In the first of our three-part series on classic decorating styles, we look at Scandi, whose appeal lies in its calm palette, textural quality and simple beauty.
Lighting a candle at the breakfast table. Lounging on floor cushions instead of an armchair. Eschewing roses for bunches of wildflowers. Welcome to hygge and lagom, the Scandinavian way of living that Danes and Swedes have sworn by for the last century. There’s no official translation, but hygge pretty much means getting cosy: surrounding yourself with greenery, soft fabrics, handmade objects and being with the people you love.
Lagom is a Swedish word that means ‘just the right amount’. It’s all about being sensible without depriving yourself; having items around that you really cherish without over-cluttering your home with ‘stuff’. Clean lines, functional furnishings and a neutral palette are the hallmarks of the style. Read on as we dig a little deeper.
Form & function
Scandinavia has a particular flair for affordable, functional furniture, made using natural materials and traditional craftsmanship, and it is at the heart of Scandi style. “You can learn a lot about a nation from their homes, and in Denmark, most of them have a very similar look: white walls, wooden floors, uncluttered surfaces and smart, designer touches,” says Helen Russell, author of The Year of Living Danishly (Icon, $17). “Every home is centred around a dining room table and having family meals together is an important part of life.”
"Having a home with as much natural light as possible was imperative"Elisabeth Carlsson
“Scandinavian style is light, clean and not fussy,” says Karen Kellock of online store Love That Little Hygge Shop. “Think light timber and cool-coloured furnishings with lamps and candles to set the mood.”
“Scandi style can be heavy on furs and chunky woven textures,” says stylist Sarah Ellison. “In summer, opt for light linens and natural cottons.”
"Collect slowly, knowing you'll keep the piece for life. Buy once and buy well."Monica Ramirez
Functionality and timelessness are key. “Start with simple and sturdy furniture pieces, as these will stand the test of time in terms of wear and tear and style,” says Danni Tan, of Scandi store The Design Edit. “Sometimes we are tempted to jump straight to a statement piece because it catches our eye, but my advice is to start off with a few large pieces in simple designs to give your styling more versatility.”
Clockwise from top left: 'Ambit' pendant in Grey, $535, Lightly | Cushion in Olive, $80, Lightly | 'Urban Dining Chair Loom', $510, Curious Grace | 'Spine' daybed in lacquered oak, $15,450, Great Dane Furniture
Go here for Part 2 of our Decorating Masterclass: How to get French Provincial Style
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