Say ‘Scandinavian-style’ and many people visualise light, clean-lined spaces starkly adorned with white-on-white colour palettes and whitewashed timbers. But recently, increasingly pigmented wall colours and even darker, moody shades have steadily worked their way into Nordic homes.
Scandinavian homes are generally designed to maximise sunlight. Stockholm is the Nordic region’s sunniest capital, with about 1,800 hours of sunshine a year, and that figure is at least 1,000 hours short of the amount enjoyed in Madrid, Sydney and Miami. While the foundation of Scandinavian design will always be brightness and simplicity because it’s simply what is needed to make up for the serious lack of sunlight – that doesn’t mean a complete lack of colour.
Trends are often reactionary and in direct contrast to what used to be popular. The fashion industry is always the quickest to react, but the interior decoration and design industry isn’t far behind. Over the past two decades, whites and pale greys have been the dominant shades in most Scandinavian homes, so the introduction of more colour that is now becoming increasingly popular is in response to an overdose of neutrals.
Though there seems to be a common misconception that Scandinavian homes have always been whitewashed and pared back, there have been cycles of colours in the Nordic countries. The 1970s had a touch of psychedelia with bright colours and vivid patterns, followed by pastels in the 1980s and mottled earth tones in the 1990s – all of which preceded the pure paleness of the new millennium.
But just as fashion trends often swing back around every 30 years or so, the current revival in 90s style – both on the runway and in the home – means the earthy tones that were popular to decorate with in Scandinavian countries back then have returned. Nature in and of itself has always been a common thread in Nordic design, where those who dwell in densely urban cities create a sense of escapism, highlighting dreams of getting away to the countryside to be amongst lush trees, rolling hills and open fields.
In this dreamy bedroom, both the whites and earthy hues live in gentle, approachable harmony in a manner that feels both quintessentially classic Scandi and of-the-moment. Although the space features a primarily white base with walls in Resene Triple Pearl Lusta, the floor in Resene Eighth Pearl Lusta and the headboard finished in Resene Colorwood Whitewash, the variety in tones lends depth. Further visual texture and interest have been added through the woven cushion, knotted rug and stonewashed bedlinen, dried flowers and the DIY artwork – which was created by combing Resene EzyFill Quick over a canvas before being allowed to dry and then painted with a testpot of Resene Bison Hide. But it’s the potent and definitive green of Resene Hemlock on the sideboard, Resene Bramble Brown, a roasted coffee colour, on the vase and the chair in blue black Resene Jaguar that catch the eye and make this space sing.
To bring the gap between the lightest white of the floor and the depth of the Resene Jaguar, testpots in Resene Triple Bison Hide, Resene Half Bison Hide, Resene Grey Olive, Resene Sour Dough and Resene Alamo have been used on small vases, bowls and candleholders, softesning the space.
While Resene Triple Pearl Lusta does have a distinct warmth to it, if white walls aren’t to your taste, the colour could easily be swapped with a soft apple green like Resene Pale Leaf or a silvery sage like Resene Secrets to subtly bring in a bit more pigment without overwhelming the more delicate elements. And if greens, browns or pinks aren’t your thing, this space could also be accented with terracotta, blue or gold such as Resene Hot August, Resene Navigate or Resene Pirate Gold.
Styling by Gem Adams. Photography by Wendy Fenwick. 2022
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