A New Take on Scandi Style

Let’s explore what Scandi Style means for us in Australia.  A quick search on Pinterest confirms my hunch.  It’s a sea of white walls, blonde timber and some black and white prints in a fine black frame.  The images are all very similar, which means that there are a few key elements that are easy to copy.   

Grey sofa, check 

Sheepskin/ reindeer hide over chair, check 

Black and white print of woman’s face in black frame, check 

Grey floor rug on blonde timber floor, check 

Round mirror, check 

Indoor plant in basket, check 

Carrara marble thing, check 

Blush cushion, check.

When a formula emerges, individualism disappears.  I believe that our homes should say more about us than that we have ‘good taste in décor’.   

 For me, this space is the definition of 'warm Nordic'.   Designed by Dagny of  Farge Studio  on Norway it has all of the trademarks of Scandinavian design; authentic design and clean lines, however it's not cold in the slightest.  It also has that other essential ingredient, hygge.

For me, this space is the definition of 'warm Nordic'.   Designed by Dagny of Farge Studio on Norway it has all of the trademarks of Scandinavian design; authentic design and clean lines, however it's not cold in the slightest.  It also has that other essential ingredient, hygge.

This also had me wondering if this ‘Scandi Style’ actually a representative of what Scandinavian Design is all about?  Maybe we have been doing the Scandi style all wrong?  Perhaps we are missing something essential to what the Danes call hygge (hue-guh). It could be a new movement ‘warm nordic’ and has a cosyness, friendliness and warmth that these white and grey spaces are lacking.   A good dose of hygge can add that individualism to our spaces by incorporating treasured family heirlooms, vintage pieces and souvenirs printed with memories.  This is why we love the houses on The Design Files, the spaces are real and lived in, and filled with personality.  They are not cookie-cutter houses!

Although it may be a paradox for another person to explain how to create your individual style, there are some tips to create a harmonious interior, rather than just a heap of stuff you like all thrown together. So here goes… 

 This is the gorgeous home of Louise in Jutland, Denmark.  Her blog and instagram is  Mor til Mernee.

This is the gorgeous home of Louise in Jutland, Denmark.  Her blog and instagram is Mor til Mernee.

 I love mixing up dining chairs, it gives the space big a dose of personality.  Keeping one common theme ties it together, such as a common material like wood.  These chairs are a few favorites in our selection at the  Apartment.

I love mixing up dining chairs, it gives the space big a dose of personality.  Keeping one common theme ties it together, such as a common material like wood.  These chairs are a few favorites in our selection at the Apartment.


1. Edit your things 

The things we have in our homes say a lot about us.  It’s important to incorporate a few unique pieces of furniture or objects into your space that add a layer of personality and tells a story. Something vintage adds to the hygge feeling and feels like a home, rather than a showroom.

Maybe it’s that Chinese antique cabinet that your Mum gave you, or a little wooden carving that you bought in a Paris fee market.  That ceramic bottle you bought on your honeymoon or the kimono fabric you fell in love with and had no use for it other than it was beautiful beyond words.  However much you love all of these little memories, it doesn’t mean they all need to be on display at once.   

The art of editing is so important, especially for those of us with hoarding tendencies!  And letting go of some of these pieces is also sometimes necessary.  The key is to group objects together in a cohesive way.  Create a vignette by material, so all of the wooden things together.  Or group by colour, of perhaps it’s a theme such as your horse head collection!  


2. Take your time 

To create a beautiful space, but one that also reflects us, takes a bit of thought and a lot of time. It can’t be created in one weekend, sometimes we need to wait to find that perfect coffee table, rather than just buy the first one we see and then regret it. 

Some Scandinavian spaces are quite minimal, which aligns well to the contemporary Australian style.  However, there is a BIG difference.  Scandinavians have a deep respect for craftsmanship and will go without until they can save for the authentic Wishbone chair.  They would prefer to have less, and invest in quality.  In Australia, we are used to having something fast and we will buy something ‘just for now’ only to throw it into landfill in a few years time (A huge generalization I know, based off the success of large department stores starting with K and ending in Mart, and too many replica stores to name)  

 This gorgeous space is so up my alley.  I love the quirky objects like that leopard on the shelf. So full of personality.  By Louise of  Mor til Mernee.

