Scandinavian interior design has become a movement that is recognized by many, characterized by simplicity, functionality, and minimalism. While we constantly take inspirations from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, it is especially interesting to understand the reasons behind the Nordics' design philosophy. Here we have put together a collection of 5 key features commonly seen in Scandinavian homes, each having its own lesson in teaching us about this simple yet unique European design. (Cover Photo Source: Oracle Fox)
Sure, the Nordics' devotion to simplicity is a factor behind the white walls and white floors you see in Ikea's show rooms, but their need for a brighter interior is also a main contributor. Because of the long dark winters in Northern Europe, the colour choices in Scandinavian homes often lean towards soft muted tones mixed with neutral colours in order to help keep the space calm, coherent, and bright — which makes the space look roomy and airy as a side benefit.
With an average of 60 or more Polar Nights where the night's darkness lasts for more than 24 hours, natural light is much loved and has always been something Scandinavian interior design tries to maximize as much as possible. To the opposite of these cold dark days are their Polar Days, the phenomenon when the sun stays above the horizon for more than 24 hours — that is when the Nordics enjoy their summer days to the fullest, letting in as much light as they can with large, floor-to-ceiling windows & sheer translucent window treatments if any.
Scandinavians have an ingrained love for nature. With their long winters, naturally they would seize every opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors whenever possible during warmer days of the year. In fact, the use of many natural elements in Scandinavian interior design is their way to proclaim their love for nature — the wood floors, wood walls, and wood furnitures are rustic with wood grains, and there are often numerous indoor plants to mimic nature, reminding people of that beautiful summer world even during their winter blues.
Traditionally, Scandinavian homes were small and didn't have a lot of room allowance for excessive furniture pieces. Although living spaces are built larger today, keeping their home space clutter-free remains an important aspect in Scandinavian philosophy. Simplicity has become an icon in Nordic homes, which in essence is a pursuit of down-to-earth living and understated elegance. In order to declutter a space, first it starts with owning less, which is also related to the importance Nordics place on eco-friendly lifestyle. To own less is to ensure that nothing goes to waste, and no more than what's needed is taken from mother nature.
Form & Function
What comes together with a strong love and respect for nature is a desire to nurture it. That is why high-quality materials and attention to detail are common features in Nordic furnitures, built by the craftsmen with the intention to make them last a lifetime or even longer. The idea is: if more people own these quality furnitures, less has to be made, which saves nature a little at a time. Therefore, almost every object in a Scandinavian home has a function or meaning behind it. For example, it's a long winter, so instead of ornamental fireplaces and blankets, these furnishings will only appear if they actually provide warmth. This does not mean that walls are bare in Scandinavian designs; since Scandinavians value art and culture highly, a careful selection of beloved decorations — like paintings or personal collections — are absolutely necessary in their daily life as well.