Thoughts on the Scandinavian Home

I love hygge as much as the next Instagrammer with a penchant for all things Nordic, but when it comes to creating a Scandi-inspired home, I know it's not all about scattering candles and blankets around each room.

I recently interviewed Melia Malmquist of Contemporary Life for an article for 91 magazine. When talking to Melia, I was drawn to her descriptions of what makes a house a home in her native Sweden. Yes, there's a huge focus on mysa (the Swedish version of hygge), but there are other elements involved.

One particular element that got my brain ticking was how the Swedes tend to shun curtains in favour of allowing natural light to flood into their homes. As a nation,we love to draw our curtain, hiding away from the prying eyes of nosy neighbours and shutting ourselves up indoors, especially during the winter months. But what about that view of the trees from outside your bedroom window, or the beauty of the patterns that raindrops make on the glass? Why would we hide away from the outdoors?

As part of our recent home renovations, we went without bedroom curtains for the first three weeks after moving back into our home. Although out bedroom certainly felt chilly and I had to resort to hiding behind the wardrobe door to get changed, I actually begun to enjoy our uninterrupted view of outdoors. I'd lie in bed gazing at the moon or watching the leaves rustling in the trees, admiring the way the moonlight shone through the window illuminating corners of my room. In the mornings, rather than sleeping in and struggling to crawl out from beneath the sheets, I felt more awake and alert after waking naturally with the sunrise.

Another element mentioned by Melia was the need for functionality in the Swedish home. Although we may associate Scandinavian homes with beautiful interior design, the practicality of each item is considered prior to its physical appearance. The difference being that everything just seems to be so well designed over there that style and functionality apparently come hand-in-hand.

When designing my own home, functionality does come into play (we opted for an L-shaped sofa so we could both lie down, our kitchen breakfast bar area doubles up as my alternative work space, etc.) but I'm often tempted by pieces of furniture that perhaps don't deliver on practicality. For example, I fell in love with our record cabinet without realising that we'd need more than one small cupboard to house our vinyl collection. This wouldn't happen in Sweden; usage comes first.

Blankets, cushions, candles and lanterns do play a large part in the Scandinavian home. They make a room feel warm and cosy (essential when you're lacking curtains!) and also help to convey the owner's personal touch. Adding plenty of plants, prints on the wall and a scattering of personal objects also helps to bring everything together and to make the house a home.

Checklist for the Scandinavian home

  • White walls
  • Wooden floors
  • Large windows with blinds, thin muslin curtains or no curtains at all
  • Functional, multi-use furniture
  • Plants on every surface and hanging from the ceiling
  • Candles, lanterns and table lamps providing soft ambient lighting
  • Blankets, throws, sheepskins and cushions providing comfort and warmth
  • Personal objects out on display, rather than stored away

Images: My Scandinavian Home, via Pinterest, My Scandinavian Home, My Scandinavian Home, via Pinterest, via Pinterest