A Scandinavian Interior

Scandinavian interiors are known for their simplistic, elegant and practical designs. Characterised by functionality and clean lines, they are based on the philosophy that we should live in harmony with our environment.

Consequently, the style promotes a simple home environment, with furniture made to last. The design is sometimes thought of as being cool and austere, rather like the northern lands of its origins.

Scandinavian Interior

© FollowTheFlow / Adobe Stock

On the contrary, it can be warm and inviting, filled with homely materials such as wood, stone, leather and hemp.

Read on to find out more about Scandinavian interiors and why the design may be the change you’re looking for!



We must go back to the 1930s (the golden age of Scandinavian design) to understand the principles of the interiors we see today. The purpose of traditional Scandinavian design was to improve people’s daily life.

All of the fixtures and fittings in the home complemented each other. The furniture, textiles, lighting accessories and functional items such as linens, cooking utensils, dishes and silverware had a strong link to nature, with many natural materials used in their manufacture.

The designs are known for their contrasting natural and abstract shapes and their hard and soft surfaces. This was largely thanks to a number of prominent designers who emerged between the 1930s and the 1970s to further develop Scandinavia’s unique design philosophy and style.

They included the Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto, who created distinctive architecture, furniture, glassware, textiles, sculptures and paintings during his long career, which spanned from the 1920s to the 1970s.

Danish architect and designer Poul Henningsen’s contribution to the field of lighting was invaluable. He created the PH-lamp in 1925, achieving uniform, glare-free illumination. The manufacture of his famous PH5 Pendant Lamp continues today.

Fellow Danish designer Arne Jacobsen collaborated with his contemporaries, Poulsen and Fritz Hansen, to create lamps, light fixtures and unusual chairs. Despite early success in the 1920s and ’30s, it wasn’t until the 1950s that interest in his designs peaked.

Other notable designers from the golden era included Borge Mogensen, Hans J Wegner, Verner Panton and Maija Isola – these names crop up regularly in many books about Scandinavian and Nordic designs.



The legacy of these 20th century designers has continued today. Originally, Scandinavia comprised Norway, Sweden and Denmark, but the definition was expanded to include Iceland, Finland and Greenland.

The region’s unique style has spread all over the world and elements of Scandinavian interior design can be found in areas such as San Francisco and San Mateo in California, where amazing shops such as Muuto, Article, Scan Design and Innovation are thriving.

The main design trends that have translated to the 21st century focus on the use of materials to produce eco-friendly homes. Environmentally-friendly, organic building materials are preferred for the flooring, roofing and walls.

Carpets have never been popular in Scandinavian homes. Instead, the trend is for wooden floors in every room except the bathroom. Rugs are used sparingly in some areas, but plain, light wood is the most popular flooring material.

Warm woods are popular for other interior surfaces, such as ceilings and walls. Wood is also used to make cabinets and other furniture, with teak and oak being the preferred choices. Pine is also used, but its wood tones are sometimes deemed to be too yellow, so it can be toned down with a special oil.

The most popular colours are white walls, with contrasting cool blue and grey textiles. Some brighter flashes of colour, such as orange or yellow, can be found in items such as Marimekko fabrics and rugs.

Fireplaces are usually large, but have a simple design that includes beautiful tiles. Their size is for practical reasons, as Scandinavian winters are harsh. Minimal accessories are used, as the design style has the philosophy “less is more”, so there’s less clutter.

If you feel inspired by Scandinavian design, it can be an interesting refurbishment style.

Bedroom furniture

Oak bedroom furniture

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