Sumptuous coolness, pared down and refined luxury and comfort, icy colors with perfectly placed greens, reds, or blues–this is the stuff of well-made Scandinavian design. A style that began in the 1950s in the Nordic countries of Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway, Scandinavian design features elegance and rustic beauty. The three primary aspects of this crisp and comfortable design are functionality, minimalism, and a cultivated sense of warmth.
Take delight in some of the exceptional rooms, places, popular design features, furnishings, colors, objects, and motifs this style has to offer. And please, let us introduce you to some of the game changers in the international popularity of this aesthetic!
The Snowy Palace
This Gothenburg home is one of my favorites. Just by looking at the images, you instantly know that whoever arranged each room did so quietly and contemplatively, an exercise of zen. There is a melodious grace to every space.
Emptiness is like a pause in a piece of music or a raw canvas in an otherwise painterly picture.
I have outlined the four primary elements of Nordic style below. Take a look!
Element 1. Palettes and Colors
Gray, white, and black are the go-to neutrals in Scandinavian design. Many homes incorporate a rich infusion of color, including plants, wood details like flooring or ceiling timbers, folk art details and contemporary fabrics and design elements.
White is a staple: white linens, white walls, white painted floor boards, and even natural sheepskin throws. This white is punctuated by rustic elements such as farm-house tables, re-used timber, and simple lighting fixtures. New streamlined marble top counters are combined with old wood burning stoves and contemporary art and ceramics.
Take a look a these well-placed pops of color: a boldly colored chair in an otherwise white or monochromatic kitchen, and a combination of old-fashioned embroidered tea towels with a mid-century modernist style bench or geometric textile add warmth and beauty to these rooms.
Easy to keep up and family focused, this style is diverse, modern, and au courant. It is also intrinsically connected to a “less is more” outlook.
Element 2. Kitchens
The kitchen is the center of the Nordic home. In these kitchens, high modern design meets a country like comfort.
While many gorgeous white Scandinavian kitchens have achieved celebrity status in decorating magazines and online, everyday Nordic kitchens are equally swoon worthy. These lived-in kitchens feature wood, stone, and metal accentuated with a farmhouse table and a collection of Charles and Ray Eames chairs.
The Scandinavian kitchen is also about modest materials and an eclectic gathering of items. Much can be said about doing something with what you have. In the kitchen pictured above a truly eclectic collection of items, styles, and textures are brought together in a tableaux of remarkable prettiness.
Element 3. Family Living Space
From the super minimalist faded colors and textures that recall the time-worn surfaces of the Japanese aesthetic wabi sabi, to the folk-art-infused old sitting rooms full of white paint, old calicoes, and Eames chairs, there is much diversity in Scandinavian living rooms.
Of course, one common element is perhaps one iconic modernist chair–connected to the outlook that defined mid-century modernism in Scandinavia and America in the 20th century. Chairs are more than a place to sit, they are a place to be, to read, to enjoy company, and to feel comfortable. And they also look beautiful!
As for me, I have a special place in my heart for one particular Scandinavian chair–the Fåtölj designed by Hans J. Wegner. Wegner was one of the most influential designers of the Danish Modern movement. This gorgeous design is ultra contemporary with a natural twist, and it is related to the artist’s classic wishbone chairs.
Other iconic furnishings include Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair also pictured above.
Such chairs, whether leather, molded plastic, or wood, are invariably draped with a warm cozy blanket in Scandinavian homes. There is an emphasis on tidiness in these homes and much is put away neatly, but there always seems to be a lovely woolen blanket or sheepskin throw handy to warm up with.
Nearly every room of a Scandinavian home has an unexpected work of art, esoteric craft, or rustic item.
Element 4. Scandinavian Style Kid’s Bedrooms
Spare, yet full of joy, nature, and color, Scandinavian style kid’s bedrooms are minimalist yet whimsical. Many feature Montessori-like, low beds, and child-friendly and accessible storage.
Play areas also take on a central facet of these rooms, with a great deal of emphasis placed on imaginary play. Animals are a key decorative element and a nod to children’s affinity for other beings.
A Special Thanks…
Sara Landstedt is my favorite photographer whose focus on Scandinavian aesthetic allows us an intimate view into the details of Nordic style. In addition to the images featured in today’s post, please take a look at her gorgeous work.
Also, I want to give a special thanks to the wonderful blogger Niki who introduced me to the Gothenburg apartment and for her fabulous style blog. Her curated selections are a sensation worldwide, and she has done much to spread the word about Nordic interior decor, DIY, seasonal customs and traditions, and more.