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Scandinavian design made its way to America in the 1950s, but the style feels more current than ever. With an emphasis on minimalism, clean lines, and functionality, the design style hailing from the Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) looks as fresh as a meticulously curated Pinterest board. 

For those unfamiliar with Scandinavian design, the neutral palette and stylistic simplicity might seem tricky to achieve without ditching your current living room and starting from scratch. But, in reality, with a few key updates and cozy accents, you can transform your living space into a hygge-filled Scandinavian retreat.

Modern Scandinavian

With its neutral color palette and open concept feel, this living room has all the hallmarks of modern design. But, with a few design touches, it nods to a Scandinavian influence. Similar to modern design, Scandinavian is all about simplicity and minimalism, so avoid the Target syndrome (habitually buying decor on a whim) so as not to overwhelm and clutter the design of the room. 

Instead, gravitate towards anchor furniture pieces with natural wood texture for a Nordic feel, like the walnut end tables, mango wood coffee table and elmwood armchair. The stacked wood in the fireplace also calls to mind a chilly evening at a Scandinavian ski-lodge (on the wish list for when we can travel again).

In addition to the wood elements, a fresh burst of greenery in the corner and coffee table bring Swedish design to the modern living room.  

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Boho Scandinavian

This Scandinavian boheme living room nails all the right notes. Using a monochromatic palette makes the room feel current instead of farmhouse dated. Add in the wood accents, like the drum coffee table and throw ladder, and the space feels easy going yet put together. Accent the space with organic textures like rope, rattan, and plenty of greenery goodness for that free-spirited vibe. Finally, toss in a couple of globally inspired throw pillows for a well-traveled vibe.

Where this boho living room cues Scandinavian vibes is in the classic black and white color palette and general coziness of the space. When going for a Nordic-inspired look, think layered pillows, chunky throws, and plush rugs. All the decor that invites you to curl up with a good book and hot mug (your choice whether tea or hot toddy).

If you’re looking to put a fresh twist on boho style, try bohygge.

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Minimal Scandinavian

With high ceilings and striking architecture, the minimal design lets the beauty of the space speak for itself. Keeping things simple, the design in the room mirrors itself, repeating the same couch, pillow, and side tables, for a sense of classic symmetry.   

Again, we see the Scandinavian twist in the high contrast color palette (when in doubt, go black and white) and cozy accent pieces. The reclaimed wood trunk adds a rustic simplicity to the space,while the geometric pillows and rug contribute a minimalist pattern.

A minimalist space can run the risk of feeling cold and austere, but with the Scandinavian overtone, this space sings a more welcoming tune.

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Luxe Scandinavian

Nailing the one-two punch of Scandinavian with Glam is all about texture and statement design. 

The clean lines of the sectional couch, natural wool rug, and reclaimed wood accents are pure Nordic vibes, but it’s the architectural form of the surrounding pieces that establish a more avant-garde feel. A striking teak accent chair is juxtaposed with a sculpted side table while the eye-catching coffee table offers a stark contrast to the palette. Top it off with a set of vintage vases for a more ornate aesthetic.

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Global Scandinavian

Scandinavian design plays well with others, and that includes the artisan vibe of global design. The key to keeping this living room from becoming too busy is starting with a soothing, neutral, Scandinavian base. The clean lines of the couch, ivory chair, and natural wood coffee table make it easy to add in a few bolder patterns.

With a foundational Scandinavian vibe, this living room then layers in a Moroccan inspired rug and globally patterned pillows for the best of both worlds. Feel free to mix and match prints for a greater sense of character and story.

Like peanut butter and chocolate, or mimosa and brunch, Scandinavian design matches with just about any other style you pair it with. The key is balancing the two influences to make a cohesive living room.

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Not sure what style pairs with Scandinavian? Take Havenly’s quiz to figure out what style might suit you.   

Words by Emma Diehl