6 Scandinavian Color Ideas for a Cozy Space

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Scandinavian interiors are universally loved for their calming, less-is-more aesthetic. The style originated in, you guessed it, Scandinavia, and although it's been around for nearly a century, it has continued to gain traction stateside over the last few years. It offers a minimal approach to spaces, favoring practical pieces and pairing them with textural components for a design that's equal parts functional and welcoming.

Historically, Scandi interiors put a premium on white walls to emphasize light — scarce in Nordic countries during the winter — a neutral color palette, and natural wood accents, which all work together to create bright, no fuss spaces offering a refuge from dark skies. If you're partial to color, you can still achieve a look that's rooted in Scandi simplicity, but with a dose of of vibrancy. Read on to discover popular Scandinavian color combinations that we can't get enough of.

1. Opt for (almost) all-white everything.

If you're in the camp that monochrome spaces are one dimensional and lack personality, we present this pared-down living room by Jessica Helgerson (which is undeniably gorgeous) to convince you otherwise. Scandi style is really a sum of its parts and what this space lacks in color, it more than makes up for with sculptural pieces of furniture, warm wood tones, and standout lighting. A leather ottoman and potted plants add color and timeless beauty.

Get the look: Apparatus Studio Trapeze 2 Surface, $1,600 - $1,800

2. Tame bold hues with neutrals.

Can red work in Scandi-inspired interiors? You bet! It might not be the first color that comes to mind when considering popular Scandinavian colors, but when bold hues, like the crimson in this Moroccan rug, are balanced with plenty of white, textural moments, and wood finishes, they infuse color without taking over. Black architectural sconces add contrast and a modern note.

Get the look: Barrera Southwestern Red Area Rug, $37.79 - $734.99

3. Embrace sunny palettes.

Yellow interiors, like this sunny sitting room by Elizabeth Roberts Architecture, add warmth and a feeling of joy — both characteristics that are particularly welcome during long, dark winters. To double down on the cheery vibe, she paired greenish-yellow walls with coral textiles and playful pops of blue for a sophisticated look with bohemian undertones.

Get the look: Benjamin Moore Wispy Green

4. Bring the outdoors in.

Green, especially forest green like the accent color used in Emily Henderson's much-loved mountain retreat, is calming (ideal for the boudoir) and functions surprisingly like a neutral. It adds depth to white walls and crisp linens; quintessential Scandi details include rustic wood-paneled doors and an accordion wall light.

Get the look: Lulu and Georgia Deva Velvet Platform Bed, $1,310

5. Balance moody colors with wood tones.

Moody hues, like this cool gray tone, add coziness and have a well-deserved place among the most popular Scandinavian color palettes. Balance the darker shade, as they do in this Airbnb's living room, with plywood wainscoting and a detailed white ceiling — for a look that's masculine yet welcoming. An ethereal pendant light adds a dose of whimsy while a traditional kilim rug adds softness and pattern.

Get the look: Benjamin Moore Comet

6. Go glam.

Create a sophisticated and feminine Scandi-inspired living room by pairing a mustard yellow sofa (in luxe velvet) with blush pink accessories and plenty of gold accents. Brit Dot Design adds Nordic staples like an Icelandic sheepskin rug for texture, while leggy, cane-backed dining chairs add warmth without taking up much visual real estate.

Get the look: Article Mirage Sofa, $999


Jaclyn Schatzow is a freelance writer living in Santa Monica, CA

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