Scandinavian style is characterized by its clean lines, lack of clutter, earth tones, soft aesthetic, and sustainable approach. This branch of design may have originated in the 1950s, but with its knack for creating spaces that feel clean and intimate, it is still a highly sought-after today—especially in living rooms. And the best part is, embracing this earthy style doesn’t have to be complicated.
Design without cause can often feel sterile, so it is a good idea to ensure any design choice that you make for your living room—or any room for that matter— supports your lifestyle and desires. Scandinavian design takes this concept one step further with the ideology of hygge, a Danish term that encompasses coziness through being present and enjoying the small things in life.
Whether that means movie night with the family or enjoying a glass of wine by the soft crackle of a fire, make sure your living room’s design supports your desires. While a small leather couch may look chic, if it isn’t comfortable or large enough for family or friends to gather, is it really the right choice for your living room? Basing your decor choices not just on a style, but rather what makes you happy, will go a long way in ensuring you’re satisfied with the outcome of your living room redesign.
Start with a Blank Canvas
With Scandinavian design, you don’t have to fuss over the perfect paint color because there is one color that trumps all—white. Yup, you heard that right. While some toot white as boring, Scandinavian design uses white in a way that will illuminate your living room, give the eye negative space to rest, and help your decor feel fresh and vibrant.
However, if white walls aren’t for you, you can always veer off the tracks a bit with a soft grey or a colored accent wall. Consider earthy and muted colors, like dusty rose, soft blue, warm grey, or light sage.
Less is More
Minimal decor and no visual clutter are big factors when it comes to Scandinavian style. Take inventory of everything from the knick-knacks to furniture in your living room. What do you really need?
Declutter: Learning to declutter your living room will do wonders for the space. Donate, sell, or toss anything that you don’t love or need in the room.
Find Storage Solutions: Sometimes clutter feels inevitable, especially if you have kids. Luckily, you can cut through a lot of it by incorporating furniture with built-in storage—think ottomans, cabinets, side tables, etc. This will allow you to stash odds and ends away when they aren’t in use, which will dramatically assist in keeping clutter at bay.
Keep Color and Texture in Mind
Part of what makes Scandinavian design so poignant isn’t the lack of color—it’s the mindful and sparing use of color. However, texture is equally as important. Scandinavian style leans heavily on variated textures to add intrigue to a space. Thankfully, adding color and texture is one of the easiest ways to cultivate this style—and it is accessible on virtually any budget.
Art: If opting for a canvas or a collection of prints, look to colorful folk art, Mid-Century Modern pieces, geometric compositions, or black and photos. Need a frame? A simple style in white, black, or wood is best. If you crave something a bit more outside the box, a large woven wall piece can also work great with this style. Even if the textile art lacks color, it will still be highly intriguing with its rich texture.
Material: Steer clear of plastic and opt for furniture and accessories made from natural and more sustainable materials, like leather, wood, and ceramic. Want to add some color? Look to throw pillows, rugs, or colored glass. Colored glass vases are particularly wonderful since they look sleek and their transparency will only add to the style’s light and airy appeal.
Plants: Not only will a few well-placed plants incorporate a pop of green to the space, but they will add to the earthy appeal of the design. Try a large plant like a fiddle leaf fig near a bright window or opt for a snake plant if you need something that thrives on low light. No floor space? Macramé plant hangers are perfect for suspending spider plants, pothos, string of pearls, ferns, etc. Plus, these hangers can also be a fabulous way to integrate textural variety.
Layer the Lighting
A simple way to cultivate the cozy feel that comes with Scandinavian decor is to use multiple lighting sources in your living room. Layering different sources of light throughout the room will allow you to toggle the mood of the space with the flick of a switch.
Secondary Lighting: Use a couple table lamps, floor lamps, or wall sconces in your living room for some softer lighting choices. A wooden tripod floor lamp or minimal glass table lamps generally meld well with this style. Want extra control over the lighting? Opt for options with a dimmer switch.
Instant Ambience: Nothing will help you slow down like the soft flicker of a flame, and there are a few ways to incorporate one into your living room that don’t require a chimney. Use an electric fireplace or stove for a more authentic experience. Or, go small and simple with a few candles. Not only can they enhance the space with their ambiance, but scented options can elevate your living room even further with soothing aromas.
Whether you crave a gathering space that is stylish and cozy or are just looking for decor more akin to nature, Scandinavian style is a great choice. If you think minimal, opt for fresh muted tones, embrace variety through texture, and keep hygge in mind, you can take any living room from bland to wow-worthy with Scandinavian style.
Heather Fritz is the Creative and Marketing Director of CEDARst Companies, an integrated real estate developer which develops apartment buildings within the FLATS brand. Heather, a professionally trained photographer, employs her creative ability with the architectural and construction teams to space plan buildings and designs all of the interiors in the FLATS buildings. Heather holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art- Baltimore. In total, she has designed over 120,000 sf of residential amenity, airbnbs, office, and restaurant space since 2011.