Scandinavian Decorating Ideas

By Interior Designer, Tracy Svendsen | Published October 06, 2023 | Updated March 25, 2024

Scandinavian Decorating Ideas: Welcome to a world of captivating simplicity and timeless elegance. Scandinavian design is a popular and trending choice if you are researching different interior design styles.  In this article, we will delve into the stunning realm of Scandinavian design, filled with minimalism, functionality, and striking aesthetics. Whether you are a fan of clean lines, muted color palettes, or cozy textures, these inspiring Scandinavian decorating ideas will help you transform your home into a sanctuary of tranquility and style.

Embracing the Scandinavian design philosophy showcases the harmonious blend of form and function. From sleek furniture designs to clever storage solutions, curate every element to create an inviting and efficient space. Experience nature’s beauty indoors through natural materials like light oak, cozy sheepskin, and textured ceramics. Bring warmth to your space with soft lighting, tastefully incorporated patterns, and a touch of greenery.

Whether you have a small apartment or a spacious house, these Scandinavian decorating ideas will help you create a modern, chic, welcoming home that reflects your style. So, prepare to embark on a journey that celebrates simplicity, functionality, and timeless elegance. Featured image courtesy of Elizabeth Metcalf Design.

Scandinavian Living Room Ideas

Scandinavian Decorating Ideas
Image courtesy of Jenn Pablo Studio

What is Scandinavian decorating style?

Scandinavian decorating style originated in the Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. It is characterized by its emphasis on simplicity, functionality, and minimalism. Scandinavian design embraces clean lines, natural materials, and a neutral color palette. It focuses on creating visually appealing and highly functional spaces without unnecessary clutter or excess.

The Scandinavian decorating style draws inspiration from the region’s harsh climate and long winters, where light is scarce and warmth is essential. As a result, Scandinavian interiors are designed to bring in as much natural light as possible and create a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Scandinavian design also emphasizes using sustainable and eco-friendly materials, such as wood, wool, and linen, to connect with nature and bring a sense of calmness and serenity.

Scandinavian Interior Design

Scandinavian Farmhouse 
Image courtesy of Emily Henderson Design.

Scandinavian design can also complement and highlight other styles. It is simple and functional, strong and attractive — much like the people of those beautiful regions that spawned it. Scandinavian design features gentle contours and organic shapes and combines engineered and natural materials to create harmony.

Bentwood forms and laminated surfaces evolved with the technology of the time and added to the options available for architectural and furniture design during the Scandinavian heyday, the late 1930s through the mid-70s. Artists experimented not only with form but with texture and new materials. Finnish ceramicists, Danish furniture designers, and American architects joined forces to give birth to a new era of aesthetic expression. It continues today.

Scandinavian Bedroom Ideas

Scandinavian Bedroom Ideas
Image courtesy of Planete-Deco

Influences on Scandinavian Design

Scandinavian design originates from the modernism movement of a mid-20th-century world determined to shed the influences of an excessively embellished past. The Bauhaus movement emboldened it and became an iconic expression of “revolt.” New technology, the space race, and a reaction against Victorian tradition influenced the architecture and interiors of those times. “Enough,” said designers.

A movement still celebrated today was born — a trendy and sought-after design still relevant. It is simultaneously spare and “honest” in spirit, rustic and refined, with fluid lines and populist appeal. Proportion and balance are all-important in individual pieces and how an entire room comes together. Scandinavian design melds curves, circles, and linear geometry in unique ways. It is a hallmark of the style, along with the juxtaposition of smooth and rough, soft and hard, shiny and worn, light and dark, old and new — to create an edgy effect and graphic impact.

Contemporary interiors benefit from the Scandinavian ethos because it does not require strict adherence to a formula style. It allows homeowners infinite variety but holds to some simple precepts. The underlying simplicity of the design style keeps it fresh and appealing.

Prevailing Interior colors are apt to be pale: White and black, shades of grey, and carefully selected accents that add interest but do not disrupt. Scandinavian interiors do not shout or “make statements.” Instead, they wrap inhabitants in style, offering tranquility and a sense that “all is right with the world.” Scandinavian design is easy to live with, whether you opt for its soft, romantic, rumpled personality or embrace its opposite face, linear and hard-edge, with few soft, natural touches.

