12 Essential Tips for Designing a Scandinavian Living Room

Scandinavian design has long been a favorite interior style for the home. It’s Mid-Century Modern’s quiet but cool cousin, defined by clean lines, simple forms, neutral and natural tones, and layers of comfort.

More than any other style, Scandinavian interior design has a way of seamlessly blending modern and sleek elements with a cozy, welcoming aesthetic. Case in point: Step inside any Scandinavian living room design and you’ll likely find streamlined sofas and chairs mixed with nubby pillows, woven accents paired with light-wood tables, and steel or metal lighting displayed alongside graphic art. It all adds up to a space that’s thoughtfully curated for both style and function. Which means a Scandinavian design approach is also great for family-friendly living rooms.

To help you create the perfect Scandinavian living room, we’ve rounded up our favorite simple and chic tips for how to bring the look to life in your home. Check them out below!

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1. Incorporate Natural Woods

A hallmark of Scandinavian style is the use of beautiful natural wood furnishings, which are often in light tones or unfinished to reveal raw grain details.

To set the foundation for a Scandinavian living room, consider a mix of natural wood pieces. Start with a clean-lined sofa with an exposed wood frame or tapered legs. If you want to instill a feeling of warmth, lean towards darker woods, such as walnut and maple; if you want to play up an airy vibe, try a lighter wood, like birch or pine. Balance it out with a wood table or chair in a similar tone for a cohesive and curated look.

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2. Keep to a Neutral Palette

A simple neutral color scheme works perfectly with natural woods and materials, and it’s a key design element for a classic Scandinavian living room look.

An easy way to play up neutrals for a Scandinavian feel is to keep to soft, cool tones. Consider a light gray sofa, which can bring a versatile and serene look. Mix in warm white accents, such as a plush rug or sheepskin, a fluffy pillow or a cozy armchair, all in ivory or eggshell tones. Round out your larger neutral furnishings with barely-there notes of blues and greens for a hint of color—think pops of color from patterns, art, and even greenery. Finally, make sure to contrast these with different natural wood tones for a calming and curated Scandinavian feel.

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3. Layer on Textures

Coziness is a virtue in the Scandinavian living room, so adding layers of pillows and throws on sofas and chairs is an essential component of the look.

A great way to work in cozy textures is to layer from the ground up. Start with a plush rug that’s light on the eyes and soft on the feet, such as a Moroccan rug or sheepskin. These have a soft touch while also adding bold visual texture. From there, consider comfy accent pieces, like a woven pouf, table, or stool, which lend a warm look and feel. Finally top off your seating with lush pillows and throws, like a cable-knit cushion or a cashmere blanket, for the ultimate final soft layer.

Just be sure to stick to cozy Scandi decor in neutral tones to keep your space feeling layered and luxurious as opposed to cluttered.

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4. Contrast with Notes of Black

Pops of black provide rich contrast and a hint of edginess that can balance out the serene, neutral tones in a Scandinavian living room.

The most important thing to remember when decorating with black accents is to think of them as contrasting pops. Try sprinkling in a patterned pillow, monochrome photographs, and small ceramics for black accents that will add depth and blend seamlessly with the rest of your Scandinavian decor.

Remember you don’t want to overdo it by adding in too much black and you end up with a living room that feels boldly graphic with a high-contrast look. It’s about juxtaposing black and using the color as small anchors without taking away from the calming, curated Scandi look.

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5. Choose Furniture with Clean Lines

Scandinavian design is underscored by its clean-lined approach to furniture and decor. Not only does it impart simple streamlined appeal, it also lends a sense of calm and order to rooms.

Similar to spaces that play up the Japandi design trend, Scandinavian living rooms are anchored with clean-lined foundation pieces that emphasize style and functionality without frills. Opt for a linear sectional or sofa, rectangular or square coffee table, and accent chairs and tables that emphasize angular shapes and forms. Then mix in smooth curvy pieces for balance, like a pouf, rounded stool or even a globe pendant. The idea is to bring focus to sleek forms and designs that provide a modern and airy appeal.
Scandinavian living room with natural materials

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6. Embrace Natural Materials

Beyond cozy textures and woods, what gives a Scandinavian living room a feeling of warmth is a mix of natural materials that provide added texture, color, and an organic touch.

