that rare feat of being able to combine both contemporary and rustic styles into one, elegant result. Capable of giving any room a sense of spaciousness and light, where better to start learning the basics of Scandi design than in that heart of the house, the living room?
Clean Cut Furnishings
Stereotypical Scandi men may be known for their rugged good looks and vast quantities of facial hair, but when it comes to their living rooms, they prefer to keep things clean-cut and smooth. Avoid anything overly fussy, ornate, or that’s been carved to within an inch of its life. Whether it’s a chair, a sofa, a table or a dresser, lines should be clean, simple and uncluttered. Keeps things sleek and slick, and you’ll be halfway to achieving the Scandi look already.
Clean, sleek, contemporary, minimal… given all the buzz words around Scandinavian design, you might be tempted to believe hair shirt wearers only need apply. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While the aesthetics of Scandi design might be minimalistic, the actual furnishings that go into creating the look are as comfortable as they are stylish, and as practical as they are minimal. A large, deep-seated sofa in a natural shade of leather will fulfill the stylistic demands of the look, while also given you somewhere eminently comfortable to snuggle into and relax. When it comes to introducing any piece of furniture into your living room, be careful to ensure it offers the full complement of function, beauty, and comfort. Scandi’s like to make their furniture work hard for its keep and will rarely clutter their homes with anything that either fails to serve a purpose or lets itself down in the looks department. Look for multi-functional pieces like a footstool that doubles- up as a storage unit, or a side table that manages to incorporate a handy shelving unit to stack books.
Scandinavian countries make the most of their natural resources. While Iceland may be barren, most of the other countries that make up the Scandi region (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland) are heavily forested… well, they are for now. Given the predilection of the country’s residents for wooden furniture, wooden accents, wooden blinds, wooden just about anything, they may not stay that way for long. Unless you’d rather hug a tree than turn it into furniture, try to incorporate some wooden flourishes into your living room. Scandi’s tend to prefer lighter, untreated woods that allow its natural beauty to shine through, but don’t shy away from introducing some darker wood furnishings into the mix either. A gorgeous wooden floor will reflect the natural light and give your living room a beautiful golden glow (although don’t feel afraid of overlaying it with a few rugs to add a warm, personal touch). As Recommended Tips notes, remember that you needn’t limit wooden touches to furniture- a large wooden surface top bowl will add a touch of the rustic to an otherwise contemporary space, while also providing a handy vessel for keys, fruit, loose change, or just about anything else you have hanging around.
A Neutral Color Palette
At the heart of Scandi design is a neutral color palette that encompasses shades of clean whites, foamy greens, dreamy blues, and soft dove greys. As Don Pedro + Home Design notes, grey is one of the most popular colors in the Scandanavian living room and can be seen on everything from walls to sofas to rugs. Such colors complement the Scandi love of keeping things bright, light and simple, while also providing the perfect neutral backdrop to introduce little pops of color to add your own distinct sense of personal style. Some bright sofa pillows in bold, primary colors will make a feature point of your seating arrangements, while a vibrant rug in a cheerful red and blue check (both of which are hugely popular colors in the Scandinavian home) will add just the right amount of statement color you need.
A Love of Patterns
Scandi’s love a good pattern. Traditional Scandinavian patterns tend to be based on a checkered, striped or chevron design, but contemporary geometric or abstract patterns also fit well into the concept. To add a touch of Scandi flair into your living room, consider a checkered pattern on a sofa pillow, a chevron rug, or a bold black and white geometric throw. Patterns can also be incorporated into furniture; a patterned sofa might be too much for some, but don’t overlook the impact a patterned easy chair can make, especially if the rest of the room is kept relatively plain and simple. Remember, however, that a minimalistic style is still crucial to achieving that true Scandi feel: avoid adding too many patterns in one space, and instead carefully choose just one or two, and make these the focal point of the room.
Scandi’s love to bring a touch of the outdoors indoors, and what adds a sense of nature more than a few plants? You don’t need to recreate the jungle, but a few larger plants with interesting foliage will go a long way to adding a touch of Scandi style. As well as adding a natural focal point to your living room, a few leafy greens will add a decorative touch that can sometimes be lacking in the otherwise simple Scandi living room. Scandi’s prefer to keep decorations minimal (you’ll rarely see display cases filled to bursting with ornaments and fripperies as you sometimes will in other interiors). Plants (or even a flowering single branch in a plain glass vase) will allow you to add a personal touch without losing the overall theme.