IKEA India Retail Design Manager Shares 10 Ways To Nail The Scandi Aesthetic

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We caught up with Erik Jan Middelhoven, Country Home Furnishing & Retail Design Manager, IKEA India, and he shared his expert insights on how to easily add the Scandinavian aesthetic to an Indian home. 

As we know, Scandinavian design has been gaining popularity in countries across the world, including Asia. It is most known for its minimalism, authenticity, and functionality - clear, simple lines with no frills or unnecessary embellishments. When it comes to Scandinavian design, the phrase ‘less is more’ definitely stands true. The forms and shapes under Scandinavian design are inspired by nature and are often straightforward and honest, and given that functionality is one of the drivers of this design, the furniture can also be characterized by its level of comfort. An interior with Scandinavian design often radiates a certain calmness and is very balanced and harmonious.  

Here are some simple tips to give your home a Scandinavian makeover.

Less Is More

Traditionally, Scandinavian homes were rather small, and the household income was little - there was simply no space or budget for lots of decorative items and clutter in general. People used natural resources in a smart way, making the most out of the little they had. This has, over time, led to designers also wanting to avoid excessive detailing in their designs or adding unnecessary costs to raw materials or production processes. So, one of the first steps to give your home a Scandinavian feel would be decluttering the space you want to revamp.

Shop On IKEA: Get their organisers, baskets, shelves, racks and more here.

Shop On LBB: Get LBB's shoe racks, bookshelves, desk organisers and more here

Natural Light

In a country where winters are long, and days are short, natural light is welcome into the home whenever possible. Scandinavian design has been popular for its neutral colour palette – be it for the treatment of walls or flooring. With Scandinavian design, the treatment for walls mostly translates into white treatment as white walls help intensify the sense of bright light at home. You may have also heard people say that natural lighting helps to make a space feel bigger and brighter, and it is true. Hence, in case you have window treatments, keep them minimal and light, limited to framing the window spaces and allowing maximum natural light into your home. 

Here's how to add more light to a room without a window and also check out how to add some sunshine to your morning!

Simple And Practical

Another appealing factor of Scandinavian design is its simplicity and practicality. Even in the treatment of the walls, we can see that they are often left bare, and spaces are almost sparse to emphasise this design principle. Although traditional Scandinavian design is no stranger to floral and striped patterns and wallpapers, the modern Scandinavian design shies away from it altogether. However, that does not mean the interior is cold or impersonal; there is a warm feeling created by accents, textures and natural materials and fibres.

Shop On IKEA: Get wool, rattan and sustainable lighting here.

Shop On LBB: Shop rattan, cane and wicker or get yourself wooden accents here

Muted Colours

Now that your space is tidied up and you have achieved the perfect distribution of natural daylight, you can start building on the colour palette. There is a common misconception that Scandinavian interiors are all minimal and white. However, that is not entirely true. One needs to understand that it is the sparing and smart use of colour that makes Scandinavian designs stand out. Typically, Scandinavian design utilises neutral-heavy colours such as whites, greys, and tans, as these colours give a sense of uniformity and help brighten up the space.

While muted, dusty hues add depth, we can also see subtle colour shades, often inspired by nature such as amber, moss, green and rust. These colours can add a lot of personality and atmosphere to the otherwise pared-back space. When working with more bold colours, you may want to stick to just a few accents and feature pieces. 

Shop On IKEA: Literally their entire catalogue so here you go!

Shop On LBB: Get sage green products.

Modern (Multi-Functional) Furniture

Furniture pieces could be defined as sleek and modern, marked by warm wood tones, gentle lines, subtle curves, and tapered legs. As mentioned before, people’s wallets were traditionally thin and living spaces were compact. Hence, it was important to work with multifunctional solutions and home furnishings. Therefore, double-duty furniture and accessories are a typical feature of Scandinavian design. Storage solutions are smart, and it is common to find some optimising space solutions across the home to make the best of available space while keeping the balance of the overall space in mind.

Shop On IKEA: Multipurpose tables and multipurpose storage

Shop On LBB: Multipurpose tables and multipurpose accessories

Wood Accents

As I mentioned before, Scandinavian design is inspired by the landscape for the choice of colours. The same can be said for the materials this design uses. 

Scandinavians are traditionally very connected to nature and have outdoor-oriented lifestyles, and its reflection can often be seen inside the Scandinavian homes through untreated woods, natural stones, and fibres. Blonde wood is one of the most known expressions and is not just a matter of taste but also a direct appreciation for nature’s beauty. Scandinavian design would typically shy away from staining or painting wood unless it is in the above-mentioned colour palette. Leather furniture or accents are also commonly used in the Scandinavian interior to add warmth to an otherwise white and cream space. 

When it comes to choosing your wooden and/or leather furniture, quality and durability are two important factors, so one must be cautious while making these decisions. Woods such as beech, ash, and pine are the most used kinds and keep with the light and bright aesthetic of Scandinavian design.

Shop On IKEA: Warm, traditional elements

Shop On LBB: Serveware and decor. Plus, all things wood and natural here.

Keep It Cosy

With the sleek, modern feel of this style, it is important to blend it with a variety of textures, contrasts, and soft hues to introduce and maintain a cosy and balanced feeling in the home. The sweet spot is the balance between functionality, modernism, and comfort. You can bring in this snug, homely feeling by adding accents from highly tactile materials such as wool and skin-hides as well as clays and pottery. Moreover, Scandinavian design comes most to life when juxtaposing the hard, dense materials with rugs, throws and sheepskins textiles, adding to the softness of the space.

Shop On IKEA: Living room, small balcony and bedroom for two.

Shop On LBB: Living room, double bedroom and bedroom for one.

Add Nature & Plants

While we have reiterated the significance of nature as a source of inspiration for both, materials, and colours for Scandinavian design, it is also important to note that nature provides us with a wide array of plants. When you add plants to your interiors, you add a touch of life and texture to your home. Plants also inject colours to your home, varying from the obvious green tones to shades of reds and purples. These living elements offer a pop of colour inside your home and add to the minimalist and natural essence of the space. Like with the furniture, choose your plants wisely. One of the greatest ways is placing statement pieces in carefully selected spots throughout the living space.

Shop On IKEA: Plants, pots and flowers

Shop On LBB: Planters & Pots, and indoor plants you must have

Introduce Graphic Patterns

As with everything else, you will find that the patterns under Scandinavian design, too, are typically simple, symmetrical, and inspired by nature. There is an abundance of nature-themed elements such as forest silhouettes, tree-inspired illustrations or green patterns that resemble leaves, pinecones, or any other bits of the great outdoors, often including animals. 

Black and white patterns are quite popular, but modern Scandinavian patterns may also be very bold and graphic with high contrast styles. As in other aspects of Scandinavian design, the graphic side boils down to minimalism and keeping natural beauty within the functionality of design. Oversized prints and patterns become statement pieces in an otherwise simple, calm, well-balanced interior. 

Shop On IKEA: Bold, and with a splash of colour, this new patterned collection is different!

Shop On LBB: Geometric patterns and other patterns here.

Sustainability Is Important


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With a strong history and culture of utilitarianism, it is not very surprising that Scandinavian design has become a style to favor sustainability. From not wanting or being able to afford any waste to the long history of craftmanship paired with the deep respect for nature, sustainability is an integral part of modern Scandinavian design and interiors. As mentioned above, the materials that are often used are untreated wood and other high-quality material that are qualitative and have a long lifespan. 

Read about it on IKEA & LBB, well beyond just home decor.