To curate a simple and sophisticated mix of designs made with natural materials, look to the small details. While you can opt for linen upholstery and natural cotton pillows, an array of artisanal accents will instantly draw attention to the beauty of natural materials and finishes. Think a mix of wooden bowls, a collection of hand-thrown ceramics, a textured stone vase or even a knotted jute rug—which all make for accents that emphasize organic materiality.

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Scandinavian room with cozy accents

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7. Add Varying Light Sources

Another key element that amplifies a sense of warmth for a Scandinavian living room is a balanced mix of lighting, which helps create a space that feels at once cozy and airy.

The key to lighting in a Scandinavian living room is allowing for plenty of natural light to fill the space first and foremost. Keep windows unobstructed by curtains or opt for sheers that maximize daylight. By emphasizing sunlight, it adds an instantly cozy feeling to your living space. Then work in multiple types of lighting at different heights, such as table lamps for surfaces, wall sconces, and hanging pendant lights that draw the eye up. Finish it all with candles that you can easily move around to play up ambient lighting to set an inviting tone.

Scandinavian living room with fur rug

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8. Prioritize Cozy Comforts

Scandinavian design is often perceived as minimalist, simple, and spare. Even so, it’s never lacking in comfort and in fact emphasizes coziness as we’ve mentioned. And the resulting design look and feel perfectly captures the concept of hygge.

Rooted in comfort and inviting textures, hygge decor is a staple in a classic Scandinavian living room. You’re likely already familiar with these decor pieces, which can range from a fluffy sheepskin rug to knitted throw blankets to even chunky woven ottomans and rugs. Layering these tactile elements along with plush fabrics and textures will play up the hygge sensibility and give your room a distinctly Scandinavian look and feel.

Scandinavian living room with minimal styling

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9. Mix Minimal and Graphic

While Scandinavian style has a streamlined and pared-down look, graphic art and accents are essential decor elements. They offer bold visual counterpoints which lend depth and dimension to spaces.

Opt for artwork with strong graphic elements, such as a black-and-white print or photograph, which can liven up blank walls. Or you can hang minimalist paintings or linework drawings that are in keeping with the clean lines of Scandinavian decor and furnishings. When in doubt, choose art that blends into your space quietly instead of pieces that pop and overtake the room.

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10. Work in Earthy Tones

Neutrals are the default color palette with Scandinavian design, but you can also branch off into earth tones for a warmer, slightly more rustic feel.

For a Scandinavian living room that conveys a deeply sumptuous look and feel, consider mixing furnishings in a range of earth tones such as natural wood tones, light browns, and creamy whites. It will all add up to a warm living space that’s richly layered, softly hued, and deeply inviting. Try adding muted pastels on top of an earth tone palette for a hint of color that doesn’t overwhelm the space.

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11. Keep Patterns Simple

Scandinavian design doesn’t mean you have to skip patterns altogether. The key is bringing in simple patterns that are within a soft neutral palette, which add texture and dimension to a space.

When choosing patterns for a Scandinavian living room look, simple designs and geometric motifs are foolproof. Just make sure to keep to an equally simple palette. A Moroccan rug, a two-tone geometric pillow, and even a large-scale black-and-white photograph are all easy ways you can inject pattern into a Scandi room while keeping a minimal and calming atmosphere.

Scandinavian room with lots of plants

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12. Make Room for Greenery

The easiest way to warm up a Scandinavian look is to layer in pops of greenery that not only provide color and texture to the space but also lend an organic, welcoming feel.

With greenery and plants, you can work in as many or as few as you want. A tall tree in a corner can make for a sculptural focal point that invigorates a space. Meanwhile, a few well placed pots of leafy plants can fill out bookshelves and tables with a lush, natural look that adds to the overall feeling of minimal serenity in a Scandinavian living room.

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Bringing Hygge to Your Bedroom

Hygge, the Danish concept of living cozily, is the talk of the town last Winter. More than a way to decorate your home, hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is about slowing down, taking stock, and creating a sense of comfort and simplicity. Plush sofas, pillows galore, natural materials, and softly glowing candles are key to building your perfect hygge hideaway.

hygge bedroom

To help turn your home into a cozy, warm escape, read on to learn how we transformed this simple studio apartment into the perfect hygge hideaway.

