The Scandinavian vocabulary for interior design

Among the wide array of design movements that have caused a global sensation, the Scandinavian style stands out for its democratic, modern and functional approach to interiors. The popularity of this approach rests in the appeal of practical furnishings, neutral colors and flexible arrangements inspired by the tranquil natural ambiance of the Nordic countries and their emphasis on convivial warmth. 

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Hygge, lagom, and lykke are three concepts captured in Scandinavian languages which we come across in our everyday lives. The Danish term of ‘hygge’ has been recognized and applied by the international community of interior designers while crafting intimate and comfortable spaces that denote the essence of coziness. The second word, ‘lagom’, lies at the heart of minimalist design; representing the Swedish and Norwegian philosophy of striving for moderation and balance. Lastly, the Danish term for happiness and good fortune, known as ‘lykke’, embodies the ultimate goal of every interior as it is tailored to the particular needs and lifestyles of people. In this article we present the relationship between these terms and interior design while suggesting some of the methods in which the Scandinavian concepts can be applied to the creation of wholesome and enjoyable spaces. 

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Hygge

One of the most recurrent terms introduced to the vocabulary of interior design is ‘hygge’. The Danish word for coziness and conviviality cannot be separated from intimate and welcoming settings such as our homes or favorite spots in the city. It may, however, be difficult to grasp since hygge is not something that can be bought but rather felt in the small moments of comfort that come from sharing a space with our loved-ones or instances of blissful relaxation. So if this concept cannot be instructed or sold, how do we apply it to our interiors?

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First of all, we must recognize the meaningfulness of the simple moments and rituals that make us feel at home and the factors that contribute to such instances. These modest occasions can range from sharing a warm meal with friends to reading a captivating book during a rainy day. To honor these moments we can make sure to acknowledge these experience and make them all the more enjoyable by:

  • Creating an appealing living-room set-up with silky pillows and a contrasting plush rug to cover the floor with inviting textures.
  • Investing in a large dining table with a set of matching chairs to accommodate all the family members and friends who come to share new experiences and stories. 
  • Placing lively decorative elements such as candle holders for winter, glass vases during spring and art for all year round. 
  • And finally, setting  modern and delicate table lamp close to your bed to cast a warm glow across the pages of your bed-time novel.
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Lagom

The next term we are exploring is the Danish/Swedish ‘lagom’ which stands for “just the right amount”. As mentioned earlier, this concept works as a guiding philosophy for minimalist design tendencies that promote the emphasis on quality over quantity. Additionally, lagom is also related to the Swedish social and cultural principles of fairness and equality which can be translated to the field of interior design as the development of spaces that promote a simple, balanced and sustainable lifestyle. Such interiors follow a method based on:

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  • Neutral color schemes relying primarily on grey and white to create a calming ambience and minimize visual distractions. These tones, combined with sleek white cabinets, wooden stools or marble tables, produce modern compositions without having to rely on excessive arrangements or patterns. Another option is to highlight the beauty of contrasts by combining dark hues such as blue or dark grey with light monochrome furnishing for a more elegant configuration.
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  • Decluttering: Excess is the opposite of what minimalism wants to achieve since it induces more chaos and stress while getting in the way of a balanced lifestyle. This; however, does not mean that accessories are not welcome. On the contrary, multi purpose articles and symbolic items such as ceramic pieces, personal mementos, or unique artwork evoke positive feelings and recollections that highlight the individuality of a space. The key is to decorate in moderation and think about what is truly necessary. 
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Lykke 

The last term we will come across today is ‘lykke’, translated as happiness or good luck. In the Danish context, however, this word signifies much more than its literal translation- it presents itself as a way of embracing the diverse forms of joy that we encounter in our everyday lives. Happiness is interwoven with our health, the company we keep, the way we manage our time and also the spaces we inhabit. If we look at lykke as more than fleeting moments of joy and approach the concept as something we can influence, then it makes sense to start by cultivating it within our homes. 

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The first step to create lykke within your interiors is to concentrate on the kind of environment that brings you the most energy and delight. Consider which colors are the most energizing to use in common areas such as the living room or kitchen: if you want to add a touch of playfulness then go for warm yellow or orange surfaces and wooden furnishings. For a more calming effect, neutral or earth tones including white, beige, brown and grey constitute a stable base for walls and flooring that can be paired with silver or golden hues in tables and lamps for a modern look. 

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Besides color arrangements, the type of decorations and elements displayed in interiors can contribute to the development of a welcoming and homely ambiance. The arrangement of candles across the dining table creates a more intimate setting for gatherings; meanwhile, placing indoor plants and flowers around the house can also bring health benefits and encourage positive thinking. 

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The words presented today- hygge, lagom, and lykke – all serve as guiding principles while designing and decorating the interior layout of our homes. They are not passing trends or merchandise that can easily be found; instead, these concepts are part of a healthy lifestyle to strive for and to acknowledge while spending quality time at home. We hope these home décor tips help you in your search for coziness, balance and happiness.

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