What are the best Nordic interior design trends? In our Top 10 Scandinavian Design Trends post we pick the best of the past 100 years which helped make Nordic design a world leader. The blog post features both iconic design pieces and insights. And it features predictions for what the future of Scandi minimalism will look like with new ideas. Floors, lighting, furniture and rugs are the key ingredients in the Nordic look. But we take a look at what color means for the home, plants’ importance in the northern home and of course Hygge.
1 – Scandinavian wooden Flooring & luxury vinyl Tiles
In the old days Scandinavians had wall-to-wall carpets in their homes, because it helped keep the place warm. Carpets were thick and in practical dark colours. But things have changed in the Nordic countries famous for design and technology. Underfloor heating is now a common feature – gone are the thick, sometimes unhygienic carpets.
Today, wooden floors are super trendy and perfectly warm and comfortable in the well-heated and insulated homes. Scandinavia has become one of the leading nations when it comes to floorboards. Companies from abroad come to the north for expertise in both natural and artificial wooden floorboards.
However, for many it can be hard work to look after a wooden floor. Spill red wine or something even more staining and it can lead to the entire floor having to be ripped up. Still, people are refusing to give up on the wooden, natural look.
Top 10 Scandinavian Design Trends: Flooring
Therefore, brands are now producing floorboards that look like natural wood but are in fact imitation wood. Some are waterproof and hugely popular with the younger, busy crowd. Perhaps as a result, artificial floorboards, or Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT), are often used in rental homes. But a growing number of homeowners have taken to LVT. LVT boards have improved hugely over the years and it can be difficult to tell the difference between LVT and real wood.
In fact, we have LVT flooring ourselves and it’s fantastic – waterproof, long insurance and indecipherable to the naked eye. Check it out HERE on Amazon, where many companies now sell this due to growing demand. As the Scandis favour interior which is practical, functional and aesthetically pleasing, the wooden look is one of the key ingredients in the Nordic home. Improved acoustics rather than the silent, muffled sound of someone tip toeing across the floor is another benefit of wood. In other countries, wooden floors have also become so popular that estate agents recommend it to landlords hoping to rent out a property.
2 – Interior Design Colors 2019 – Minimalism and Color
The keyword is ‘subtle’. The colour scheme for Scandinavian interiors is block colours in baby blue, soft aqua, pale lime, peach and of course grey and white.
Our second favourite color is gray, which may seem dull. Light grey is also a complementary colour, which enhances the blues, the peaches, yellows and the pinks in a typically Scandinavian way.
Grey is the colour of furniture, possibly one very pale grey wall to add dimension, or a rug. You might say that in the Scandi home you would find at least Fifty Shades of Grey in the living room. Blush and pink are the colours of accessories such as ornaments, table cloths, cushions and in paintings. Warm colours are usually kept a minimum, because per definition the Scandi home is cool. But read also our blog on how to add colour to a minimalist home here. Blue and baby blue the the cool colours with their nautical and seaside vibe. They’re fresh, natural and depict the water which surrounds the Scandi countries and is an integral part of our lifestyle.
White: Our number One Color
And then there is white…our number one color for indoors. But white isn’t a colour, you might say. Well, white is a feeling and that is really the core of the Scandi aesthetic. White is the foundation for every Scandi colour scheme, the element that makes objects pop like collectables in a gallery.
That said, Scandi millennials are increasingly experimenting with stronger colours and ornate accessories. This is to reflect their life experiences which are more multi-cultural than those of previous generations. Access to the internet and easier travel help millennials bring the Nordic look up-to-date with accents and statements from abroad – creating the Scandi Boho style.
3 – Clean Lines in Architecture and Home Decor
There are few examples of gothic architecture in Scandinavia. Simplicity in our outlook and lifestyle is reflected in almost everything from fashion to jewellery to architecture. Look at the new bridge between Denmark and Sweden, a masterpiece in simplicity.
While others strive for elaborate design, letting their creative juices flow, minimalism is the thread that flows through the process. The question is how to keep a structure as simple, beautiful and as functional as possible. That, however, does not stop creativity: it merely leads designers to think out of the box. And to produce a feeling when seeing a building rather than an explosion of imagery.
