Scandinavian Style Design - Explained

Scandinavian Style Design - Explained

Decoration and Design
Additions and Remodels
By Team July 19, 2021

As the Scandinavians know all too well, simplicity comes naturally. The Scandinavian style is a testament to this with a distinct feel that emphasizes the organic beauty of nature. Although it is part of modernism, Scandinavian interior design is often considered a style unto itself. It is most notable for its uncomplicated functionality and is a great option for those of us who just want a home that looks as good as it works. 

Scandi design was born as a direct rejection of the authoritarian obelisks of bare concrete and steel that had come to dominate the skyline of many European cities by the 1940s. As such, it represented an attempt to bring a natural, minimal, and individual-focused aesthetic into modern interior design and architecture. While the Scandinavian style was relatively unknown outside of the Nordic countries before the 1950s, it has since become an international phenomenon. Scandi design has become so widespread that it has combined with similar design trends to produce the Japandi interior design style

Scandinavian style design has grown significantly in popularity, especially in the 2010s, and can be found in homes all over the world. 

Roots of Scandinavian Style 

In the wake of two world wars, there was a popular sentiment especially in Europe that modernism was taking civilization away from nature and stripping away individualism in favor of a philosophy that treated each person as a standard unit. 

Most Eye-Catching Elements of a Scandinavian Interior

Most Eye-Catching Elements of a Scandinavian Interior

A Rejection of The Old Way

In response to this, a new movement began to arise in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden during the 1940s. This movement sought to bring individualism and nature back into design while injecting them with practicality and simplicity. Scandinavians have long considered utility to be an important quality above superficial aesthetics. This is because when you live in one of the coldest parts of the world, you need the things you use every day to be simple and reliable. Garish ornamentation is therefore unnecessary and detracts from these qualities.

Scandi Becomes Trendy

By the 1950s, Scandinavian home design had begun to come into its own and was starting to gain popularity on the world stage. It became especially popular in the United States thanks to extensive efforts to promote the style. The point of Scandi design is to embody hygge, a Danish term that very roughly translates to “contented-ness”. In the context of Scandinavian style design, hygge describes an overall sense of comfort and balance which is achieved by creating a warm and welcoming space. 

The Rise of the Subtle Scandinavian Interior

The Rise of the Subtle Scandinavian Interior

Scandinavian Style Revival

Although the Scandinavian style declined in popularity after the 1960s, it began to experience a resurgence in the 1990s that has continued to the present day. This was borne out of an increased focus on sustainability and environmentally conscious home design that arose during this period. As modernist-minimalist design has peaked in popularity in recent years, so has surged the popularity of Scandinavian interior design.   

How to Recognize Scandi Style Architecture 

Scandinavian style design has a lot in common with other strands of modernist-minimalism. However, there are still some things to look out for that are a dead giveaway that you’re looking at an example of Scandinavian house design

A Bright Space

As with other strands of modernist-minimalist design, the Scandinavian style tends to emphasize a neutral color palette of whites, greys, and browns. Scandinavian home design does not include window treatments. Instead, Scandinavian minimalism is geared towards maximizing the amount of natural light that comes into an interior to make it brighter. The added light helps to emphasize elegance through simplicity; the beauty of the space comes not from ornamentation but instead from the light playing off the sleek lines of the Scandinavian interior design. Plus, the light colors help to keep the space bright during all times of the year (and most of the day), which is handy if you live in a part of the world that doesn’t get much sunlight. 

Tips On How to Increase Natural Light In a Space

Tips On How to Increase Natural Light In a Space

Natural Materials

The neutral colors of a Scandinavian interior will also be offset by natural materials such as wood. This can be in the form of hardwood flooring, wood furniture, wood countertops, or even a brick wall (painted white, of course). 

