If you’ve ever walked through IKEA or scrolled through Pinterest, I guarantee you’ve seen the Calming Scandi trend in action. Think light and airy, minimal and functional.
Scandi interior design is popular for a reason: it helps create a beautiful relaxed and inviting atmosphere perfect for a family home.
The style, which prioritises simplicity and functionality, originates from the northern European countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Scandinavian design gained popularity in these countries from the 1930s, but wasn’t internationally recognised until the 1950s.
Often, Scandi design is described interchangeably with Minimalism. Yes, the two concepts are similar – Scandinavian living and design embraces many of the principles of Minimalist life. There is a shared emphasis on simple and uncluttered living. But Scandinavian minimalism is about finding efficient design solutions and adding extra depth and texture to create a calm and cosy space.
It’s definitely possible to easily achieve Calming Scandi designs in your home, without moving to Norway (or religiously buying half the IKEA catalogue). Keep reading to find out how…
5 ways to create Calming Scandi in your home
Look for Lagom
This Swedish word is a whole way of life and is a little difficult to pin down precisely. In her book Lagom: The Swedish Art of Living Well, Lola Akinmade Åkerström describes the concept as the “optimal solution”.
“If one were to boil down the true essence of lagom to its very core, it means striving for the ultimate balance in life that, when applied to all aspects of one’s existence, can help guide you towards operating at your most natural, effortless state,” Åkerström writes.
At home, this means decluttering with an eye to prioritising those precious things that bring joy or serve a practical purpose.
“The ultimate goal is to create a warm place that makes us happy and instantly calms us down,” Åkerström says. “From the scents that evoke that special feeling of belonging, the plants we have that bring a bit of nature into our dwelling spaces, the colour schemes we choose … to the photos and decorative elements that adorn our walls and shelves.”
Choose natural materials
Pale-toned wood is a recognisable feature of Scandinavian design. This originates partly from the types of trees native to Scandi countries including ash, beech and pine.
You can add wooden accents through furniture and decor or more dramatic changes like exposed wood panelling or cupboards. If you’re lucky enough to have wooden floorboards, consider stripping them back to a paler tone and avoid fitted wall to wall carpet.
Soften the look and dial up the cosiness by bringing in textures like linen, wool, jute, and cotton in neutral and muted pastel palettes.
Prioritise quality craftsmanship
Traditionally, Scandinavian design features high-quality, well-crafted furniture. The style is timeless, so saving up for some key investment pieces will serve you well for years to come.
If you want to save a few pounds and you’re happy to DIY some things, you could scour Facebook marketplace for some vintage Mid-Century Modern pieces. Usually, these will have a darker stain so sand or lime wax the wood back to the right tone!
Add a touch of hygge
Hygge (pronounced ‘hue-gah’) was first developed in the 18th Century. It’s an old Nordic term that means seeking protection and is loosely translated as ‘cosy’. It’s become a popular trend over the past few years, especially over the colder months.
The key here is to emphasise textures, soft and moody lighting, and creating a space that makes you feel calm. You can read more of my tips for adding hygge to your home here or shop some of my favourite products.
If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, make it the focal point of the room. Given the hard, dark winters of Scandinavian countries, creating a warm and welcoming environment is crucial even among this minimalist style.
Keep it light and airy
The Calming Scandi trend relies on a pale and airy colour palette. You should also emphasise natural light in the room. Choose sheer curtains or blinds if you need window coverings. Keep walls neutral or white or help spread that natural light.
Consider how the room will work throughout the seasons, and how you can adapt to embrace the lighter months of the year, and then add hygge in the cooler months.
“In every room there should be multiple light sources, ranging from the warm, low light of a candle to the bright overhead glow of a ceiling light,” Freya McOmish and Rebecca Thandi Norman write in Scandinavia Standard. “Scandinavian design seeks to spread light as effectively as possible without creating a harsh atmosphere.”
Need help putting together an inviting Calming Scandi design? Make sure you grab a copy of my free Moodboard Guide.