4 – White Walls Living Room
As mentioned previously, white walls are the defining feature of the Scandinavian home. White walls and white floor boards form the basis of the contemporary Scandi living room. Some push this look to such an extent that their home becomes almost like a living gallery. Against a white background decorative items pop. It’s quite easy for the non-initiated to create a nice interior against white.
But to professionals white offer a real challenge – working with different shades of white – bright white walls, cream skirting boards, off white curtains…. These tweaks may seem minor, but the end results are very different. It is often said that the white ascetic came about decades ago because of the long dark winter months in the North, and we therefore needed to bring light into the home.
That may be the case. Yet, the first thing that strikes us when landing at a Danish airport, arriving from abroad, is the clarity of the outdoor light. It has never occurred to us that the winters are any longer or darker than in other countries – unless you venture far up north in Norway and Sweden where the sun doesn’t reach all summer.
Best Lighting Designers – Lamps and Lights
Additionally, the Scandis have had some of the best lighting designers in the world, not least Paul Henningsen’s award-winning PH Lamp from the mid-1920s. The iconic PH Lamp, still popular today, was designed specifically to throw light round the room – anywhere but in your eyes. The white idea is more likely to come from the Scandi notion of “less is more”. To read our blog on why the Scandis love white walls click here.
5 – Functionality and Interior Design Ideas
Some may think the Nordic look is all about style. But it’s as much about functionality. As above, much attention is paid to the way a room is presented, but ease of use is equally important.
Shelves in a kitchen is a simple solution – some may think it looks like a student’s digs, but we’re not great with cupboards in Scandinavia. At least we’re not as keen on them as the British. A cupboard reduces the sense of space in a room, and then there is the endless opening and shutting of cupboard doors. A shelf opens up the space and is much more practical.
6 – Interior Design and Indoor Plants
Plants are more than a trend in Scandinavian home decor – they have always been an important feature. But note, it isn’t flowers that are one of the top trends. It’s green plants. Why green plants? Green plants feed into the Scandi aesthetic….simple, natural and understated. Here, interior design is not about lots of colours and vibrancy – it’s about simplicity.
Green plants aren’t about drama. They add a different dimension to a room. The plants create effects and ambiance, a kind of peace, that can’t be achieved with multi coloured flowers. Add texture to a room and height by placing the plants at different levels. Some on the floor, on side tables and coffee tables, on shelves and others under the ceiling as hanging plants.
The plants draw the eye to different places and heights without appearing overwhelming. Of course, green plants come in to their own against the stark white background so characteristic of the Scandi home decor look.
7 – Minimalism and Scandinavian Design Aesthetic
Things must work well in the Nordic home – not just look good. Functionality is key in Scandi design – starting as far back as the 1920s and gaining ground in the 1950s.
What characterises Scandi functionality is objects such as lamps. Notably the iconic pH lamp. And furniture such as the Egg Chair, thus named because it looks like an egg, is super trendy. Even by today’s standard the Egg chair is stand-out and minimal yet extremely comfortable to sit in.
Everything else: tables, side tables and dining chairs look pleasing to the eye. But they have been tried and tested for supreme comfort before reaching the consumer. Ease-of-use often leads to an easy-to-look-at design.
Functionality extends to the exterior too – architecture. Think the Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish Jørn Utzon. It’s stunning in its execution yet so very simple and mesmerising to look at. The functionality trend runs through to even minor household objects. In contrast, elaborate design, layer upon layer, extravaganza, fun, frivolous, frilly and bling just don’t fit in with Scandinavian taste and character.
Pot Toppers the Trend and indoor Plants
On the rise, as a new trend is the pot toppers. In Scandinavia, and Denmark particularly, stones cover the soil in the pot plant. Stones and gravel fill shelf after shelf at garden centres. W’ve visited Plantorama in Denmark and were blown away by the choice and selection of plants and accessories, including rows of toppers.
Pot toppers are difficult to get in any variety in London. The greatest range of stones we’ve spotted so far in the UK is, ironically, at IKEA. The stones look pretty in shades of green, pink, lilac, white, black, turquoise…. They come in virtually any colour to suit any decor style and taste. In addition to looking decorative, they put off irritating flies that nest in the soil.
