If you strongly believe that there's beauty in simplicity, Scandinavian design is for you. Since its inception during the early to mid-twentieth century, this aesthetic has embodied a sense of minimalism and functionality.
Marked by a focus on clean, simple lines, minimalism and functionality without sacrificing beauty, it first came to prominence around the same time as modernist style took hold in America and Europe. Part of what makes these designs so aesthetically pleasing is their lack of clutter. You won’t find any superfluous items piled up in Scandinavian rooms. Instead, everything has a place and purpose. From brilliant storage solutions to neutral accents that are sure to add a touch of elegance to your abode, there are plenty of ideas for bringing a little or a lot of Scandi-inspired style to your home.
Scandinavians deeply value nature and spending time outdoors, something that is reflected in this style. Wooden flooring tends to remain uncovered and lighter timber tones like Resene Colorwood Whitewash, Resene Colorwood Light Greywash, Resene Colorwood Rock Salt and Resene Colorwood Natural are frequently found in Scandinavian homes. Live plants are a popular choice when it comes to literally bringing the outdoors in. And given that Scandinavian winters are no joke, creating a cosy homestead is of the utmost importance. That’s why you’ll find warm, inviting textures – think chunky knit blankets and faux fur accents – in many Scandi designs.
Many Scandinavian colours rely heavily on neutrals – most notably bright whites with pops of black, grey and tan. Many spaces tend to rely on monochromatic palettes with bolder hues coming into play through statement accent furniture and accessories. Colours like blush pinks and grey-blues such as Resene Vanilla Ice and Resene Conch are among the most frequently used and warm tan tones like Resene Papier Mache are also popular thanks to the style’s reliance on natural timber flooring and furniture. Nature-inspired hues like sage green such as Resene Tasman, blue based reds such as Resene Poppy and cheerful yellows like Resene Wild Thing pop up in Scandi designs as well. But the standout favourite accent colour in Scandi design is a vibrant blue like Resene Half Resolution Blue that stands out brilliantly against white and light interiors. If you’re looking to give a Scandinavian monochrome palette an easy pop of colour, adding in a lamp, chair or sideboard painted in one of these hero hues will bring a big punch of personality.
Paint and accessories: Walls in Resene Jet Stream, floor in Resene Colorwood Whitewash, window trims and skirting boards in Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue, coffee table in Resene Colorwood Natural and Resene Aquaclear Satin (top) and Resene Enamacryl tinted to Resene Half Black White (legs), coasters in Resene Half Resolution Blue and Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue, mug and salad bowl in Resene Hot August, DIY artwork in Resene Tuscany and Resene Half Black White (stripes) and Resene Nero and Resene Half Black White (circle), vases in Resene Half Black White, Resene Nero, Resene Tuscany, Resene Hot August, Resene Half Resolution Blue and Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue, cabinet in Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue and curtain from Resene Curtain Collection. Sofa and chairs from Nood, cushions from Bolt of Cloth, lumbar cushion, vases and wooden doll from Citta, brown/cream cushion, lamp and stool from Freedom, bench (painted Resene Half Resolution Blue), rug and black and white plate from Kmart, sneakers from Karen Walker, salad servers from H&M Home, dining table and coffee table are stylist’s own.
Scandinavian design is often very selective and deliberate when it comes to colour and pattern use, so if you’re looking to brighten up a monochromatic Scandi scheme without sacrificing simplicity, plants can do just the trick. They’ll bring an earthy, arboreal element that blends beautifully with the other natural elements of your look while adding a statement pop of colour that won’t feel too in your face.
Because of the functionality aspect of Scandinavian design, choosing storage pieces that double as stylish decor is a no-brainer. A shelf or basket you might be used as if it were a work of art in itself rather than being tucked away in a closet. Many furniture items that can be found at popular Scandinavian ‘flat pack’ furniture retailers have been designed with clever multi-functional aspects so that one item can do the job or two or more items – and thanks to their clean-lined forms, they look good while doing it.
Scandinavian designs also call for minimal window treatments that allow light to pour into a space. Neutral, simple designs are best for this aesthetic, especially unadorned sheers or solid neutral toned panels. Try a simple, pared down option from the Resene Curtain Collection, such as the Resene Harmony Voile – Blonde design.
Simple, graphic artwork is favoured in Scandinavian design over more fussy or traditional paintings. Hang a number of pieces together to create a gallery wall for a casual yet stylish effect. Wide black and white, red and white, or yellow and white stripes on rugs, cushions or artwork look chic, bold and quintessentially Scandi – but, ideally, avoid blue and white stripes to keep your look from taking on a nautical flair. Create your own bold striped artwork on one or more large canvases using Resene testpots and high quality painter’s masking tape and combine these two ideas together into one.
For our larger artwork, we first painted the canvas in two coats of Resene Half Black White then applied 36mm wide masking tape, available from your local Resene ColorShop, leaving 36mm gaps in between. We painted the gaps in two coats of Resene Tuscany and removed the tape once the second coat had dried to the touch. For the smaller artwork, we painted a square canvas in two coats of Resene Half Black White and then traced an inverted dinner plate to mark our circle in pencil. We applied 18mm wide masking tape, leaving a slightly wider gap between each piece we applied and then used a small flat artist’s brush to paint two coats of Resene Nero on the gaps within the line of the circle. Once the paint had dried to the touch, we removed the masking tape and then waited for the paint to dry fully before using a rubber eraser to remove any remaining pencil lines.
Styling by Laura Lynn Johnston. Photography by Bryce Carleton. 2021
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