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There is also similarity in climate, I often wonder at the thinking behind creating a Moroccan riad design for example when home is in the North West of England. Scandinavia is colder with less light than much of Europe and the interior trends that come out of these countries reflects this and as such works well with creating warm and welcoming decor. So, what are the design principles behind Nordic interior design?
The Scandinavian Colour Palette
Not surprisingly for a trend that was born out of the minimalist sixties, the Nordic colour palette errs on the side of neutral tones including whites and greys. These lighter tones are naturally brightening in countries where the Winter months are both long and dark. Likewise, these colours are effective in the UK, where we receive our fair share of grey days. When choosing a colour it's worth taking into account the aspect of the room in question. If the room is North facing then opt for a warmer tone, a warmer white such as school house white from Farrow and Ball, this will create the desired Scandinavian look whilst also injecting warmer tones into the overall finish. A West or South facing room can stand a blue or grey colour. Feature walls are another design accent that hails from Scandi design, a strong shade of grey or blue will add an injection of colour to the room. You can go bold with this colour choice, the almost ink shade of blue in the image below creates a wonderful contrast and these bold accent colours can be further incorporated with textiles and furnishings.
Sustainability is the word on everyone's lips and increasingly the home interiors industry is favoring products made from natural or recycled materials as opposed to synthetics and plastics. The Scandinavian trend was way ahead of this movement from the get go. The Scandi lifestyle takes its inspiration from nature and as such natural materials such as wood, wool, linen, glass, slate and stone feature strongly in Nordic decor. Natural materials tend not to date and in the case of timber and stone develop a rich patina over time. The rich texture of these elements add warmth to an interior whilst offering a welcoming and relaxed feel to the room. Ash, pine, oak and larch offer the pale almost bleached finish so beloved of this look. Incorporated into flooring, used in furniture or as open plan shelving, the use of timber resonates strongly in Scandinavian design.
Let there be light
Lighting is one of the key components in Scandinavian decor, this emphasis on lighting is born out of the lack of light in Scandinavian countries, in the long Winter months the daylight hours are few and the light generally grey. Maximising the available light is a good place to start. It is the reasoning behind the white or pale colour palette I mentioned earlier, light bounces of the pale walls and floors. Curtains tend not to feature in this look, windows remain unadorned save for a light voile maybe, maxing out on the available window light. Floor and table lamps are added in at different heights to create a soft warm layered light that is relaxed, welcoming and comfortable. In contrast over head lighting can be too stark, although pendant light shades are an oft used style that works well with Nordic decor.
Adding fresh greenery, be it Spring bulbs, Winter foliage or a potted olive tree is another favourite hack of Nordic style design.
The Log Burner
Is there a more welcoming focal point than a log burner? The lovely orange glow emitted from a wood burning stove is the epitome of hygge. The black of the cast iron stove contrasts beautifully against pale walls, making the stove the focal point of the room. Creating dark silhouettes against pale walls is a feature of Nordic style, the cast iron stove against neutral walls creates a wonderful contrast, and a stone hearth or wooden mantel completes the look. Add a traditional willow log basket filled with dried logs to the hearth to complete the look and a comfortable chair to curl up in.
How to achieve hygge? Hygge is a Danish term roughly translated as comfort, togetherness and well being, essentially it is a feeling from within. It is something we all strive for in our homes- the feeling of contentedness and warmth we get from being in our own space. The media have rather mocked hygge in recent years, which is a shame as to me it sums up my desire to hibernate during the dark months of January and February.
Denmark is famous for candles, nearly all of the candles stocked by Bowley and Jackson are sourced in Denmark. Danish candles are available in every size and colour imaginablle. The Danes add candles and tea lights to create soft low light to their living spaces. Throws, cushions and floor rugs add to the multi layered look and add warmth and comfort to both seated areas and such as dining chairs. A linen throw in muted colours not only transforms a tired sofa but can add another layer on a cold evening, pure wool blankets are great for adding to chairs and sofas.
Wool rugs are a good choice for adding to floorboards, be it a modern piece or a vintage kilim it will add warmth to the room and create a focal point to the room.
Choose timeless and quality design
Buy well, buy once as the saying goes. Scandinavian design is all about quality, the design is simple and unfussy and constructed from sustainable materials that will last. Add old pieces of furniture into the mix, be it an old refectory table or a set of original dining chairs. For classic mid century design try websites such as Vinterior to find specialist dealers, I have also had much success with Facebook Marketplace!
These vintage style chairs are simple in design and contrast well against the neutral wall. This room bears the classic hallmarks of Nordic decor featuring the aged patina of the wooden set against the pale colour palette and the pretty potted hyacinth bulbs, whilst also adhering to the simplicity of the style.
Scandinavian design offers sound design principles, drawing from nature for inspiration and reconnecting our need for calm and comfortable living spaces. This Nordic trend champions sustainable interiors by using natural materials, maybe less of a trend and more a blue print for living.