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Scandinavian Interior Design: The Basics

by Dianna Doherty 07/14/2021

Photo by ATBO from Pexels

Scandinavian design is a popular style for both exterior and interior design. No matter what the architectural style or layout of your home, you can still achieve the Scandinavian Design aesthetic inside. There are several key elements to the style that combine to form a comfortable but clean look and feel. Here we will go over those elements for a better understanding of how to use and recognize Scandinavian interior design.

Light Colors

Efficient use of natural light is extremely important in Scandinavian design and you can find that concept in the most common color choices. Because the style originated in the far Northern Hemisphere where days are short and winters are long, designers and homeowners choose light colors for inside the home. Some more dramatic examples of Scandinavian interior design have everything in white. However, it’s much more common to use a mixture of white, cream, beige and even muted pastel colors. Both natural and artificial light reflect off of these colors to make the space feel brighter and larger even on a cold winter’s night.

Multi-Functional Pieces

Scandinavian design follows the philosophy of “less is more” but with a twist. Furniture pieces are simple in design, but often have multiple functions in order to avoid crowding a space. One great example of this might be low coffee tables with built-in storage or shelving below. Another would be stools or chairs that can function as table surfaces. Because of the general lack of frills or embellishment in Scandinavian furniture, it becomes multi-function simply by being versatile. A table can look good in a formal dining room and a casual breakfast nook, for instance. The prevailing concept is to make every furniture piece count, both to avoid clutter and to help maintain a comfortable and simple lifestyle.

Cozy Accents

Scandinavian interiors always include a wealth of comfortable materials and accent pieces. Throw pillows, chunky-knit blankets and soft leather are cozy staples. Main living areas typically include large, thick rugs to keep your feet warm and comfortable. Even materials that might not be “cozy” on their own, such as unfinished wood, combine with the other aesthetic elements to soften and balance out sharp corners and edges.

Patterns and Prints

Scandinavian design may favor simple and neutral furniture, but there are no rules against bold prints or patterns. Accent pieces like pillows, rugs, lampshades and throw blankets add a pop of color or visual contrast. Paneling and draping fabrics and even wood floors often incorporate patterns and prints. Geometric shapes are common but so are florals and other organically inspired designs.


Scandinavian design has a heavy emphasis on connection with nature. You can see this in the preference for large windows and use of materials like unfinished wood or stone. Indoor plants are an extremely popular aspect of Scandinavian interior design as well. In rooms with simple and neutral design, you can use live greenery to create visual interest in the same way as art—and bring nature indoors.

Designers and homeowners often combine Scandinavian interior design elements with other styles to create a unique aesthetic. Even if your goal is to decorate using purely Scandinavian design inspired pieces, there are no rules. As long as it’s warm, cozy and bright you’ll be creating a great space to fit your needs.

About the Author

Dianna Doherty

As a RE/MAX® agent, I’m dedicated to helping my clients find the home of their dreams. Whether you are buying or selling a home or just curious about the local market, I would love to offer my support and services. I know the local community — both as an agent and a neighbor — and can help guide you through the nuances of our local market. With access to top listings, a worldwide network, exceptional marketing strategies and cutting-edge technology, I work hard to make your real estate experience memorable and enjoyable.

I look forward to the opportunity to work with you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me today!