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Scandinavian Interior Design Principles Anyone Can Use

By RST Brands
January 28, 2021

No, we’re certainly not the first ones to incorporate Scandinavian interior design principles into our home decor. Scandinavian design is everywhere these days, and it’s easy to see why the style is so desirable. Decorate like the Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians, and you’ll instantly feel both a little more sophisticated and at ease—and that’s a hard feat to pull off.

What Is Scandinavian Design?

What are the elements of Scandinavian design? Once you’re familiar with it, it’s easy to spot, everywhere from a made-over McDonald’s to the new hotel that’s all over Instagram. But being the pros we are, we’re happy to spell it out for you.


A typical Scandinavian room has white walls; light, hardwood flooring; natural wood; an overall neutral color scheme; plus a few pops of color and graphic patterns. Scandinavian furniture is usually functional and minimalistic.

This delightful Asta Seating Set has a comfortable design you will love.

Why Has Scandinavian Design Become So Popular?

The Scandinavians have lots of enviable qualities, yet there are tons of design trends that come and go. Why has Scandinavian design become so popular?


Everyone has their own theories, but we think Scandinavian design has surged to the top of the design world thanks to its emphasis on simplicity, craftsmanship, functionality, and comfort. Most design styles only incorporate one or two of these values, so when you find a design style that wraps it all up in one pretty package, it’s going to stick around for the long haul.

Scandinavian Interior Design Principles

All right. By now you’re dying to learn how to decorate Scandinavian-style. Here are the Scandinavian design principles you need to pull it off.

Incorporating Scandinavian elements can create a feeling of openness in your space

1. Invite the Light In

Scandinavians know how to play up their strengths. So when you live in a country that gets cold—really, really cold—you make sure to bring in as much light as possible. This includes natural light (big, open windows and skylights) and artificial lighting, too. Avoid using one overhead light whenever possible. Instead, go for layered lighting in the form of side table lamps, reading lamps, and an abundance of candles.

2. Less Is More

The Scandinavians are taking note from Coco Chanel, who once said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” So look around the house. You’ve decorated to the nines . . . and now it’s time to pare things back. All those picture frames on the dresser? Scrap ‘em. The millions of pillows on the couch? Adios. Less is more with Scandinavian design. So keep it minimal and enjoy the blank slate.


3. Opt for Refinement

Honestly, refined design sounds a little snooty, right? But refinement doesn’t have to mean your house looks like The Ritz. Instead, Scandinavian design is about a polished, thoughtful, and restrained atmosphere: one that’s inviting and comfortable but doesn’t go overboard with the color scheme, patterns, or decor. 

4. Balance Order with Relaxation

Think minimalism is synonymous with sterility? Think again. Scandinavian design embraces the delicate balance between order and relaxation. Yes, you’re aiming for minimal clutter and clean lines. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t balance it out with a cozy throw
blanket, furry rug, and ultra-soft pillow. Make sure your design achieves both principles to make it truly Scandinavian.


Combine a few organic elements for added warmth and freshness

5. Use Natural Accents

When you really want to get the classic Scandinavian look, remember to bring in popular materials used in Scandinavian design, like natural wood accents and a touch of greenery. Scandinavians greatly value the outdoors, and they find ways to bring nature inside by incorporating plants, driftwood, stones, wicker, and other earthy materials.

6. Invest in High-Quality Pieces

A trip to Ikea may have led you to believe that Scandinavian design is always about finding screamin’ deals, but the Swedes know a thing or two about quality. Instead of always looking for the cheapest option, prioritize higher-end classy pieces that will stand the test of time. Sure, you can mix in some low-cost furniture, but the affordable price-point shouldn’t equate with cheap. 

Relish the simplicity of seating sets upholstered in durable sling fabrics in two calming colors

7. Choose Neutral Colors

Bold colors have their place, but in general, Scandinavian design embraces neutral colors like white, beige, light gray, and black. Achieve the look by creating a neutral base, then adding in splashes of color. Choose timeless furniture pieces in neutral colors, like a light gray accent chair or brown leather couch. You can always switch out the pillows, rugs, and blankets to mix up the vibe and throw in some fun, youthful touches.

Create a quiet sitting area with this 3pc seating set built in durable acacia wood

8. Create Contrast

Admit it—those all-white kitchens you see on Pinterest are getting a little boring. Herein lies the genius of Scandinavian design: Their kind of neutral is never boring, because it always includes plenty of contrast. As we mentioned before, you can (and should!) add in pops of color with decorative accents. Or, if you really love the neutral look, you can create contrast using a variety of textures (wood, fur, layered rugs, etc.).

9. Go Eco-Friendly

Scandinavians greatly value sustainability. In fact, Sweden is the world’s most sustainable country. You go, Swedes! So it makes sense that their interior design style is all about eco-friendly choices. Go green whenever possible, choosing sustainable furniture and eco-friendly appliances and light bulbs.

 Build a serene atmosphere with contemporary pieces in calming Textilene sling

10. Add Graphic Patterns

If you’ve ever donned one of those iconic, patterned Christmas sweaters, you’ve seen it firsthand: While Scandinavians love their neutrals, they also know how to add in the perfect dose of pattern and color. There’s something ultra-charming about Scandinavian folk patterns: geometric shapes mixed with woodland creatures, flowers, and a heavy dose of stripes. Incorporate these patterns into your room design through wallpaper, framed art, pillows, and blankets.

Achieve Your Scandinavian Design Dreams

We can’t all be Swedes or Danes, but it is easy to transform your patio, living room, or bedroom into a chic Scandinavian space. Head to RST Brands for long-lasting pieces to furnish any room. The Scandinavians would be proud of you for choosing a high-quality source for your favorite modern furniture.