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Scandinavian Interior Design Secrets for a Calm, Bright Home

Updated: April 15, 2024
Scandinavian style prizes airy, white-washed spaces filled with natural light to brighten moods during long Nordic winters. Core elements include blonde woods, tactile natural textures, suspended lighting, and minimalist forms following function. Strategically layer in subtle patterns, hits of color and carefully curated decor to add visual interest without clutter. Achieving the Scandinavian design aesthetic relies on restrained color palettes, architectural simplicity, advanced decluttering, and perfecting the details.
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As I walk through the doorway into my friend’s living room, I’m immediately struck by the tranquil, soothing atmosphere. The white walls, blonde wood accents, and simple lines create a minimalist, uncluttered look that makes me instantly feel at ease. My friend credits her newfound interior design prowess to Scandinavian style – and she’s eager to share the secrets behind crafting this light, bright home.

InteriorxDesign has long touted Scandinavian design as a go-to for crafting serene, welcoming spaces. This style has its roots in the Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland where long winters and extended darkness call for interiors that feel bright and fresh. The goal is to let as much natural light in as possible and accentuate it with pale hues and reflective surfaces. The result is a space that feels clean, airy, and calming.

What is Scandinavian Interior Design?

Scandinavian interior design is centered around principles of simplicity, functionality, and natural elements. This style favors a minimalist aesthetic, devoid of lavish furnishings and ornamentation. The focus is instead on high-quality construction, natural textiles, and purposeful, useful items.

Overall, the hallmarks of Scandinavian style include light colors like white and neutral shades, simple lines and shapes, lots of wood accents and textures, and sparing but intentional decorative details. The overall effect is understated yet warm and welcoming. This is a practical style tailored for real life in the Nordic regions, not formal spaces to impress guests.

History of Scandinavian Design

Scandinavian design has its roots in traditional Nordic living and builds upon principles of enduring quality, simplicity and respect for natural beauty that trace back centuries in the region. However, the emergence of recognizable Scandinavian style on the global interior design stage accelerated in the 1930s.

The 1930 Stockholm Exhibition introduced Nordic style, focusing on natural shapes and textiles, to a wider audience. Influential designers like Alvar Aalto and Arne Jacobsen pioneered mid-century modern Scandinavian architecture and interior aesthetics in the 1940s-1960s. Over the decades, Scandinavian designers have adapted traditional Nordic elements for contemporary homes while retaining the core values of simplicity, light, and functionality.

Nowadays Scandinavian style is recognized worldwide as a popular go-to for creating tranquil, welcoming spaces that feel rooted in nature and eschew trends for timelessness. Even as color palettes and textures evolve, lighting and wood will likely always figure prominently.

Elements of Scandinavian Interior Design

Scandinavian interiors share some trademark stylistic elements and principles:

Lighting – Maximizing natural light is key. Windows should be expansive and unobstructed. When artificial light is needed, choices like large suspended lampshades, Edison bulbs, and strategically-placed task lighting keep things bright but not harsh.

Colors – Stick to light, neutral shades like white, cream, or gray with sparing hits of darker grays and black for contrast. Avoid loud, saturated colors. Eventually add pops of muted greens, blues or woodsy tones as accents.

Textures – Natural textures are critical so seek out linen, jute, sheepskin, and untreated wood. Wool blankets and sheepskin add warmth and dimensionality. Smooth surfaces like ceramic tableware also add tactile depth.

Wood – Blonde woods feature prominently across furniture, flooring and millwork. Light, natural wood grain provides visual depth without weight or darkness. Oak, ash, beech and maple are common choices.

Lines – Furnishings and architectural details skew towards simplicity – think square shapes, unfussy silhouettes, tapered legs, gridded accents. Geometry looks modern yet feels retro.

Functionality – Form follows function. Every piece serves a purpose for everyday living. Look for designs perfected for specific usage, not just aesthetic frills.

Clutter-control – Only display complete collections or curated, related decorative items. Give individual objects room to breathe on shelves and tabletops. Reduce visual noise.

