Top Tips for Decorating in Scandinavian Style

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Top Tips for Decorating in Scandinavian Style: Yurii Usenko  Getty Images Pro

All About Scandinavian Style: Dean Drobot, CreativaStudio Getty Images Pro, Elena Nazarova, Jodie Johnson, HQ-Images Getty Images Pro, Alena Ozerova. PinkBadger ,Getty Images  and nito100 Getty Images

How to Decorate in Scandivian Style:  mihalis_a Getty Images Pro,  Alena Ozerova and Carlos Diaz Pexels

Scandinavian and/or Nordic decorating style is the characteristic style of the region, which includes Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. 

Style's influences and characteristics

There are several factors that influence this very popular style:



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The region’s diverse natural landscape, composed of valleys, plains, mountains, fjords, volcanoes, rivers, and lakes. 

This gives the style a close-to-nature and sometimes rural appeal.  



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Their large, sparsely populated areas are havens for a wide variety of wildlife. 

Moose, elks and reindeers; bears, eagles and dolphins are just a few of their native dwellers. 

The style gets an adventurous vibe from using wildlife-inspired decor.

They are usually done in an abstracted and simplified forms to suit the style’s forward-looking trait. 

Winter Season

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The long winters cause some parts of the region to have days with much shorter daytime.

Hence, less sunlight to enjoy.


That’s why sunlight is something Scandinavian people appreciate and never take for granted.


This is translated into their interiors by preferring bright and cheerful color palettes – 

to counteract the somber feeling brought by lack of sunlight.      


Migration to the US in the 1950s

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A large number of Scandinavian furniture makers

emigrated to the United States after World War II,

around the 1950s. 

Scandinavian and American designers of that time greatly influenced each other.

This is why the American Mid-Century Modern Style

shares a lot of elements with the Scandinavian Style. 

Influenced by other Styles

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Becoming popular in the 1950s,

the Scandinavian Style took inspiration from the design movements that came right before it – 

Bauhaus, modernism, functionalism.



From these, Scandinavian Style takes its

practical, modern and restrained traits. 

From the above list, we’ve come up with the following tips.

1. Use iconic Scandinavian pieces - obviously the easiest way.

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On the left side are Hans Wegner’s Wishbone Chair, plus Poul Henningsen’s  pH pendant light.

Icons of Scandinavian Style. 

Both are by Danish designers, who themselves have become iconic. 


On the right side is an arm chair in Mid-Century Modern / Scandinavian silhouette.


Scandinavian and Mid-Century furniture pieces are

clean-lined and almost have a sculptural and art-like quality to them.


Light colored wood is usually what’s associated with Scandi furniture,

but medium to dark colored woods are also used.



A more contemporary sofa in the living area.

But still on-point in keeping with the style’s principle of simplicity.

It’s also in gray, one of the style’s signature elements.


Other Scandinavian traits:

– abstract artwork 

– plants in the space

– light-colored wood flooring

– lots of pillows and plush area rug for coziness

– bare windows and white walls and ceiling for maximum brightness.

2. Use American Mid-Century Modern pieces.

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Dining chairs inspired by the iconic Eiffel chair by American designer Charles Eames.


Other Scandinavian characteristics:

– white walls and floor

– use of natural materials like wood and wicker

– green plants in decor

– sheer curtains

– simplicity and minimalist look.

3. Mix Scandinavian with Mid-Century features.

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This is an interesting mix of Scandinavian and Mid-Century Modern Styles.


Scandinavian elements include:

– the chair design

– tabletop’s black color

– light wood color of the furniture pieces and the flooring

– gray wall color

– artwork pattern and fuzzy texture.


Mid-Century Modern features are mixed in. These are:

– branching bubble chandelier

– the hairpin legs of the table, although they’re made of wood, instead of the usual metal  

– colors in artwork, vase and drinking cup are in Midmod colors.

Mix Scandinavian and Midmod in a subtle way.


A Mid-Century Modern sofa in gray, wool upholstery and light-colored wood for the legs. 

Gray and wool being Scandinavian color and material respectively.

The woolen area rug matching the sofa.   


