What is Scandinavian Design & How to create it in your home

Scandinavian interiors are an inspiration many of us aspire to. Those calm, inviting design hues that manage to be intriguing and eye-catching, but crisp and clean at the same time. However, what are the key elements that make up  Scandi interiors, when did it start and how can you recreate modern Scandinavian living in your own home? Read on to learn more.

When did Scandinavian Design start?

Scandinavian Design first began early in the 20th century as a blend of old and new styles from the Nordic countries; Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway. From there the trend for Scandi design gained traction overseas, notably in the U.S. and Canada. The influence of industrialisation on design can be seen across Scandinavian interiors, as well as mid-century modern design, and the Bauhaus movement in Germany, However, Scandinavia was a much later adopter of industrialisation, compared with the rest of Europe, allowing the sensibilities of true craftmanship to remain alongside the influence of modern designs, resulting in interesting interiors rooted in fresh, simple design and those trusted elements of craftsmanship. 


Ram Dining Chair Wood Metal

What is Scandinavian Design?

For Scandinavian design, there is a strong ‘less is more’ philosophy where every item must perform a function, in no small part, because housing in the region was expensive and the floor area was smaller, so multifunctional furniture was key.  For example, this Kristensen Kristensen Zet dining table, extends by up to 2 metres, making it suitable for all occasions, but packing down easily when not in use. Also, due to there being shorter days, daylight was precious, thus clean lines, often white spaces or simple muted colour palettes dominate scenes to create the feeling of bright, airy spaces.  

If you’re looking to create a stunning Scandinavian interior in your home then read on to see our guide below:

Maximise Lighting:

Think of a Scandinavian Interior and you will imagine a clean space with minimal fuss and colour, but the use of natural light is very important.  This is acheived by maximising windows and using materials and colours that reflect, rather than absorb natural light.


Layered with natural lighting is the use of artificial lighting, which can serve a number of roles, from pendant lights over a dining table, as shown with the Boris Ceiling Lights, to accent table and floor lamps in your lounging spaces. Clever lighting solutions can ensure the room is not only functional, but can highlight interesting features and furniture in the room, and bring cosy warmth to any space.

Play with Contrasts:

High contrasts are the epitome of Scandinavian Design, and are a great way to help highlight some key details, for example your favourite chair.  Classically, using dark or black furniture against a white or muted room canvas can help create this high contrast look, as shown below with the Danform Ooid Oval Dining Table and Rover Dining Chairs.

Another technique can be the use of patterns, Scandinavians are renowned for playing with bold patterns, this can be prevalent in flooring, fabrics or even decorative art pieces. One simple way to bring this to life is accenting your bed or sofa with patterned cushion covers.

Soft Tones:

Offset the minimalistic canvas with muted tones, and leverage accessories, such as pictures, lamps and bedding, which offer decorative detail that brings warmth and depth to the room. Try to stick to earthy tones that would be found in Nordic homes, such as greys, browns, accent dark blues and greens.

Beds are a great way to use layers of accented colours, with multiple cushions and layered bedding and throws, bringing that hygge vibe as shown with this Bolzan Gaya Bed with Storage Box.

Add Texture:

On face value minimalism could be associated with a cold and uninviting space, however Scandinavian Design cleverly uses textiles to bring a warm and cosy edge.

Natural fibres that would have been available locally, such as Sheepskins draped over chair backs and use of wool in rugs such as this Linie Design Lineal Sweep Handwoven Rug, serve a practical purpose, as well as adding intrigue aesthetically.

Be Inspired by Nature:

Scandinavian Interiors are inspired by and leverage nature in many different ways, traditionally using woods or natural fabrics sourced locally. So you won't be surprised to learn that bringing the outdoors in via the use of live plants is another great way to create a beautiful Scandi inspired interior.

You will also see a lot of warm woods, combined with sepia hues to bring a sunny side to a space without forcing it through brash colours.  We love the combination of the warm oak and soft grey bouclé fabric on the Kristensen Comb Chair.

Shop Scandi Interiors at Milola

At Milola, many of our handpicked designer collections are rooted in Scandi style. Feel free to browse our online store or please get in touch if you would like to speak with one of our partner interior designers for personalised advice on how to bring that contemporary Scandi style to your home.

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.