Minimalist style may have come and gone, but there is one iteration of clean design that will never go out of style. Contrary to more sparse, colorless spaces, Scandinavian interior design uses a blend of textures, contrasts, and soft hues to make sleek, modern furniture feel warm and inviting. It's no small feat to be able to exercise restraint in your décor choices while still managing to make a space feel cozy.
And it's no wonder the style is so popular. It speaks to both our tidy tendencies and our desire to live in cozy comfortable settings. By embracing the hygge philosophy, Danes have understood how to showcase the best of Scandinavian modern design while still layering a space to feel cozy. Want to get the look the Nordic countries are so well-known for? Take note of these beautiful layered spaces.
Scandinavian interior design is known for its minimalist color palettes, cozy accents, and striking modern furniture. Designs often play with natural light—which is a hot commodity in Nordic countries.
High contrasts are the hallmark of Scandinavian interior design. In this all-white dining room, stark black sculptural furniture helps create a dramatic, impactful statement. Modern furniture also contrasts with the ornate architectural details that are common in historic buildings in northern Europe.
Even in newly built contemporary spaces, modern, minimalist furniture is key: tulip tables and swan chairs are warmed up by blonde-wood accents and rich cognac leather tones. Sculptural branches also help make the space feel more organic.
In this New York City apartment, interior designer Tali Roth embraced her own version of Scandinavian style. A George Nelson–esque Flos table lamp stands atop a mirrored cube. The colors are muted tones of taupe, ivory, and sage. Black-and-white photography, olive branches, and a small brass bowl all serve as minimalist decorative accents.
Colorful art is seldom found in Scandinavian interiors, but when it is, it's often in graphic multiples, like in this series of botanical prints. In the dining room, furniture is often kept simple: midcentury chairs and a floating storage buffet. Candles are the hallmark of hygge and often come in simple brass candleholders.
Speaking of hygge, the Danes try to incorporate this philosophy in all aspects of their décor: Make it as cozy and comfortable as possible. In this small space, the unmade bed is pushed up against the window and takes up the whole space. Curtains separate the sleeping space, further adding to the coziness. A small landing rug and slippers make it inviting to get in and out of bed.
Scandinavian design is known for its minimalist flair that still always manages to feel cozy. For instance, this living room features simple, clean-lined furniture and muted gray tones, which could easily feel cold and uninviting. But with striking photography and a cozy mix of textures—the sheepskin throw and kilim rug—it feels welcoming.
Scandinavian homes are known to have fireplaces in the corner of a room—not centered on a wall. Thus, seating arrangements are often designed accordingly. Smaller accent chairs float closer to the fireplace while sofas generally anchor the middle of the room, leaving walking space behind it.
Warm wood tones and sepia hues are popular in Scandinavian interior design, as they are a way to make a room feel sunny and bright without using any bright colors. In this bedroom, off-whites, sepias, and wood tones work together to create a welcoming, muted space.
Swedes and Danes are skilled at layering bedding in the most welcoming way. This often includes a blend of linen sheets, wool blankets, and a small collection of accent pillows, often in muted tone-on-tone hues. Iconic lighting is also common in Scandinavian bedrooms—often using the ceiling fixture and bedside lamp to make a modern statement.
When color is used in Scandinavian interiors, it's often in small bursts or bright hues—almost in a gallery style. For instance, in this light-and-bright living room, a neutral base is brought to life with rugs and throws in blue and purple hues, while the various artwork provides a sharp burst of color.
Though they veer more on the modern side, Scandinavian interiors often feature a mix of periods and styles to make a space feel layered and cozy. In this muted dining room, oil paintings in ornate gilded frames hang above a collection of apothecary jars. Above the stark black dining table hangs an oversize industrial pendant.
This story was originally published on March 21, 2018, and has since been updated.