Scandinavian Design Ideas
Scandinavian Design Ideas

Scandinavian Decorating Ideas
Image courtesy of The Style Files

Key characteristics of Scandinavian interior design

1. Minimalism: Scandinavian design focuses on simplicity and minimalism. It embraces the “less is more” philosophy and avoids unnecessary decoration or clutter. Clean lines, open spaces, and uncluttered surfaces are hallmarks of Scandinavian interiors.

2. Functionality: Scandinavian design prioritizes functionality and practicality. Every element in a Scandinavian interior serves a purpose and is designed to be useful. Furniture is often multi-functional, with built-in storage solutions to maximize space.

3. Natural light: With long, dark winters, Scandinavian design strongly emphasizes maximizing natural light. Large windows, light-colored walls, and strategically placed mirrors are used to reflect and amplify natural light, creating bright and airy spaces.

4. Neutral color palette: Scandinavian interiors typically feature a neutral color palette, with shades of white, gray, and beige dominating the space. These colors help create a sense of calmness and openness while allowing other elements, such as furniture and accessories, to stand out.

5. Natural materials: Scandinavian design incorporates natural materials, such as wood, stone, and leather, to connect with nature and bring warmth and texture to the space. These materials are often left in their natural state or lightly finished to showcase their natural beauty.

6. Cozy textures: To counterbalance the coolness of the neutral color palette, Scandinavian interiors incorporate cozy textures, such as sheepskin rugs, knitted blankets, and fluffy pillows. These textures add warmth and comfort to the space, making it inviting.

What is Scandinavian Design?
What is Scandinavian Design?

Contemporary Scandinavian Design
Image courtesy of Lili Jen Crantz

Benefits of Scandinavian Decorating

Scandinavian decor is not just a trend; it’s a lifestyle. It’s a way of living that values simplicity, functionality, and sustainability. Clean lines, muted colors, and minimalism characterize Scandinavian design. It’s about creating a practical and beautiful space where every element has a purpose.

One of the main benefits of Scandinavian decorating is that it promotes a sense of calm and relaxation. You can create a peaceful and serene space using natural materials and neutral colors. Scandinavian decor is also known for its functionality, perfect for small spaces. It’s about using every inch of your home to its fullest potential without sacrificing style.

Another benefit of Scandinavian decorating is that it’s sustainable. Using natural materials and long-lasting furniture, you can reduce your carbon footprint and create an eco-friendly home.

Modern Scandinavian Decorating Ideas

Scandinavian-Style Home in Sweden
Image courtesy of Planete-Deco

Scandinavian decorating offers several benefits that make it a popular choice for homeowners:

1. Simplicity and minimalism: By embracing simplicity and minimalism, Scandinavian design creates a sense of calmness and tranquility in the home. The decluttered spaces allow the mind to relax and focus on what truly matters.

2. Functionality and efficiency: Scandinavian design is highly functional and efficient, with every element serving a purpose. Clever storage solutions and multi-functional furniture help maximize space and keep the home organized.

3. Timeless elegance: Scandinavian design is known for its timeless elegance. The clean lines, neutral color palette, and natural materials ensure your home will always stay in style. It creates a space that feels sophisticated and sophisticated.

4. Improved well-being: The emphasis on natural light, cozy textures, and a connection with nature in Scandinavian design contributes to improved well-being. Natural light boosts mood and productivity, while cozy textures create a sense of comfort and relaxation.

5. Sustainable and eco-friendly: Scandinavian design promotes sustainability and eco-friendliness by using natural materials and focusing on quality over quantity. It encourages a more conscious and mindful approach to decorating and living.

Scandinavian Kitchen Ideas

Scandinavian Kitchen Ideas
Image courtesy of Leanne Ford Design

Decorating Tips

Scandinavian decorating is all about creating a beautiful and functional space. To successfully incorporate Scandinavian design into your home, consider the following tips:

1. Keep it simple: Embrace simplicity and declutter your space. Remove unnecessary items and only keep what is essential to create a clean and uncluttered environment.

2. Maximize natural light: Make the most of natural light using light-colored curtains or blinds that allow light to pass through. Position mirrors strategically to reflect and amplify natural light.

3. Incorporate natural materials: Use natural materials, such as wood, stone, and leather, to bring warmth and texture to your space. Opt for furniture and accessories made from sustainable materials.

