Maybe you simply want to declutter. Maybe it’s the appeal of being able to enjoy fuss-free, feet-up style relaxing at the end of your work day, or you’re already minimalist but your living space is stark and sombre, rather than inviting. Whatever your urge to go Scandi, here’s how to nail it in your living room.
The Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic and Finnish interior decorating style – known collectively as Scandinavian interiors – have a few easy-to-grasp design principles:
· As there could be as little as seven hours of daylight in these Nordic countries, everything is about allowing as much light as possible inside. The aim here is almost to bring the outside indoors through natural and mood lighting. A deal-breaker lighting-wise in Scandinavian style is a dark space, or a space harshly lit up with fluorescent bulbs.
· Complementing the light, airy aesthetic is a neutral or monochrome colour palette. Greenery is often used as a highlight colour, as is dove-grey. Accent pastels, provided only one pastel or so per space is incorporated, work well too.
· Various textured accents are used to create a warm ambience, along with mood lighting. This is imperative to set off what could otherwise be overly harsh minimalism.
· Think sleek, functional, space-optimised, inviting spaces.
An updated, on-trend take on Scandi style allows you to veer away from the strict neutral parameters so you can incorporate copper, brass and rose-gold accents, the emphasis being on ‘accent’. There are some basic style principles that are best adhered to though:
· Stick to lightwood floors and neutral tiles as well as earthy, stoney colours. Do not go overly earthy, as that is more Mediterranean than anything else.
· Wall-to-wall living area carpeting is a definite no-no. Create warmth with faux animal skin rugs, natural-fibre rugs and the like.
· When it comes to furniture, lightwood chairs and cabinets, Ikea-style functionality, patio-style ease; and rattan and cane wicker materials hit the mark. If you love solid and ornate mahogany furniture, for example, this style is not for you – one statement piece if you have to, but be sure to completely balance out the heaviness in the rest of the space.
· As for your walls, keep them uncluttered and neutral, ivory or grey. It’s fine to add a statement piece such as art or a few elegantly framed photos. Remember though that symmetry is important, as is having only one focal point, so keep the arrangement fairly conventional and neat.
· Popular wall cladding features include using a lightwood veneer, but stick to one texture. A creative treatment such as a column of stone in the wall could add warmth and panache.
· As with all neutral spaces, greenery in the form of indoor plants is always welcome.
Indoor plants are particularly suited to Scandinavian interiors. Thanks to photosynthesis, they improve the air quality in your space, so they make for both beautiful and functional additions.
Always killing plants? Opt for good qualify fake green ones, or have pots of flowers, if your budget allows. An elegant flower choice that will last for about two months is the pink or white potted phalaenopsis orchid. Remember though that orchids tend to be the diva of the flower kingdom and are likely to die after flowering if you don’t have the perfect indoor conditions in which it can thrive.
You could always try these foolproof plants:
· Peace lilies and anthuriums – medium light and most soil required
· Boston fern – low light and moisture required
· Aloe – not fussy at all; a hardy succulent. Do not overwater.
· English ivy – can tolerate high light and grows very quickly; training it around a pillar could be a style statement on its own.
Light is a critical central feature in Scandinavian spaces. Opt for the biggest window possible, and adorn the frames with sheer fabric or even no fabric at all. Purchase triple-glazed windows if your budget allows. Heavy drapery will clash with Scandinavian interior décor principles.
Candelabras, candles and pendants add an inviting glow to the interior ambience, as do pendant lights and mood lighting. The lighting could be the singular focal point in your living room if you please.
Also exploit the art of reflection. If you have a glass-topped table, why not position a mirror nearby so as to create a play of reflecting light.
· Opt for the highest raised ceiling your budget allows, as well as exposed beams.
· Incorporate texture touches such as sheepskin, mohair, wool or leather.
· Reclaimed timber makes for great Scandi-style furnishings. Alternatively, if you have oak or pine furniture, strip away any lacquer, sand it down and then add a lighter stain.
· Incorporate floating shelves rather than traditional ones, and keep them clutter-free.
· The Scandinavians are surprisingly fond of outdoor, barbeque-style dining, even if just a small outdoor space is utilised. Open up your living room onto an equally earthy and understate outdoor grill patio area. Think Australian or South African barbeque areas, but on a scaled-down level.
· Concept modern fireplaces encased in stone or concrete are a feature of every Scandi living space. However, it should be in a discreet nook rather than acting as the stand-out feature. Think of the fireplace as the unobtrusive but welcome guest, rather than the life of the party.
· The more enviro-friendly in general, the better. Scandinavian living is consciously kind to the environment.
Stuck with your Scandinavian style project? Our handy guide of local interior decorators will make sure you don’t miss the mark!