How to Get the Hygge Look:

hygge bedroom

Build a simple base:

Start with the largest pieces of furniture in the room. Your bed or sofa lay the foundation of your design, so look for pieces with clean lines to let the accessories shine. We like the Piper Bed Frame from Room & Board and the Modular Cloud Sofa from Restoration Hardware.

Keep it neutral:

Hygge is all about keeping it calm. Limit colors to the accessories and opt for soft shades of beige, cream, grey, and brown.

Go natural:

Organic pieces give texture to your environment and lend warmth to the space. Look for jute, animal hide, unfinished woods, wool, and sheepskin. We love the Natural Cowhide Rug (Cowhide Imports) and the Acacia Storage Bench (CB2).

hygge bedroom

Add texture:

Now it’s time for the fun part, let’s add some texture to the mix. Look for chunky, fluffy, soft… in a variety of fabrics and materials like a palooza of patterned pillows that are scattered throughout the room (even on the floor). Artwork can add texture too! We chose pieces with organic patterns, like the Peaceful Dot series from Natural Curiosities. Even the Woven Wall Decor above the bed (Urban Outfitters) adds a textural pop with its woven nubby wool.

Layer it up:

Our final tip for getting your hygge on, is to pile on layers. Layer rugs, pillows, and artwork everywhere to give your space texture and coziness. We like the pop of pattern the Boldstripe Dhurrie Rug (Anthropologie) gives layered on the Chunky Wool & Jute Rug (Pottery Barn).

hygge bedroom

Now all that’s left is to light some candles, brew up some coffee or tea, and slip into your comfiest PJ’s. Welcome to your hygge-filled home! We hope you never want to leave.

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A Hygge Hideaway

Step inside our cozy hygge hideaway, and you can immediately smell the cookies baking and hear the crackle of the fire. Piles of pillows abound, plush comfy furniture offers itself as a cozy seat for snuggling up, and the floor is covered in layers of rugs and even more pillows. Harsh overhead lighting is forgone in lieu of glowing candles and twinkling string lights, and tranquil scenes of pastures and cottages hang on the walls. A gathering space for friends and family, we designed this room with the Danish concept of hygge as our inspiration.

We decided to show, rather than tell, what hygge is, and we also wanted to leave space for the concept to explain itself. Here’s hygge, in its own words….

Imagine if every time you walked into your living room it gave you a big hug. A hug that also swaddled you in chunky knit blankets with real, live puppies and placed a steamy cup of hot cocoa in your hands. That’s me, Hygge, and it’s oh so lovely to meet you!

“Who in the world is hygge?” you might be asking. That’s one of my favorite questions! (Oh, and I pronounce it “HOO-guh”) I’m not a person, I’m not a place, and I’m not really a thing either. I’m also not super flattered by being called a “lifestyle trend,” because I really hope you keep me around longer than your juice cleanse or your obsession with Pokemon Go.

I like to fancy myself more of a way of being, or a mindset of coziness that permeates Danish culture. I’ve been around for quite some time now, but it is only recently that I became so popular in the US (although the notion of ‘popularity’ isn’t high on my priority list, because I want to be everyone’s friend). I prefer slowing down, savoring the moment, and promoting a sense of well-being and connection. Ahhh… I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy just talking about it!

In case the next question percolating in your beautiful brain is “Where did you come from?” I have an answer for you! I am the proud descendant of the 16th century Norwegian term “hugga,” which means to comfort, or to console. Kind of similar to your English word “hug.” How wonderful!



Leaving behind some pointers to give us guidance, Hygge is happy to inhabit any home upon invitation. Peep the checklist below to learn how to invite Hygge into your space!


Hygge Home Checklist:

  • Warmth and light – Turn off the overhead lights, light a fire in the fireplace, string up some lights, and top it off with some lovely candles.
  • Get cozy and fuzzy – layered rugs, pillows galore (even on the floor), and blankets for days are my favorite tricks for adding a dose of coziness to any space. I especially love plush rugs and all things sheepskin!
  • Keep it neutral and natural – I’m not neutral when it comes to my stance on color palette. I love an earthy palette because it fosters a calming environment. No bright colors please! I also prefer natural materials and finishes for the same reason. This should be a tactile environment that delights all the senses.


Want to envision hygge in your home? Let us show you the collection in your space with Modsy.


The Collection