Scandinavian design came into its own in the 1950s. 1951 to be exact, when Heal’s Furniture showroom in West London used the term to describe the style that was on display in their “Scandinavian Design for Living” exhibition. Three years later, a “Design in Scandinavia” exhibit opened at the Brooklyn Museum in April 1954, featuring over 700 objects related to home furnishings. The modernist style, featuring clean lines, natural materials, and a minimalist aesthetic, had been developing over much of the early 20th century in European Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark. Finland, and Iceland), but the touring exhibit definitely put the design philosophy on the map. Below, we present a curated gallery of living room ideas using Scandinavian Design as a defining aesthetic.
1. Iconic Copenhagen Egg Chair Sits in Corner of Room
Large open-concept ground floor, of a home in Lake Caldonazzo, northern Italy, features a kitchen and living room divided by a fireplace in the center of the space. The light hardwood flooring, natural lighting from the glass windows, modern furniture, and minimalist aesthetic all reflect inspiration from Scandinavian interior design. The black chair in front of the windows is based on the classic Egg Chair designed by Scandinavian design icon Arne Jacobsen in 1958 for the Hotel Radisson SAS, in Copenhagen.
2. Coastal Retreat Blends Scandinavian and West Coast Styles
Designer Sarah Barnard calls this room in a Pacific Palisades, CA coastal retreat “Scandifornian” due to its blend of Scandinavian and West Coast styles. The space features a high white cathedral ceiling with exposed beams, massive French windows, and light hardwood floors. The furnishings are primarily organic and handmade using natural materials. Barnard created the custom-made concrete fireplace specially for the room. A mantel extends the length of the room to display objet d’art and seaside treasures.
- Designed by Sarah Barnard Design
3. Minimalist Chalet Designed in Harmony With Nature
The centerpiece of this Scandinavian-style living room is a massive floor-to-ceiling window that brightens the whole room with natural light and views of nature. A contemporary wood-burning fireplace reflects the chalet chic inspiration behind the design in this Quebec home known as Bois Flotté (the Driftwood Chalet). The minimalist great room, aesthetically in tune with its natural surroundings, includes a wooden cathedral ceiling, a sofa, and a dining area with polished concrete flooring.
4. Windows Open Up Living Room to Outside Woodlands
Living room features an abundance of natural light from the glass windows that illuminate the redwood flooring topped with a colorful patterned area rug. The windows also provide a commanding view of the surrounding woodlands. A leather armchair with a footstool serves as a reading area next to the warmth of a wood-burning fireplace made of dark stone and metal.
5. Great Room Showcases Scandinavian Furniture Design
The spacious great room features an open design combining the living room, dining, and kitchen area. White cabinetry meets light hardwood flooring, with carefully selected contemporary Scandinavian furniture pieces throughout the room. The hue of the gray tray ceiling is mirrored in the gray sofa and the woven area rug on the hardwood flooring. In his work, Danish designer Finn Juhl introduced bold colors as a contrast to neutral palettes, and that aesthetic is in evidence here in the use of yellow in the furnishings. The recessed lights illuminate the wood in the floor and the ceiling adding more brightness and color to the Scandinavian decor.
6. Windows Bring in Plenty of Natural Light
A blue egg chair and accompanying footstool add a splash of color to the otherwise neutral tones of the Scandinavian-style living room. A round wooden coffee table and an L-shaped sofa sit on an area rug over the light hardwood flooring. Large windows bring in plenty of natural light to illuminate the natural wood used throughout the Nordic design.
7. Handcrafted Furnishings Add to Rustic Décor
Natural light and natural materials distinguish this Hong Kong apartment’s take on Scandinavian design. The rustic wooden furnishings have been handcrafted from locally sourced materials. The room features rough-textured concrete walls, light hardwood flooring, a ceiling with track lighting, and natural light streaming in through a wall of glass.
8. Area Rugs Add Layers of Depth to Room’s Décor
A spacious Scandinavian-style formal living room features a white sofa set with coffee table and ottoman. Neutral tones prevail throughout, with black cushions and a gray stone wall treatment complementing the creamy, warm white used in the furnishings, wall, and flooring. Area rugs are a Scandinavian design specialty with modern weaves inspired by traditional sources. Flat-woven rugs, with abstract or geometric designs, are popular as base layers to add depth to a room’s décor.
