Our homes have long been influenced by the architecture and interior design of other countries and cultures. But today, there’s an interior trend which has become increasingly prevalent in the modern home — Scandinavian design.

What is Scandinavian Design?

  • Functional and aesthetically pleasing: “Scandinavian style is characterised by three key components — functionality, simplicity and beauty,” explains Ikea’s Communication and Interior Design Manager, Craig Ritchie. A parity between functionality and aesthetics is at the core of Scandi design
  • Natural materials: An appreciation for natural materials such as timber and craftsmanship have long been embedded in the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian design
  • Wellbeing and hygge: An emphasis on wellbeing and, in particular, making the most of natural light, is important
  • A ‘homely’ interior: Scandi design is the epitome of warm, cosy homes. “Simple in design, clean lines are often incorporated with understated elegance and warm functionality, which creates a very homely feel,” says Craig Ritchie of Ikea
  • A versatile look: Scandinavian design does not represent one look; it’s a style which has evolved, encompassing many influences and ideas. From the more traditional and rustic (think folk-inspired textiles), to contemporary, pared-back Scandi interiors, there’s a look to suit most homes

What is Hygge?

In short, hygge is a Danish concept, originating from a Norwegian word, which roughly translates to ‘wellbeing’. It is characterised by being a cosy, welcoming and convivial way of living, that not only applies to our interiors but our food, clothes and activities too.

Think flickering candles, knitted throws, snuggling up with board games by the fire after a Sunday roast, laughter with close friends and you should begin to get the idea.

Hygge and the idea of creating warm, light interiors which promote wellbeing is important to Scandinavian look.

Oh, and if you are still wondering, it is pronounced ‘hoo-gah’, rhyming with cougar.

Scandi-style kitchen diner

A neutral colour palette and natural materials and textures help to achieve the typical Scandi-style in this kitchen-diner

Scandinavian Design: Get the Look

Here are the key ingredients to achieving a touch of Scandinavian design in your own home.

Go for Scandinavian-Style Woodburning Stoves

Wood is not just used for lining Scandi interiors; it’s also burnt on stoves in these cold climes. A woodburning stove, accompanied by a stack of logs, is often (but not always) a subtle affair in the modern, Scandi-inspired room.

Norway’s Jøtul, Danish Morsø and Contura are three notable names to look out for when specifying a Scandi-inspired stove.

The Morsø 7943 is subtle yet adds impact to the room

The Morsø 7943 is a great example of a Scandinavian-style woodburning stove


This low Contura 330G stove, which can be placed at floor level, is a warming centrepiece to this Scandi living room

Choose Scandinavian Furniture

No discussion on Scandinavian interior design would be complete without reference to at least a handful of iconic pieces from native designers — particularly those which emerged during the mid-20th century.

Hans Wegner’s Wishbone Chair (see image below) is one design of particular note. Another name to look out for is Arne Jacobsen, a highly influential architect and designer of the period.

Lighting design is another area where the Scandinavians excelled in the 20th century; Poul Henningsen’s designs for Louis Poulsen are particularly recognisable.

Try the Scandinavian Design Center for Scandi-inspired furniture and lighting.

Scandinavian Kitchen

Poul Henningsen (for Louis Poulsen) lights in a Scandinavian style kitchen designed by Hamilton-King

Hans Wegner Wishbone Chairs

White walls provide the perfect backdrop for these Hans Wegner Wishbone Chairs (and flooring from Dinesen)

Keep Walls Light, Bright and Neutral in Scandi Interiors

A healthy serving of white – on walls, furniture and everywhere else – is important in Scandinavian interiors for good reason: with the cold winter climate and short winter days, this neutral colour feels light and airy throughout the year.

Cool whites work well in south-facing rooms, which receive the best of the warm, summer sunlight, while warmer whites will work hard to warm up north-facing rooms which receive lower levels of daylight and a more cooler, natural light.

Grey is another neutral which can be used to create a calm, soft interior; the same rules apply when it comes to choosing a warm or cool shade of this neutral.


Grey and white are popular hues in Scandinavian-style living rooms. The furniture shown here is from Ikea

Introduce Accent Colour to Scandinavian Rooms

White walls never look sparse in Scandi homes for two very good reasons: not only do natural materials bring warmth and texture, but many an interior scheme features a bold splash of colour.

Ideas for introducing accent colour include a sofa, chair or sizable item in a single bright hue.

Alternatively, patterned accessories work well; more traditional folk-style patterns lend themselves to cottage or country homes, while strikingly bold reds, yellows, oranges, blues and greens can be used to add a retro touch.

“Warmth can be created through the addition of deep reds and purples on cushions or lamps,” adds Ikea’s Craig Ritchie. “This style is all about small touches being used to create the full effect.”

BoConcept Kaleidoscope rugThis Kaleidoscope rug adds a retro colour pop against the white BoConcept’s Bergen sofa

Natural Textures and Wood are Key to Scandinavian Design

Wood flooring is a staple in Scandinavian interiors, with timber in abundance in these densely forested countries. Lengthy, wide planks in light timbers or ‘bleached’ wood are de rigueur.

Natural floorings such as wool, coir, seagrass or sisal in light colours are also good options. Alternatively, combine wood flooring with a large rug in a soft texture or natural material.

Interior timber cladding – whether it has a rustic appearance, is a painted tongue and groove (which also looks wonderfully Scandinavian on vaulted ceilings), or perhaps the use of floor planks on the walls – is one way of adding texture to walls.

Painted interior brickwork is another great way of adding texture to a Scandi room.

’Topps Tiles' Antarctic half-filled, brushed, solid oak planks

The Antarctic half-filled, brushed, solid oak planks from Topps Tiles are used on the floor and lower walls

Go for Scandi-Inspired Window Dressings

Window dressings are unfussy and are often of a soft, light material such as cotton — they lend privacy but do not impede natural light entering.

In bedrooms, combine with a blackout roller or venetian blinds. The clean lines offered by shutters (particularly in wood or painted white wood) are also ideal.

Use window dressings that allow natural light to enter, whilst ensuring privacyUse window dressings that allow natural light to enter, whilst ensuring privacy

For inspiration, take a look at these 12 cosy Scandinavian style interiors

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