and Why We (still) love it From hygge to lagom and everything in between, it seems we’re still swooning after all things Nordic when it comes to decorating schemes. Here’s why...
From hygge to lagom, here’s why we’re (still) loving all things Nordic
been a Scandi style revolution in recent years – and with it has come new vocabulary that we’ve absorbed very quickly into everyday usage. How many of us have said (or heard friends say), ‘Oooh, I’m going to add a touch of “hygge”,’ (loosely translated as adding more texture), or ‘I’m going for a Scandi look in my bedroom’ (more of a simple style, less clutter)? How many books and articles have advised us to embrace the concept of ‘lagom’ (something that’s all about balance – not too little or too much)? But what effect has this had on our decorating and style choices – and is our cultural love affair with all things Scandi still rosy?
‘Scandinavian style is pared-back and fuss free,’ says Niki Brantmark, originally from London, now living in Sweden. Niki is author of Lagom:
The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life (Harper Thorsons, £9.99), and blogs at myscandinavianhome.com. ‘There’s nothing bold or over-the-top about it, which means it’s incredibly appealing to a wide audience. At a time where we feel we are connected 24/7 and constantly stressed out, the simplicity of the muted, earthy Scandi look brings an element of calm to the home, turning it into an oasis.’
‘Scandi interiors are simple, pared-back, elegant and timeless, enduring beyond trends and changing fashion,’ agrees writer and stylist Cate St Hill (catesthill.com). ‘It’s all about living with less but living with better. It’s about being mindful of how furniture is placed in a room, of how designs relate to each other, where things come from and how they are made. But Scandi is also more than this. It’s about a feeling of homeliness and familiarity; creating a space that’s warm, cosy and inviting.’
Someone who knows just how appealing creating a Scandi-style space can be is blogger and influencer Reena Simon, whose Instagram account dedicated to all things ‘hygge’ has over 158,000 followers (@hygge_for_home). ‘I think we are drawn to light and space, yearning for a connection to the outdoors, and Scandi style gives us this in an affordable and accessible way. It’s open for everyone to achieve,’ Reena explains. ‘There are also many different ways of achieving a Scandi décor; if you are more drawn towards vintage or like a modern twist, then it still works. I like a rustic, industrial take on it – and it’s this flexibility that makes it appealing.’
Back to the Scandi buzzwords. ‘“Hygge,” to me, means taking time to enjoy the little things, such as moments with the family,’ says Reena, who’s mum to three girls under six. ‘This translates to a home in making it a warm and inviting place.’
‘It’s a cosy, familiar setting that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling,’ adds
Niki, ‘whereas “lagom” is the Swedish philosophy for enjoying balance in every aspect of life, from work and leisure to family and food, and everything in between. By seeking equilibrium, you can relieve stress and make more time for the things that matter most in life.’ Since moving to Sweden over 15 years ago, Niki’s slowly whittled down the items in her home. ‘I’m now at a happy medium,’ she explains, ‘where everything is either used or loved (or, in an ideal world, both). I’ve experienced the benefits of a decluttered home first-hand and I feel organised and calm as a result. I might add more colour and pattern in 2019 – although I think I said this last year too – but Scandinavian style will always be at the heart of my interior design.’
Niki says that Scandi style allows us to be individual – another of the reasons we’re so obsessed. ‘Five years ago, everything was black and white and graphical; today it has a much softer, warmer edge. We’re seeing white walls being replaced with warm neutrals, muted pastels and bolder, earthy colours. Patterned wallpaper is also making a big comeback. The beauty of Scandi style is that you can keep your home simple and pared back, and yet still adapt it to incorporate the latest influences as they come and go.’
‘I don’t necessarily see Scandi as a trend,’ explains Cate. ‘It’s more a way of life. It’s not just about how a space looks, but how it feels. And I think that’s something that will endure. There’s a move towards warm minimalism, with deeper hues and rich, neutral tones – I’m seeing lots of beige, honey, ochre, burgundy, navy and forest green used to create cosy, inviting spaces that are still elegant and serene in their simplicity. It’s about building a sense of cohesion, so no piece of furniture or colour is over-dominating the space.’
So what about the craze for maximalism, where more is more? Should Scandi lovers be worried? ‘It’s not a style that suits everyone,’ says Cate. ‘I don’t like too much clutter and bold, clashing colours tend to give me a headache. Brights like red, orange and purple would keep me awake and alert. I’m quite a shy, quiet person, so I want my interior to reflect my personality. Scandi allows the home to become a neutral background for everyday life; a space that can evolve with you as you gather the things that make a home.’
‘I do like having things on show,’ says Reena, ‘whether that’s lots of books or open shelving in my kitchen, but I’m not a maximalist or a minimalist – rather somewhere in between. I don’t think I’ve nailed “lagom” quite yet when it comes to work and family life, though,’ she laughs.
Of course, there are certain brands that we Scandi-style seekers aspire to. ‘Muuto, Hay, &tradition and Menu – you could call them the “New Nordics”,’
Cate enthuses. ‘They create minimal furniture and accessories with roots in Scandinavian design tradition, but with an eye to the future – whether that’s working with up-and-coming designers or using new materials and techniques.’
‘I love House Doctor and Broste Copenhagen,’ says Reena. ‘I love the earthy tones and the textures of their home accessories. My wishlist for both of them is endless!’
‘I’m a big fan of mid-century classics and admire Hans J Wegner, but Scandinavians are known for producing beautiful hand-crafted items too,’ Niki says. ‘I try to support local ateliers in my hometown of Malmö, such as ceramicist Siv Andreasson (andreasondesign.se). When we talk about Scandinavian design, Finland is thrown into the mix with Sweden, Denmark and Norway. These four countries share a common design language that’s characterised by simplicity, minimalism and functionality. Pieces are designed for the many and built to stand the test of time.’
As we start to see what’s trending for spring/summer 2019 when it comes to our homes, we shouldn’t be surprised that Scandi will be there in some guise or other. ‘One of the things I admire most about Scandinavian homes is the way they adapt to the season,’ says Niki. ‘Simple changes can make the world of difference. In the summer, light linen cushions and arrangements of handpicked flowers bring in a light, whimsical touch. Outside, you’ll find rattan and wooden furniture dressed with cushions and blankets, a string of lights and candles. In the autumn, sheepskins, woollen blankets and inseason vignettes like acorns and pine cones appear – with yet more candles.’
‘You can easily season-proof Scandi because it’s all about texture,’ Reena says. ‘It lends itself very well to summer evenings outdoors – think log stacks, an outdoor fire pit, a seating area with lots of cushions, throws and greenery, and you’ve got it just right.’
Above left Ercol Originals loveseat, £679, Furniture Village. For a similar rug, try the Tekouma Berber-style hand-woven rug, £285, La Redoute