9. Room Lighting Displays Textbook Scandinavian Design
A light yellow sofa set with sections facing both inside and outside the space is featured in this Scandinavianliving room design. A coffee table sits on a large area rug over the tile floor. Dark wood tones are used in the furnishings, as well as a partial room divider and on one wall with a widescreen TV. The room’s lighting design is textbook Scandinavian, with a floor lamp, downlights, wall fixtures, and windows all illuminating the space.
10. Austere Design Allows Little Room for Color
A large Scandinavian-style formal living room features a white-on-white color scheme and herringbone-patterned hardwood flooring. Black and white patterns on an area rug, cushions, and blanket, as well as some green houseplants, are the only color relief in the room. Japanese writer Haruki Murakami described this type of austere Scandinavian design aesthetic as “beautiful, clean, and silent, with not an ounce of warmth, like a fine rain falling under the midnight sun.”
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11. Pendant Light Fixtures Pop Out of Ceiling
Spacious Scandinavian interior features a contemporary sofa set with a Chesterfield chair and ottoman surrounding a center coffee table. The space also has a cylindrical wood-burning fireplace, light hardwood flooring, and colorful pop art pendant light fixtures suspended from the ceiling.
12. Eclectic Space Borrows Scandinavian Influences
A wall console, two barrel chairs, and a coffee table are among the unique furnishings in this Scandinavian space. The eclectic design style also uses a large geometric area rug to spread over the hardwood floor. Two large arched windows offer street views.
13. Geometric Area Rug Contrasts with White Décor
Spacious Scandinavian-style living room features white hardwood floors and a large geometric area rug. A barrel-vaulted ceiling has exposed beams and continues the design’s white-on-white color scheme.
14. Muted Color Palette Keeps Things Icy Cool
Large Scandinavian-style living space features light hardwood flooring, classic Nordic furniture, and a tall ceiling. Wood craftsmanship is prominent throughout the chalet-like space and can be seen in the furnishings as well as the ceiling panels. The glass wall provides extensive natural light, and the muted color palette keeps things icy cool.
15. Abstract Wall Art Draws Attention
A Scandinavian-style living room features a gray L-shape sofa set on hardwood flooring near glass windows. The decor also includes a two-sided wood-burning fireplace, a large window for natural light, a pendant light fixture, and abstract wall art.
16. Stone Wall Gives Space Rustic Backdrop
A modern chandelier hangs suspended from a ceiling over an L-shaped corner sectional sofa and glass-topped coffee table. The Scandinavian aesthetic also favors hardwood flooring, a rough-textured stone wall, and large windows.
17. Living Room Plays with Natural Elements
This Scandinavian-style living room shares the space with a dining area, separated by a wooden console table located behind an L-shaped gray sofa. The latter faces a wood-burning fireplace against a white wall. A pendant lighting fixture hangs over the rough-hewn rustic dining table, surrounded by mismatched wooden chairs. The area also has a vaulted ceiling and concrete flooring with a concrete ledge underneath a large set of windows that occupy one wall.
18. Scandinavian Design Working On All Cylinders
A Scandinavian-style living room designed with a circular theme includes a set of mirrors mounted on the white wall above the gray L-shaped sofa and a cylindrical wooden coffee table set over two patterned area rugs. The space also features a double-height ceiling and a unique floor lamp in one corner.
- By Design Lab
19. Room Furnishings Immaculately Conceived
Large Scandinavian-style living room features light hardwood floors, a gray L-shape sofa sectional, and a dining area with gray chairs. The wood veneer and metal coffee table set is textbook Scandinavian design.
20. Space Surrounded by Walls of Windows
A spacious Scandinavian room, in a northern Norwegian cabin, features a sofa and three chairs set on top of an area rug covering granite tile flooring. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows surround the space. Belgian company Stûv makes cylindrical high-efficiency wood-burning stoves with the glass face capable of 360° rotation. Some models also include a grill for barbecuing.