Scandinavian Interior Design – How to Incorporate it into Your Home

What is Scandinavian Interior Design?

When simplicity meets modernism, Scandinavian Interior Design is born.

Scandinavian interior design, which is also known as Scandinavian modern design, refers to a simple and functional design that prominently features elements of nature, such as wood and hemp.

Using a unique blend of textures and contrasts, this exceptional style of interior design makes sure to make minimalism look warm and inviting.

If you are a fan of how the Nordics have transformed their living spaces into something so beautiful, here are some ways in which you can adapt Scandinavian interior design into your living space.

What are the Elements of a Scandinavian Design?

Unlike other minimalistic designs, which may come off as clean but cold, Scandinavian interior designs are meant to radiate warmth and comfort despite the lack of excessive furnishings. It often features neutral colours such as pastel shades and woodwork while retaining a sense of home-like cosiness.

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Dating back to the 1950s, the Scandinavian design marked a modernist style that emphasised the aesthetics of clean lines and practicality, with a palette of subdued colours.

Some people may worry that the minimalistic aesthetic of Scandinavian designs can make one’s house appear emptier or less home-like. On the contrary, the “less is more” ideal that lies at the core of the Scandinavian interior design can help to create a clutter-free space that gently accentuates every part of your home.

Whether it’s for the living room or bedroom, the Scandinavian interior design is appealing in its ability to form a minimalistic stress-free environment without sacrificing any of its aesthetic value.

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What are the Scandinavian colours?

The prominent use of pale colours in the Scandinavian design was meant to maximise the natural light in one’s home and make one’s place appear brighter. This also has the added benefit of making the area look more spacious and comfortable.

As such, Scandinavian interior design heavily incorporates light, pastel shades and neutral colours into their design.

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Scandinavian VS Nordic: What’s the difference?

Searching up on Scandinavian designs may often lead you to stumble upon other similar words such as ‘Nordic’ and ‘Swedish’.

For those who may be confused on whether they mean the same thing, here’s a little background for readers: Nordic countries refer to the countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland, as well as their associated territories, while Scandinavia is often used to refer to just the countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

As such, one could consider Scandinavia to be a subset of Nordic countries, with some articles choosing to use these terms interchangeably or as synonyms.

Is Ikea considered Scandinavian?

For those who are also wondering if IKEA’s designs are Scandinavian, IKEA was founded in Sweden in 1943, with the majority of its furniture’s designs being largely Swedish.

As Sweden is part of Scandinavia, IKEA’s designs are technically Scandinavian, although there lies more to Scandinavian interior design than just IKEA.

What is a Scandinavian style home?

One can break down Scandinavian designs into further categories. Although the differences are minor and they gravitate towards the core characteristics of Scandinavian interior design, these genres add their own spin to things for a more personal and unique home design.

For example, Contemporary Scandinavian designs do not stick as closely to the neutral colour palette that is common to traditional Scandinavian interior design. Instead, it tends to include more colours or patterns in the interior, such as darker brown furniture or even patterned tiles.

Meanwhile, Rustic Scandinavian interior designs tend to feature a more barn-like aesthetic through details such as brick walls, wooden furniture with a grainier texture and plants.

In contrast, the Industrial Scandinavian aesthetic aims for a more furnished look with greater emphasis on black and white, while adding pops of colour through brightly-coloured statement furniture pieces.

Each genre tweaks things just a little to add a special touch to the Scandinavian interior design, yet does not deviate too much from its core characteristics and aesthetic.

Think of which style leans closest to your preferences, or, better yet, incorporate your personal style into the Scandinavian design and add your own personal touch to it.

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Characteristics that can add a Scandinavian touch to your HDB

For those who are interested in creating their very own Scandinavian-theme HDB flat, here are some tips you can use.

1. Incorporate wood

Moving houses can be a challenging decision, but the more difficult problem is this –  how do you turn it into a home? If you want to live the Scandinavian way of life, then get ready to embrace cosy, wooden floors.

