When it comes to creating a wellness vibe in the home, the Scandinavians have got it all figured out. Given that each and everyone of us has them to thank for the concept of hygge, it isn't that surprising that a tour through a Scandinavian home will lend itself to design that is minimal yet inviting, and that caters to light (even when the winters are basically never-ending darkness).
"They really take a lot of care of their homes in Scandinavia because they're sort of like an oasis away from this really busy world that we live in," says Niki Brantman, the woman behind My Scandinavian Home and author of the Lagom series. "They like to go into their homes and hide away a little bit to de-stress." In other words, if the home is the place to clear the mind, then it'd better be a comfortable, calm retreat.
Here, she lays out exactly how you can channel specific Scandinavian design qualities in your home.
Start with natural light
In Scandinavian countries where there are only a few hours of sunlight in the darkest months, many rely on their decor to bring in as much light as possible. “It's about often lighter colors and lighter woods to help bounce the light around the house,” says Brantman. If that sounds too tame for you, remember that plain white walls don’t necessarily have to be boring. “If you look closely at the design [of a Scandinavian home], you might have a whole selection of white walls, but they'll have a textured surface," she says. "They'll often be a little bit imperfect and it adds a little bit of soul to the space.”
Use natural materials
The balance between minimalism and coziness, Brantmark says, all comes down to the textures. "I'd say it's about natural materials—like wood, wool, cotton, linens, clays, and glass—because they're so close to nature here that they try to draw those things into their homes in a nice way,” she tells me. "They often have sheepskins, linen throws, cushions, and all of these layers of textiles add warmth and coziness.”
Don’t get rid of everything—group it accordingly
While their design is minimalistic, Scandinavians still embrace the use of sacred mementos in their design. "If you have stuff all over your home, it's going to create a messy feel," she says. "If you group things in a nice way and create space between them, then it adds [individuality]." Create vignettes for your personal, special possessions, like beautifully curated photo walls or side tables with things you hold near and dear.
Stick with wood floors
Buh-bye forever, carpets! “In Scandinavia, they never have wall-to-wall carpet—ever,” says Brantmark. Ditch the shag to embrace the wood that’s (hopefully) hiding underneath, and dot it with simple, decorative rugs for added texture.
Get some plants
Like everyone else, Scandinavians love having greenery in their homes, too. “Dotting plants around your house will automatically bring it to life and bring in the nature that's so synonymous with Scandinavian homes,” says Brantmark.
Mix and match period pieces
Spoiler alert: IKEA is not the only place you can go for Swedish furniture. Instead of relying on contemporary pieces, mix and match decor from different ages to give things a personal touch. "You might want to buy something from IKEA, but you also want to throw in some vintage pieces and flea market finds,” says Brantmark.
Take your time with the process
Scandinavians are thoughtful with their design process (read: why their homes always look so stunning) and that's also why you can’t rush through your own design process. "I think it's important to take your time when you create a home —I think if you rush it, it will show,” says Brantmark. In fact, for most Scandinavians the decorating process is a life-long one. "Scandinavians are always fiddling about with their homes,” she explains, noting that they do lots of DIY in their spaces like drawing, painting, and hand-making pieces. "I feel like a home is never really finished.” Better get to work.
Want even more Scandinavianspiration (see what I did there?) in your life? Check out our hygge home guide for cozying up your life this winter. And while your at it, keep up those extra-snuggly vibes all year round, since it may be good for the environment.
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