How to decorate with a Scandinavian-inspired color palette – designer's tips for a calming, understated space

Home decor that feels balanced and calming is more appealing than ever before. With the fast-paced nature of the outside world, having a home that allows us to relax and recharge is important to so many of us. Scandinavian decor is one of the best interior aesthetics to embrace if you're seeking to cultivate such a home. Defined by a focus on form and functional design, Nordic design is unfussy and simplistic, celebrating quality craftmanship and longevity above all else. When it comes to choosing a color scheme for a Scandinavian decor scheme, decorating with neutrals takes precedence. Soothing neutrals and quiet hues reminiscent of the natural world are not only timeless but they're also known for aiding spaces in feeling calm.

What Colors Are Used In Scandinavian Decor?

Within the category of neutrals, there are endless color variations. For a Scandinavian-inspired color palette, it's all about neutral tones that are clean and slightly warm-toned, such as taupe, as well as classic whites. Interior designer Kathy Kuo explains: 'When I think of Scandinavian color palettes, I first think of clean neutrals that feel warm as well as crisp. Think sand, taupe, ivory, and cream – basically, if it makes you think of fresh timber, it's Scandi-approved.' But beyond these pared-back neutral tones, muted earthy colors can also be introduced to a Scandinavian color palette. This mainly includes subtle blues and greens which are inspired by the natural world.


Minimalist decor forms a key part of the Scandinavian home decor aesthetic, so it's important to keep this in mind when choosing furnishings. Furniture that has clean lines and soft furnishings that stick to neutral tones will work best in a room designed with a Scandinavian color palette, ensuring an uncluttered, clean look.


If you enjoy decorating with slightly more color than you would typically expect from a Scandinavian-inspired color palette, you can choose to incorporate bolder hues. With a considered approach, adding accents in richer variations of earth tones will allow you to create a more impactful look. This is demonstrated in the living room above designed by San Francisco-based ballonSTUDIO, which adds a statement forest green sofa to the neutral color scheme.


Central to decorating with a Scandinavian color palette is pairing neutral hues with plenty of natural materials. 'To add warmth, natural materials such as solid oak are commonly used in flooring ideas, wall cladding, and key furniture pieces,' explains Melissa Read.

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