4. Choose a neutral color palette: Stick to a neutral color palette, such as whites, grays, and beiges, for your walls and larger furniture pieces. Add pops of color through accessories and artwork.

5. Create cozy corners: Incorporate cozy textures, such as sheepskin rugs, knitted blankets, and fluffy pillows, to create cozy corners to relax and unwind.

Contemporary Scandinavian Design
Contemporary Scandinavian Design

Contemporary Scandinavian Design by Lisa Staton Design
Image courtesy of Luxe Interiors

6. Focus on functionality: Choose stylish and functional furniture. Look for pieces with built-in storage solutions to maximize space and organize your home.

5. Use lighting to create ambiance: Soft lighting can create a cozy and relaxing atmosphere in your home. Use lamps and candles to add warmth and create a sense of tranquility.

6. Invest in quality pieces: Scandinavian design is about quality over quantity. Invest in well-made pieces, such as a solid wood dining table or a leather sofa, that will last a lifetime.

7. Add greenery: Bring a touch of nature indoors by adding plants and greenery to your space. Choose plants that are easy to care for, such as succulents or snake plants. Not only do plants improve air quality, but they also add a fresh and vibrant element to your decor.

Scandinavian Bedroom Decorating Ideas

Scandinavian Decorating Ideas
Image courtesy of Coco Lapine Design

Color Palette

Whites, grays, and beiges dominate the Scandinavian color palette. These colors create a sense of calm serenity and reflect light, making your space feel brighter and more open. They also provide a neutral backdrop for other colors and textures to shine.

If you want to add a pop of color to your space, try incorporating muted shades of blue or green. The natural landscapes of Scandinavia inspire these colors and can add a sense of tranquility to your home.

When selecting colors for your space, consider the natural light your home receives. If your home has a lot of natural light, you can use darker colors without making the room feel too small. However, stick to lighter colors if your home is darker to create a sense of brightness and openness.

Scandinavian Color Palette

Scandinavian Dining Room Ideas
Image courtesy of Lili Jen Crantz

The Scandinavian color palette is characterized by its soft, muted tones and neutral shades. The following colors are commonly used in Scandinavian interiors:

1. White: White is the predominant color in Scandinavian design. It creates a sense of openness, brightness, and simplicity. White walls, furniture, and accessories reflect light and make the space feel larger.

2. Gray: Gray is another popular color in Scandinavian design. It adds depth and sophistication to the space while maintaining a neutral and calming effect—light shades of gray work well in Scandinavian interiors.

3. Beige: Beige is a warm and inviting color that complements the neutral color palette of Scandinavian design. It adds a touch of warmth and coziness to the space without overpowering it.

4. Pastels: Soft pastel shades, such as light pink, baby blue, and pale yellow, are often accent colors in Scandinavian interiors. They add a subtle pop of color and create a playful and whimsical atmosphere.

In summary, the Scandinavian color palette is dominated by whites, grays, and beiges, with muted shades of blue and green for added color.

Scandinavian Color Palette

Scandinavian Living Room Ideas
Image courtesy of Lili Jen Crantz

Scandinavian Furniture and Accessories

Scandinavian furniture and accessories are known for their sleek lines, functionality, and timeless design. Here are some key furniture and accessory pieces commonly found in Scandinavian interiors:

1. Mid-century modern furniture: Scandinavian design is heavily influenced by mid-century modern style. Furniture pieces with clean lines, organic shapes, and tapered legs are popular. Look for iconic designs from renowned Scandinavian designers.

2. Minimalist storage solutions: Scandinavian design strongly emphasizes functionality and organization. Look for furniture with built-in storage solutions, such as drawers or hidden compartments, to maximize space and keep your home clutter-free.

3. Natural wood furniture: Natural wood is a staple in Scandinavian interiors. Opt for furniture pieces made from light oak, birch, or ash wood. These woods add warmth, texture, and a sense of nature to your space.

4. Textured ceramics: Scandinavian design incorporates textured ceramics, such as vases, bowls, and plates, to add visual interest and a touch of craftsmanship to the space. Look for pieces with simple and organic shapes.

5. Sheepskin rugs: Sheepskin rugs are a must-have accessory in Scandinavian interiors. They add warmth, texture, and a cozy element to your space. Place them on the floor or drape them over chairs or sofas.

