How to transform your garden space with these simple Scandinavian design ideas

How to create an attractive and peaceful Scandi-styled garden, patio or balcony retreat for a soothing break from the indoors.

Transform your garden
(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

One of life’s simplest pleasures is enjoying time outdoors, so if you’re lucky enough to have an outside space, why not consider creating a secluded Scandi-style retreat? You can use the space for alfresco dining, as a tranquil reading nook, somewhere to enjoy time with family, or to enjoy an evening tipple at sunset.

With a few Scandinavian design touches, even the smallest outdoor space can be transformed. Whether you have a patio, balcony or garden, there are several easy ways to create a stylish space on a budget.


From updating the garden shed or creating a small seating area, to adding potted plants or utilising a corner of the garden, here, lifestyle expert at Contura, Catharina Björkman, gives her simple Scandinavian design tips for transforming your outside space.


Ideally, choose an area that catches the sun for the best light. Next, clearly define the space using the seating, flooring or large pots, as this will give the area structure and a definite ‘extra room’ feel. If you are using a wall or garden fence, you could add artwork (metal or stone is best to withstand the elements) to further enhance the feeling of an extra room. Don’t forget to add some form of shade for hot days; a canvas awning or sail shade are inexpensive, yet stylish options.

Transform your garden

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)


If your garden is paved or has a patio, consider planning a cosy nook in a sunny corner into your small garden design. Wooden crates or pallets are an affordable way to create a seating area. Add plenty of Scandi cushions, throws and candle holders for evening lighting to create the right ambience. Pot plants will add greenery and instantly transform a paved area. And why not add a hammock to a corner as a fun place to enjoy some evening reading?

Transform your garden

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)


The humble garden shed can be easily updated to create a Scandi retreat, but this does mean you can’t use the shed for storage. Firstly, deep clean the shed to get rid of any dust and cobwebs, and clean the windows, inside and out. Paint the walls bright white, hang bunting and fairy lights, and add seating (bean bags or garden chairs) together with cosy throws or cushions. The garden shed will become a place you never want to leave.

(Image credit: Simon Bevan)


You don’t need to spend a fortune on outdoor furniture. In fact, achieving a shabby-chic Scandi look is all about using second-hand or upcycled items wherever possible. Wooden crates make excellent coffee tables, sand down and repaint any old garden furniture, and look for second-hand decorative items such as lanterns or rugs. You could make your own bunting and soft furnishings (such as cushions and throws) and design your own artwork if you’re a keen crafter.

Transform your garden

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)


Soft lighting is a key principle of Scandi design; it’s all about creating the right ambience and being enveloped in a soft glow, rather than using harsh or bright lights. Strings of fairy or festoon lights, draped artfully, provide a subtle yet stylish back drop. Add candles to the table and choose an array of candle sizes and styles, avoiding anything too matchy-matchy. You can also get outdoor solar-powered fairy lights, which come on automatically when it gets dark and will glow for several hours.

Garden lights

(Image credit: Emma Lee)

SeeWildlife garden ideas, from The National Trust’s garden experts


In Scandinavian design there is a strong relationship between design elements and nature, driven by the many Nordic forests and abundance of green spaces. All materials used in your Scandinavian retreat should include elements of the natural world throughout, such as wood, woven/jute rugs, rattan and wicker furniture, faux-fur throws, cotton, stone, leather and linen. Keep colours muted and neutral, such as whites, greys and beiges, as these won’t overpower the final look. You can add accents of colour in soft furnishings and artwork as a subtle hint.

(Image credit: Emma Lee)


Adding fairy lights, a small table and chairs, candles and bunting will make your balcony the envy of your neighbours. Pot plants can give an inexpensive yet instant uplift and make you feel more immersed in nature. Stick with hardy, easy-to care-varieties, such as ivy, cactus, ferns and succulents. Get creative with how you style your plants; an old step ladder can provide great shelving to display plants in a stylish way, for example. You can also grow culinary herbs (rosemary, mint and sage) on a sunny balcony in zinc pots, which look decorative and are useful for cooking.

Transform your garden

(Image credit: James Merrell)

SeeHow to transform your garden into a picture perfect paradise

'In Sweden, we spend a lot of time outdoors, says Catharina,' says Catharina Björkman. 'Especially in summer, when daylight hours are longer, and evenings are warmer. There are numerous benefits to being out in the fresh air, and by creating a secluded outside retreat you can immerse yourself in nature whilst still enjoying the comfort of your own private space.

'Treat your secluded spot as a digital-free zone and as somewhere to relax and de-stress away from gadgets and screens; this is crucial to boost happiness and wellbeing. For the design, look to Scandi interior inspiration and embrace the principles of lagomfor a sense of balance. Think minimalist furniture, plants, faux-fur throws, bunting and soft lighting.'


Jennifer Ebert
Deputy Editor (Digital)

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.