Scandinavian style interior design, all the rage in the 1950s, is experiencing a comeback. Its sleek lines and neutral palette are essentially timeless and add a sense of elegance to any home or office.
What Is Scandinavian Style?
Carl Larsson is generally credited with creating Scandinavian style. It combines the neutral colors of the Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish landscape with a casual aged appearance. The long winters and lack of natural light in Scandinavia created a need for sleek and airy interiors that made the most of the available sunlight.
The Scandinavian color palette relies on basic colors: whites, from ecru to bright white, beiges, natural light wood tones, and light blues. The exception to the neutral color scheme is the frequent addition of bright red, as illustrated in the photo above. Red contrasts dramatically with the mostly pale interiors to add interest.
Textures and Fabrics
Fabrics, too, follow the natural theme. Cotton and linen are the most commonly found fabrics in Scandinavian style interior design. These may be plain or textured and frequently seen designs include white stripes and checks. Florals are also sometimes seen, usually with white as a background with a small, repeating design.
Typical Scandinavian style furniture is a mixture of straight lines with gently curved detailing. Legs are generally thin and tapered. Benches and bench-like sofas are a staple of Scandinavian style interior design. Commonly, these pieces are set on six legs with minimal upholstery or separate seat cushions. Blonde woods: white pine, ash, and beech are the norm. These may also be bleached or painted a pale yellow or white. Carved accents, such as fluted legs and scrolled table borders, are frequently found. Stenciling often is added for subtle interest.
Architectural details commonly found in Scandinavian style interior design include leaded glass windows, high ceilings, hardwood floors, and wall moldings. Lighting is added with iron chandeliers and scones as well as simple table lamps.
Hardwood floors should be of light-colored wood, such as maple, or bleached. Floors painted white or a pale color are also common, sometimes with a stenciled border. Stenciling is also used on walls to frame a doorway or to create a border.
Accessories are simple and uncluttered. Mirrors, again to make the most of natural light, are a common element. Wreaths, often made of boxwood, candles, china, and flowers are other frequently found items. Rugs, when used, are often striped or of a small-patterned floral design. Denmark and Sweden are well-known for their glass and silver craftsmen, such as Jensen and Orefors, and tabletop items should be used sparingly and reflect this simplicity.
Scandinavian style interior design is a timeless, fresh, and elegant design motif - one that's free of clutter, yet warm and welcoming. It makes a nice change from traditional English country or Provencal design.