Scandinavian minimalism: what it is and how you can make it work in your home

Ah, the Scandinavian home. What comes to your mind’s eye when those words run through your thoughts? Do you think of a house high on a cliff next to a fjord in Norway? Perhaps you envision a cabin next to a picturesque medieval-style town.

Either way, you probably think about a tranquil locale filled with mountains and forests. But that’s the outside!

What comes to mind when images of a typical Scandinavian interior pop into your brain? If your vision is accurate, you’ll think of a home equipped with plenty of space, uncluttered, and designed for maximum comfort!

Welcome to Scandinavian minimalism.

White Room with Armchair and Table
By Antoha713/Shutterstock

What is Scandinavian minimalism, really?

Scandinavian minimalism started at the dawn of the 20th century and grew into what we know today during the 1950s. As people in Norse countries moved with the rest of the world into a new era of comfort and technology, they began to emphasize lives filled with fewer distractions. They also wanted less stress, more freedom, and more time to spend with friends and family.

Scandinavian minimalism is all about neutral, calming, simple designs. There’s warm, cozy thought in the intention and implementation of it all. This type of minimalism endeavors to evoke a sense of brightness and inspiration. It’s about longevity and doing more with less.

How is Scandinavian minimalism different from other styles?

For starters, Scandinavian minimalism separates itself from industrial styles by making use of softer textures. Whereas industrial minimalism widely features metals like chrome and steel, the Scandinavian design focuses on the use of woven fabrics and wood.

Additionally, you’ll see Scandinavian homes using a lot of color palettes found in nature. With that said, Scandinavian minimalism does share certain aesthetics with industrial, modern minimalist designs. Some of these similarities are found in the uncluttered space that allows the open flow of movement and clean lines of architecture found in homes with minimalist designs.

Scandinavian décor and design in minimalism

Design and décor in Scandinavian minimalism focus a lot on organic materials. For example, you’ll find furniture like wooden chairs, tables, and floors in a Scandinavian house. On those floors, there may be woven rugs.

There’s an emphasis on cleanliness and open spaces free of clutter. It’s about cutting down on the visual noise and promoting a stress-free life. Many homes will include elements designed to bring a sense of warmth and coziness, so you may see many candles throughout the living room for evening use.

You’ll also find that color palettes are designed to help promote a sense of emotional calm. Therefore, walls are likely to be painted in shades of white and blue. Furniture colors usually complement the walls with soft browns (such as those of the wooden floors and kitchen chairs). You may also see comforters and blankets with those same soft browns, tans, beige, or gray colors in the bedrooms.

Much of the furniture is genuinely handmade, or it’s designed to pull off a handcrafted appearance.

Blue Pillow on White Bed
By Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

How can you make it work in your home?

You can do a few things right away to start implementing a Scandinavian, minimalist feel in your house. Remember that a large part of it is creating a feeling of warmth and belonging. It’s about having a sense of coziness.

Here are some things to try!

Use a neutral color scheme and make things comfy

You might want to start by using muted hues and purchasing soft, comfortable couches with big, comfortable pillows. That said, remember that less is more. Have a look at your living room and think about what you can get rid of.

Is there anything that you use regularly? Keep that. Are there items and decorations that just seem to be there … because? If so, remove them.

Tastefully accentuate décor

Something else to try is to remove any big, wild, or flashy pieces of art you might have. If it makes you wince when you first glance at it, lose it.

Instead, think about paintings of nature or modest portraits using plain, wooden frames. Some of these can be accentuated with brass fittings, such as on the corners of the picture frames. The idea is to go for a bit of contrast while keeping it low-key.

Use house plants and contemporary flowers

Finally, you can try adding more greenery and natural things to your home. Bringing in plants to your living space obviously adds a touch of life. You can also add flowers and warm-scented candles to enhance an overall sense of relaxed intimacy!

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