Living in Finland for a year had me obsessing over the simplicity and clean lines of Scandinavian interiors, along with furs aplenty for a harmonious and cosy living space. Boy, do they do it right.
With sub zero temperatures and dark winters an absolute given during the winter in all of the Scandinavian countries, interiors needs to be cosy yet highly practical to cope with the demands of winter and the gear that comes with it.
Scandinavian interior design can also be referred to as Nordic interior design. They share many similarities and it’s a key interior trend that is seen throughout these countries and largely adopted across the world for its sheer simplicity and minimalism.
What Is Nordic Interior Design?
Nordic interior design is characterised by simple designs and a neutral color scheme. Lots of textures and soft, light colors and white walls are used to create a cosy, yet calm interior.
It prioritises functionality in a space, whilst incorporating simple lines, simple furnishings and natural elements for an uncluttered and cosy space. It combines that need for a minimal, yet cosy space, the one thing that makes Nordic interior design so popular.
When choosing furniture, there is a big emphasis on well-made pieces that are highly functional within a space, first and foremost they must serve their function, Scandi design gets this right, with many well known Nordic designers such as Alvar Aalto and Ercol creating timeless pieces, whilst also being aesthetically pleasing too.
Scandinavian interior design ideas also always centre on utilising natural light and large windows in Scandinavian homes, this is more a necessity than anything else during the very long winters they experience. This works perfectly with the tell tale neutral color palette for a light and airy look.
Across Scandinavia, there is a lot of apartment living so this interior design trend is able to adapt and work perfectly for smaller spaces too. Emphasising functionality in the space, whilst keeping it minimal.
13 Ways To Nail Nordic Interior Design In Your Home
There are so many interior design trends circulating, past and present, yet Nordic style is one that you could probably easily imagine in your head.
From the soft, white furs, neutral palette, wooden furniture, straight lines, airy spaces and intentional pops of color. Here are some Nordic interior design ideas you can create in your own home.
The colour palette is an important one for Nordic design.
It focuses on a neutral colour palette such as muted tones of taupe, ivory, and sage. However, it is not unusual to contrast with bright colors used as an accent in the space, and the use of natural materials for a functional look.
This Airbnbin Tampere (where I used to live) is Scandinavian home design goals. They have nailed the contrast in colours, yet the small apartment is highly functional, making use of every corner they have whilst still looking spacious, and minimal.
You also get an appreciation of that natural world outside, and bringing that inside with large windows is a huge part of Nordic interior design.
2. Cosy Textures
Perhaps, the pull of Nordic design itself is the cosy, ‘hygge‘ esque home we’ve all seen, pinned and loved on Pinterest. Where the design uses lots of neutral colors, warmth and contrast needs to be introduced with texture such as natural textures, wood furniture and warm wood tones to create a balanced look.
Key ways to incorporate texture are through area rugs, throws, cushions and of course, those faux fur throws for benches, seats and sofas.
In Nordic homes it’s very acceptable to use real reindeer hide and sheepskin throws as they provide unparalleled warmth from the harsh, Scandic winters.
3. Less, Is Less
When it comes to decorative accessories, less really is less.
Decorative accessories are carefully picked in Nordic interiors, but are minimally placed.
Simple candles, small vases with clean lines, strategically placed books and ornaments are a great way to start using the Scandinavian interior design style in your home.
The pursuit to a Nordic interior is a much easier one than other trends. Scandinavian interior design principles are simple and effective when followed, plus, there’s less you need to buy for one too!
4. Structural Furniture
Well shaped furniture with clean lines forms focal points in a Nordic room.
The dining room is a pivotal part of a Nordic home, one that is enjoyed for leisurely breakfasts, family and relaxing.
In a dining room that has muted tones, contrasting with a dark, or wooden dining table makes a dramatic statement. Pair with wishbone chairs for that tell tale Scandinavian look. The clean lines on these chairs are modern and promote good design, whilst they’re functional items for a highly used space.
5. Think Functionality
Nordic design leads with function, then aesthetics. Where minimalism is key, you need to let the purpose and role of the room lead with the design choices. Think function for each room and what you need, then don’t do anymore than that.
In this Scandinavian house they have the key pieces of furniture, and have added shelving with practical, clean lines for some minimal accessories. And, that’s it.
It’s a perfect example of a Scandinavian style interior. A simple, no nonsense yet stylish space. What more do you really need?
6. Slat Wall Wood Panelling For Warmth
A modern approach to Nordic interior design is by incorporating natural slat wood panelling into a bedroom, hallway or living space.
Typically, you should only use this on one wall to create a feature wall, it brings beautiful natural warmth to light interiors and it’s a great way to add depth and character in small spaces too.
7. Use Grey To Ground The Space
Whilst Scandinavian home decor is characterised by white walls, grey is an integral part of Scandinavian decor as it defines the space and brings a touch of modernity too.
You only need a few key pieces of grey in your interior scheme, as beautifully demonstrated by this Scandinavian living room which has perfectly understood the brief!
8. Make A Wood Burning Fire Centre Stage
Traditional Scandinavian design incorporates some kind of wood burning fire or stove, the main function is to keep those homes heated during cold, long winters, but they create a focal feature in a living room too.
You’ll want to avoid traditional cast iron fireplaces and instead look at inglenook fireplaces or wood burning stoves to recreate the look.
9. White Walls That Don’t Look Boring
The difference between a home that just uses bright white throughout and one that leans into Scandinavian design is the difference between exciting, and lifeless walls.
Bare walls are a key characteristic, along with white washed spaces, but the key to keeping them exciting is by pairing with accent pieces in warm tones, defining features in black to tie the space together and working in some gorgeous texture to the space, be it on dining chairs, a fur throw or real houseplants.
10. Use Black Accents
A black accent is an integral part to Scandinavian design, that timeless monochromatic colour palette brings function and definition to an interior.
You don’t need to use a lot of black, but rather a few well placed items that will bring a touch of modernity, define the space and pull everything together.
Black accents could include interior hardware details like sockets and switches, photo frames, light fittings and accent legs on an armchair or sofa.
11. Sympathetic Lighting
Choosing the right lighting is integral to achieving a Nordic interior that works.
A light and airy aesthetic is desirable with this design trend, but focus should be on layering lighting with different sources of lighting so you can ambient lighting of a cold, dark evening. This includes pendant lights, wall lights, floor lamps and kinetic lighting such as candles.
It also welcomes mixing light fixtures and styles, exposed Edison bulbs bring an industrial edge with them, and a warming glow when they’re switched on. Staggering the pendant lighting ignites visual interest too.
12. Combining Natural Materials
Natural materials are just another special ingredient which makes this design trend what it is.
Don’t be afraid to mix natural materials, it will add greater depth, interest and warmth in the space.
This modern Scandinavian look is the perfect example of how to achieve this style with the combination of wood, marble and leather in this living room.
13. Functional Lighting
This is just a perfect example of how function comes first.
Bedside table traditional lamps aren’t as welcomed in this trend, yet a lever arch by the bed provides the perfect function of providing targeted lighting when you’re reaching for a book in the evening.
There is no faffery when it comes to Nordic interior design and it’s a style that I absolutely love.
Homes can become so cluttered with every latest interior release. But Nordic interior design leads with purpose and style, and is highly functional for smaller spaces too. What do you think of Nordic interior design?