Scandinavian interior design has a decades-long momentum – and it doesn’t look like it’s going out of style any time soon. Its defining traits are simplicity, functionality, clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic, all timeless qualities that justify people’s preference for it.

Scandinavian design, as an internationally recognized current, started in the 1930s, with artists and designers such as Alvar Aalto, Maija Isola and Verner Panton – whose iconic Panton Chair is still celebrated today.

Since its inception, Scandinavian design labeled itself as accessible, and it stays true to its roots – you don’t need a lot of money to bring the Nordic touch into your home. Here are 10 features of Scandinavian design that can be replicated in your home and that will enhance your interior:

1. A palette of muted, neutral colors

An essential element of Scandinavian design is the airy, light-filled interior. You can achieve that by using muted, neutral colors for the big elements of the room – walls, floors and large furniture. Think shades of gray, tans and off-whites to obtain a bright and uniform vibe inside your home.

2. Open floor plans

This characteristic of Scandinavian design might be difficult to implement if your home doesn’t already have an open floor plan. However, if you’re a fan of Scandinavian design and are in the process of buying a home, or in the middle of a major home remodeling, you should consider getting open floor plans.

Large spaces go hand-in-hand with the main elements of Nordic interior design, allowing light to go around unobstructed and creating that typical airy, breezy vibe.

3. Gorgeous and comfortable seating options

Scandinavian design implies coziness and comfort, so you’ll want plenty of seating options in your rooms. Sofas and couches fitted with soft pillows, but featuring clean, geometric lines — and an inviting armchair that’s ideal for curling up in with a book — are central to a Nordic-inspired living room.

As for your kitchen or dining room table, you have plenty of cool ones to pick from. From the single-form, compact and stackable S Panton chairs mentioned above to the Wishbone chairs created by Hans Wegner or the Tulip chairs from Eero Saarinen, there’s no shortage of iconic Scandinavian designs that have stood the test of time. The aforementioned chairs have been manufactured for decades, a testament to their exquisite qualities.

4. Bold and colorful textile patterns

Although Scandinavian design focuses on muted, neural colors for walls, floors, and large pieces of furniture, it also features bold and colorful textile patterns, used as accents. The typical Scandinavian textiles make reference to nature, oftentimes showing flowers or animals. Traditional motifs from Nordic countries and bold, geometric prints are also present in Scandinavian-styled interiors.

In terms of color, pick vibrant, intense ones that you can find in nature: greens, reds, yellows and browns. Use pillows, throw blankets and rugs to incorporate such bold colors and prints throughout your home.

5. Decluttered space

The “less is more” philosophy is a strong component of Scandinavian design. Don’t fill the space with a lot of furniture, decoration, accessories and knick-knacks! Instead, focus on selecting some quality, useful pieces of furniture that incorporate plenty of storage. Select a few striking, meaningful decorations and don’t be afraid of empty spaces.

Do you want to give Scandinavian design a try, but you have too much furniture and other things lying around? Rent a self storage unit and put your extra stuff in there for the time being – this way, you’ll get to see whether the minimalist Scandinavian design is the right fit for you.

6. Natural lighting

Light plays a central role in Scandinavian design – you want as much natural light as possible getting into your home. In fact, one important element of Nordic homes is minimalistic window treatment – or none at all. Hanging transparent curtains or leaving your windows completely bare is a good option if you live in a climate with short, moderately warm summers – like Northern Europe.

However, if you’re living in a place with hot summers, you should adapt and choose drapes, curtains, indoor or outdoor blinds that protect you from excessive heat and sunlight. Make sure you pick your window treatment in light colors. White or off-white drapes will filter the sun’s rays, while also allowing plenty of light to fill your home.

7. Low hanging lighting fixtures

Artificial lighting is another important element of Scandinavian design. Pick oversized, low hanging lighting fixtures in areas where you need plenty of light – above the dining table and in the kitchen, for example.

Add floor lamps next to the reading areas – for example, the armchairs and sofas. Get lighting fixtures that feature clean, geometric, simple lines, and avoid anything that’s too ornate.

8. Wood and metal accents

Incorporate and alternate wood and metal accents throughout your interior. It might be a wooden table next to brass chairs, or a storage chest made of wood but also featuring metal details. Bookshelves made of iron, painted in a dark color, combined with light wood, are also a good choice if you’re going for the Scandinavian vibe inside your home.

9. Indoors greenery

Get even closer to nature by adding potted plants to your interior – the most popular ones are those with rich, bright-green foliage such as ferns, English ivy, pothos and aloe vera. The pop of color brought by plants will further enhance the sophistication of the understated Scandinavian design.

10. Embrace Hygge

Finally, and most importantly, you must remember that Scandinavian design is primarily about comfort and coziness – Scandinavians even came up with hygge, a philosophy that focuses on finding joy in simple, everyday things. So, furnish and decorate your home based on your lifestyle, your favorite things, and on what makes you and your family happy.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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