Scandinavian interior design style has made waves in North America the past decade or so for its calming blend of soft hues, clean and modern lines, and functional yet cozy additions that make each space somewhere you actually want to settle in and spend some time enjoying.
While Scandinavian-inspired decor can easily be translated for any room in the house, Scandinavian-inspired dining rooms are a great place to start—especially if you’re looking for a fail-safe way to foster a cozier feeling at home. The dining room should be a gathering space for catching up with loved ones at home after a long day or hosting friends and family for long, lazy dinner parties or cocktails.
Whether you’re hoping to breathe some new life into your neglected dining space, carve out a little spot that’s dedicated to slowing down and enjoying a good meal, or you’re just looking for some minimalist decor ideas to help make your dining room a more functional and practical spot in the house, we spoke to a handful of Nordic experts to get their insights on exactly how to create a more Scandinavian feel to your space.
From monochromatic dining spaces that’ll offer a refuge throughout the cool winter months to cozy dining rooms that’ll help show off your personality without erring on the side of busy or kitsch, here’s what you need to know if you’re hoping to add Scandinavian flair to your space.
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“Scandinavian dining rooms are very minimalistic and it's super easy to achieve the look,” says Benjamin Stensen, Owner and Interior Designer at The Norsemen Home Remodeling. “Use simple monochromatic colors to pull off this design.” Neutral tones such as white, grey, black, and beige are ideal—but you’ll want to ensure that you err on the side of bright in order to make your dining space feel spacious and minimal, no matter what size you’re working with.Continue to 2 of 15 below.
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Open Up Your Windows
Large windows that allow sufficient natural lights to seep in are also a great option to achieve this type of space, says Stensen. If you don’t have overly large windows in your dining room, you can always fake the look by removing unnecessary curtains and adding mirrors to reflect the light you do get.Continue to 3 of 15 below.
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Avoid Oversized Furniture When Possible
“Do not overstuff the room with bulky furniture as it will completely ruin the look,” says Stensen. “ Make sure to use modern, light and chic decor—and allow each piece to have enough room to breathe.”Continue to 4 of 15 below.
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If you want to add a pop of color, a small potted plant, or a corner plant would suffice, says Stensen. “Not only will a small plant bring more personality to the space, but a hint of the outside aura will also feel calming,” he explains.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
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Find Whimsy in the Natural
Finding whimsy in natural items—like wreaths or animal-inspired decorative pieces—can offer a sense of playfulness and joy without being overly kitsch. You should also consider adding candles (whether real or artificial) to help foster a sense of warmth.Continue to 6 of 15 below.
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Simple and Uncomplicated Woods
“Consider combining light and medium brown colors in your wooden furniture,” suggests Robert Johnson, Founder of Sawinery. “The dining area should be warm and inviting, with diverse oak or other wooden chairs, a big table, dry flowers, and tasteful artwork.”Continue to 7 of 15 below.
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Channel Functional Ruggedness
“The dining area should also feel pleasant and energetic,” says Johnson. “The extremely distinctive Scandinavian design can be enhanced by brown and white family photos and other playful elements like a braided light cover or other organic shaped functional items.”Continue to 8 of 15 below.
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Invest in Comfy Seating
Scandinavian dining rooms should evoke a sense of comfort and relaxation—and if you intend to use your space for long, drawn-out and lazy dinners, you’ll want to ensure your dining room chairs are as comfortable as possible. Minimal wishbone-style chairs and cane-back chairs are a great option if you’re looking for something minimal but comfortable.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
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"Bookcases packed with your favorite cookbooks or specialty plates are the perfect way to subtly display (or hide) your dining room's personality,” says Johnson. The dining room is one of the most overlooked spots in terms of mixing decor and personal items—but ensuring your space has a distinct personality that suits your lifestyle is key to adopting the cozy Scandinavian-inspired principles.Continue to 10 of 15 below.
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Consider a Clean White Space
“Keep it lagom and leave lots of room for your details to breathe without being overtaken by extra details,” suggests Karl Andersson, Swedish native and founder of Nordic Perspective. “Make sure there’s a good amount of empty white space on walls to promote a sense of minimalism.”Continue to 11 of 15 below.
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“Bright natural materials in tables, chairs, or floors can break the bright white we often see on the walls and ceilings of Scandinavian rooms,” says Andersson. Consider opting for light wood or even colored glass to add a subtle pop of color without moving away from neutral territory.Continue to 12 of 15 below.
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Practical and Easy-to-Clean Spaces
“Practicality is a key part of any Scandi dining area, which includes smart storage solutions surrounding the dining room table,” explains Andersson. “Your surfaces also need to be easy to clean and maintain—you’ll thank yourself later.”Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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Scaled Back and Minimal
“Scandinavian minimalism isn’t necessarily as little as possible, but again closer to the Swedish concept of lagom; not too much, not too little. Just the right amount!” says Andersson. This doesn’t mean that you can’t put out a lovely tablescape for your guests—but keep in mind that less is more.Continue to 14 of 15 below.
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Contrasting Black Details
Black materials on things like picture frames, and lamps bring balance to the otherwise very bright Scandinavian style, says Andersson. “Black and white art is a perfect way to introduce interesting black details,” he suggests.Continue to 15 of 15 below.
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Avoid Clutter When Possible
“As far as things to avoid, I’d say that Scandinavian dining rooms are usually never busy or cluttered, and don’t include much artificial materials such as plastic or vinyl either,” explains Andersson. This means keep your small kitchen utensils, extra napkins and place settings, and other storage out of sight.