10 Tips for Embracing Scandinavian Design—Without A Trip to Ikea

10 Tips for Embracing Scandinavian Design—Without A Trip to Ikea

10 Tips for Embracing Scandinavian Design—Without A Trip to Ikea

How do you balance the streamlined minimalism of Scandinavian design with warmth of hygge. Here are our tips to master a minimal look—while avoiding looking too much like that big box store.

Maximalism may be de rigueur as of late, but there will always be a place in our hearts (and our homes) for Scandinavian design. Its thoughtful minimalism reflects the kind of life we wish we lived on cruise control: light, unfussy, uncluttered, clean, natural, and streamlined. Luckily, with the right statement lighting, wooden accents, and graphic artwork, you can inch your way to a more beautifully balanced, Scandinavian-inspired life. Here, we share our top ten tips to keep in mind when creating your own minimal oasis.

Design by: Melanie Burstin
Photo by: Tessa Neustadt

1. An Ode to All-White (With Splashes of Black)

Updating your home to reflect a Scandinavian color palette is a little like sending your space through a de-saturation filter. Clean whites, off-whites, grey scale, and splashes of black reign supreme, whether you’re installing marble countertops or coating your walls in a fresh layer of Chantilly Lace paint.

Design by: Tali Roth
Photo by: Claire Esparros

2. Incorporate A Monotone Gallery Wall

Whichever color palette you commit to should extend to art choices as well. Creating a wall of graphic black-and-white art (we’re crushing on designer Tali Roth’s take on the trend above) or selecting a few monotoned pieces is an easy way to add visual interest to predominantly stark walls, without tilting the balance of kilter.

Design by: Melanie Burstin
Photo by: Tessa Neustadt

3. Go Au Naturale

When decking out your space, take cues from cabin culture. Wooden accents are an essential part of any Scandinavian home, from the wide-planked floors and shelving to couches (a look that Melanie Burstin nails above). Pro tip: keep the type of wood and the variation in grain to a minimum. Stick with one variety whether it’s pine, bleached beech, or beautiful stained oak. The wooden accents will naturally warm up your space and help you bring the outdoors in.

Design by: Savannah Metcalf
Photo by: Sarah Dorio

4. Spring for Unexpected Seating

Scandinavians find beauty in the perfectly imperfect. They recognize that there’s no reason why you can’t mix and match furniture, even at the same table. Here, designer Savannah Metcalf follows their lead by mixing classic Windsor-style chairs with mid-century modern Panton chairs, which makes for a more interesting layout—and we’d imagine meal too.

Design by: Kate Banks
Photo by: Sean Litchfield

5. Let Statement Lighting Shine

While the majority of Scandi homes feature pared-down elements, lighting is one of the exceptions to the rule. Choosing a bold pendant or chandelier helps you create a dynamic focal point in your dining room. And when it comes to your bedroom, try flanking your bed with some statement sconces.

Design by: Erin Kane
Photo by: Pablo Enriquez

6. Opt for Open (but Curated) Shelving

One way that Scandinavians display their personal style is by artfully curating open shelves. Think beyond books here—accessories, art, and decorative objects are all worthy choices as well. In the kitchen, use shelving as a way to showcase your unique collection of dishware and glasses. But remember: straying from clutter is key. Less is more is the Scandinavian modus operandi.

Design by: Noa Santos
Photo by: Claire Esparros

7. Layer in Texture

Scandinavians are masters at layering myriad textures. They thoughtfully mix materials like metals, stone, wood, and linen within in a way that feels like they were always meant to co-habitat. One of the dreamiest Nordic combos: throwing a soft sheepskin blanket over a smooth leather chair or chaise lounge, which our founder Noa Santos perfectly pulls off here.

Design by: Jae Joo
Photo by: Nick Glimenakis

8. Marry Form & Function

Form and function don’t have to be separate. In fact, they work best in conjunction. Scandinavian design is all about finding beauty in this functionality—think hardware, furniture, and lighting crafted in elegant shapes, as shown in this white-washed dining room designed by Jae Joo.

Design by: Jae Joo
Photo by: Claire Esparros

9. Go for the Green

There’s nothing that breathes life into a Scandinavian home quite like greenery (as designer Jae Joo proves in this airy space). Amid the wooden accents, sheepskin throws, and flood of natural light, a plant (or seven) feels right at home. And your choices don’t need to be native to Scandinavia. Opt for whichever variety catches your eye—from the ever-popular fiddle leaf fig to the currently trending monstera deliciosa—just don’t forget to water them.

Design by: Jill Shadek
Photo by: Vivian Johnson

10. Turn Up the Heat!

Imbue your space with visual and literal warmth with a fireplace—the center of many Scandinavian homes. Some Nordic favorites include the classic wood-burning stove or something more sleek and space-aged like the one featured in this San Francisco beach house designed by Jill Shadek. All you need are some logs and a good book, and you’re hygge-ready.

Ready to bring some signature Scandinavian minimalism to your home? Sign up for Homepolish today.

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