Kitchens are probably one of the most used rooms in the home. In fact, it’s likely that most people don’t even realize exactly how much time they spend in their own kitchens, but the fact of the matter is, about half of one’s day outside of weekends is spent in either the kitchen or the living room (when we aren’t asleep that is!).
What this means is that having a well designed, easy to use kitchen area is one of the most important parts of having a functional and comfortable home. The Scandinavians have been making this idea of form and function part of their home making ethos for some 70 or so years, and recently they have experienced a resurgence in the type of home designs that they made popular in the 60’s and 70’s.
What is Scandinavian design all about?
After the end of World War 2, the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland) all began to experience a post conflict boom, which lead to cheaper, higher class materials being used in basic manufacturing. Coupled with the surge of technology which occurred during the later part of the 40’s and early 50’s Europe, people of lower and middle classes could suddenly afford to buy items for the home which were affordable and high quality. What this didn’t change was the need for things to be minimal and practical, and this is what the cornerstones of Scandinavian design are, practicality with minimal mess and clutter.
Everything has a purpose in Scandinavian design ethos, whether that be a practical thing like a couch or a kettle, or a beautiful art piece. Nothing is chosen without good reason, which is where the minimalism starts to show. If you couple this with the neutral and natural colors that the Scandinavians adhere to, then you have a basic idea of what the actual design characteristics are.
Using Scandinavian design in a kitchen
Classic kitchens, modern kitchens or otherwise are places which are meant to be used and definitely will be, with water, cooking liquids, soaps and cleaning liquids and many other spillable substances involved. What this means is that though the norm is for Scandinavian designers to utilize a lightly colored wooden floor, this won’t be what you do in the kitchen. Spaces which are meant to for liquids of any kind are usually tiled, and this pretty much the go to thing in the kitchen.
White tiling is popular because it has the right type of color for a Scandinavian design, though because greys are also used in certain cases you can use a concrete floor. Concrete looks especially good with a kitchen if the countertops are a polished granite or dark marble.
For counters and cabinet doors there is a general consensus that wood is the best material to use. This feeds into the eco-friendly aspect of Scandinavian interior design which has become prevalent in the last decade or 2. Norway and Denmark are especially green conscious countries, with Sweden not too far behind.
Lastly, one of the other tenants of this particular design choice will be natural light. There is almost always a large window or sets thereof in Scandinavian designed homes, sometimes multiples. Some suggest that this is because for a few months of the year many of these places are so far North that their sunlight hours are almost nonexistent in winter. Whichever way you look at it, natural lighting does save power (which is again a great way to be more eco conscious, ) and is a very practical way to make sure a room is lit during the day. In your kitchen you may want large sliding doors or perhaps a skylight, whichever you choose it might be a good idea to find a professional who can help you design the lighting of a good design.
Choosing your palette
Color as we mentioned earlier is very important, and the spectrum which Nordc designs tend towards is usually colder but lighter shades of blue, grey, white and natural tones like woods and dark leather. Strangely enough you will rarely find light leather in Scandinavian design, mostly because leather is naturally dark and so is kept as close to it’s natural tones as possible. Chairs in your kitchen will generally be made of wood with steel or hardwood legs though, for strength and durability. Keep the colors light and as neutral as possible, regardless of which chairs you choose.
When choosing your countertops, you can match them with the rest of the room in 3 ways. Firstly you can match them with the color of your floor with concrete and grey stone, tile or white marble or blue tiles and a vinyl top in a similar blue. Other than that, you can choose to match your counters on the tops and sides, keeping the color consistent throughout, or you can choose a brushed metal finish (since metals are also natural and very user friendly) and match the counters with the items you put onto them.
This brings us to your appliances and crockery/cutlery. You can choose to get toaster and kettles in similar color palettes to the room, since many companies make colorful items, or if you’ve opten for the metal counter then you can definitely go for steel appliances. Choosing your crockery and cutlery is not such a massive concern, unless you have opted to store them in a visible area, in which case going with white ceramic and steel cutlery is probably your best option. Remember that each item you place must have a specific area in which it lives in your space. Also if you do have this more open plan in mind (which is perfectly legitimate in the design ethos) then you will have to consider in what way such items are going to actually be on display, since the line between a cluttered space and an organized looking one is a very thin line to tread with these particular design choices.
Lastly, your big items like your sinks and fridge, dishwasher, stove and (if you’re using one in your kitchen) washing machine are all going to play parts too. Once again, before you buy, perhaps talk to a professional kitchen planner and at the very least get an idea of the types which are out there, as well as the colors these are available in. You ultimately want something which fits the room, but also which is extremely user friendly. Also make sure you’ve chosen the right faucet types for the sinks. Stainless steel is generally the best choice here, and flat tops or any tap style which shows off the lines in the room are preferred.
A Scandinavian design in a home can be extremely rewarding, and look fantastic when done really right. Take the time to do all of the right research, and be fully aware of the space you have available. On top of this, use the basics of lighting, minimalism and modern design as a guide to making a really stand out kitchen with all of the beauty and simplicity of a Scandinavian design.