What is Scandinavian Interior Design Style? (2024 Guide)

scandinavian interior decor

The Modern Scandinavian interior design style is a style known for its warm, light and simplistic spaces with a focus on functionality and a connection to nature.

This creates modern interiors that are calming, inviting and cozy – where focus on achieving a well-being and balanced life is important, with the help of clean lines and soft hues seen in the decor.

Investing in natural materials like leather and wood of quality is common and can be seen in almost any home.

A focus on quality over quantity is visible. And with that, you will also see Scandinavian design companies bringing up topics like sustainability.

Scandinavian interior design style
A Modern Scandinavian interior design with a traditional twist.

Credit: Alvhem

In fact, for many Scandinavians, keeping a nice interior environment in your home is an important element to an overall happy life.

After all, a lot of time is spent indoors during the colder months, and also it is part of the culture to invite people to the home, regularly and casually.

Let’s jump straight into learning more about how you can incorporate this Scandinavian decor and way of life into your home.

————– And, there is no need for you to move to Scandinavia for this 😀 – I myself am a Swedish expat in a hot climate and still incorporate the way of thinking of the Scandinavian interior style into my home.

Scandinavian interior design style
A modern Scandinavian interior style juxtaposing a modern layout and furniture while honoring traditional Scandinavian elements like the use of wood, and a traditional Scandinavian fire stove.

A Scandinavian interior is encouraging a simple everyday lifestyle

Design studio 210

What are the key elements of Scandinavian interior design style?

Below you will find elements, features and characteristics that are known to this interior style and that you can implement in your space. All to help you and the answer the question; what does a Scandinavian design look like?

Key Elements of the Scandinavian interior style

  • Simple clean lines
  • Cozy textiles and tactile fabrics
  • Plenty of greenery
  • Natural light and airy feeling
  • Simplicity and minimalism
  • Functional decoration
  • Wood floors & details
  • Fire places and stoves
  • Rugs
  • Subtle colors
  • Juxtaposing elements
  • Graphic posters

Hopefully, they will inspire…see below for more stunning images and more details!

Keep simple clean lines

Modern Scandinavian interior design style

Photo from Alvhem

In Scandinavian homes, you will usually find clean lines throughout the space. This will be shown through objects, the way the design is laid out together with other elements. All to reinforce the simple feel.

The emphasis on clean lines can be seen in any Scandinavian home, especially in the more minimalistic Scandinavian interior design style.

  • Opt for a kitchen with clean lines and fronts
  • Build in furniture or use simple cleaned lined storage like from Ikeas Bestå series
  • Keep flooring plain

Add Cozy Textiles

Modern Scandinavian Interior Design Style
Photo by Alvhem

Adding cozy and warm textiles around your space, is just how the Scandinavians like to bring in a feeling of warmth in to a space. This is not only limited for the winter months but is common all year around, but with a more limited take during the warmer months.

  • Mix and match textures
  • Go for natural looking textiles like sheep skins, linen and wool
  • Keep pattern to a minimum

TIPS! If you are living in warmer climates, be gentle with how you incorporate more warmer elements to your space, as this can not only make your space feel too warm but also cramped. This goes especially during the hotter summer months. But of course as always, IF it makes you feel great, go for it! 🙂

I usually add fake sheep skins during my Mediterranean winter days, and then remove them during summer, where all I want is lighter feeling fabrics.

Plenty of Greenery

Scandinavian interior design
Photo from Alvhem

Scandinavian interior design
Photo credit to Historiska hem

Being surrounded by forest and nature is common in these countries. And with that you will also commonly find plants and flowers in these spaces.

Plants and flowers are very easily accessible. For people living in houses they usually pick fresh flowers in their own garden and for the other, during summer and spring months, the forests have plenty of them. If you are going for this look, investing in some knowledge around how to care for plants and flowers might be handy.

