Add the simplicity of Scandinavian design to your home


Some of the world’s most revered designers and their most notable creations are rooted in Scandinavian design. This distinct esthetic first showed up in the 1930s and rose to fame in the 1950s, becoming one of the most popular movements in contemporary design. Since then, the Scandi style has influenced everything from fashion and furniture to architecture and interior design – including my own.

In my design work, I often lean into the Scandinavian esthetic, which delivers a nice balance of simplicity, contemporary style and function. More than just a style, one might even argue that it is truly a way of life that embraces the concepts of utility, simplicity and comfort as a lifestyle and indeed, a decorating style.

If you are looking for a timeless, classic look and easy living, then consider a trip to Scandinavia – if only by design! Here are some of the defining features of this cool, comfortable and characteristic look.


A focus on function

Function is one of the main guiding principles of the Scandinavian style, which favours essentials over excess virtually every time. This sense of practicality manifests itself through the use of clean lines, simple forms and slim profiles, which are paired with plenty of “white space” all around to create that essential breathing room for which this style is synonymous. Surfaces are clean, clutter-free and well-organized – and by organized, I mean out of sight entirely! This un-adornment is also reflected in a minimal colour palette.


Neutral colours and materials

Simplicity is reflected in the preferred palette of neutral colours and materials inspired by nature. Light tones such as white, off-white, ivory, beige, taupe and gray are coupled with ample natural light and organic materials, predominantly blonde wood with leather and sheepskin commonly layered in, to bring a sense of ease and airiness to the home and the mind alike.

Despite this minimal colour palette, the Scandi look isn’t flat, by any means. Layering multi-tonal hues and textures and contrast in the form of dark or black details play a key role in bringing depth and comfort to what might otherwise be a very basic backdrop. In the meantime, colour can also find its way into a Scandi-style space, leaning toward gentle, organic, nature-inspired hues such as beloved botanical greens, warm greys, soft blues and warm browns.


Comfort and joy

Scandinavian-inspired spaces have a distinguishing cosiness known as Hygge, the concept of comfort as a state of mind. Texture is a key element in creating this style of comfort in your home by contributing tactile and visual qualities through the use of woven and braided materials, textured wallpapers, relief tiles and panels.

The same effect can also be achieved, or enhanced, through the use of patterns. Treat patterns as you would a traditional textural item and layer it into your decorating plan. Just be mindful not to compromise your minimalist colour palette when choosing your patterns.

Adding a personal touch

Combined, these are the qualities that feel like home. I personally love this look, and my clients do as well. What has become affectionately known as Scandi style is a warm and welcoming look that is contemporary and cultural, quiet and expressive, all at once.

And while is it helpful to follow or embrace a particular style, perhaps the most significant distinguishing feature of this esthetic in your home should be your own personal touch. Even an established style can be improved on, and sometimes, all it takes is your unique touch.

Discover the hidden “hygge” in you.

Lisa Kooistra
Lisa Kooistra
Lisa Kooistra is the creative director and principal designer for Lisa Kooistra Design. This multi-disciplinary design firm has become known for creating exceptional well curated interiors and custom builds. @lisakooistradesigns
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