The last days of summer in northern Europe are just what you’d hope: golden and lazy, with insects buzzing softly amongst fields of wildflowers all throughout the countryside. Light breezes stir the air and flutter translucent linen curtains around the open windows of white stucco cottages. All is warm, tranquil and bright.
More than just a place and a season, “Scandinavian summer” is a state of mind. And it’s also a mode of design meant to sustain that state of mind year round, and in any part of the world it’s desired.
Let’s explore some of the basic tenets of Scandinavian summer-focused design:
Make the sun the center of attention
Scandinavian summers are almost painfully brief, which makes the sun a precious commodity—and a precious interior design element. Huge windows let the sun in and add instant literal and visual warmth. Here, an orange Fly Suspension Lamp by Kartell is an eternal sun-like element, even when it’s dark or cloudy outside.
Keep it simple
You can have your knickknacks, but be sure to include them in a space in a strategized manner. Clutter equals chaos, which only leads to discomfort (i.e. claustrophobia). Precisely curated and organized books, plants and other décor will add texture to a space without disrupting its flow. Furniture should also follow this general rule with simple lines.
Use a blend of natural materials
In Scandinavian design, this usually means a blend of woods; expanses of blond ash, oak and the like. But it can also include timeworn-looking brickwork, plaster or stucco.
With these basic tenets of space planning and materials in mind, you can finish off your desired look with color.
Color palette #1: Bleached and beachy
Blond or whitewashed wood floors, white or pale grey painted walls give a space a light, dreamy look. Not to mention the fact that shades of white tend to expand a space visually, thereby making it feel more airy and spacious that it is. Other wood tones can be throw in, but only in small warming bursts of slim spindle-legged furniture so as not to diminish from their bright, frosty surroundings.
Color palette #2: Colorful contrast
While paler base colors epitomize the Scandinavian aesthetic, that doesn’t mean you can’t throw in contrasting pops of color. Not only do shots of color add warmth and excitement to a space, but they actually enhance the clean brightness of the white foundation. Paler pastels like those shown below are a cheerful summer element, and can easily transition to fall and winter with the addition of deeper colors.