Is there anything more satisfying than scrolling through beautiful kitchen after beautiful kitchen, dreaming of all the remodeling you'd do if time and budget were no object? While we admit to swooning over kitchens of all styles, there's something about Scandinavian-inspired kitchens that really resonate with us. Maybe it's the clean lines, the limited color palette, or the emphasis on texture to add interest, rather than a lot of bells and whistles. Whatever it is, we find that looking at a few Nordic-chic spaces is as relaxing as an hour of our favorite yoga class. Just us?
However, what seems to come so effortlessly to the design-savvy Swedes (and Danes...) isn't always as intuitive for us Americans. The less-is-more mentality takes some getting used to, so we're always looking for cool kitchens that remind us to pare down and embrace our inner minimalists. Or at least try to. Swapping oodles of cabinets for open shelving isn't always easy, but we can all but guarantee the airy vibe achieved by doing so is more than worth any stress that Kondo-ing your kitchen might cause in the meantime.
Here are some of the most serene and sophisticated Scandinavian kitchen ideas we've found lately—take a look and you'll be feeling calmer (and more inspired!) in minutes, we promise.
The contrasting-island trend is something we've been seeing for a while, but nowhere is it as striking as in this ultra-sleek, natural wood kitchen. The black island brings surprising warmth to the space (and serves as a de facto focal point.)
A little industrial, a little nordic, and all-around chic, this kitchen makes use of a variety of juxtaposed textures—poured concrete, wood, leather—to show off the unique bones of this rustic brick building. We love how the open upper shelving doesn't hide the character of the old stone, but rather frames it as a feature.
Shades of Greige
This muted kitchen color scheme is nothing short of stunning. Light grey cabinets by Christopher Peacock play off of variegated countertops with veining, subtly stained upper cabinets, and modern shelving. We've never loved this "non-color" so much.
Black & White & Scandi-Cool
High-contrast black and white spaces always say "Scandi" to us, especially when they're anchored in natural wood flooring. Modern statement pendants bring a funky touch to the island area, while super skinny subway tile puts a fresh spin on a classic backsplash.
Why choose between black marble and white marble when you can have both? This is the dramatic, Nordic kitchen of our dreams thanks to its ultra-high-impact juxtaposition (and dreamy windowseat/banquette area, perfect for reading the paper over morning pastries).
What is it about Scandinavian kitchens that make them look so much more soothing than their American counterparts? We're increasingly of the opinion that eliminating upper cabinets is the answer. A few open shelves (or even just one ultra-long one) gives a more airy feel to the space.
If you love open shelving but worry about having enough storage space, double-up on lower cabinets and drawers so you have plenty of room to organize.
Designer Emily Henderson describes this kitchen's vibe as "rustic-modern-Scandinavian-contemporary-minimalist"...so it's a true multi-hyphenate if there ever was one. And even though it's located in a so-called "mountain house" and does incorporate some rustic elements, we think this is such a fresh take on the wood-filled image we conjure when thinking of that setting. A matte ebony stain on the island gives the space a little of the slightly-undone charm associated with Scandi style.
Just The Essentials
More light-colored wood, sleek hardware-less cabinetry, and matte black sink fixtures, please! This brilliant Studio McGee setup veers into "Scandifornian" territory in such a subtle way—that's what we're calling the marriage of Scandi and Cali-cool design—that we can imagine this kitchen melding perfectly with just about any style of decor.
If you've been sleeping on Semihandmade—the site that lets you customize standard IKEA cabinet configurations with designer-approved fronts (Sarah Sherman Samuel is a collaborator)—then it's time for a wakeup call. We've been fans of their upscale styles for some time, but this wood option has just renewed our love for this budget-friendly fix. The final touch? Nearly-invisible sculptural brass pulls.
Light It Up
Dark floors feel so Scandi to us, especially when paired with bright white counters (double points for a waterfall edge). But it's a kitchen's lighting that really pulls the most weight. A sculptural standalone pendant or a cluster of several can completely transform the space with modern Nordic edge.
Hardware-less cabinets feel undeniably modern, especially when clad in a smoky shade of light grey. But if you're missing your chance to show off favorite objects with some open storage, don't despair—add open shelving at a lower level on your kitchen island, like this clever design shows.
When your whole kitchen is finished in neutral black, white, and light wood, it's okay to go a little crazy on the floor tile. We love the playful touch that this whimsical pattern lends to even a petite kitchen—it's a true lesson in maximizing style in a small space.
Lit From Within
We'd love to wake up and brew our coffee in this serene space every morning. Oversized windows let the light stream in, while wall-mounted task lights over the countertop add a little more control to help home cooks see the endeavor at hand. BRB, replacing all our sconces with task lighting—maybe that's what our failed cooking attempts have been missing?
This minimalist kitchen design proves that less really is more. Dark cabinets, sleek concrete flooring, and light wood furniture make this a no-brainer style that will never fade with the times. We're even digging the exposed wire draping on the statement light fixtures—totally effortless.