As our winter seems to drag on a bit this year despite some relatively moderate weather through much of February, perhaps you, like I, am keen for a refresh and breath of spring in our homes. We’re ready for a change even if it’s not in the weather! Why not accomplish this goal in an inexpensive way by employing Scandinavian style with just the décor accessories which grace our homes.
Design and innovation seem to be synonymous with Scandinavia, even in the food - food as art, modern community initiatives in learning, childcare and recreation, the focus on healthy living, appreciation of nature and often, nature as art as well.
I caught my first glimpse of Scandinavian style – you’ll now be able to estimate my vintage (!) – when I say I first fell in love with Scandinavian design on seeing some dishes in Ann McColl’s Kitchen on Richmond Street in London. These were striking blue and white dishes on a tablescape, with the particular ones catching my eye being a fine tracery of true blue like the sea on summer’s day, on a warm white plate in a pattern resembling one by Royal Copenhagen. There were differing blue and white patterns on those pieces in that tablescape – something typical of Scandi style – that fabulous eclectic mix that is unexpected but perfectly designed.
Eclectic design, Scandi style rocks!
The long winters and few hours of sunlight inspired Scandinavian designers to create bright, light, practical environments. They tried to make the domestic environment as comfortable as possible with the materials at hand. These trends were picked up by neighboring countries and eventually spread all over the world. The high-quality designs live on today and are recreated continually in various fields, confirming their timelessness.
Scandinavian design is characterized by beautiful, simple clean lines, minimalism and functionality and, key here – without eliminating grace and beauty, inspired by nature and an emphasis on enjoying the domestic environment. It was developed in the 1950s in the five Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
While the design was called ‘democratic’, as it was meant to be accessible and affordable for large swaths of the population, it was not stripped of all beauty in order to make the design as easy to use as possible – an inspiring thought! The importance of this balance was identified by Scandinavians early on and has been maintained ever since.
Interested in diving deeper into the principles of Scandinavian design? Check out our blog post, “What is Scandinavian Design?” We explore the essence of Scandinavian design, its influential designers, and expert tips on incorporating this timeless style into your outdoor space.
The most-used Scandinavian colors are neutral and monochromatic – bright, warm whites with black and oatmeal – plus splashes of color added as accents. Lush pinks, true blue – think the stone lapis lazuli, grayish blues, and colors rooted in nature – like sage – are the most popular in Scandinavian design.
Organic and natural materials often take pride of place in Scandinavian design, reflecting the Scandinavian and Nordic countries relationship to nature. Wood, lightened to fit with a neutral color palette, stone, cotton, and wool feature heavily in Scandinavian design, as do house plants.
This clean but warm theme, alongside the calming nature of a large, light-filled space without any clutter, is partly why Scandinavian design is so popular. Don’t you already feel more calm and relaxed, and breathing more deeply, as you read this?
This sort of Nordic minimalism allows people to invite peace into their home without creating a space that is uninviting or cold. It is full of vitality without being chaotic.
Another guiding principle of Scandinavian design is to establish harmony with one’s environment and to create things made to last. It seeks to compliment the art of living well – the concept of “the beautiful things that make your life better” – by promoting a simple home environment that is filled with quality items and enhances an unencumbered lifestyle.
In this way it’s both important for the individual and for the planet. For the individual, it encompasses a home environment that encourages a life well lived, which is increasingly important to neutralize the pressures of modern life. And for the planet, it challenges unthinking consumerism and deepens our connection to nature.
The simplicity of this Scandi style and the way it allows a person to focus on what is truly important is timeless!
And now for some quick and easy ideas on how to incorporate these design principles for freshness and style in your home décor, especially if you are creating party style on a budget. The following list offers a number of ideas and suggestions.
Feature the Food. Organize a simple decorative buffet, which may be the only decoration you need. Or if it’s a party, consider creating a dessert table with serving pieces of varying heights. If you’re on a budget and handy, consider making your own pedestal bowls by gluing melamine bowls to spray-painted candlesticks. Simple, frugal, yet gorgeous!
Create ambiance with Candles. Soft lighting, instead of the usual overhead lighting, creates an instantly intimate and fun party vibe. (Plus it hides dust bunnies and any lack of other decorations, too.) Scatter candles of various heights and sizes about your space, using more lighting around tables and food areas. These black iron candle holders from Cottage Culture stand alone on their own with modern style yet are easily dressed up to add a dramatic flare to any space.