  • Use wild flowers or flowers that has an imperfect natural feel
  • Pick or get a fresh Friday bouquet of flowers as many Swedes splurge on to welcome in the weekend with a good mood
  • Avoid plastic flowers and plants where possible

Natural light – Let the light in

Modern Scandinavian interior design
Found via Coco Lapine, styled by Grey Deco, photographed by Anders Bergstedt for Alvhem
Modern Scandinavian interior design styled
Found via Coco Lapine, styled by Grey Deco, photographed by Anders Bergstedt for Alvhem

With the long dark winter months, it is no wonder that Scandinavians crave light and light-filled spaces.

  • Avoid covering the windows and closing out the light with heavy curtains
  • Use simple blinds or light curtains

Less is more – Simplicity and Quality

Scandinavian interior design style
Photo from Alvhem

Scandinavian interior decors that you see nowadays is usually known for this simple look. What’s important is that when we are speaking about simplicity here, we do not mean it should be super minimal or of poor quality.

The key here is to let few pieces tell your homes story. The few pieces that you care about, the few pieces that are of quality and that have meaning to you. Don’t over complicate.

And remember to allow white space. It is okay 🙂

  • Allow some walls to be bare
  • Invest in some quality pieces (when I say quality it does not mean that you need to buy brands. I am referring to quality in regards of material, craftmanship etc)
  • Let there be white space (empty space) between your objects. Let them breath. They will paint a much prettier picture for you, and it will be easier to clean around

Functional decoration

Scandinavian interior design style
Photo from Alvhem

Scandis knows how to decorate and style with functional and useful objects. Objects that serves a purpose more than looking nice.

Do an inventory of your space and highlight functional objects that you have at hand and that also inspire you. Create a focal wall around them.

  • Decorate your space with functional elements that are important to you: Example your coffee station or smoothie morning station with all your breakfast items organized in glass jars
  • Focus on functional decoration that motivates and encourages an activity or a goal
  • Emphasize one or two things in each space, not to get overwhelming and lack of focus

Wood floors and details

Modern Scandinavian interior design
Interior design by Joanna Laajisto

It is no surprise that wood would be a Scandinavian design characteristic that Scandis love. We know from above that, mother nature and natural objects have an importance and meaning in this style.

A quick home decor improvement for you, would be to incorporate wood flooring and other details around your space.

  • Consistently use same wood throughout the home (except wet rooms)
  • Mix and match woods (more popular are lighter wood types like beech)
  • Hardwood and laminates are both used

Fire places and stoves

Scandinavian interior design
Photo from Alvhem

For cold days a fire place or a fire stove is simply a must. Not only does it heat up the space but also adds such a character of older homes in Sweden. Really love this feature.

  • If you do not afford a fire stove or fire place, create a cute candle area in a corner for that glowing heat and light source


Modern Scandinavian interior design
Found via Coco Lapine, styled by Grey Deco, photographed by Anders Bergstedt for Alvhem

The use of area rugs is common in most rooms. And it is also common to change the rug during different seasons. Like this you will be able to focus on a lighter decor during summer and a darker one during winter.

  • Scandinavians do not wear shoes inside hence be mindful on what type of rug you buy depending of you wear shoes or not inside
  • Keep a light and airier feel rug for warmer months and a fluffier cozy one for winter months

Colors are usually rather subtle

Modern Scandinavian interior design
Photo from Alvhem
Modern Scandinavian interior design style
Photo from Alvhem

Colors are kept natural and subtle. Not too much, not too little (lagom) as they say in Sweden.

Usually wall colors are of light colors, as well as kitchens and fitted decors. It goes back again to the crave of simplicity, minimalism and also crave of light.


Scandinavian interior design
Interior by AnnaLena.Interiors and found via MyParadissi

Mix up and balance stark lines and materials with warmer materials. Like this the spaces feels both warm, soft yet fresh.

Graphic posters

Scandinavian interior design
Photo from Alvhem

Common to Scandinavian interiors is the graphic posters on the walls. Whether you hang them or lean them. Say it through forms and words on the wall.

What do you think – will you implement some of the Scandinavian interior design ideas above? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

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How do I make my house look Scandinavian?