Lighting piece is inspired by the Mid-Century Modern branching chandeliers.  

All these in an all-white, minimalistic space – resulting in a very Scandinavian look.

4. Take your design direction to the rustic version of the style.

hutomo-abrianto-X5BWooeO4Cw-unsplash (1)
Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash


Scandinavia is largely about nature. 

While the style is known for its modern and urban look, it can be done in a rustic, country style version.

Many of the Scandinavian spaces are in the countryside after all.


The space above uses shiplap for walls, very characteristic of country styles.

It’s painted white but done in a dull finish.  


Furniture pieces are made of light color and kept in their natural, unfinished state.


The chair has a sculptural look and the table has splayed legs.  Very Scandinavian in design.


More Scandi elements:  Arco floor lamp, fuzzy area rug, plants as decor, light and airy scheme.

5. Country Scandinavian Style can be super modern.

it doesn’t have to be rustic all the way.

You can take the simple quality of the style and give it a very modern look.


The spaces below still look very Scandinavian because of the bright, light and airy ambience. 


Both use natural wood finish in their furniture pieces – a common practice for Country and Scandinavian Styles.


Very modern from the minimalistic, uncluttered and functional design.


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Country vibe from:

– spindle back, Windsor-inspired bench

– stool mixed in with the benches




Scandinavian vibe from:

– light color of the wood

– lots of white

– plants

– arching floor lamp.

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Modern country, specifically farmhouse feel from:

– open shelves

– simple, wooden dining set

– mismatched pieces

– polished concrete flooring

– ceramic ware

– industrial pendant lamp


Scandinavian vibe from:

– white, gray and wood color palette

– bare windows to allow light in.


6. Use contrasting elements.

Being highly urban amidst a lot of nature,

Scandinavian people enjoy the best of both worlds.


Translate this into your interiors by using contrasting elements.

Mix modern and rustic.

Rough and polished.

Organic and engineered.

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Organic, wooden tabletop 


molded plastic chairs



Distressed wood planks for flooring 


freshly painted wall

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Dull finished shiplap for walls & ceiling


polished planks for the floor


sleek, polished finish of the furniture pieces 

7. Mismatch furniture pieces for a casual vibe.

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Being close to the country makes the Scandinavian Style favor the casual.


One way to achieve this is to mix and match pieces of different styles.


The space above uses the modern Eames’ Eiffel chair, 

mixed with country style spindle back chair.


Other Scandi traits:

– lots of whites

– simple but comfortable couch in gray fabric slipcover

– table with splayed legs

– light wood color

– plants

– graphic pillow cover pattern

– wood trunk cross section on the artwork

– sheer curtains



8. Choose the right lighting piece. There are plenty of options.

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2.  Kri [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

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1.   pH 5 pendant light


2.  Artichoke pendant lamp


3. A rustic pendant, made of natural materials


4.   Branching bubble chandelier


5.  A wicker pendant, in a structured look


6.  Arco Floor  Lamp.  Although by Italian designers,

this piece has been a staple in Mid-Century Modern designed spaces


7.  pH Snowball pendant,

by Danish designer Poul Henningsen, together with #1 & #2


8.  Grasshopper floor lamp by Swedish designer Greta Magnusson-Grossman


Go for iconic pieces for a modern and more straightforward execution of the style.


To emphasize the style’s nature-related characteristic, use more of natural materials.  


Use industrial lamps, Edison and caged lamps for a Country / Farmhouse Scandinavian look. 


9. Take advantage of large glass windows.

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Allow maximum lighting in by making large windows bare or without treatment.


This also blurs the line between the indoors and outdoors,

in keeping with the style’s close-to-nature characteristic.


For some privacy, use sheer cotton or linen curtains.

For a more rustic feel, use wicker or bamboo blinds.


Other Scandi traits of the space above:


– gray, white, light wood color palette

– coffee tables with hairpin legs.

– simple but comfortable sectional sofa

– lots of pillows and area rugs for coziness

– lots of plants

10. Bring the outdoors in.

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In case your space is nowhere near nature, or if you don’t have large windows, 

you can always simulate being close to outdoors, like the one pictured above.  


