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Watching Erin’s gorgeous ranch transform into the Scandinavian retreat she and Ken have dreamed of has revived my love of this cool design aesthetic. Scandinavian design was, in fact, the first style that I fell in love with and truly felt was my own. What appealed to me as a teen is very much what appeals to me today. The clean lines, geometric shapes and bold colors of modern Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish designs all exude a sense of fun and interest that are often overlooked in other styles.

scandinavian design

Many Scandinavian palettes, like the one in the living room above and what we’ve seen in Erin’s house, consist of lots of black and white layering. To warm up what could be otherwise sterile and cold, bright pops of primary colors like red (like in this Saarinen womb chair, or Marimekko bedding) yellow, or bright blue are used cheerfully.

scandinavian design

Photo courtesy of Ikea

The seasons, especially the winter with its long stretches of very limited sunlight, have most likely had a huge influence on the abundant usage of white in Scandinavian design. White optimizes available light and does double duty by creating the illusion of bigger spaces. The room above is probably 12 feet wide, but with all white walls and shelving, the perceived space seems much bigger. A vibrant red polka dotted sofa and bright blues desk chair add a punch of cheer for long winter days.

scandanavian design

Even in spaces that aren’t punctuated by playful primary colors, Scandinavians still manage to be warm and welcoming. A pale, natural wood coffee table and a toasty fire make this virtually all-white room feel cozy and unified instead of stark and cold. The great big windows and doors let natural light flood in and even “decorate” the walls with their greenery.

As the weather gradually begins tilting toward cold, keep these tried and true Scandinavian tricks in mind to breathe new life into your  home-sweet-home.

10 Responses

  1. [...] Influence: Bright Whites + Cheerful Hues HGTV Design Happens Mon, November 7, 2011 2:00 PM UTC HGTV Design Happens Rate this story Share this story (function(){var [...]

  2. Kathy Hannah says:

    I absolutely love this gorgeous display of Scandinavian design. The pure white is fresh and clean and the bright colors contrast very well. The room is so warm and inviting and I think the shelves and storage units are very smart.

  3. [...] this link: Scandinavian Influence: Bright Whites + Cheerful Hues « Design … هذه التدوينة كُتبت ضمن التصنيف غير مصنف. الأوسمة: hgtv, [...]

  4. Linda says:

    I'm glad to see that Scandinavian furniture is making a comeback. We have a lot of it in our home, and it has never looked outdated. It still looks sleek and inviting, even though it is old furniture.

  5. [...] smow BlogShip DesignersChair of the Week: The Aluminum Group by Charles and Ray EamesOval PedestalDMA Names New DirectorOkay, so we’re not exactly, The New York Times but,…a list of our best-sellers:Scandinavian Influence: Bright Whites + Cheerful Hues [...]

  6. Bestemorsimports.com says:

    Very nice I love them

  7. Christian says:

    It's too sterile, remind me of moribund hospital settings.
    No way you can keep it looks while with all the kids and activities.
    Not practical at all.

  8. walsyphylu says:


  9. Lili@HGTV says:

    Aren't they the best?

Lili ZarghamiLili is Editorial Director of HGTV.com. Her personal obsessions include looking for just the right sofa, ogling real estate listings, and reading floor-plans. She has an admitted "chair problem," collecting...


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