To decor in a more Modern Scandinavian style, you can look into some of the tips below:

  • Paint your walls in a light warm shade
  • Paint your kitchen cabinets in a light gray or white shade. Another option: stain to a light wood finish. Update handles with small knobs or slim larger handles.
  • Change flooring to a laminate wood if budget persists. If not: Try to keep flooring finish as light (warm) colored as possible.
  • Get some light wood functional furniture pieces and juxtapose with white/light gray starker furniture storage pieces like Bestå from Ikea.
  • Invest in good quality textiles like a big nice comfortable throw on your bed and on the sofa.
  • Add leaned and hanged art with simple graphics.
  • Remember: To keep things simple. Declutter surfaces. And let there be light and space in your home.
  • Remove the curtains and use simple blinds or even without and focus on styling the window sill with some lovely decor pieces and plants.
  • Add rugs

    Happy creative decorating your home!

Scandinavian interior design
Photo from Alvhem

What are Scandinavian colors?

When it comes to colors in Modern Scandinavian interior design spaces, mostly soft beiges, whites and grays are used. Colors are drawing inspiration from the outdoors; the greenery from the plants, the stone and wood colors being in a beige – white – gray tone.

When it comes to traditional Scandinavian interior styles, then the use of red hues and blues were very common.

Do Scandinavians use curtains?

It is very common to see photos from more Modern Scandinavian Interior Design spaces were they opted to not add any curtains.

Instead the focus is on the stunning apertures, and the marble or granite window sills that are often nicely decorated with plants, lamps, and other decorative pieces.

What is not a common feature of Scandinavian interior design?

  • Wall to wall carpets
  • Massive Kitchen Appliances (Scandinavian appliances are usually simpler and smaller)
  • Window Bars (even if an apartment is on ground level, there are no window bars)
  • Dark Wood and paint colors (usually this is not associated to the Scandinavian style)
  • Large decorative entrance halls (instead focus is on functionality, those spaces are normally used for storing outdoor gear, more like a mudroom feel)

A question that I have been thinking about a lot lately. With around 2,940,086 images on Instagram attached to the hashtag – Scandinavian design, and around 60,000 searchers monthly on Google, it is clear that this style has made an online impact on the design community. So with that information, why do I think that this style is so popular?

Here are my thoughts:

  • The impact the Scandinavian interior design bloggers had on the online design world early on for sure had some impact. Scandinavian countries were early adaptors for blogging and influencing.
  • An increasing interest in minimalism. The wish of downsizing and having a sleek yet warm interior makes Scandinavian homes attractive.
  • More awareness abroad of Scandinavian shops like Ikea.

Where can I buy Scandinavian decor?

It is super easy today to find online Scandinavian interior shops and Scandinavian designed furniture. Some pointers here is to source different shops and to look for the one that offers free shipping, as the shipping really varies depending where you are located.

Scandinavian design on a budget – is it possible? 

While the word budget can mean different things to different people. I have here listed some ideas about what you can do and where to source the products.

  • There are plenty of DIY ideas and step by step guides to save some bucks for the person who feels brave or for the one with the lucky DIY gene. An example that I really like is this lamp by Scandinavian feeling.
  • Auctions and flea markets: If you constantly keep a lookout you might be lucky to jump into some good pieces.
  • Look in some mainstream shops. Check out Huffposts list of Scandinavian online shops.
  • Look out for companies that partner with Ikea products, like Reform.

A minimalism approach to decoration


Where does this Scandinavian interior design style come from?

So lastly lets look back a bit at the history of this design style. Traditional Scandinavian interior design originates from Sweden, Norway and Denmark. These three countries make up the Scandinavian region, north of Europe.

(One thing to add is that Finland geographically do not belong to Scandinavia, but in the design world is often included in the Scandi design style.)

The term Scandinavian interior design originates from around the 1950’s. The design style was influenced by clean lines, simplistic and functional designs. During this time there was a hype around modern furniture designers, like Alvar Alto and Hans J Wegner. All which had similar design philosophy and who’s name for sure pops up if you search for the history of this design style.

And with that little history lesson I hope you have enjoyed this Scandinavian interior design guide. Since I am collecting all things about Scandinavia I would love to hear below your go-to design shops, Scandinavian interior design blogs for inspiration, instagram accounts etc.

Scandinavian interior design

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