Use wallpaper with birch tree print,

not only does it bring nature in,

but does it in true Scandinavian spirit with the naked winter tree design.


What’s more, the room features the reindeer,

an animal that’s commonly found in the area.


Other Scandi elements:

– animal fur rug

– bench with splayed leg

– lots of whites


11. Use plants in the decor.

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While plants are commonly used in home decor, this is especially important to Scandinavian Style as another way of bringing the outdoors in.  


Bring in plants in any size and and of any kind.


Other Scandi traits:

– white walls, floor and ceiling

– grays and browns 

– tables with splayed legs

– light wood color for the tables

12. Keep it cozy and comfortable.

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Long and cold winters do not always keep Scandinavians indoors.

But just the same, their spaces are cozy and comfortable.


Layer plenty of pillows, blankets, throws, and area rugs for a warm and welcoming ambience.


Other Scandi elements of the space above:

– lots of whites

– light wood color for flooring

– graphic patterns

– pH 5 pendant lamp

– large glass windows without treatment

– pressed plywood for the chairs

13. Mix a variety of textures, using natural materials.

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Photo by in4mal Getty Images via Canva Pro
Photo by Alena Ozerova via Canva Pro


Since the style is not big on colors, 

include plenty of textures to keep the space interesting, cozy and inviting.


Use natural materials for the style’s nature-related trait, like:


sheepskin. cotton, linen, cashmere, furs, animal hide, felt, fleece, mohair, wool.


Sisal, jute, wicker.


Add more textures with knitted items, needleworks, area rugs of all pile heights.

14. Include patterns in your design.

Graphic patterns

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For a modern vibe

Stripes, chevron, geometrics

Triangles are common, in reference to Scandinavia’s mountainous terrain.

Whimsical patterns

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Nature-inspired themes, 

done in simplified, stylized, abstract manner.

15. Add folksy, regional elements.

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The Swedish star, to reference the Northern Star.


Folksy needlepoint for handicrafts,

used in making clothings, throws, blanket, etc.


The Swedish dala horse as a cultural symbol.

16. Use an all-white color scheme.

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White on the walls and floor.  White furnishings.  White accessories.


This is something usual for this style.


It is to keep the interiors bright to combat the darkness brought about by long winter seasons.


Other Scandinavian traits:

– sofa in Mid-Century Modern silhouette

– lots of pillows

– furniture pieces with splayed legs

– wood in light color

17. If white is too stark for you, accessorize with colors.

Photo by KatarzynaBialasiewicz Getty Images Pro via Canva Pro

The colors used in this space are ones commonly seen in

Mid-Century Modern interiors – 

mustard yellow and turquoise blue.

Other Scandinavian elements:

– black and white

– plants

– lots of pillows and area rug for coziness

– furniture pieces with splayed legs

– light and airy ambience

Photo by victorzastolskiy via Canva Pro

A colorful, graphic area rug with triangles,

to reference the Scandinavian mountains.

Other Scandi characteristics:

– light wood color of tables

– tables’ splayed legs

large, bare glass windows

– plants

– white and gray palette

– simple, comfortable couch

18. Or upholster Scandinavian furniture pieces with bright colored fabrics.

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Danish designer Hans Wegner’s Papa Bear Chair

in pink upholstery amidst this bright white vignette.

Photo by Yurii Usenko Getty Images via Canva Pro

Arm chair in Scandinavian silhouette,

paired with a coffee table with Mid-Century Modern design. 

Table painted in white and black to make it more Scandi.

White walls plus distressed white floors.

19. Use black, white and gray for a bolder look.

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Your Scandinavian space doesn’t have to be all-white.

Add blacks and grays for contrast.


Other Scandi elements:

– white wall and floor

– graphic pattern on area rug

– Eames chair- inspired dining chairs

– light wood color

– sheer curtains

20. Use multi-functional furniture pieces.

Scandinavian Style’s minimalist philosophy –

few furniture pieces, some can be used for

several purposes.


Photos by Alena Ozerova via Canva Pro

Step stool and bench double as coffee table.

