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What is Scandinavian Design?

What is Scandinavian Design?

In the ever-evolving realm of interior design trends, certain styles endure because of their timeless allure. Scandinavian design is a perfect example of an enduring classic, celebrated for its minimalistic beauty, emphasis on functionality, and deep-rooted admiration for nature. In this design spotlight, we’ll delve into the origins and evolution of Scandinavian design, explore its defining characteristics, and offer tips on infusing your home with effortlessly elegant charm.

A Brief History of Scandinavian Design

The origins of this style can be traced to the early 20th century when countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland underwent rapid industrialization and urbanization. Designers and architects, such as Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen, and Hans J. Wegner, emerged during this period, aiming to create functional, aesthetically pleasing, and affordable designs for everyday living while prioritizing craftsmanship and deep reverence for natural materials.

The mid-20th century saw the global recognition of the Scandinavian design movement, with iconic furniture pieces like the Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair and the Hans J. Wegner Wishbone Chair becoming synonymous with modern style and sophistication. These designs, with their clean lines, organic shapes, and natural materials, resonated with people worldwide as they sought a simpler and more authentic way of living. The movement's emphasis on simplicity, functionality, and natural beauty continues to influence interior design.


Scandinavian design embodies the beautiful concept of "hygge," a Danish term that captures the essence of coziness, contentment, and overall well-being. It's about creating an inviting and warm environment where you can truly unwind and savor life's simple pleasures. Embracing hygge allows you to curate a space that fosters relaxation and happiness.

In the realm of interior design, hygge encompasses a delightful ambiance achieved through the use of soft lighting, luxurious textures, welcoming furniture, and an overall feeling of intimacy. Gentle candlelight, crackling fireplaces, and twinkling string lights cast a comforting glow while sumptuous blankets and pillows invite you to unwind and let go. Incorporating natural elements such as wood and wool enhances the tactile experience, resulting in a space that radiates warmth and hospitality. 


Scandinavian design encompasses the significant concept of "lagom," a Swedish term signifying "just the right amount." This philosophy captures a harmonious and moderate approach, evident in the design's minimalist style and practicality.

In a lagom home, there is no room for excess or clutter. Each item serves a purpose and has its designated place, emphasizing quality over quantity. This mindful approach not only results in a visually pleasing environment but also encourages a sustainable and thoughtful lifestyle. Lagom encourages finding joy in simplicity and embracing the beauty of everyday objects. It's about striking the perfect balance and appreciating the little things that make life beautiful.

Key Characteristics of Scandinavian Design

Scandinavian design is a captivating expression of core principles that come together to cultivate a harmonious and inviting living environment:

Embracing Simplicity

The Scandinavian design philosophy of "less is more" encapsulates the essence of this style. It champions clean lines, uncluttered spaces, and a focus on essential pieces, culminating in an atmosphere of tranquility and organization. By stripping away unnecessary ornamentation, the innate beauty of the design and materials takes center stage, as eloquently expressed by designer Ilse Crawford.

Emphasizing Functionality

In Scandinavian design, every element has a purpose. Furniture is not only chosen for its aesthetic appeal but also for its practicality. Seamless integration of storage solutions ensures that every item has its designated place, resulting in spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also efficient and conducive to comfortable living.

Maximizing Natural Light

Given the extended periods of darkness during Nordic winters, Scandinavian design places a premium on maximizing natural light. Through the use of large windows, light-colored walls, and minimalist window treatments, sunlight floods into spaces, creating a bright and airy ambiance. As architect Louis Kahn emphasized, natural light is an indispensable element in defining the essence of a room.

Celebrating Organic Materials

Scandinavian design pays homage to the allure of natural materials. Wood, leather, wool, linen, and stone form the very foundation of Scandinavian interiors. These materials not only infuse warmth and texture but also establish a profound connection to the natural world, evoking a sense of serenity and well-being. Furthermore, the use of natural materials aligns with the sustainability ethos often associated with Scandinavian design.

Embracing Neutral Colors

A palette of white, gray, and beige forms the cornerstone of Scandinavian design, establishing a pristine and tranquil backdrop. This neutral canvas serves as a platform for accents of color, often drawn from nature, such as subdued blues, greens, or pinks, infusing the space with personality and vibrancy without overwhelming it.

