It’s safe to say that Scandinavian Design has gathered a legion of enthusiasts all over the globe. (Me, me, me!)
I remember the first time I visited a Danish Design Store, whyle living in New York City many years ago – it was when I had my first contact with anything Scandinavian. I grew to be a declared fan.
Today, thank to the giant Swedish Ikea, which delivers high design at ridiculously affordable rates, houses around the world are much more stylish, even if the budget for home decor is not that big.
But curiously, it wasn’t until the 1950’s that the world gave the Scandinavian Design movement its well deserved attention. The people in Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland) created a design line that prizes for simplicity, functionality and minimalism.
The Scandinavian Design came as a counterpoint to the previously celebrated modernist, intricate, detailed filled movements that valued the hand-made and nature-inspired shapes – Art Nouveau, for instance.
Art Nouveau, on the other hand, had come to propose a change for the then growing mass developments (extended to arts, design and architecture) brought by the Industrial Revolution.
So without further due, let’s jump to the golden rules we can bring to our homes to take advantage of this incredible, stress-free, full of Hygge way of living.
By following these mantras, you’ll end up with a less cluttered, more minimal and definitely more functional home. That also means that you will probably end up being less stressed and more productive. If you work from home, you know the importance of having such qualities in your space.
Here is the holy grail of Scandinavian Design:
What do Scandinavians keep doing right?
1: They Keep it Free From Visual Polution
To look at a clean space and not feel fulfilled by calm and by an I-wanna-stay-here kind of feeling is beyond my powers. The Scandinavian way to make a place feel welcoming almost as if it isn’t trying is something worth of adoration, in my opinion. So low profile is a must here. When we’re home, our eyes need rest. When in doubt, go for the simple. Visual pollution works better in your local pub.
2: They Keep the Harmony
The order here is: nothing shouts louder! One thing is to have an interest point in the room. Another is to have that giant china that you inherited from your granny stealing all the show. In Scandinavian Design, excess is a no-no. Balance focal points using a pastel palette or have a neutral background set so you can play with colors. It’s like enhancing either the eyes or the mouth when putting make-up on. One can do both, but having a hell of a good balance sense not to risk looking crazy. Maximalism demands lots of talent. Minimalism demands some discipline.
3: They Keep it Clutter-free
I had a clothes rack like this one pictured below. That was in my last house. Just that mine was much longer and it had many more clothes hanged on it. In fact, I had a whole side-room as my dressing room. If I am proud of it? Definitely, absolutely, hm, not anymore. Moving to a smaller place in Berlin made me say goodbye to many things that I anyway never wore anymore, or that had belonged to friends before and were more than ready to retire. They were really, just taking valuable space. Get rid of useless and duplicated stuff. Having to deal with, tidy, clean less stuff is gold. And that goes for all the house. Life feels much better now.
4: They Keep it White
What to say about people who paint both their ceilings and floors all white? And not in a boring, cuckoo-nest way, mostly due to the applied textures here and there. Genious. The white wooden floor, for instance. It makes the space cozy, gives movement for the eyes to follow and has not a heavy weight when mixed with every other element in the design. Having the pavement white helps create a perfect frame for all the features that you’ll want to show in your home. And it multiplies natural light, which is so much needed in Scandinavia and (sniff…) Berlin.
Which leads us to:
5: They Have Natural Light as Their Best Friend
Creating a mirror to natural light was always a priority in Scandinavian interior design. The super long cold seasons and short days have Scandinavians exploring as much as possible the propagation of sun rays and lightness. How? With mute shades, large windows and a fair share of empty spaces.
6: They Leave Space for Eclecity and Versatility
It can be industrial, it can be boho, it can be posh. It can be rustic, or crisp minimal. The list gets longer but the point is that it is easy to incorporate all bunch of different styles and tastes to democratic Scandinavian Design. It’s all about maintaining the main canvas, and playing with the details. Be them architectural or decoration details.
7: They Know That Minimalism Doesn’t Necessarily Means Lack of Coziness
Choosing to have only the necessary doesn’t imply that we shouldn’t put together a space where we feel comfortable. After all, it’s still OUR space. Using materials and fabrics that are smooth to the touch and a bit of a (fake) sheep fur presence sure helps to bring the ambient together and adds to comfort. A win-win relationship. Also, throwing here and there objets and personal memoir that make you feel happy will definitely bring personality to your crib.
8: They’re Quality-Oriented
The main motto of minimalism is: less is more. Meaning that instead of having lots of things that are just regular, try having only the necessary, but amazing pieces. When owning less things, you can afford to have better things. They could either be the ones that speak to your heart, or real investments, of quality and durability. In Scandinavian interior design we often see noble materials and fabrics – good wood, leather, copper, well-made furniture, cotton and linen bedding. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a high-low approach towards your space. Again, we all love beautiful design that is affordable, like IKEA. But investing in good furniture not only makes your house look better, but you’ll value much more the time you spend home. And in some cases, it’s even better for your health and productivity. It’s always an awesome idea to invest in timeless, classic design pieces, like the butterfly chairs pictured below. But you already know it. 🙂
9: Their Design is Highly Functional
The Scandinavian interior design style values functionality in each piece. Some things in your home should be thought with special care. Your home work-space, for instance. A good chair will make a huge difference in your life, I promise. We’ve recently bought a work chair (the Sayl model) by legendary design house Herman Miller. Its design was inspired by the Golden Gate bridge, and it’s ergonomic therefore incredibly comfortable. Ok, it is not a cheap chair. But man, a chair that invites me to sit down and work and then hugs me, well, that’s my kind of chair (someday it’ll be cool if it’ll have my coconut latte ready too). Try to have multi-functional furniture that will be a better fit to your space size and that’ll adjust to your needs. Like the little issue I had with clothes storing: the solution to fit them into a smaller space was to create a storage bed with 5 IKEA Malm dressers and a mattress on top. Works like a charm and saves us precious space to dance around.
10: They Master The Art of The Focus-Point
We said it before: Scandinavian interior design is about creating a neutral palette and playing with details. So, a focal point won’t necessary steal all the attention. But that special work of art, piece of furniture or favorite color, pattern or object will definitely pop-up if you make it the star of the room. Use and abuse of white, pastels, gray and black, and punctuate it all with splashes of bright colors. Create a beautiful balanced space and top it with the cake cherry as an extra. The truth is, by having a home that is so clean, the focal point becomes the people – the life that fills in and completes the aesthetic.
11: They Live For The Hygge.
Hygge translates roughly to ‘coziness’. This concept is about making homes nicer and people happier. The term comes from a Norwegian word meaning “wellbeing” and doesn’t really translate into other languages. It’s something like… there is no need to wait for that special occasion to light that pretty candle someone gave you and that is gathering dust for ages. Throw a nice blanket upon the sofa arm, place a beautiful orchid on your window and voilà!
And you know what? Hygge was actually among the Pinterest annual home trend-to-be list. Guess we will be hearing lots about it in 2017!
Check this article about Copenhagen and the nordic hygge to soak in a bit more of the enchanting Scandinavian way of living.
And as we’re talking about minimalism, don’t miss the opportunity to set a stress-free, uncomplicated quality capsule wardrobe!
This article first appeared on Efzin – A Blissful Life.