Scandinavian interior design heavily features elements of nature such as wood. When applying this to your HDB, this can come in the form of wood-tone floors and surfaces, or even wood-tone furniture of various hues.

You can have a variety of wooden flooring options, such as oak wood or ash wood.

Installing wooden floors not only rid you of the extra cost of installing tiles but will also look visually appealing when paired against the rest of your minimalist furniture inside the house.

From dark wood panels that ground the space to lighter wood tones that make the area look brighter and more spacious, the use of wood surfaces really helps to create a clean aesthetic while maintaining a level of cosiness and warmth.

There are also many different wooden flooring options that you can choose from, such as:

  • Engineered wood flooring
  • Laminated flooring, which is not made up of real wood but can give you a similar aesthetic
  • Solid hardwood

For more information on how to incorporate woodwork into your homes, the following articles may be helpful:

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2. Pick neutral colours

As mentioned earlier, the Scandinavian interior design tends to feature light and neutral colours to maximise the light entering the room and make the spaces of your home appear brighter.

One thing that you will never see in any Scandinavian home is the presence of loud, garish colours. This specific style of interior design is all about muted colours such as beige, grey and white are ideal. The recommendation on choosing interior paint colours is to focus on a palette of four (or less) neutral shades.

One such example would be pristine white walls paired off with grey and blue furniture. For adapting a Scandinavian Interior Design, the colour white is your best friend.

Of course, that is not to say that Scandinavian interior designs are plain or devoid of colour. The pieces within it just tend towards a monochromatic shade, with brighter hues taking the role of accent pieces that brighten up the area.

To create a cosier and more homely environment, warm hues and tones, which pair well with the woodwork elements mentioned above, are a must!  This will ensure that your house acquires a sleek futuristic look. The idea behind this colour palette is that these muted colours will give you a sense of calm every time you glance around the house.

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3. Pick simple furniture with clean lines

The Scandinavian interior design prioritises both minimalism and functionality. This clean and simple aesthetic can be achieved by picking furniture that is less clunky – with clean lines and sharp designs that are functional yet stylish.

The Scandinavian interior design places a lot of focus on minimalist furniture. It’s no use following all the other designing rules and then cluttering up your house with furniture that you do not need. The furniture should be light in colour and material to merge with the rest of the elements in your living space.

Of course, there is no strict formula as to how you should design your living room or bedroom. You can choose to add pops of colour to your home with statement pieces – a brightly-coloured ceramic vase, cushions with geometric prints, a rug of a different hue. How you add your personal touch is all up to you.

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4. Sprinkle in some nature

As the Scandinavian design has the tendency to feature elements of nature,  simple house plants or flowers can help to brighten up the interior. Take advantage of all the vast windows and natural light streaming into your house by planting some greenery inside your living space.

Bring a little bit of the outdoors inside your home by having plants by your windows or near your doors. Your creativity in decoration is not just limited to the colour of the flowers or plants you choose – the vases and pots they take can also act as a form of decoration!

White potted plants can help to reinforce a clean aesthetic, while a wooden rope potted plant can add a fun touch to the interior. Either way, the pop of colour can be a breath of fresh air to break up any potential monotony in the muted tones of your home.

You will also have the added satisfaction of playing your part for the environment while making sure that your house looks as fabulous as possible!

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5. Bring in the natural light

Natural Light is an essential part of Scandinavian interior design. Incorporate large windows in your home to make sure that light flows throughout the whole house.

You will also have the bonus of always having natural light for all your selfies. Natural light will also make your house look bigger than it is as the light will look at all spaces look more open.

Aside from the inclusion of natural light, the Nordics also liked to install different light pieces inside their home to have their houses as full of light as possible.

In this case, you can install table lamps or floor lamps in different rooms to ensure that regardless of the time of the day, your house remains fully lit. You can talk to lighting designers for more advice on the types of lighting in different parts of your home.

