Ikea, Electrolux, ECCO and Lego... All of these companies have one thing in common aside from them being very well known across America. They all come from Scandinavia, 5 little countries that form a design hub which has had it’s hand in the way today’s world is designed for over half a century. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland are the 5, and whilst you may not know it, they’ve been a long standing part of world happenings for some time. Since the first viking raiders landed at Lindisfarne in the United Kingdom, the Norse people have shared art, poetry, architecture and technology with Europe, and it’s been recently discovered, even the Americas (a little bit before Columbus). This tradition has been passed down to the modern day Nordic nations, and since the 1950’s they’ve formed a large part of living and interior design, especially when you consider the cross overs between modern and Scandinavian interior design.
Scandinavian design in a nutshell
The Northern Europeans have a very eco friendly outlook, and since the end of World War 2 have been constantly been striving toward a simple, hassle free way of doing things. Nowhere does this become more evident than in their design choices.
From 1950 to 1970 there was a massive post-war boom in Scandinavian thinking, which lead to their being world leaders in many ways. The first tenant of the design ideology began when modern processes and manufacturing techniques began making high quality good available to the middle and lower class, meaning more people had access to better quality. The second tenant played on the world opinion of the time which was to cut back on excess only really own or design what was functional and necessary for comfort.
These 2 ideas coupled with modern minimalism play heavily into what Scandinavian designs have become today.
Common materials for Scandinavian homes
Most common amongst all of the building materials used in Scandinavian home design is wood. It is as eco friendly as it gets, looks beautiful and can be recycled, making it the most durable and long term of any material available aside from metals.
Natural Fabrics are a must, as non-natural fabrics are often plastic based and therefore don’t really fit into the ideology.
Leather couches are also common, and often these are the darkest colors you will see in Nordic designed houses. This is because the more popular colour schemes remain neutral or at very least lean toward cooler colors like blues and greys.
Design tips for those looking to go Scandinavian
For the best ideas on how to esign your home in true Scandinavian fashion, we’d suggest contacting a professional. There are of course, some things you can start thinking about before you do that!
Functional space is the first thing when designing in Scandinavian style. While it is true to say there are a few styles within the broader spectrum, this is one factor which always stands out. While colonial and classic styles are easily distinguishable by their ornate trimmings and large furniture, Nordic designs tend to keep to functionality over all else. If you choose something, it needs to have a purpose.
Being eco friendly is also something which designs of this type tend toward. Recycled apple boxes as a table, or driftwood candle holders are the types of things you will often see, as they are things which have found a sort of second life as something functional in the home. Fireplaces over central heating, natural light over electrical, these are energy savers which are common too, meaning that your carbon footprint is lower.
Keeping colors light is a must. If there are wooden accents, these often have an almost rustic sun-bleached color to them. Walls are mostly painted in white or off white, which allows for more reflection, making the rooms seem larger. Couches, pillows, bedding and curtains almost always have either a cool grey or blue, or are rarely accented with a warmer color. Those items that do receive a warm tone are often small, and add just a touch of something other than the standard cooler colors.
Natural lighting is very close to Scandinavian designers, perhaps because their homelands don’t receive long winter days. The windows in these houses are often large wooden windows with white painted wood frames. Natural light is allowed to flow into the light space, creating a knock-on effect, which makes the house seem even lighter. This is part and parcel of the reason that the color scheme remains light too.
Floors and furniture are all made with wood. The main ingredient which will form most of the items, accents and functional workings of a Scandinavian designed home, is wood. Light wood or parquet flooring is often chosen because they are resilient, eco friendly and don’t require too much maintaining. Furniture is often the same, and will sometimes have a light coating of paint to match walls or other furniture pieces. If this does happen it’s never enough to completely cover the wood grain over, so the rustic and natural appeal remains.
Add a covered terrace. Many Scandinavian houses have an “indoor outdoor” area. This is due to the attachment to nature and the outdoors. Adding such an attachment to your home can help create just that extra sense of natural light and airflow.
How to organize the space
As we mentioned earlier, one of the main ideas behind designing in this style is to keep things free of clutter. This means when you’re assigning places to things, there's only one real thing to consider, making as much of a space as possible by not overdoing what’s in it.
When placing furniture, keep it close to natural light sources. This will offset cooler color choices by making the atmosphere in your space warmer. Adding a fireplace to a corner of the living room is a great idea, even if you’re just using gas.
Choose accent pieces like specific lampshades, paintings and pictures carefully. Make sure that they are exactly as they are meant to be - accent pieces, and don’t clutter them over with too many other things.
If you do choose items like coffee tables, desks or other useful items, make sure they are being used, are not too large, and try to keep the material choice to light or bleached wood. Using a table with a recycled wood top is a great way to do this.
If you find yourself in need of a little less clutter, or think that the Scandinavian style sounds like a good choice for you, then contact a professional designer for ideas and tips on the perfect Scandinavian style home!