What is Scandinavian Minimalism, and How to Apply it to Your Home?

Scandinavian minimalism is a popular trend in interior design right now. 

It brings to mind clean, bright spaces with clutter-free surfaces and cozy textiles. White walls, neutral tones, and a few essential house plants complete the look.

Scandinavian Minimalism

Because Scandinavian minimalism is all the rage, here’s a simple guide to the concept. Plus, I’ll share some low-effort tips to introduce Scandinavian design to your home.

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What is Scandinavian Minimalism?

If someone asked you, ‘what is Scandinavian minimalism, you’d probably have a good idea. It’s all clear surfaces, pale color palettes, and items made out of natural materials, Right?

If someone asked you, ‘what is Scandi minimalism,’ you’d probably have a good idea. It’s all clear surfaces, pale color palettes, and items made out of natural materials. 

Think of Ikea’s practical furniture and smart storage solutions. It’s the epitome of Scandinavian minimalism. 

But there’s a little more to Scandinavian interior design than you might be aware. So, let’s take a closer look!

It has its roots in the mid-20th century and intended to make interior design more accessible. [1]

Minimalist design became more mainstream throughout Europe in the late 1980s. It’s continued to grow ever since.

But this Scandinavian style does differ from the minimalist concept on a few key points. 

The Scandinavian minimalist design aims to remove anything unnecessary from the home. It can come across as an austere concept of minimalism that goes beyond design and is more of a lifestyle.

You don’t have to adopt a strict mindset to appreciate Scandinavian design in your everyday life.

Instead, there’s a focus on functionality and simplicity. You don’t have to part with all your material items to embrace Scandinavian minimalism. So, don’t worry! 

There’s also more flexibility. You don’t need to keep to any strict rules, so you can make it work for your home and your unique style.

It can also feel softer than other minimalist styles that come across as stark or industrial. But Scandinavian design is creative and practical, especially when it comes to storage.

What is Scandinavian Minimalism?

Image / Minh Pham

Essential Elements of Scandinavian Minimalism

In Scandinavia, winter brings long, dark nights. So, creating a welcoming, warm, and inviting atmosphere are essential.

That’s why white or cream walls are a vital feature. They amplify any natural light you do get to create a brighter environment.

They also create a flow of air and movement throughout the home. It should be a cohesive space, rather than distinct and jarring styles in each room.

You may have heard of ‘hygge.’ It’s a Danish term that means togetherness, coziness, or ‘giving comfort, courage, and joy.’ 

Hygge is another cornerstone of Scandinavian minimalism. The homes are placing to gather with family and should be comfortable, and functional.

That means furniture that isn’t overly fussy and does the job. Warm, cozy textiles like rugs, cushions, and blankets take the chill off Nordic winters. While paler, neutral colors create a sense of space and light within the room.

The Scandinavian minimalist design takes a lot of inspiration from the natural world. This creates a calm and tranquil feel. It values handmade items that are built to last from strong, natural materials like wood. 

As this minimalist style is timeless and won’t go out of fashion, there’s no need to replace things. So, you can afford to invest a bit more in a quality product. 

Plus, it makes the minimalist design more democratic for everyone. With Scandinavian minimalism, anyone can have a stylish and practical home.

Scandinavian Minimalism

Image / Sami Takarautio

Nordic Design Vs. Scandinavian Design

It’s also easy to get mixed up with the terms Scandinavian and Nordic. They both refer to the same geographic region and are often used interchangeably. 

So, what’s the difference between Nordic and Scandinavian? 

Nordic is generally used to describe Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland. It also covers Greenland, the Åland Islands, and the Faroe Islands. The word ‘Nordic’ comes from a local word that means ‘the Northern islands.’

In contrast, Scandinavia refers to Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. So, there is a little difference between these two terms. [2]

Nordic covers a greater area, but all of these countries share similar cultures.

You’ll also find references to Scandinavian design and Nordic design. These terms are often interchanged and mean very similar things. 

Image / Kari Shea

5 Ways to Apply Scandinavian Minimalism to Your Home

If you love the idea of creating a warm, simple, hygge home, then follow these tips! You can apply Scandinavian minimalism to your entire house or start with just one room.