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Examples of Homes with a Scandinavian Interior Design

Due to the popularity of Scandinavian interior design, many interior designers have jumped at the call to prove themselves. Here is an impressive range of designs that showcase their personal take on the Scandinavian interior design while remaining faithful to its core characteristics.

1. 104 Tampines St 11

Done by Absolook Interior Design, this 3-room HDB features a mixture of woodwork textures and fun pops of colour through its decorative elements.

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The brick wall behind the TV also adds a rustic appeal. For more information, click here.

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The black pipes complement the mixture of brown hues in the washroom

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2. Lush Acres

Done by Ascend Designs, this condominium design aims for a more streamlined Industrial Scandinavian look with its woodwork and dark furniture pieces.

To break up the monotony of these darker colours, pastel blue furniture and potted plants help to brighten up the space.

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The dark furniture pieces complement the different hues of the woodwork. For more information, click here.

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The small plants, blue rug and ottoman add fun splashes of colour to the home

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3. 361 Yung An Road

In this HDB, which was designed by Tan Studio, the kitchen sticks to a more traditional take on the Scandinavian interior design while the washroom, with its bright hexagonal wall, incorporates a fun geometric pattern for a unique touch.

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The geometric-patterned wall is a fun deviation from the traditional Scandinavian design. For more information, click here.

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A more traditional take on the Scandinavian aesthetic

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4. Blk 353A Admiralty Drive, 4-room HDB Resale

Wooden-panelled walls and doors and white furniture pieces create a cosy and homely feel. Decorative elements like flowers and patterned cushions help to add a personal touch to the area. This design was carefully thought out by Swiss Interior.

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The patterned cushions and ottoman provide a lively addition to the home. For more information, click here.

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Wooden panels help to ground the place and provide a sense of calm

5. Circuit Road

Designed by Tan Studio, the muted, subtle tones of this HDB are brightened by the various decorative elements, such as the light blue lamp and the amber flower vase.

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Pastel shades help to create a calm atmosphere. For more information, click here.

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Warm tones help to create a cosy home

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6. Jalan Tenterram

Yet another impressive design by Tan Studio, the wooden furniture pieces complement the lighter hue of the woodwork floors. Other furniture pieces, which come in various shades of white, grey and pastel, help establish a serene and coherent colour scheme.

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Different shades of wood introduce the elements of nature key to every Scandinavian home. For more information, click here.

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The paintings on the wall help add a personal touch to the home

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7. Condominium Apartment at The Trilinq

This condominium, designed by Ascender Design Studio, focus largely on several different shades of woodwork, while personal touches – like the Seven Dwarves plush toys and the teal cushions – are interwoven throughout.

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The teal wall and matching teal cushion are a fun way to add to the mix of colours in your home. For more information, click here.

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Various shades of brown come together to create an elegant bedroom

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8. 4 Room HDB Apartment at Tampines St 44

Also by Ascender Design Studio, this Scandinavian style apartment features a living room and kitchen that are decked with lighter colours for an airier and more spacious feel. On the other hand, the washroom is designed with darker colours and provides a more grounded feel.

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The washroom is darker in colour for a more grounded aesthetic. For more information, click here.

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The living room is done in warmer tones to provide a more inviting feel.

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The kitchen is decked in lighter colours to provide a more spacious feel

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9. 197A Boon Lay Drive

The brick wall in the living room adds a rustic touch to the Scandinavian interior design and brightens up the space.

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The brick wall incorporates rustic Scandinavian into the design. For more information, click here

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The dark wood-panelled walls and hexagonal tiles play off each other to create a sophisticated feel.


The Scandinavian interior design is a simplistic yet refreshing way to decorate your home. For other similarly inspired interior designs that focus on simplicity, you can check out Minimalist Interior Design and MUJI Interior Design.

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