Style Ideas: Creating a Scandinavian Living Space


We’re always envious of the beautiful home inspiration that Abi Dare shares on her blog and Instagram. So when we got the chance to talk style tips with the self-confessed interiors addict, we couldn’t wait. In this post, Abi explores ideas for creating a minimal and relaxed living space that’s influenced by Scandinavian design. Give it a read to discover the elements that make all the difference to this pared-back look…

Creating a Scandinavian Living Space

By Abi Dare

I’ve always been drawn to pared-back Scandinavian interiors: they’re stylish and timeless, and they work in all sorts of settings, from country cottages to sleek city apartments. They also tend to incorporate calming colours and clean, minimalist lines – the perfect antidote to our increasingly busy modern lives! Here are my tips to help you get the Scandinavian look in your own home.

Think about function as well as form

Scandinavian design is about ambiance and functionality as much as beauty, so focus on creating a comfortable space where you want to spend time. That means thinking about practical measures such as layout and usability before you move onto colour and finish. The best interiors are welcoming and liveable, and they help make everyday life that little bit easier.

Choose neutral colours

Scandinavian homes tend to have neutral backdrops, so paint your walls in a soothing shade such as white or grey, and choose pale flooring. That doesn’t mean you can’t use colour, though: it’s easy to introduce vibrant splashes through accessories and fabrics, without going overboard and detracting from the simple, airy feel.

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Image via Stadshem

Maximise light

The dark Nordic winters mean maximising natural light is essential in Scandinavian homes. Many do away with window dressings altogether, but if that doesn’t appeal you can still brighten up your own pad. Just swap heavy drapes for sheer voiles or breezy linen curtains (they can be combined with blackout blinds in bedrooms), and hang them high and wide so that they don’t obscure sections of the window when open. Alternatively, invest in slatted shutters which let light filter through while providing plenty of privacy. If you have a particularly dark room, try bouncing light around with cleverly positioned mirrors, or using a paint which incorporates light-reflecting particles.

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Image via Stadshem

It’s worth thinking about how to make the most of artificial light, too. Adding a variety of floor and table lamps, as well as lots of flickering candles, means you can instantly alter the mood from bright and airy to warm and cosy.

Introduce natural materials

Natural materials are a big part of Scandinavian design, so incorporate lots of tactile textures which connect the interior to the great outdoors – wooden furniture, woollen throws, linen cushions, perhaps a sheepskin or two.

Wood flooring is another great way to do this, and you can always add a few rugs to ramp up the cosiness. Engineered oak flooring is an excellent choice, as it combines hard-wearing construction with the beautiful grains in solid timber. Options with ashen undertones work particularly well in grey or white schemes – try wide Chepstow boards in grey shades for an understated look, or Goodrich parquet flooring in Whitened Oak if you want something a little more striking.

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Invest in design classics

Scandinavian interiors tend not to slavishly follow trends; instead, they incorporate timeless pieces which last for decades. Some of the most iconic Scandinavian designs – Arne Jacobsen’s ‘Swan’ chair, Hans J Wegner’s ‘Wishbone’ chair, Louis Poulsen’s ‘PH5’ light – were created back in the Fifties, but they haven’t dated at all. Investing in a few design classics is definitely worth the outlay, and they needn’t be restricted to those with deep pockets – Danish brands such as Muuto and Hay produce lots of affordable yet instantly recognisable pieces, many starting at well under £100.

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‘Swan’ chair (image by Line Klein for Elle Decoration) and ‘Wishbone’ chair (image via


Getting rid of clutter is key to achieving the minimalist Scandinavian look, so incorporate lots of storage to hide away mess. If budget allows, consider commissioning bespoke cupboards or shelving units that suit your needs and make the most of the space you have available. If you can’t stretch to that, look for coffee tables or beds with built-in storage. And avoid dressing surfaces with lots of knick-knacks; instead, opt for a few well-chosen items that complement the overall scheme.

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Image via Fantastic Frank

Add greenery

It’s rare to see a Scandinavian home which doesn’t have a few houseplants dotted here and there. As well as adding a dash of prettiness, plants serve a practical function by cleaning the air and making your home healthier and happier. The perfect finishing touch!

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Image via Fantastic Frank

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