Decorate with Colour—the Scandinavian Way

Interiors author Angel Trinidad shows how you can bring the vibrant colours of new Nordic design into your home

If you think about Scandinavian design, you’re probably imagining all-white, sparsely decorated, minimalist interiors. But there’s actually so much more to it than that. In fact, more and more designers from the region are leaning towards more colourful, elaborate and daring designs—without losing that distinct Nordic elegance and timelessness.

Here are a few tips on how to apply this inspiring trend to your own space.

Vivid walls

Scandinavian interiors can still be colourful, moody and expressive. Choose vivid colours such as a deep green-blue shade, a moody, chalky purple, or a rich salmon; colours that are serene and confident in their boldness, but not screaming for attention. 

Vivid, expressive colours are at the heart of the modern Nordic design trend

It may be an accent wall, or—for a bolder look—all four walls painted in the same shade. The key is to keep everything else in moderation. Keep lines and forms neat and choose furniture and fixtures in clean, classic forms to achieve a sense of balance.

Stockholm-based Note Design Studio provides an excellent example with the private home of its own architect Daniel Heckscher. His is a contemporary and vivid space with pink-orange and saturated blue-green walls.

Rainbow floors

Add vibrant Nordic design to the home by making the floors the centre of attention.

Colour your floors the Danish way. Photo: Snedker Studio by photographer Kristine Autzen

This beautiful rainbow-hued parquet flooring—inspired by light going through a prism—is made by Copenhagen-based design company Snedker Studio.

The Marbelous Wood series is created using an old marbling technique (used historically by bookbinders), giving the material a supernatural, colourful and vibrant pattern.

Balance is the essential element: pair rainbow floors with calm, neutral walls and furniture in simple forms.

Wall-to-wall cabinets

A wall-to-wall cabinet in the same bold colour as the walls is a definite eye-catcher and a smart practical storage solution in one.

Combine a moody green cabinet (a deep blue, or a rich violet will also work) with a simple wooden dining set—a long, communal table and benches will give a warm touch. Match the floors with herringbone tiles from the same colour family as the walls, or opt for darker, smoky brown wooden floorboards.

Architecture and design firm Tham & Videgård’s design for Alma—a newly opened members club for creatives in Stockholm—can easily be translated to a residential kitchen, dining or living space.

Elegant wall fixtures

The principle of ‘form follows function’ is one of the cornerstones of Scandinavian design.

Accentuate and give depth to vibrant walls (in deep purple, pale or olive green, greyish brown, marine or dusty blue) with elegant wall fixtures, shelves and railings that are both practical and decorative. 

Choose shelving that complements your chosen walls.

Choose fixtures in thin, restrained forms in metal or wood. A metal plank with a mirror would work well in a hallway and can store everyday essentials.

A monotone look can give a contemporary and stylish update to a space.

Velvet accents

One of the biggest trends in interior design is the use of velvet. This also applies to Scandinavian interiors, although it’s more subtle.

By using dark, elegant colours, brands like Bolia and Normann Copenhagen truly capture the elegance of Nordic design and make the material timeless.

A simple form, velvety Circus pouf by Simon Legold at Normann Copenhagen

The stylish material can also be seen in other furniture and fixtures, even in wall textures and paint. 

The important thing in using velvet is to keep it classy: choose furniture in classic forms and use dark, rich colours for the material, to avoid it looking tacky.

Vibrant textiles

Complement deep-hued walls with rich patterns and textures that tell a story. Exquisite cushions and wall hangings for example will bring life to, and complement, the elegance of dark walls. 

Stylish monotone pairings by Woud help tell a story. 

Finnish designer Klaus Haapaniemi’s intricate textiles are influenced by Finnish folklore, nature, and traditional decorative arts. These stories are beautifully woven into the luxurious hand-printed textiles, cushions, woven throws and handmade rugs.

Or take for example Finnish artist Kustaa Saksi’s collaboration with Marimekko Home, which features stunning underwater patterns on cushions, throws and ceramics—inspired by the artist’s love for scuba diving.

Vibrant colours and alluring textures bring creativity and wonder to interiors. This trend also creates warmth, coziness and the feeling of being in a safe space.

By striking a balance with simple, timeless forms and natural materials, it is easy to bring the spirit of new Nordic design into the home.

Give your room a colourful Nordic-inspired feel with Dulux Ambiance special effects paints. Choose from Linen, Marble, Metallic, Velvet or ColourMotion finishes.

#MyFutureWall is a Dulux Ambiance wall.


Angel Trinidad is the founder of Keen on Walls, a website featuring inspiring interiors, design and spaces. She is also the author of Scandinavia Dreaming: Nordic Homes, Interiors and Design, and co-author of Night Fever 5: Hospitality Design.

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