Something is changing in Scandinavian Interior
The word minimal is the first word that springs to mind when talking about the Scandinavian ‘no frills’ approach to interior design. It’s the very essence of the style – in fact, it is more than just a trend so much as its raison d’etre. But something is changing in the world of Scandinavian interiors.
Other styles are being mixed in with minimalism, with choice colors and cultural items which make the room pop. We’ll describe some of those styles in separate blogs. They include Boho Chic and Seaside, as a result of the internet giving easy access to new impressions and increased travel abroad and mixing of cultures.
There is hygge for students, which is candles in emtpy wine bottles, check table cloths, or cushions on the bench. For the more aesthetically demanding or with a bigger budget, hygge may be Georg Jensen candle holders. There’s Arne Jacobsen chairs and Bjorn Wiinblad and Royal Copenhagen table ware. Whatever the budget and location, hygge has one common denominator and that’s quality time spent with other people or one self.
8 – The Design Ideas of Danish Hygge – Cosy
shortlisted the word for Word of the Year in 2016. It means cosy, a lifestyle where the simple things are important. Hygge is the feeling of comfortable conviviality, contentment and well-being. In terms of interior design it means decor which focuses on people and togetherness or intimacy, and that which adds to the ambience. That’s accessories such as candles, cushions, throws, and tablecloths.
Hygge decor is also designed to suit the individual. Such as a huge comfy chair for the person home alone, reading a book with a cup of tea, or glass of wine, on the arm rest. Appearance or styling are less important.
9 – Scandi Boho and Boho Living Room
This is the rising trend in Nordic home decor – the combination of two opposite interior design styles, Scandinavian minimal and Bohemian chic. Scandi Boho is a relatively new style, hugely popular with millennials returning with mementoes and decorative pieces from abroad – or shopping online.
Colourful lamp shades from India, rugs from Morocco or Iran, cushions from Italy or candle holders from the Left Bank in Paris. Those are pieces which make the pale Nordic look pop – but more than that, pieces from abroad bring memories and other cultures into the daily life and home decor of the Scandi home close to the style of Hygge, but it is more styled.
It also breaks up what may be perceived as the monotony of minimalism with pops of colour and adds an individual element to the home. Scandi Boho is close to the style of Hygge, but it is more styled. Each boho piece has a higher emotional or cultural attachment to the person living in the house or apartment. Hygge pieces are there to create a vibe here and now.
10 – Scandinavian Lighting
Light in all its forms – natural, candles or electric – is the engine room of Nordic interiors. First, sunlight or lack thereof has been said to be the reason why Scandis have predominantly white interiors – to reflect what rays do come through the windows and into the rooms.
This may have been true some 100 years ago before electric lights were invented – and possibly still today for those who prefer the natural source of light, of which there are many.
As frequent visitors to Denmark, there is something special about the clarity of natural light which brightens up the home in a unique way. The sheer intensity of the light is a luxury rather than a necessity, however.
Denmark, particularly, has been at the forefront of electric light – the design of shades and stands which are both hugely functional and trendy. The PH lamp, designed by Poul Henningsen in the early 1920s won a gold medal at the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts. It has become “the face” of Danish design, an icon which is more popular today than ever.
What made it such a masterpiece, is the way it throws light in all directions while not revealing the source…the light bulb, which remains cleverly hidden.
Candles are an ingrained part of Scandinavian tradition – not least around Christmas with its advent calendar and decorations. Candles, mainly of the non-scented variety, have been popular in Scandinavia for decades – mainly in plain white. However, as Nordic design embraces a more colourful palette, candles in different colours are emerging.
Scandinavian Interior Design Trends
While Nordic interior design is recognised as one of the most recognisable brands – best known for its minimalist, sleek lines and pale palette, the Scandis are welcoming a more colourful and ‘foreign’ look in terms of colour and pattern, mixing different looks and periods. But however uber chic a younger generation mix and match their favourite collectables, the backdrop is and probably always will be the pure, white, pale and streamlined design which so aptly reflects the Scandinavian culture and psyche.