No Clutter 

Another defining feature of Scandinavian home decor is the lack of clutter. This comes from the reality that space is limited and that, therefore, clutter should be minimized to make the most use of it. A Scandinavian interior will be a paragon of sleekness, with only the most essential items taking up space (chairs, lamps, desks). Anything else is unnecessary. 

Tips On Decluttering a Room and Opening Up Extra Space

Tips On Decluttering a Room and Opening Up Extra Space

Minimal Scandinavian Decor

Typically, Scandinavian home decor will be just enough to keep a space from feeling sterile, and that’s about it. Beyond that, the Scandinavian style has little use for intricate decoration and ornamentation. Again, the beauty of Scandinavian decor is meant to come from its natural brightness and simplicity, and Victorian-style garishness just isn’t needed to achieve that.  You can, of course, incorporate art and elements of culture and character to a Scandi space, however, the smoother they mesh the better.


IKEA might just be as popular as the Scandinavian style itself so chances are you know what Scandinavian style furniture looks like. Suffice it to say that Scandinavian-style furniture also embodies simplicity through uncomplicated natural lines. The Swan, Egg, and Drop chairs are all products of Scandi design. 

Ideas for Scandinavian Furniture and Other Interior Elements

Ideas for Scandinavian Furniture and Other Interior Elements

How to Design Your House in The Scandinavian Style

There are quite a few easy ways to get started on the road towards a more functional and natural home space. And while it can seem like a lot, bringing the Scandinavian home design concept into your house is not difficult. It can be quite a fun and rewarding process. 


This on its own won’t give your house that Scandi look, but it’s an important first step. There are some good DIY hacks for reducing clutter in the home, but you can also get the help of a professional organizer. The point of Scandinavian-style design is to avoid unnecessary clutter and keep all elements neatly organized — and this will require an overhaul of your lifestyle habits more so than a one-time deep cleaning sesh. As a result, and in the long run, you are meant to keep textures, surfaces, and other design features smooth, simple, and pleasing to the eye.  

More Wood (and Stone)

If you have carpets or carpeted flooring, you’ll have to get rid of them if you’re going for a more Scandinavian home design. The classic Scandinavian style design will sport lightly-colored hardwood flooring nearly everywhere except for the bathrooms. But flooring isn’t the only place where wood should be emphasized. You should also invest in some Scandinavian-style furniture. We’re talking wooden armchairs, wooden countertops, and granite coffee tables (if you want a dash of fancy).  

Neutral Colors 

As part of your Scandinavian-style house makeover, add some neutral colors to complete the Scandinavian home design. A kitchen remodel for example is an excellent opportunity to inject some Scandi flair into your home. Grays, whites, and blacks are the main colors you have to work with in Scandinavian-style design, but you can and should feel free to incorporate warmer tones that can be found in nature as well.

The Sunny Side of Scandinavian Interiors

The Sunny Side of Scandinavian Interiors


An important component of accenting that doesn’t get as much attention is plant life. You’ll want to make use of plants and flowers to decorate your Scandinavian interior as this will bring a bright spot of color and beauty to tastefully offset the neutral color palette of the space. 

Keep Decorations Simple 

The mantra of Scandi decor is that less is more. A coffee table only needs a ceramic vase (or two) for decoration, and it's ok to keep some of your walls blank (in fact it's recommended). To add extra depth to the interior design, consider adding bricks to one of your walls. Be sure to add some pops of color to your space as well so that things don’t end up feeling too clinical. This can be done with some brightly colored throw pillows or even a lightly colored poster.  

Best Interior Plants to Create a Serene Interior With

Best Interior Plants to Create a Serene Interior With

Form and Function

A balance of these two qualities should be the overarching theme of your Scandinavian-style remodel. A Scandinavian interior should be a place that is both pleasant to look at and comfortable to live in. Every space should have simple, clean lines accentuated by natural curves and colors. However, this should not come at the expense of functionality, as the space should also be livable and easy to use. Put simply, a Scandinavian home design should work as well as it looks.

Written by Team

Written by Team

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