It's the time of year when Scandi living rooms, in fact just Scandi interiors in general come into their own. We know the term hygge is so over used these days, but really the concept is so delightful it's hardly surprising this Scandi word for cozy/warming/welcoming/wholesome/content/all the things you want to feel in winter, has stuck around. And nowhere is hygge easier to achieve than in your living room.
'Scandinavian interior design focuses on creating a space that feels like our own personal sanctuary. This means strengthening our connection to nature; considering elements such as maximizing natural light, adding greenery and plants, using natural materials, and soothing color schemes.' explains Catharina Björkman, Scandi lifestyle expert at Contura.
Sounds dreamy. And there's plenty more where that came from as we've pulled together all our favorite living room ideas and tips from designers to help you achieve the ever-on-trend Scandinavian style.
How do you style a Scandi living room?
Styling a Scandi living room has two routes – the very cozy, very textual, very Nordic look and then there's the clean lines, minimalist approach. But they both have plenty in common and you can happily switch between the two and blend them together too.
A few key things with Scandi living rooms, no matter which version of Scandi design you are after – 'White, white, white – focus on light, neutral colors for that clean look.' say the team at Danish brand Day Home (opens in new tab). 'Less is more. More open plan space and less clutter is key to getting the calm Scandi feel. And incorporate natural materials such as wood, linen, and sheepskin – and don’t forget the house plants! Mix old with new and combine different materials and textures such as rattan, wood or concrete.'
1. Declutter your space
A key part of Scandinavian design is minimalism. Everything in a room needs to earn its place and there's no room for pieces that are all form and no function. So before starting to style your living room, have a declutter and purge the room of anything not serving a clear purpose.
'The main elements for creating a Scandi-styled space are to stick to clean lines and eliminate clutter.' explains Lotta Lundaas, founder of Norse Interiors (opens in new tab). 'Functional storage is key to this minimalistic look. You rarely see bulky furniture in a Scandinavian home; the furniture size should be adapted to the room’s dimensions and leave plenty of open space to give furniture and people the chance to breathe.'
And to maintain this clean, clear space you'll need to ensure your living room storage is up to scratch. Opt for a mix of both open and closed storage – living room shelving will allow you to create beautiful displays and bring character into the room, and closed storage will allow you to hide away that un-aesthetically pleasing, but unfortunately essential clutter.
2. Get your living room lighting right
Since the Scandis spend so much of winter in the dark it is no wonder that a lot of their interior design concepts are obsessed with light, be it natural or artificial. The consensus with living room lighting is the more light and the more lighting options the better, so you can adjust the mood of the room accordingly.
'Start by making the most of the natural light in your home – keep window decoration to a minimum to allow as much sunshine in as possible. And remember that rarely is a natural space completely light or completely dark; natural light has depth and texture.' explains Catharina.
'Re-create this in your home by incorporating a range of feature lighting options to light different areas of the space, as opposed to one or two imposing ceiling lights which can feel too harsh. Create pools of light by using picture lights, pendants, and dimmer switches, as well as functional yet stylish free-standing and table lamps, fairy lights, and candles.'
3. Strip back to bare wooden floors
While interior design trends might be hinting that living room carpets are back in style, you won't find them in Scandi interiors. As Catharina explains, 'Wooden floors are another staple in Swedish interior design – rarely do you see fitted carpets in the main living areas. Pale-colored woods such as pine or birch help to reflect light or you can also paint floorboards white, as this will make the space look bigger than it is. To add coziness, add some texture and a splash of color with a soft wool or cotton rug for a stylish and functional option.'
4. Don't shy away from color
A light and neutral color palette is synonymous with Scandi living rooms, however, don't let that put you off dabbling in a few bolder tones. Choose living room colors that add extra warmth and coziness to the space – deep pinks, terracottas, and even yellows will all be at home in a Scandi setting.
'Scandinavian interiors can be bright and joyful, as much as clean and restrained.' says Patrick O’Donnell of Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). 'India Yellow offers a deep richness and warmth to a sitting room - creating an empathetic backdrop to pictures and beautifully chosen furniture that is deceptively controlled – especially with a soft white like Strong White.'
'Rather than look to cool greys for your ‘classic’ look, consider earthier tones to create a sophisticated Scandi living room environment such as Pantalon with an elegant, green-tinged neutral, Wall White. By erring towards browner, earthier tones - it will create a softer, more gentle family of colors.'
5. Layer up the textures
If you are looking for the one thing that's going to give your living room that Scandi feel it's texture. Texture, texture, texture. The more the better. Scandi spaces may be limited in color, but they more than make up for it in layering up different tactile materials and finishes to create spaces that are every bit as interesting as those filled with color.
'Scandinavian design is all about texture - layering soft materials over hardwoods. This creates a sumptuous feeling in an otherwise sparse space. The trick is to keep those materials to a neutral palette. So, white sheepskin rugs, beige cashmere throws and grey wool sofas will help you do this.' suggests our Editor, Pip Rich.
6. Mix and match wood tones
And another tip for adding interest to a neutral color scheme is to choose different tones and finishes of wood when picking out your living room furniture. You won't have to move too from with all the greys, creams and whites going on but wood can add depth and that all-important texture to a room.
'Opt for solid colors on your main furniture, and to make the classic, lighter, Scandinavian color palette more interesting, I recommend adding different textures inspired by nature.' suggests Lotta. 'I believe that natural wood, dark walnut or teak, and light oak will be in the center of our home decor in 2022. Lastly, adding multiple light fixtures in each room is another vital element that enables you to shift light sources throughout the day and the seasons.'
7. Invest in a wood burning stove
Ah, of course, what Scandi living room would be complete without a wood-burning stove? There's just something about a log burner that feels so... Nordic. Of course, gas fires offer a more instant warmth, but nothing beats piling in the wood and getting the flames going yourself. Plus, wood burners are by far the most efficient fireplace idea, heating a room more quickly and effectively than an open fire.
'The final element of creating that rustic Scandi feel is to embrace the primal comfort of fire – a woodburning stove is a must in any Scandinavian home as there’s no better way to relax than curled up by a crackling fire.' explains Catharina. Agreed.
8. Bring the outdoors in
The whole concept of hygge might be based around holing up inside under a layer of blankets, but getting outdoors is an equally large part of Scandinavian culture. So it's no surprise a key part of Scandi interior design is bringing the outside in.
'Bringing the outdoors in is another core element of creating that rustic Scandi-feel in a home. Opt for abundant, trailing plans, such as Pothos (Devil’s Ivy) or String-of-pearls. Not only are these easy to grow and maintain, but both have air-purifying qualities. Growing herbs indoors is another great way to make a space feel more rustic – rosemary and basil will add a lovely subtle scent to your home and will undoubtedly also prove useful when cooking.' explains Catharina Björkman.
Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.
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