In addition to furniture, accessories are an essential part of Scandinavian design. Look for functional and stylish items like woven baskets, wool blankets, and ceramic vases. Scandinavian furniture is known for its clean lines, minimalist design, and high-quality materials. Focus on functional and beautiful pieces, and incorporate accessories that add texture and warmth to your space.

Scandinavian Furniture Ideas

A Light and Spacious Sky-High Apartment that Celebrates Scandinavian Design
Image courtesy of Architectural Digest

Scandinavian Lighting and Textiles

Lighting and textiles are essential elements of Scandinavian design. Soft lighting can create a cozy and relaxing atmosphere in your home, while textiles add warmth and texture. Here are some tips for incorporating lighting and textiles into your space:

Lighting and textiles are crucial in creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere in Scandinavian interiors. Here are some key elements to consider:

1. Soft lighting: Scandinavian design favors soft, diffused lighting over harsh and bright lights. Use floor lamps, table lamps, and pendant lights with warm-toned bulbs to create a cozy and intimate ambiance.

2. Candlelight: Candles are a quintessential part of Scandinavian design. Their soft glow adds warmth and creates a soothing and relaxing atmosphere. Use candle holders and lanterns to display candles throughout your space.

3. Sheer curtains: Opt for sheer curtains or blinds that allow natural light to pass through while providing privacy. Sheer curtains create a soft and ethereal effect, adding to Scandinavian interiors’ light and airy feel.

4. Textured textiles: Incorporate textured materials, such as knitted blankets, wool rugs, and linen curtains, to add warmth and coziness to your space. Mix and match different textures to create a layered and inviting look.

In summary, lighting and textiles are essential elements of Scandinavian design. Use lamps, candles, and natural materials to create a cozy and relaxing atmosphere in your home, and incorporate textiles to add warmth and texture.

Scandinavian Lighting Ideas
Scandinavian Lighting Ideas

Scandinavian Interior Design
Image courtesy of Lili Jen Crantz

The New Look of Scandinavian Design

Whatever elements you pick from the Scandinavian design basket will likely mix easily with others. Hang a simple copper globe as a stunning chandelier, then ground the look with lots of light shining through bare windows, a pale wood or bamboo floor, and soft grey painted walls. Set simple white leather sofas on a clear blue area rug in a sparsely accessorized room. Or fill the walls with graphic black and white art, but add a pair of lounge chairs in burnished saddle tan leather.

Pair simple, sculptural dining chairs with a white or black-painted dining table, or group simple wood chairs around a classic round Saarinen tulip table. Add a tanned leather pouf in a black and white living room for an exotic touch. Place a painted wood spindle-back chair or loveseat at the foot of a bed dressed in creamy white linens and a treasured painted antique chest in front of a chrome-leg modern sectional.

Scandinavian design celebrates the unexpected: Black and white stripes are attention-getting, but use their graphic contrast in small doses for accent value as simple mattress-ticking curtains, a single accent pillow, and the contrast of black and white matting on framed art. Homespun textiles, knitted throws, fur rugs, leather and chrome, copper and black iron, soft and hard, shiny and weathered, rustic and modern, worn stone and artistic glass, antique and high-tech. It all works. It’s all a part of the Scandinavian penchant for bringing mismatched and disparate elements together to create a cohesive and eminently livable whole.

Modern Scandinavian Living Room Ideas

Contemporary Scandinavian Living Room
Image courtesy of Luxe Interiors

Use Color Sparingly in Modern Interiors

Color, too, can be welcome in Scandinavian design, but it usually appears in small doses in today’s interiors. Saturated blue and white is a staple for dinnerware and some textiles, but the days of overly vibrant Marimekko prints have waned, although the firm and its products are still “fashion forward.” However, clear colors are often a welcome treat in a monochromatic room. Bright yellow, a dash of paprika, a touch of green in living plants — all are welcome.

If you look at Scandinavian design as a continuing evolution of traditional materials and sensibilities, you have the basis for creating a distinctly personal look for your interiors. A deft way to achieve the subdued balance noted Scandinavian interior design evokes is to studiously remove elements — one at a time — until what is left seems perfectly curated. Then, your room is ready to stand alone with minimal distraction.

Nordic people honor the past, respect tradition, and live with the things they love. But they tend to focus not on things but on feelings and perceptions. That’s the inherent beauty that is embodied by Scandinavian design. It leads to a simple life. And life lived simply is life lived well.