Other Scandi elements:

– comfortable chair

– light wood color

– white wall

– cozy pillow and blanket

– weathered wood

– sheepskin fur

Photos by Elena Nazarova & Artjafara Getty Images Pro via Canva Pro

Console table with storage below.

Other Scandi elements:

– white and gray scheme

– white walls and floor

– splayed furniture legs

– light wood color

– cozy area rug, pillows

– tripod floor lamp

– comfortable chairs

21. Use clever tricks in design.

Creative use of space and clever design are part of the Scandinavian Style.

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A wooden mat that wraps around the armrest turning it to a flat, usable surface.

Other Scandi elements:

– plant

– fleece pillow cover in graphic pattern

– cozy sofa, pillow and blanket

– lots of textures 

– gray and white palette   

22. Keep space uncluttered.

Keeping a space uncluttered and keeping only a minimal number of items

are ways to make it light and airy.


Not only will it result to plenty of negative space,

but it will also result to less shadows cast.


Photo by stephankarg via Canva Pro

Scandi elements:

– black and white palette

– Eames’ Eiffel chais

– dining table with splayed legs

– large, bare glass windows to let plenty of light in

23. Use simple artworks for wall decor.

Photos by

1.   Reindeer – Max2611 Getty Images via Canva Pro

2.  Abstract art – AndyPanda999 Getty Images via Canva Pro

3.  Birch tree forest – PinkBadger Getty Images via Canva Pro

4.  Laef – KMNPhoto Getty Images Pro via Canva Pro

5.  Landscape – Tomás Guardia Bencomo Getty Images via Canva Pro

6.  Hygge –  Eskemar Getty Images via Canva Pro

For wall art, if necessary or desired, use:

– stylized, abstract art,

– simple landscape art with nature as theme

– calligraphy art for Scandinavian words such as hygge, lagom, fika, lykke

Find more inspiration from Pinterest.  And if you haven’t yet, take our quiz to see if Scandinavian is for you.

Here’s another post to help you choose your sofa for your Scandi project.

Ready to shop? Below are our recommendations. Again, these are affiliate links.

Get the Scandinavian look

Whichever direction you want to take your Scandinavian project, you’ll find something below to put together your space. Happy shopping!

Area Rugs

Almost solid and neutral in color, this piece will keep your Scandi space light and airy.

This jute area rug is perfect for any Scandinavian Style project. It’s simple, made of natural material and has a fitting pattern. 

A great one for a Scandi space, the triangles here represent the region’s mountain ranges.  

Simple, modern and graphic. The lines are subtle, yet, they add interest to this piece. 

With graphic pattern that resembles oversized needlepoint work, this one will fit right in.

Keep your space warn and cozy with this sheepskin area rug.

This plush piece is not real sheepskin, but looks just as cozy and comfortable. 

If you love color and folksy look, this one with a modern take can anchor your space.

For pieces with subtle graphics and colors, plus the lovely textures, here are what we love:

Going for a bolder and a more modern take on the Scandinavian Style? Choose from these black pieces below.

Sofas & Loveseats

There’s no hard and fast rule about choosing colors for Scandinavian furnishings. So any color would do. One of the most notable characteristics of Scandinavian furniture pieces is having splayed legs, like the loveseats below. Sofa versions are also available.

Choose pieces with frames and armrests like the ones below. These are distinctly Scandinavian Style.  

Shallow tufting, with or without buttons is another element of Scandinavian seating furniture.

Peg-like wooden legs for this one, also used in Scandinavian pieces.

Upholstered in a color associated with Mid-Modern Century Style.

This piece is also in an MCM color and has graceful curves that’s also seen in Scandi furniture.

Playful, multi-colored buttons, so fitting for the casual vibe of the style.

Accent Chairs

Graceful curves, peg-like legs, webbed or woven seats and backrests, that distinctive frame silhouette gives Scandinavian pieces their sculptural, art-like look.

The chairs below show more of the style’s characteristics. Curved corners, curved backrests, shallow tufting with or without buttons. From super-structured to graceful lines, there’s plenty to choose from.

Choose pieces with frames and armrests like the ones below. These are distinctly Scandinavian Style.  

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