As we head towards summer, it’s a good idea to think about refreshing your interiors to match the changing seasons. With winter behind us, it’s time to put away the cosy throws and scented candles and embrace a fresh, summery look.
Scandinavian design is distinctive for several reasons: pared-back, unfussy, uncluttered spaces and a winning combination of form and function create aesthetically pleasing, yet practical interiors. Where better to while away long, bright summer days and warm evenings than surrounded by the clean lines, comfort, and greenery of a Scandi style interior?
HOW TO TRANSFORM YOUR HOME
Here, lifestyle expert at Contura, Catharina Björkman, has compiled a guide to updating your home with Scandi-style touches for summer.
1. EMBRACE OPEN PLAN LIVING
Rarely will you see an abundance of clutter in a Scandi-style room. Instead, expect to see clean lines, little furniture and a focus on bringing nature indoors. The majority of Scandi homes are open plan, joining together the kitchen, living room and dining room to create the heart of the household whilst also giving a sense of space. Open plan layouts also encourage us to reduce clutter and keep only special, curated items on display. Opt for fitted furniture to streamline the interiors and maximise storage.
2. INCLUDE FUNCTIONAL FURNITURE
The main purpose of Scandinavian design is to improve daily life. Furniture is therefore not only about stylish elegance, but also about functionality – it should serve a purpose and stand the test of time.
Select a few key pieces of furniture in each room that look good but also work hard, paired with a few carefully chosen accessories, fittings or soft furnishings to tie the room together. For a living room, for example, a comfortable sofa and chair, stylish floor lamp, a mirror or artwork, a few large carefully placed houseplants, a woven rug, and accent cushions works well. Remember to only make space for items, furnishings and artworks you truly love.
3. CURATE A SIMPLE COLOUR SCHEME
A good starting point is a neutral backdrop and the easiest way to achieve this is with stark white walls. The clean, blank canvas is timeless and can then be added to. And you can decide to change the look of the room by switching up the accessories, soft furnishings and artwork.
If you like colour and pattern, add a few accents, rather than going overboard or creating colour-coordinated room. For example, pair a bright, fun patterned cushion or rug with a grey sofa, or decorate just one feature wall with intricate, hand-painted wallpaper.
4. FOCUS ON FLOORING
Unlike homes in the UK, fitted carpets are rarely seen in Scandinavian homes, where wooden floors are favoured. Pale-coloured woods such as pine or birch help to reflect light. You can also paint floorboards white, as this will make the space look bigger than it is. Wooden floors also help draw attention to the interior quality of a room’s architecture and furnishings.
Rugs are a big feature in Scandinavian design; especially in combination with wooden flooring and usually in specific areas such as under a table, in the main living space or in a corridor. Rugs add a splash of colour and texture to a room; wool and cotton are the go-to materials, although the design and colours are up to you.
5. LET THE LIGHT IN
Natural light is of the utmost importance to Scandinavian style. Flood your home with as much as possible and make the most of the summer sunshine. Keep window decoration to a minimum to allow light in (Scandinavian homes rarely have window covers). Curtains should be linen or sheer fabrics. Similarly, it’s common to see well-thought-out pendant lights and lamps, rather than overhead spotlights or a single central light source. Try a combination of floor and table lamps that are a softer alternative.
6. WORK IN ELEMENTS OF NATURE
Nature’s own materials, such as wood, leather, wicker and cotton, all play a huge role in Scandi design. There is a strong relationship between design elements and nature, driven by the many Nordic forests and abundance of outdoor space. Bringing natural materials into the home helps you to continue to feel connected with nature even once indoors.
Scandinavian design seamlessly blends in various natural materials including stone, wood and linen. All materials should be kept within a similar tone and colour range, for example, whites and greys. Otherwise, the use of varied materials will clutter the space and make it feel fussy, which is the opposite of what this design scheme is trying to achieve.
Displaying houseplants is one of the easiest ways to introduce nature into the home. Plants also give a home an inexpensive yet instant uplift. Group plants together in height order or add hanging plants and ivy to door frames or curtain rails for a unique look and add cacti and smaller plants to shelves for an on-trend look.
'In Sweden, we have perfected the art of being cosy in winter, but come summer, it is all about embracing the light and enjoying bright interiors. We have very little light during winter, but an abundance of sunshine in the summer, so interior design tends to maximise the amount of natural light in the home,' says Catharina.
'We like to make the most of summer by heading outdoors as much as possible. Scandi homes reflect this by incorporating elements from the outdoor world inside. Scandinavian homes are big on plant life and the use of natural materials.
'In Sweden, our home is our sanctuary. We know that the home should be a place to relax, unwind, and disconnect, and this feeling of wellbeing is boosted by the pared-back design of Scandi interiors. Keep in mind that less is more when adopting this style.'