Montreal Gazette: Going Scandi Style

Author of the article: By Karl Lohnes, Special to the Montreal Gazette
Publishing date: August 17, 2019 ·  3 minute read

Natural, light-toned wood and wall colours, houseplants, and simply shaped objects are key characteristics in a Scandinavian style designed home. Bjorksnas Drawers, $350, Photo by Ragnar Ómarsson

If you’ve shopped for home furnishings or flipped through decorating magazines lately you’ve probably noticed a return to one of the hottest decor looks: Scandinavian (Scandi) style. Sometimes dubbed ‘Ikea world,’ the clean-lined functionality of Scandi design makes the look popular in almost every area of home decor, including housewares, furnishings and lighting.

Scandi style’s roots are in the modern design movement that started in the early 20th century. By the mid-century, the Nordic branch of modern reached beyond the borders of Scandinavia to heavily influence design elsewhere and would remain intensely popular from the 1950s to the ’70s. The current resurgence should come as no surprise. Its emphasis on practicality and function over opulent materials and styles is timeless.

Its signature pale and light palette counteracts the effects of long, dark, Nordic winters (sound familiar, Oh Canada?). Today, Scandi style is a great remedy in our smaller spaces, making them appear larger, lighter and brighter. As well, its no-fuss, no-clutter functionality is a calming antidote to our busy lifestyles. If you’re looking to decorate your home with simplicity, practicality and understated elegance, then Scandi style might be for you. Incorporate these design elements to get the look.


Keep the tones light and the colours neutral. Use lots of off-white, soft greys and muted colours that reflect light and create bright and airy spaces. Choose accessories in similar colours, and incorporate glass for a see-through look.

Durable borosilicate glass marries simplicity and style in accessories that are ideal for everyday use. VIVA Scandinavia’s BJORN Tea Set, $60,


Rarely will you see wall-to-wall broadloom in a Scandi style home. Look for low-shine (no glossy varnish) plank floors in lighter tones of wood. Area rugs are almost always graphic, modern, and black and white in colour. Pale grey or white painted floors are another great Scandi look that help to keep things bright and airy.


Look for simple curved shapes in natural wood or painted finishes with the look of handmade craftsmanship. Pine, ash or walnut woods are most popular and furniture fabrics are non-patterned, muted in tone and neutral in colour.

Light walnut wood, peg or pin-shaped legs and simple, practical shapes are indicative of classic Scandi furniture. Minna Bench with storage, $500,


Plants add a pop of green to every room and bring a healthy, natural element to interiors. Don’t have a green thumb? Hang some leafy wallpaper on one wall or some simple botanical artwork.


Keep the glass sparkling to let the light pour in! If privacy is needed, choose white shades or linen fabric rather than heavy draperies or shades. Remember, the Scandi style is all about keeping rooms airy and bright!

The Democracy of Design

Want to achieve Scandi Style on a budget? No prob. A founding principle of Nordic modern is to create design accessible to the masses and these tips make it easier than ever to get the look without breaking the bank.

Laminate flooring

The look of wide-planked light-toned wood flooring is available in inexpensive laminate flooring. It’s also homeowner friendly for installation because it can float over an existing floor of flat tile or hardwood.

Synthetic fibres

Walls of custom linen drapes can be expensive. Purchase pre-made linen-look drapes made from synthetic fibres available at big-box stores for a fraction of the cost of real linen. Tip: Buy longer drape panels and hem for a tailored custom look.

Think vintage

Charity shops are brimming with Scandi style furnishings and accessories. Keep an eye out for unique vases, dishes and decorative accessories at bargain prices.

Do you have a decor dilemma or want to give feedback? You can contact Karl on Facebook or Instagram. Karl has worked as a home decor expert and product designer for 25 years. He appears Thursdays during the 8 a.m. hour on Global News Morning Montreal

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