Scandinavian design is having a moment right now, and if you've ever nodded your head like, "oh yeah, I love Scandinavian decor!" but in reality have no effing idea what it actually is, you wouldn't be alone. But you're probably more familiar with it than you realize, because it's popping up all over social media, design blogs, and your favorite magazines. Let's break it down, so you can do less smiling and nodding and more finding cool ways to work it into your home.
Scandinavian Design Is Minimal.
Yes, it has nuances that make it different from minimalism, modernism, and contemporary decor, but at it's most basic level, , with a focus on simplicity and functionality. There's not a lot of clutter, and it focuses on functionality, using natural materials, and taking a "democratic approach" to design, says author of Lagom: The Swedish Art of Living and the blog , Niki Brantmark. "Scandinavian design has a tradition of striving to ensure everyone has access to good design, not just the elite, she explains. "This is why you’ll see beauty in everyday pieces. IKEA is a good example of this."
It's Inspired By Nature and Climate.
Scandinavian design emerged in the 1930s, though really grew to popularity in the 1950s. traveling through the U.S. and Canada in 1954-1957 promoted works by Nordic designers emphasizing simple designs inspired by nature and the climate of the region. "The style was well received, and people appreciated the ‘beauty in the everyday’ aspect," Brantmark notes.
Improving Daily Life Is A Core Tenant.
At its core, Scandinavian design seeks to improve every day life. Nordic countries get as little as seven hours of daylight in the winter, so . You won't find wall-to-wall carpeting, as hard-wood natural or white floors help the space seem brighter. Furniture is functional, doubling as storage, and window treatments are nonexistent, or sheer at most, in order to maximize the light that comes in.
Texture Keeps It From Feeling Stark.
Minimalism is often considered cold and stark to critics, but Scandinavian design creates warmth through textiles, rather than cluttering things with a lot of decorative items. Soft textiles, such as sheepskin, wool, and mohair, are a necessity in cold climates, and keep the aesthetic paired down, but add some visual interest. Their rationale: Anything added should have a practical purpose.
The Palette Is Neutral, But You Can Play With Color.
Neutral colors are the foundation, since natural light can be rare in Nordic homes, but recently, color has started to be used as an accent, though still in earthy tones—dark blues, greens, grays, and browns. The can aid in creating a cocoon-like space.
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Hygge Is A State Of Mind, Not A Design.
Since 2016 put hygge on our radars, the devotion to the concept hasn't seen any slow down, but don't subscribe to the common misconception. The Danish word associated with coziness isn't a design style at all, but rather, a state of mind. You can seek to create it with your decor, and in large part, much of Scandinavian design does, but the two are not interchangeable.
It's All About Balance.
Similarly to the idea of hygge, Sweden uses the word lagom, which means not too little, not too much—basically, finding the balance. "In my home, I like to find a balance between minimalist and cozy. I love to mix and match old and new, and try to ensure no two items are the same for a relaxed look," Brantmark says. That means adding lots of textiles in the form of sheepskins, linen cushions, and layered rugs to boost the curl-up-and-relax factor, while keeping furniture and decor minimal and streamlined.
"The beauty of Scandinavian design is that it’s incredibly versatile," Brantmark says. "The simple aesthetic means it can fit seamlessly with almost any style and era, while the sculptural, organic shape adds an element of drama to a room." You could deck your space out completely in Scandinavian-inspired decor, or you could incorporate pieces sparingly, if you just want to dabble with the design. Just make sure to "keep the space around [the items] decluttered so you can more easily appreciate the beauty of each item," Brantmark says. And if you're not sure where to start, Brantmark recommends shopping at , , , and, of course, .
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