Scandinavian interior design can be defined as a minimalist and functional aesthetic that has been influential since the mid 20th century.
According to Domain, “the style emerged in the 1950s as part of a modern movement in Nordic design (i.e. Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway) that prioritised function and affordability over preciousness and luxury.
“Marked by pale colours, natural materials and lean, leggy furniture, the aesthetic was largely a response to the region’s short days and long winters, which called for bright, practical interiors.”
Scandinavian interior design has had a resurgence in popularity in recent years, and its light and airy appeal resonates strongly in Australian homes.
What is hygge?
Pronounced ‘hoo-gah’, hygge is a Danish term that roughly translates as cosiness. According to Home Beautiful, “it’s the recognition and treasuring of the simple moments in life, enjoying togetherness with the people who matter”.
In interior design, you can achieve the look by surrounding yourself with soft fabrics, natural materials and handcrafted objects.
What is lagom?
Lagom is a Swedish word that’s means just enough. It reflects the moderation that defines the Scandinavian aesthetic: not too much, not too little: just right.
In interior design, it means eschewing clutter for clean lines, functional décor and a neutral colour palette.
“Having a home with as much natural light as possible was imperative,” said Elisabeth Carlsson, author of The Lagom Life.
Love the Scandinavian look? Here’s how to get it
“Start with simple and sturdy furniture pieces, as these will stand the test of time in terms of wear and tear and style,” Danni Tan of Scandi store The Design Edit told Home Beautiful.
“Sometimes we are tempted to jump straight to a statement piece because it catches our eye, but my advice is to start off with a few large pieces in simple designs to give your styling more versatility.”
Think natural fabrics with loose-weave textures such as linen and cotton.
“Scandi style can [also] be heavy on furs and chunky woven textures,” stylist Sarah Ellison told Home Beautiful.
Modernist Scandinavian designs favoured timbers in teak, rosewood, birch and ash, but birch, maple, light oak and pine are popular today.
Scandinavian homes are designed so that they allow as much natural light into the space as possible, taking advantage of limited daylight hours. Neutral and calm colours dominate the colour palette.
According to Dulux colour expert Andrea Lucena-Orr, “think clean hues: soft whites, neutral pinks, soft amber, darker blue (almost charcoal), soft icy blues, dark greens, pale putty and moss colours”.
Get the look on a budget
It’s easy to decorate your home in Scandinavian style. Make a beeline for stores like Kmart and Ikea for affordable furnishings with clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic. For an authentic look, add some vintage pieces to the mix. Scour sites like eBay and Gumtree for second-hand mid-century modern pieces, like chairs and coffee tables. Look for lamps and pendants that diffuse light for a soft look – or use candles instead.