Chair & Sheepskin Throw

Hanging Rattan Chair & Sheepskin Throw

Inspired by a Scandinavian design from the 60s, the sculptural frame of this hanging hand-made rattan chair is created from bent rattan with a scooped seat that cradles you as you float. The chair hangs by a heavy-duty loop and rope, so it’s super sturdy. Add a pillow for a pop of color and cushion. The sheepskin throw makes a space feel Scandinavian, rustic, and elevated all at once. Made in Iceland of soft, fluffy wool, it also cozies up a room in no time flat – not to mention keeps you warm on cooler nights.

Chair & Sheepskin Throw

Riviera Chair & Sheepskin Throw

This classic 1930s European bistro chair, reinterpreted, works well in a Scandinavian interior. Handcrafted of lightweight rattan and woven plastic seats, this design is fabulously family-friendly and great for the kitchen or the patio. (Just remember to store it indoors when the rains come.) For added versatility, a slight variation in how the colors are woven makes the entire Riviera Collection prime for mixing and matching – pair different silhouettes for a fun and lively look.

Scandinavian-Inspired DIY Projects

If you’re feeling creative, here are some Scandinavian-inspired DIY projects you can try:

1. Macrame plant hangers: Macrame plant hangers are a popular trend in Scandinavian design. Create your own using a macrame cord and wooden beads. Hang them near windows or in corners to display your favorite plants.

2. Painted wooden furniture: Give old wooden furniture a Scandinavian makeover by painting them in light, neutral colors. Choose soft pastels or white to create a fresh and airy look.

3. Woven wall hangings: Create your woven wall hanging using different colors and textures of yarn. Hang it above your bed or in your living room to add a Scandinavian charm.

4. Upcycled storage containers: Repurpose old containers, such as tin cans or glass jars, by painting them in soft pastel colors. Use them to store small items or display fresh flowers.

Scandinavian Interior Design

Scandinavian Decorating Ideas
Image courtesy of Coco Lapine Design

Scandinavian Decorating Ideas on a Budget:

Scandinavian decor doesn’t have to break the bank. Many ways exist to create a stylish and functional space on a budget. Here are some tips:

1. Shop second-hand: Look for quality furniture and accessories at thrift stores, garage sales, and online marketplaces to find unique pieces at a fraction of the cost.

2. DIY projects: As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of DIY projects that you can try to add Scandinavian charm to your home. These projects are often inexpensive and create a unique look in your space.

3. Use natural materials: Natural materials like light oak and wool are often less expensive than synthetic materials. Look for items made from natural materials to save money and create a natural look in your space.

4. Use what you have: Look at what you already have before buying new furniture or accessories. Repurpose items and use them in new ways to create a fresh look in your space.

In summary, plenty of ways exist to create a stylish and functional space on a budget. Shop second-hand, try DIY projects, use natural materials, and use what you have to save money.

Scandinavian Decorating DIY Ideas

Scandinavian Decorating Ideas
Image courtesy of Fantastic Frank

Scandinavian Decorating Ideas Conclusion

Scandinavian decorating offers a harmonious blend of simplicity, functionality, and timeless elegance. By embracing the key characteristics of Scandinavian design and incorporating inspiring ideas into your home, you can create a space that reflects your style while promoting a sense of calmness and well-being. 

Whether you have a small apartment or a spacious house, these Scandinavian decorating ideas will help you transform your home into a modern, chic, welcoming sanctuary. So, embrace the beauty of Scandinavian design and embark on a journey that celebrates simplicity, functionality, and timeless elegance.

Shop Buyer Select’s Curated Selection of  Scandinavian Decor

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Elle Decor Editors.  Our Favorite Scandinavian Design Trends. Elle Decor. November 20,2019.
Davies, Rachel. Scandinavian Interior Design: Everything You Need to Know About This Winter-Friendly and Nature-Inspired Style. Architectural Digest. January 27, 2023.
Oster, Lauren. What is Scandinavian Style? HGTV.

Scandinavian Decorating Ideas
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Scandinavian Decorating Ideas
Embracing the Scandinavian design philosophy showcases the harmonious blend of form and function. From sleek furniture designs to clever storage solutions, curate every element to create an inviting and efficient space.
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