Color Palette Series Scandinavian Design

Scandinavia is famous for two things: cold weather and interior design. It’s not a coincidence that one of the biggest design hubs in the world was born out of such a chilly destination. If you’re forced to spend the majority of your time indoors, you’re going to want your interior to be uber-comfortable with colors that feel like home.

A Scandinavian-style home is immediately recognizable. The second you enter a Scandinavian home, you’ll notice the distinctly natural color palette. Originating in Nordic countries, Scandinavian shades are unmistakably organic and soothing. The Scandinavian color palette embraces simplicity, but color isn’t avoided entirely. Pops of bright colors and hints of modern wall art can elevate the sparsely decorated space.

Let’s take a look at how you can incorporate Scandinavian shades into your home!

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Warm Scandinavian Living Room Décor

Rustic Scandinavian Décor for Cozy Spaces

Embrace the “Au Naturel” Look

Cool, Calm, and Collected

Picture Perfect Pastels

(Almost) Outdoor Living

Our Top Designer Tips

The Scandinavian Color Scheme

Warm Scandinavian Living Room Décor

Now that we’re moving into Autumn/Winter, it’s the perfect time to add a Scandinavian touch to your space. The goal is to balance warm tones with modern neutrals. Your living room is an excellent space to apply this chic, cozy color palette. As we’ll explore in more depth below, Nordic décor is more than just choosing the right shades – it’s also about combining color and texture. Mix organic hues with soft fabrics and textiles in your main living space. Keep your décor minimal, functional, and comfortable above all else.

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Expert Design Ideas

ElephantStock's interior design expert Elimar Lobo Sáenz explains the skyrocketing Nordic trend:

“The act of transferring our daily life indoors has sparked a shift in décor to make many areas of the home even cozier than before. That's why Nordic style keeps on rising! This style includes light colored wood, pops of color to brighten up the space, and the act of giving your space a personal touch.”

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scandinavian color palette

Rustic Scandinavian Décor for Cozy Spaces

While Scandinavian interiors are well-known for their contemporary atmosphere, there are also rustic elements sprinkled throughout. The minimalist, natural color palette will automatically make your home look modern. Turn your bedroom into a peaceful sanctuary with Nordic colors like rust orange, sage green, ivory, and black. Add sleek furniture, and choose a few pieces of décor to be the focus of your sleeping space.

Create a nordic color palette with wall art >>

nordic color palette

Embrace the “Au Naturel” Look

The first step when introducing Scandinavian design is to clear the clutter. Fewer items of furniture and knickknacks allow the space to feel open and airy. Stick with the essentials and you will have more freedom to experiment with color. It’s no secret that the Scandinavians love their neutrals, but there are so many variations of a neutral color palette it’s hard to know where to start.

If you prefer an earthy interior, pull inspiration from nature itself. Along with the typical neutral shades like grey, ivory, and beige, add pops of olive and army green. To tie everything together, choose a piece of wall art that exemplifies your appreciation for a natural landscape. 

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scandinavian colour palette

Cool, Calm, and Collected

Blues are so heavily used in Scandinavian design, they are almost considered a neutral color in and of themselves. To make sure your interior doesn’t look too cold, offset the glacier blues with warmer shades like pale peach and sandy brown. Don't forget, when it comes to Scandinavian design, minimalist wall art is a must!

Mixing warm and cool colors doesn’t break any design rules as long as you use a pastel palette. A popular design tip is to pick your favorite vibrant hue and then choose a color two shades lighter. That will ensure cohesion and capture the effortless Scandinavian style.

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scandinavian design color palette

Picture Perfect Pastels

Speaking of pastels, you can’t go wrong with dusty pink! Baby pinks and muted mauves lie somewhere in between warm and cool tones, which makes for an ideal accent color for any existing décor.

Pair a soft rose with various shades of grey and taupe to maximize sophistication. While a Scandinavian color palette is all about looking cozy, it’s also about looking classy and refined. Plus, a neutral-pink color palette never goes out of style.

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nordic color scheme

(Almost) Outdoor Living

When it’s too chilly to go out, the Scandinavians like to bring the outside, inside. Besides incorporating various natural woods, hanging a piece of forest-themed wall art can add a calming effect to your living space.

Remember, greens and greys make for a foolproof combination. Pair your forest green décor with light green houseplants and icy grey walls. Use light browns and muted bronze tones to soften the overall look.

Find wall art for your warm rustic color palette >>

nordic colour palette

Our Top Designer Tips

Yoko Chow, interior designer and owner of Yoko Chow Design LLC, shares her top pointers on Scandinavian design. She notes that the Scandinavian aesthetic was popularized during the rise of Mid-century modern interiors. She expands:

“The color palette [heavily utilizes] natural wood such as oak and pine, along with white and muted colors. In recent years, the proportionality of white in a space seems to have significantly increased, replacing wood as the dominant material for vertical surfaces.”

Chow clarifies that you don’t need to stay away from color all together, despite the modern obsession with bright white shades.

“The Scandinavian style allows one to add accents and personality through fabrics and works of art in muted colors such as forest green and warm orange. Green is often [used] to provide a relaxed and refreshed ambiance, while red and orange hues evoke feelings of energy and optimism.”

Select a piece of wall art for your Nordic space >>

scandi color palette

The Scandinavian Color Scheme

By now, I’m sure you’re itching to transform you home into a Scandinavian dreamscape. Lucky for you, the process is super simple and even more rewarding. Scandinavian design is about more than just the furnishings and surrounding décor; it’s about creating a space that radiates happiness and harmony.

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Annette Schmucker