The Basics of Contemporary Scandinavian Design

Find out what makes an interior typically Scandinavian, and cop these ideas for your own home.

Updated on June 12, 2017 18:06 pm

Camille Besinga

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The term “Scandinavia” typically refers in history to the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Finland. In the world of interiors, Scandinavian design is a 20th-century, post-World War II creation from those three countries—and which gained widespread popularity from the '50s down to the '70s.

Characterised by simplicity, minimalism, and functionality, Scandinavian design comprises basic elements that are very easy to integrate with other design philosophies. It acts like a bare canvas or a neutral palette. You may also use it on its own and still come up with an interior that is beautiful with a subdued elegance and lived-in simplicity.

Below are the basic elements of Scandinavian design:

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1. Clean, simple lines. Notice this room is devoid of fancy cornices and intricate carvings and trim. Everything is straightforward, from doorways to shelves, and corners. Even the curved lines of furniture are simple and pared back.

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2. Light. This kind of design originated in a place where harsh, dark winters are common. Therefore, natural light is always preferred, to bring as much of the sunlight indoors as possible. Windows are either wide or plentiful.

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3. Gallery-white walls. Whether filled with artwork or left bare, white walls add to the crisp, clean look of a Scandinavian home.

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4. A neutral colourway. Apart from white walls, furnishings and accessories take on elegant neutral shades, like black and cool greys.

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5. Wood. This natural material will always be found in a Scandinavian home—either on the floor, walls, furniture, or even functional items and accessories. Light-coloured wood or stains are preferred over dark ones.

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5. Functionality. More often than not, most of the items in a Scandinavian room serve a particular function—or even two or three.

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If you find Scandinavian design too plain or dull, it is very easy to liven things up with colour, pattern, and texture. Shown above are several examples.


Is your home done up in Scandinavian style? Tell us about it and share your photos—email us at hello@cromly.com.

Cover photo courtesy of Emmas Design Blogg

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