Historical interior design

Top tips for home styling the Scandi way

by Chad Brewer

There's more to Scandinavian interior design than flatpack furniture. If you've gotten hooked on any of the addictive Nordic noir series popular in recent years, you might have found yourself lusting after the homes you see on screen — homes that manage to be at the same time cosy, rustic, minimalist and pragmatic. Fact is, you don't have to live close to the North Pole to have a house like that.

Scandinavian homeowners face an ongoing battle against the elements: long, cold winters which peak when the sun is visible for just a couple of hours each day. Bright rooms which make the most of whatever light you have can make a massive difference to the liveability of your space. White walls matched with cool blues and greys are the typical palette, applied in flat coats of paint rather than as wallpaper.

A white room doesn't have to be stark. Accessorising with textiles will save you here. The main texture in Scandi homes is wood and plenty of it. Bring in wood furniture, walls and even ceilings, and you start to tap into that classic Nordic style of bringing the outside in. Despite the chill, carpets have never made it big in Scandinavia, and natural, rustic-looking floors are the preferred way to go. 

You can add vibrancy with a few pop art prints: The 1960s were a peak period for Scandinavian designs, and cushions with clashing colours will make your room pop. Alternatively, go for the daring full-monochrome look, decorating with black and white prints. Find them from art dealers, or make your own by turning family photos into greyscale prints.

Lighting features don't just make dark winters brighter; they're also another opportunity to accessorise your room. When it comes to lampshades, bigger is better — oversize lamps, sculptures of paper or wood and even a mini chandelier are all ideas used in Nordic interiors.

Of course, Scandinavians also love to bring the inside out. Spending time outside is highly valued, and Scandis try to maximise it, even sitting outside to eat dinner wrapped up in blankets when winter starts. Even small flats are built with balconies to enable this. If you're lucky enough to have a garden, patio or balcony, it's time to give it a makeover. A wood terrace can turn an unhappy concrete patio into a place you'll want to socialise year-round.

The final word in Scandinavian design is, of course, decluttering. Like dark walls, large amounts of stuff lying around makes rooms shadowy and detract from the light. A lesson to learn from Scandinavia is that you can fit a shelf or chest of drawers into any space. Look into getting storage custom-made for your room.

If you need help coming up with interior design inspiration or floor layouts, work with an interior designer from a business like Incite Interiors to get your home looking perfect.