Mix, not match - your stemware, plates and other dishes. Don’t worry if you don’t have the plates, glassware or cutlery for 12. Mixing your stemware, plates, and other dinnerware creates texture and interest and can be party decor in itself. For a festive wine and cheese party, tie satin ribbons or cloth napkins around the wine necks and serve cheeses and crackers on slate tiles—just make sure to clean the tiles first! At Cottage Culture, we have Pokoloko Turkish tea towels in various colours and patterns, which can be folded around a wine bottle, just like in the best restaurants!
Add Scandinavian blue and white accent dishes. If your dinnerware is a plain colour like white or yellow and you wish to add a pop of colour for a more festive tablescape, consider adding some Scandinavian blue and white accent dishes. These small dishes and mini-pitchers from Cottage Culture add a beautiful, summery party atmosphere and are great for serving tapas and various sauces. These small dishes would work equally well serving up assorted chocolates after dinner.
Go Au Natural with branches. Have you, or do you know someone who has recently trimmed their shrubs, such as curly willow or red leaf dogwood? Collecting the branches and bringing them indoors allows you to create a natural bouquet of the branches, with curly willow providing textural interest or red leaf dogwood adding a pop of natural red colour. As spring approaches, maybe you can find pussywillow growing wild in old fields and swamps or along the roadsides and wetland shores.
Natural Wreaths made of branches or grapevine. You can create a pretty wreath of found branches or create one using strands of grapevine that you can find growing wild. Then whitewash your wreath for that natural Scandinavian feel. You don’t have to necessarily take a natural theme throughout your home – you can use it in your seasonal decorations instead; dress it up with holiday ribbons and lights for the holidays, then keep it simple for a festive touch in the new year. Hang a wreath like this indoors or outdoors for an organic touch.
Hide clutter in woven floor baskets. Woven floor baskets are multifunctional and works in various settings. You can employ them as a shoe bin in your entryway, a laundry hamper in your bathroom or to store toys in the family room. Smaller scale woven baskets come in handy for storing small items together so they don’t get misplaced, like TV remotes. With three sizes to choose from these hand-made baskets offer versatile use in complimentary colour patterns.
Add greenery to the space. Fresh greenery is particularly attractive when included in vignettes, on top of nightstands and placed in empty corners. Hydrangeas and orchids add an instant touch of elegance. Some great plant choices are Monsteras, and snake plants for their ability to take up space in empty nooks, while improving indoor air quality.
Add Colour and Pattern with pillows. Breathe some fresh newness into your rooms with the addition of some toss cushions, whether in muted Scandi tones, brighter splashes of colour or some pattern. Cottage Culture has an assortment of all-weather cushions which will add freshness to your interior and can move outside as the weather warms up. The all-weather fabric is easy clean, a handy feature with kids, pets and parties!
Snag a graphic Throw Blanket. When you want to change or enliven the look of your home, or bring in a spot of colour and texture without it being a more permanent decision like painting walls or purchasing new furniture, choose a graphic throw blanket. You can find a selection of Pokoloko throws at Cottage Culture, whether alpaca for interior use, fleece lined throws which are handy inside right now, but also great around a campfire on chilly evenings, and the Turkish cotton throws which are multi-functional whether being used as a throw, towel, sarong, or a tablecloth for your party!
Create photo gallery walls. You can spruce up empty walls, especially in common areas such as entryways or living rooms by creating a gallery. While adding character to your interior, they also make great conversation starters. The best way to create a photo wall is to select only those images that you absolutely love, then print in the same orientation. Whether vertical or horizontal, as long as the sizes of the pictures are the same, you can create a design that is clean and symmetrical.
Any, or all of these suggestions will have you enjoying a party atmosphere or an updated environment in no time! Enjoy!
Are you looking for high-quality outdoor furniture or scandi decor? Cottage Culture in beautiful Hensall, Ontario is here to help! Our team of of furniture experts can assist you in finding your perfect piece of scandi-style outdoor furniture. With free styling and layout consultations and white glove deilvery service we are here to help you create your personal backyard oasis!