This gorgeous space is so up my alley.  I love the quirky objects like that leopard on the shelf. So full of personality.  By Louise of Mor til Mernee.

 Lets see what happens when we save for something that we really want and invest in authentic design, that’s the true Scandi style Of course, sometimes we do need something here and now, which is also affordable.  They have that covered too in Sweden.  Did you know that Ikea is a designer store too?  Every single item they sell has been credited with the designer’s name, some very well known! 


3. What’s your favorite colour?

White, black and grey spaces look chic in the little instagram square, however I would argue that actually living in these spaces leaves us feeling, meh…   Think about the meaning we give colours.  Yellow is happy, green is fresh, red is passionate, blue is calm and grey is… depressing?   

We use colour in our interior design work, and I’ve been told that it’s great to see someone not afraid of colour.  It got me wondering, what is there to be so afraid of? Living in spaces filled with colour is FEELS GOOD and is a way to give your space personality. Colour can be added with a statement chair, or artwork or rug.  However nothing will impact a space as much as a paint colour on every wall.  It changes the whole way a space feels and instantly you have created a very individual space.  If you want to change the space, then it’s a weekend and a few hundred dollars of paint, nothing to be afraid of at all!   

Having said that, a white space can create a calm and peaceful space when used with intention, not just as the default. 

 Painting the joinery, walls and even the windows all the same colour is so harmonious and totally modern.  I love that 'all over' effect.  Design by Dagny  Fargestudio , photograph by Margaret De Lange, Stylist Kirsten Visdal

Painting the joinery, walls and even the windows all the same colour is so harmonious and totally modern.  I love that 'all over' effect.  Design by Dagny Fargestudio, photograph by Margaret De Lange, Stylist Kirsten Visdal


4. In with the Artwork 

There is nothing like an original artwork to make the space truly yours.  But where to even start?  What do I like? Can I afford it? It seems all too hard and confusing, so we just buy a print online of a black and white woman’s face (see checklist above) And there is nothing wrong with that as I have done this too.  But I wasn’t happy with it after a while, as it was a ‘safe’ decorating purchase and I started seeing it everywhere.  I didn’t mean anything to me, other than filling a space on the wall. 

I suggest that you try selecting artwork, regardless if it matches to your interior.  The frames don’t even need to be the same.  Think about rather than the colours matching, it’s the theme.  Your artwork collection could start from a photo from your favorite city, such as Paris.  There could be a photograph of the beautiful Haussemann architecture next to and a poster from the Louvre.  It’s the vibe that connects everything together.   

 This is such a fabulous wall by Louise of  Mor til Mernee , the artwork doesn't all 'match' however it just all works so beautifully together. 

This is such a fabulous wall by Louise of Mor til Mernee, the artwork doesn't all 'match' however it just all works so beautifully together. 

 Top: Original Oil on canvas by Eleanor Louise Butt POA; Limited Edition Artwork 'Red Man' Framed $925; Limited Edition Artwork 'Sombas in Grey' Framed $359; Original Mixed media and oil on canvas 'Morning walk with kelpie (hills, paddock and bush) no.2' by Melissa Boughey $2475; Limited Edition fine art photography 'Badwater' by Maegan Brown, framed $2634.50; Limited Edition artwork 'Big Ben' Framed $250. See these pieces in person at the  Apartment 

Top: Original Oil on canvas by Eleanor Louise Butt POA; Limited Edition Artwork 'Red Man' Framed $925; Limited Edition Artwork 'Sombas in Grey' Framed $359; Original Mixed media and oil on canvas 'Morning walk with kelpie (hills, paddock and bush) no.2' by Melissa Boughey $2475; Limited Edition fine art photography 'Badwater' by Maegan Brown, framed $2634.50; Limited Edition artwork 'Big Ben' Framed $250. See these pieces in person at the Apartment 


5. Nothing to lose! 

There are no rules, and if you love it, own it!  Maybe your sister won’t like it, well it’s not her house!  If you feel that a delicious pink velvet sofa would make you feel like a Queen, then go for it.  Sure, after ten years you might want a change, but wouldn’t you feel the same if it was a beige sofa?   Enjoy the process of creating the home you love! 

  1. This article also appeared on The Design Files here!
Phillip Li & Lauren Li