How to Achieve Scandinavian Interior Design

A theme that’s been steadily growing in popularity the last few decades, but particularly so now (possibly thanks to the rise in the budget, Dutch home décor store Ikea), is Scandinavian interior design.

Scandinavian interior design is categorised by the perfect blending of functionality with aesthetics; named after its geographical origins from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland.

The interior design theme more specifically is comprised of ample light, heavily utilising natural elements, natural colour palettes, clean lines and uncluttered spaces.

The theme evolved mainly to compensate the harsh environment of Nordic countries. Long winters meant little daylight, and people often had small houses – this spelt a need for bright, airy, cosy homes that utilised and accentuate space and light.

Craig Ritche, Ikea’s Communication, and Interior Design Manager explained that “Scandinavian style has categories by three key components – functionality, simplicity, and beauty. Although simple in design, clean lines are often incorporated with understated elegance and warm functionality, which creates a very homely feel.”

It’s no surprise then that lots of people are after this clean, crisp and open atmosphere. Are you wondering how to achieve the Scandinavian interior design in your home?

How to Achieve Scandinavian Interior Design:


An All-White Theme

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While the colour palette is typically (in other instances) very simple, it underpins the whole theme in this case.

White, or its variants (such as cream), are the main colours. It can lead to rooms looking sparse when uncluttered (such as the Nordic design); however, you can avoid this with the use of natural materials like wood, which add warmth and texture.

White is the best base for introducing colour combinations, such as soft pastels or black accents. For instance, grey and white palettes are great for creating serene atmospheres and is a common combination in Scandinavian interior design. Just ensure that white is always your base or main colour.

Colour Popping

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If you’d like to experiment more with colour, it’s a commonplace to incorporate colour popping to brighten a room; yellow, green and blue are great natural tones that work well both within the theme and to counteract the sometimes-gloomy tone of grey. However, traditionally function is placed over aesthetics, and so colour is usually kept to a minimum.

Over time, though, other styles are in combination with the ‘standard’ Nordic approach to creating unique style and personality.

An easy way to introduce a colour pop is by having one piece of furniture (sofa, armchair or another large item) to add a splash of colour. Then anchor this colour with a couple of home décor pieces that match the chosen tone; be careful not to over decorate as simplicity is the key to Scandinavian interiors.

All Black Everything

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Black is a good choice. It’s stark contrast to the white base helps highlight your features of choice. While the Scandinavians are known for their clean white interiors, dark shades are regularly introduced and balanced with light and dark accessories.



Incorporating lots of light into your Scandinavian interior design theme is paramount and a non-negotiable. Earthy, muted tones categorise the theme by natural light hitting honest materials.

But, why is light so important to Scandinavian interiors? It’s also important to remember that the geographical location of Scandinavian countries places them close to the Arctic Circle, meaning the type of natural light they receive is extremely different to what we’re used to. In winter these countries draw far less natural light with the most northern parts of the countries receiving only a few hours of daylight – this is reserved in summer when these areas are bathed in light for large majorities of the day.

As a result, Scandinavian light designers have had to combat these natural cycles to create fixtures that not only work well (since they’ll get a lot of use in the winter) but look interesting as they’ll be left dormat like pieces of decor in the summer.

Nowadays Scandinavian light designers and brands are world-renowned for their unique and forward-thinking designs; the more obscure the pendant or light fixture you can find – the better!


Wall to wall carpets never become popular in the Nordic countries , and so all truly Scandinavian interiors will have a wooden, preferably light, floor in all rooms (apart from the bathrooms of course).

A folksy appreciation for readily available natural materials coupled with an abundance of wood thanks to the densely forested nature of the countries ensured a long embedded tradition of wooden flooring in most Danish, Swedish and Norwegian homes. Traditionally they would create planks directly from felled trees, so the longer and wider the planks the better.


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Scandinavian winters are so much colder than those in the UK, so most older houses will have a chimney or wood burner in the living room as well as other rooms also. However, unlike our fireplaces, which are usually the focal point of the room, in Nordic countries, they’re traditionally in the corner. This is because the fire stoves are often in simple, unadorned columns to fit the minimalist design of the room.

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How to achieve Scandinavian interior design? One answer is by being greener.

When it comes to being eco-friendly, the Swedes are leagues ahead of most countries; they’ve been implementing ways to create greener homes for a very long time. Features like triple-glazing, wall and roof insulation and ground source heat pumps are all standard aspects of Swedish houses.



Declutter! We’ve said it before, and we’re saying it again – Scandi design features functionality over aesthetics; that is the crux of the theme!


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