It’s safe to say that Scandinavian Design has gathered a legion of enthusiasts. Let’s see the golden rules we can bring to our homes to take advantage of this incredible way of living.
Mood of the post: Couldn’t be anyone else but the great Esbjörn Svensson Trio, one of the best sounds from Scandinavia.
We all love Ikea, and thank to the giant Swedish company which delivers high design at ridiculously affordable rates, houses around the world are now much more stylish. I remember the first time I visited an IKEA store, while living in New York City. That was when I had my first contact with anything Scandinavian. I grew to be a declared fan.
Curiously, it wasn’t until the 1950’s that the world gave the Scandinavian Design movement its well deserved value. Scandinavians (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland) created a design line that prizes for simplicity, functionality and minimalism. The Scandinavian Design came as a counterpoint to the modernist, intricate, detailed filled movements that valued the hand-made and nature-inspired shapes – Art Nouveau, as an example. But Art Nouveau, on the other hand, came proposing a change of the then growing mass developments (extended to arts, design and architecture) brought by the Industrial Revolution. So here is the holy grail of Scandinavian Design:
To look at these spaces and not feel fulfilled by calm and having a I-wanna-stay-here kind of feeling is beyond my powers. The Scandinavian way to make a place feel welcoming almost as if it isn’t trying is something worth of adoration, in my opinion. So low profile is a must here. When we’re home, our eyes need rest. When in doubt, go for the simple. Visual pollution works better in your local pub.
The order here is: nothing shouts louder! One thing is to have an interest point in the room. Another is to have that giant china that you inherited from your granny stealing all the show. In Scandinavian Design, excess is a no-no. Balance focal points using a pastel palette or have a neutral background set so you can play with colors. It’s like enhancing either the eyes or the mouth when putting make-up on. You can do both, but you must have a hell of a good balance sense not to risk looking crazy. Maximalism demands talent. Minimalism demands some discipline.
I had a clothes rack like this one pictured below. That was in my last house. It’s just that I had a much longer one with many more pieces hanged on it. In fact, I had a whole side-room as my dressing room. If I am proud of it? Definitely, absolutely, hm, not anymore. Moving to a smaller place in Berlin made me say goodbye to many things that I anyway never wore anymore, or that had belonged to friends before and were more than ready to retire. They were really, just taking valuable space. And that goes for all the house. Get rid of useless and duplicated stuff. Life feels much better now.
What to say of people who paint both their ceilings and floors all white? And not in a boring, cuckoo-nest way, mostly due to the applied textures here and there. The white wooden floor, for instance. It makes the space cozy, gives movement for the eyes to follow and still has not a heavy weight in the mix with every other element in the house. Having your pavement white helps create a perfect frame for all the features that you’ll want to show in your home.
Creating a mirror to natural light was always a priority in Scandinavian interior design. The super long cold seasons and short days have Scandinavians exploring as much as possible the propagation of sun rays and lightness. There isn’t a better way of getting more light then simply making a room already light, as light generates light. How? With mute shades, large windows and a fair share of empty spaces.
Be eclectic and versatile
It can be industrial, it can be boho, it can be posh. It can be rustic, or crisp minimal. The list gets longer but the point is that it is easy to incorporate all bunch of different stiles and tastes in democratic Scandinavian Design. It’s all about maintaining the main canvas, and playing with the details. Be them architectural or decoration details.
Be minimal yet cozy
Choosing to have only the necessary doesn’t mean that we can’t put together a space where we feel comfortable. After all, it’s still OUR space. Using materials and fabrics that are smooth to the touch and a bit of a (fake) sheep fur presence sure helps bringing the ambient all together, plus comfortable. A win-win relationship. Also (carefully) throwing objets here and there, which make you feel happy, and personal memoir will bring personality to your crib.
The main motto of minimalism is: less is more. Meaning that instead of having lots of things that are ok, try having only the necessary, but amazing pieces. When owning less things, you can afford to have better things. They could either be the ones that speak to your heart, or real investments, on quality and durability. In Scandinavian interior design we often see noble materials and fabrics – good wood, leather, copper, well-made furniture, cotton and linen bedding. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a high-low approach towards your space. Again, we all love beautiful design that is affordable, like IKEA. But investing in good furniture not only makes your house look better, but you’ll value much more the time you spend home.
The Scandinavian interior design style values functionality in each piece. Some things in your home should be thought with special care. Your home work-space, for instance. A good chair will make a huge difference in your life, I promise. We’ve bought recently a work chair (the Sayl model) by legendary design house Herman Miller. Its design was inspired by the Golden Gate bridge. It’s ergonomic therefore incredibly comfortable. Ok, it is not a cheap chair. But man, a chair that invites me to sit down and work and then hugs me, well, that’s my kind of chair. Try to have multi-functional furniture that will better fit to your space size and adapt along with your needs. The solution to fit my clothes into a smaller space was a storage bed we made with 5 IKEA Malm dressers and a mattress on top. Works like a charm and saves us precious space to dance around.
Be focused on a point
I said it before: Scandinavian interior design is about creating a neutral palette and playing with details. So, a focal point won’t necessary steal all the attention. But that special work of art, piece of furniture or favorite color, pattern or object will definitely pop-up if you make it the star of the room. Use and abuse white, pastels, gray and black, and punctuate it all with splashes of bright colors. Create a beautiful balanced space, by itself, and top it with the cake cherry as an extra. Clean, free from distractions. The truth is, being so clean and free from distractions, the focal point in this style becomes the people, the life that fills and completes the aesthetic.
And finally, be the “Hygge” you want to see in your life
Hygge translates roughly to ‘coziness’. This concept is about making homes nicer and people happier. The term comes from a Norwegian word meaning “wellbeing” and doesn’t really translate into other languages. It’s something like… you don’t need to wait for that special occasion to light that candle someone gave you and that has gathered dust for ages. Throw a nice blanket on the sofa arm, place a beautiful orchid on your window and voilà! Check this article about Copenhagen and the nordic hygge to soak a bit more of the enchanting Scandinavian way of living.
Now, if you would like some inspiration in which colors to spread your magic with, check this post featuring some Wes Anderson films inspired color palettes and this here to see which colors Pantone chose to be the pretty-in-pastel delights for this year.
And last, did you dig the minimalist way of focusing on what’s important and tossing the rest? Then here are some more tips on how to actually bring it to your life.
Author: Tatiana Bastos