How to Achieve Scandinavian Style

Ready to infuse that elusive “hygge” factor into your spaces? Crafting a Scandinavian interior design scheme relies on restraint and executing just a few critical steps:

Lighten surfaces – Paint walls or natural wood panelling white or cream. Select flooring like white oak or washed natural pine. Use glass tabletops and reflective metals where possible. Add large mirrors to amplify light.

Choose furniture intentionally – Each piece should balance aesthetics and utility. Look for clean-lined seating and storage in light woods, customizable modular components, and multi-functional items like trunks and benches.

Incorporate natural texture – Layer in wooly textures like sheepskin rugs or throw blankets. Choose tactile ceramic and rattan accessories. Display gathered specimens like stones, shells or houseplants.

Minimize clutter + collections – Declutter completely then selectively curate any items put back out. Create thoughtful still-life tableaux across shelving moments versus haphazard tchotchkes.

Hang expansive curtains – Floor-to-ceiling linen or cotton curtains, in white or neutral stripes, keep interiors cozy during cold months without sacrificing brightness.

Add hits of color and pattern strategically – Try utilitarian textiles like striped dish towels, Area rugs, and decorative ceramics for subtle color without overpowering.

Embrace imperfections – Distressed leather, nubby linen textures, uneven ceramic glazes and handwoven wall hangings nod to Scandinavian wabi-sabi appreciation of natural imperfections with age and wear.

Incorporate thoughtful lighting – Install abundant ambient lighting for functionality then use strategic task lighting, sconces and natural candles to create a warm, inviting glow during dark winter months.

Pro Tips + Best Practices for Realizing Scandinavian Style

While achieving a Scandinavian design scheme may sound elementary in theory, excellent execution determines interior success. Heed these top tips from the InteriorxDesign experts:

  1. Evaluate room orientation – Glean as much natural light as possible based on exposure then supplement accordingly. South-facing rooms likely need less artificial lighting.
  2. Invest in windows + doors – Expansive windows, interior glass walls and sliding glass doors keep things bright and airy while blurring indoor/outdoor boundaries.
  3. Skip ornate molding + ceilings – Embrace simple baseboards, window frames and smooth, white ceilings instead of crown molding. Keep architectural details minimal.
  4. Whiten walls + repeat – White or cream walls empirically brighten any interior. Paint built-ins and ceilings white too for a seamless envelope of light neutral shade.
  5. Bleach or wash wood – Distress new items like dining chairs or cribs with white-washing techniques to mellow wood tones from orange to pale blonde.
  6. Edit ruthlessly then accessorize – Adopt a minimalist mindset then sprinkle in personal accessories, artisan wares and natural elements like houseplants to warm up pared-down spaces.
  7. Create thoughtful vignettes – Arrange objet d’art, ceramics and personal mementos in carefully curated still-lifes atop console tables, mantels and shelving built-ins versus scattered about haphazardly.
  8. Incorporate lantern-style lighting – Suspended metal lantern lights, sconces reminiscent of candle lamps and perforated pendants keep the mood moody and magical.
  9. Prioritize multi-purpose furniture – Look for seating and consoles that store blankets or dining tables that expand for guests to reduce clutter.
  10. Repeat key materials – Carry main flooring materials like wide plank oak or pine horizontally onto walls via wood accent walls or shiplap paneling to create harmonious, expansive palettes.


Incorporating those intrinsic Nordic principles around tranquility, brightness, and purposeful living is sublime yet surprisingly achievable. Stay true to the ethos of Scandinavian style by paring down decoration to the essentials then finding balance with significant pops of texture, humanity and cozy elements. Soon your home will channel the elusive “hygge” factor through mindfully curated, luminous spaces rather than excessive things. Let Scandinavian interior secrets pilot your next refresh to wonderful serene living all year long.


Mr. BS Parasher, Founder @ Interior x Design & UrbanDAC, He is the Top Interior Designer in Gurgaon & India's Premier Home Theater and Home Entertainment Designer, A Hi-end AV Expert with a deep passion, vision and knowledge about Interior Design.