A New Take On Scandi Style

Following on from Californian Cool (And How To Get It), Melbourne interior designer Lauren Li of Sisällä is back today with her second feature!

This time, Lauren is honing in on Scandinavian style – but not as you know it. Move over Scandi Minimalism, today we’re exploring a more colourful, eclectic approach to Nordic style, centred around all things hygge.

Lauren Li

A good dose of hygge can add that individualism to our spaces, for a cosy ‘warm Nordic’ aesthetic. Photo –Louise Johansen.

It’s exciting to see designers coming out of Scandinavia using gorgeous colour, like Dagny FargeStudio who is responsible for this beautiful space. Dagny is a Norwegian colour forecaster working with many of the Scandinavian brands we love. Photo – Margaret de Lange. Styling – Kirsten Visda.

This kitchen, also by Dagny Fargestudio,  has loads of personality with the addition of deep green cabinets and a few red furnishings. Photo – Margaret de Lange. Styling – Kirsten Visda.

The home of Louise Johansen of blog Mor til mernee in Denmark shows that nothing ‘matches’ yet everything feels right. Photo –Louise Johansen.

This space by colour designer Dagny of Farge Studio in Norway uses beautiful, invigorating colour in a home office. Photo – Margaret de Lange. Styling – Kirsten Visda.

Detail from  Louise Johansen of blog Mor til mernee‘s home in Denmark. Photo –Louise Johansen.

Louise is passionate about using beautiful colour to transform her home in Jutland. Photo –Louise Johansen.

Lauren Li
21st of May 2018

Let’s explore what ‘Scandi Style’ means for us in Australia.

A quick search on Pinterest confirms my hunch. It’s a sea of white walls, blonde timber and some black-and-white prints in a fine black frame. The images are all very similar, offering a formula that’s easy to copy.

– Grey sofa, check

– Sheepskin/ reindeer hide over chair, check

– Black-and-white print of woman’s face in black frame, check

– Grey floor rug on blonde timber floor, check

– Round mirror, check

– Indoor plant in basket, check

– Carrara marble thing, check

– Blush cushion, check.

When a formula emerges, individualism disappears. I believe that our homes should say more about us than that we simply have ‘good taste’.

This had me wondering… is this ‘Scandi Style’ actually representative of what Scandinavian Design is all about? Maybe we have been doing the Scandi Style all wrong… missing something essential to what the Danes call hygge. (hue-guh). I’m moving more towards a new movement we could perhaps call ‘warm Nordic’ – offering a cosyness, friendliness and warmth that these white and grey spaces are lacking.

A good dose of hygge can add that individualism to our spaces by incorporating treasured family heirlooms, vintage pieces and souvenirs imprinted with memories. This is what we love at TDF – spaces that are real and lived in, and filled with personality. They are not cookie-cutter houses!

Although it may be a little contradictory for another person to explain how to create your individual style, there are some tips to create a harmonious interior, rather than just a heap of stuff you like all thrown together. Here goes!


Edit your things

The things we have in our homes say a lot about us. It’s important to incorporate unique furniture and objects that add a layer of personality, and tell a story. Something vintage adds to the ‘hygge’ feeling and makes a space feels like a home, rather than a showroom.

Maybe it’s that Chinese antique cabinet that your Mum gave you, or a little wooden carving that you bought in a Paris flea market. That ceramic bottle you bought on your honeymoon or beautiful-beyond-words kimono fabric you fell in love with and have yet to find a use for. However, no matter how much you love all of these little memories, it doesn’t mean they all need to be on display at once.

The art of editing is so important, especially for those of us with hoarding tendencies! And letting go of some of these pieces is also sometimes necessary.

The key is to group objects together in a cohesive way. Create a vignette by material, so all of the wooden things are together for example. You can also try grouping by colour, or perhaps it’s a theme… such as your horse head collection!?


Take your time

To create a beautiful space that reflects your personality takes a bit of thought and a lot of time. It can’t be created in one weekend, sometimes we need to wait to find that perfect coffee table, rather than just buy the first one we see and then regret it.

Some Scandinavian spaces are quite minimal, which aligns well with the contemporary Australian style. Though, there is a BIG difference. Scandinavians have a deep respect for craftsmanship and will go without until they can save for the authentic Wishbone chair. They would prefer to have less and invest in quality. In Australia, we are used to having something fast and we will often buy something ‘just for now’ only to throw it into landfill in a few years time.

Let’s see what happens when we save for something that we really want and invest in authentic design, true to Scandi Style. Of course, sometimes we do need something here and now, which is also affordable. They have this covered in Sweden too. Did you know that Ikea is a designer store too? Every single item they sell has been credited with the designer’s name, including some very well known ones!


What’s your favourite colour?

White, black and grey spaces look chic in a little Instagram square, however, I would argue that actually living in these spaces leaves one feeling, meh…

Think about the meaning we give to colours. Yellow is happy, green is fresh, red is passionate, blue is calm and grey is… depressing?

I use a lot of colour in my interior design work and I’m often told ‘it’s great to see someone not afraid of colour’. This got me wondering, what is there to be so afraid of? Living in spaces filled with colour FEELS GOOD and gives your spaces personality. Colour can be added with a statement chair, or artwork or rug. However, nothing will make an impact like the paint colour on a wall. If you decide you want to change the colour, then it’s just a weekend and a few hundred dollars of paint, nothing to be afraid of at all!

Having said that, I do believe a white space can create a calm and peaceful space when used with intention, just not as the default.


In With The Artwork

There is nothing like an original artwork to make a space truly yours. But where to even start? What do I like? Can I afford it? It seems all too hard and confusing, so we just buy a black-and-white print online of a woman’s face (see checklist above). There’s nothing wrong with that, I’ve done it too. But I wasn’t happy with my choice after a while; it was a ‘safe’ decorating purchase, without personal meaning, and I started seeing it everywhere.

I suggest that you try selecting artwork, regardless of whether or not it matches your interior. The frames don’t even need to be the same. Also, rather than trying to match colours of different artworks, focus on the theme. Your artwork collection could be themed by your favourite city, such as Paris – a photograph of beautiful Haussmann architecture might sit next to a poster from the Louvre. It’s the vibe that connects everything together.


Nothing to lose!

There are no rules, and if you love it, own it! Maybe your sister won’t like it… well it’s not her house!

If you feel that a delicious pink velvet sofa would make you feel like a Queen, then go for it. Sure, after 10 years you might want a change, but wouldn’t you feel the same if it was a beige sofa? Enjoy the process of creating the home you love!

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