Incorporating Scandinavian Design into Your Home

Let's dive into the essence of Scandinavian design and discover how to seamlessly incorporate this captivating aesthetic into your home:

Living Room

The living room serves as the heart of any home, and embracing Scandinavian design principles can cultivate a tranquil and welcoming gathering space. Begin with a neutral backdrop, opting for pristine white or light gray walls to maximize the reflection of natural light. Select a cozy sofa with sleek lines, ideally crafted from natural materials like linen or leather. A light wood coffee table or a minimalist fireplace can act as a striking focal point, while a plush wool rug introduces warmth and texture underfoot.

Consider incorporating these elements to elevate your living room:

  • A gallery wall showcasing minimalist artwork
  • A selection of houseplants to infuse greenery
  • Ambient lighting such as floor lamps or wall sconces


Transform your bedroom into a serene sanctuary by embracing the simplicity of Scandinavian design. Opt for a platform bed with a wooden frame and luxurious natural linen or cotton bedding. Keep the color palette light and airy, incorporating soothing shades of white, gray, and muted blues. Infuse a touch of personality with a woven wall hanging or carefully selected pieces of art.

Other inspiring bedroom ideas to consider:

  • A cozy armchair for quiet reading moments
  • A soft sheepskin rug for added coziness
  • A minimalist nightstand adorned with a stylish table lamp


Scandinavian kitchens are celebrated for their functionality and minimalist aesthetic. White cabinets, open shelves, and stainless steel appliances contribute to a clean and uncluttered look. Infuse warmth with wood accents, such as a butcher block countertop or a display of wooden cutting boards. Keep décor minimal, favoring functional items like ceramic canisters or a vase of fresh herbs.

Enhance your Scandinavian kitchen with these thoughtful additions:

  • Simple pendant lights over the island or dining area
  • A stylish bar cart with natural wood and metal accents
  • A hanging herb garden for an infusion of fresh flavors
  • Woven baskets for practical storage solutions

Dining Room

The Scandinavian dining room is a haven for shared meals and heartfelt conversations. Opt for a sleek wooden table with clean lines paired with timeless Scandinavian chairs like Hans J. Wegner's iconic Wishbone chairs. A minimalist pendant light can offer focused illumination over the table, while a soft rug underfoot adds a touch of comfort.

Additional inspiring ideas for your dining room:

  • A sideboard with a natural wood finish for storing tableware
  • A gallery wall featuring botanical prints or black-and-white photography
  • A simple centerpiece, such as a vase of fresh flowers or a bowl of fruit

Home Office

Craft a productive and inspiring home office space by embracing Scandinavian principles. A sleek white desk paired with a comfortable chair serves as an excellent starting point. Keep the space clutter-free with ample storage solutions and minimize distractions with a soothing, neutral color palette. Infuse personal touches, such as a framed print or a small plant, to create an inviting atmosphere.

Optimize your workspace with these thoughtful additions:

  • A minimalist desk lamp for focused task lighting
  • A bulletin board or pegboard for organizing notes and ideas
  • A few decorative objects, such as a ceramic vase or a wooden sculpture


Scandinavian bathrooms are dedicated to crafting a spa-like experience. White tiles, a wooden vanity, and a large window contribute to a bright and airy space. Natural materials like stone and bamboo can be used for accents, while soft towels and bath mats add a touch of luxury. Keep the space clutter-free with minimalist storage solutions and introduce a few candles for a serene ambiance.

To enhance the Scandinavian ambiance in your bathroom:

  • A teak bath mat for a touch of natural refinement
  • Woven baskets for storing towels and toiletries
  • A simple vase with a single flower for a touch of freshness

Outdoor Spaces

Scandinavian design extends beyond indoor spaces. Embrace the aesthetic in your outdoor areas by selecting furniture with clean lines and natural materials. Pair a wooden dining table with bench seating and cozy throws and cushions for added warmth. String lights create a magical ambiance, while potted plants and herbs infuse a touch of greenery.

Create your outdoor oasis with these inviting features:

  • A hammock or swing for ultimate relaxation
  • A fire pit for warmth and ambiance
  • Outdoor rugs crafted from natural fibers

Organic Modern x Scandinavian Design

Scandinavian design exudes minimalism and functionality, but its true magic unfolds when merged with the warmth and earthiness of organic modern design. The harmonious fusion of these two styles creates visually stunning and incredibly livable spaces. 

In an upcoming Beyond Trends post, we're thrilled to dive deeper into this captivating blend and share insights on creating a home that seamlessly incorporates the best of both worlds. 

Get ready to be inspired by the endless possibilities of this dynamic design combination!