How to Decorate using Scandinavian Interior Design Books

Design Books

There is an enormous amount of magazines and books showing Nordic decor at its best. Apart from the real thing, what’s better than sitting in a cosy chair with tea (Hygge) and flicking through a glossy Scandi home decor mag? Nordic design has always been distinctive looking and high quality. And as demand for a simpler lifestyle and awareness around Scandi interior have grown. And so has the number of coffee table books on the topic. In Decorate using Scandinavian design books we feature some of our favourite resources.

And they are a great source of inspiration with tips on how to achieve the minimal look. Such as paint colours, curtain styles, flooring, furniture, lighting and all things to do with home living. That also includes vases, fruit bowls and planters. As Scandi home decorators ourselves, we love checking new trends in all the books and magazines. But to achieve a truly Scandi lifestyle we recommend adding individual touches. 

Rum the Danish magazine

The Scandi Look – Mixing it up with Colors and Cultural Pieces

We look abroad for ways to complement the Scandi look – actually enhance the Scandi look. Therefore, we gather ideas from French and Mediterranean home decor books. The subtle, yet vibrant, colours are a perfect match for the pure Scandi style. Check another of our favourite Scandi design reference books Scandinavia Dreaming, Nordic Homes by clicking HERE

One of our first home decor books, and still one of our favourites, is Pure Style: Accessible New Ideas for Every Room in Your Home, from 1996. It’s British, but the style is Scandi with a dash of the Med and the occasional British country casual. Spot the striped ruched blinds and valanced chairs. You’ll find plenty of ideas from abroad on how to decorate using Scandinavian design books even. This is actually Scandi style at its best in our view, when there’s a tiny bit of “personality” and culture added to the Nordic canvas.

Decorate using Scandinavian design books: Ideas that never go out of Fashion

The book – if it is even still in print – is the perfect starter book for anyone setting up home or is new to decorating. It features tips and instructions on how to smarten up an old sofa with a new cover or make a cover for a metal chair. It also shows how to shine up old finds, such as a a table bought for tuppence. The book features sections on the sitting room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and outdoor spaces. It has mood boards, colour swatches, accessories, and writes about texture and colours and, of course, whites. The book is bursting with ideas that just never go out of fashion. Its colour scheme is pastel yellow, blue and white and it manages to blend rustic with modern. It is simply cool and cute.

Paris Interior – Boho Chic at Home with Danish former Supermodel Helena Christensen

Another favourite is the magnificent coffee table tome Paris Interiors, published by Taschen. It is a jaw-dropping book if you love interiors and seeing who lives how. Celebrities have opened their homes to photographers for this publisher. And gawp at the awesome, inspiring living arrangements featured here on thick, sometimes gold effect pages. Celebrities, whose homes feature include Azzedine Alaia, Ines de lan Fressange, Christian Lacroix, Thierry Mugler and Helena Christensen.

Being Scandinavian, it was Danish supermodel Helena’s starter apartment in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Paris, that caught our eye. But her chic Left Bank apartment, which was her home as she rose to fame, is Scandinavian in spirit. Interestingly, the only hint of a Scandi heritage is a generous helping of white walls, but the rest is uber retro and boho chic Scandi style. She’s picked rugs and living room and garden furniture from street markets. And the paintings on her walls blend with old family photos in vintage frames – pure Danish granny style.

Now for the French Touch – Mixing it up

For French glamour, this book, The French Touch: Decoration and Design in the Private Homes of France is our go-to manual. It shows what to do with grand rooms, sweeping staircases and floor to ceiling sashed windows. But it has charm and a touch of casual country about it too. And it’s brimming with ideas on colour and patterns.

Loving the images of the gleaming white bedroom which would make any Scandi blush with envy. Decorate using Scandinavian design books also features shiny white floorboards and plain linen curtains. Plus white bedspread of Provencal cotton lace and bedside tables of white stone. Maybe The French Touch is more international than actually distinctly French or distinctly anything – but it’s got decor star quality.

Home Decor Books for Millennials and First Time Home Buyers

As housing in big cities becomes ever more expensive, space is of the essence and Living in Small Spaces is hugely useful to the millennial first time buyer. It may not be in print where you are as it’s from 1988, but it’s more relevant now than ever. Super sections such as Finding your Style, Bringing the Outside In and Making Space are pure gold for home buyers on a budget. See how to use shallow window recesses as storage space. Or how to fit shelves in unlikely places and make it look super chic. There’s a section on using mesh shelves, creating storage space in old disused fire places and combining living space with work space.

The Scandinavian countries, particularly Denmark, have excelled in architecture and design for decades. It is the rise in awareness of Nordic culture in the last decade through film and food which has boosted the number of books on Scandi design.

Scandinavian Interiors Books inspired by Light

Light is hugely important in Scandi interior design – not because there isn’t much of it up north (there is) but because it’s quite special. The Nordic countries have always been environmentally aware and perhaps its lack of smog that gives the light a special, pure quality. It features in many old master paintings.

Light is heavily used in Scandi interior design to add dimension to living space, the light and shadow effect and reflection. Indeed, the Danes are famed for their lamp shade designs.

Little wonder books on Scandi design often focus on the light effect. One such book is The Scandinavian Home: Interiors Inspired by Light. Homes & Garden magazine describes it as “a masterclass in how to get more light into a home, at which the Scandinavians excel”.

Decorate using Scandinavian design books – New Nordic Design and A closer Look at Design Details

The book, as indeed many Nordic homes do, features plenty of white wooden floorboards. It also features wood panelled ceilings and how this interior is used to reflect the sunlight throughout the living space. It takes clever layout and decor skills – a Scandi strength.

Another favourite is the more “nerdy” book, Scandinavian Modern by experts from the Skandium design emporium. This oeuvre seems less concerned with the overall look and white feel of the Scandi home, more focused on furniture details, functionality and craftsmanship.

It embodies the “relaxed comfort, unpretentious simplicity and easy elegance of the modern Scandinavian home”. It shows close ups of woodwork and materials and the overall feel is more of natural products making it darker. It’s a different approach to the often very white and light associated with Nordic design.

The team behind the book know what they are talking about . As Scandinavians they founded the chainstore Skandium which sells modern Scandi furniture and homeware.

Scandinavia Dreaming – The Nordic House

There are now so many books and publications about Nordic design it is difficult to sift through them all and to pick the ones that shine… But one of our new go-to’s is the new Rum – rum means room or space. It’s a Danish magazine so thick that if you put a hard cover around it, it would qualify as a coffee table book. Rum does what we thought was happening: mixing of fashion and interiors – see also our blog on indoor plants where the unlikely link between decor and fashion is highlighted. Work / Life / Art / Fashion… The publication shies away from the eternal white look (although that does feature) and mixes in bold colours such as hot pink, orange, black and purple.

Glossy and aspirational

The Scandi thread running through the book appears to us to be the sense of order – “space matters” – it says, and we couldn’t agree more. What you don’t put into a home is almost as important as what you do use…what is not there adds as much to the overall feeling you have at home as what is there. Art features heavily in Rum, which is only a reflection of how art and interiors collide and collaborate and how Copenhagen has become a world class player in both worlds. Designer and influencer homes appear in Rum with behind the scenes shots and interviews – glossy, somewhat aspirational, but interesting and useful at the same time.

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