Declutter: Less is More

Scandinavian homes tend to be small, so space is at a premium. Clutter causes stress and is the antithesis of Scandinavian minimalism. 

Less really is more.

That’s why your first step should be to declutter your rooms. You will create a calm and stress-free home where every item should serve a purpose. Even decorative items should be functional.

The best place to start is by removing clutter from your surfaces in order to free plenty of space as possible. It’s an easy win and makes your room look much more appealing.

If you don’t need or use an item, you should move it on. You could donate it or even sell it to get some extra cash. Only throw away what is broken or damaged.

You can invest in smart storage for things you do need. For more tips on how to declutter a room, check out my detailed guide here

Form Comes After Function

When you’re shopping for your home, it’s easy to get sidetracked by a gorgeous sofa or striking coffee table. But in keeping with Scandinavian minimalism, think about function before form.

Focus on the practical side to create a Scandi design and look. Search for furniture that looks good with clean lines, but is functional and meets all your needs.

For example, you could buy a coffee table with shelves underneath to hold your books. Or, you might opt for a bed with internal storage for extra bedding. 

In this way, you’ll make the most of the space you have. It leaves more room to let the air flow freely and prevents rooms from becoming crowded. Make your items and furniture work for you!

Focus on Natural Colors

If you look at the Scandi design, you’ll find lots of white, cream, gray, and blue shades. 

These calming colors are relaxing, making them perfect for a minimalist Hygge home.

Pale shades feature because they make rooms seem lighter and brighter. That’s crucial in countries where you get long nights all through the winter. 

But this color scheme can work in your home, no matter where you live. Go for light shades like cream, white, or very pale gray on your walls.

Then, you can use beige, little brown, gray, or pastel blues and greens. You’ll channel the beauty and tranquility of nature and make your rooms seem larger, all at the same time.

Introduce Room Accents

Although you’re using neutral colors and creating simple rooms, they don’t have to be boring. 

You can use accents to introduce your style to a room and keep it visually interesting.

In Scandinavia, room accents are often handcrafted items made from wood or metal. You can also use geometric patterns to add a different element. 

House plants also make perfect room accents. Scandinavians love being out in nature. But you can introduce the benefits of nature into your room with a carefully placed pot plant. 

They add freshness to any room and complement natural materials like wood.

Other room accents could be large windows that let in lots of natural light. Another idea is a fireplace to gather around on cold nights. 

Use these ideas as inspiration to create room accents and focal points in your home. 

Be Eco-Friendly

Scandinavians also have an eco-friendly approach to life. You can see this in the preference for high-quality items that will stand the test of time. 

In many Nordic homes, you’ll find sturdy furniture and textiles made from organic cotton and wool.

You can think eco-friendly when decorating your own home. If you skip the latest trends and opt for classic, sustainable items, they should last longer. So, you’ll avoid contributing to landfills. 

It’s also a good idea to buy from smaller businesses and handcrafters. Not only will you support the local economy, but it’s easier to find out where they source their materials.

Don’t forget to consider your impact on the environment when it comes to designing your home. By being intentional, you can make wiser decisions.

Final Thoughts

Scandinavian minimalism focuses on comfort, simplicity, and practicality. So, it’s the perfect recipe for a joyful home. You can introduce this Scandi style to create a cozy yet calm atmosphere in your home.

But Scandinavian design owes its popularity to how flexible and accessible it is. You can get inspiration from Scandinavian minimalism but still, create your authentic style.

There are no strict rules to follow – just guidelines to help you create a welcoming and comfortable home.

By using natural colors, cozy accents, and cutting the clutter, your home will soon be a gorgeous space.

Did you find this article helpful? Feel free to share it on social media! 

Let me know in the comments what you love most about Scandinavian design. You can drop any questions you have below, too!

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Welcome to Quiet Minimal!

I’m an artist and designer. I first discovered the concept, ‘less is more’, since, minimalism has become a way of life for me.

Whether you want to create a calm, minimalist home or cultivate a minimalist mindset, you need the right environment around you. 

I hope that you find inspiration for your minimalist journey in these pages!