Hygge (pronounced “hue-guh”) is a Scandinavian lifestyle that is, in a few words, serene, simple and cozy. That lifestyle is mirrored in the typical Scandinavian home with its earthy muted tones, natural materials and warm and cordial setting. The Scandinavian home is a place to slow down, embrace nature, make time for family and friends, and take pleasure in the soothing things that surround you—things such as muted colors, natural woods and fabrics and glowing lights.

Motif name: Leaves

Muted Colors

White walls are typical in Scandinavian homes. Those long, dark winters need all the brightness they can get! The walls also make a perfect backdrop for the clean and calming neutral color palette (e.g., light grays, tans, creams) used for furnishings. In that minimalist environment, soft, romantic pastels (e.g., crepe pink, aqua whisper, pale goldenrod) “pop.” Pillows, vases, wall art in pastel shades “glow” and can lend an ethereal quality without intruding upon the desired simplicity. Best of all, muted colors create a warm haven that welcomes and envelops guests.

Also, muted colors are beautiful complements to the natural woods used in Scandinavian homes.

Natural Woods

The Scandinavian appreciation for the great outdoors is evidenced by the untreated wood (most often beech, ash or white pine) used throughout the home, particularly for the floors and ceilings. The natural wood grain, unconcealed by stains or paint, is another inviting element. The light warm wood tones result in a room that is sunnier and brighter without using “loud” colors. It is also, as if by magic, a larger room.

Soften the wood floor with plush sheepskin, elegant mohair or, for a really fun look, a fringed wool rug that looks like a big scarf.

Use the wood ceiling to add shine to the room by installing copper or brass sconces or pendant lights. The metal glows against the wood, and there are spectacular reflections when you light the candles (more on that later).

Motif name: Still life No8
Motif name: Wilderness No7

Natural Fabrics

Natural fabrics add texture to the minimalist décor; texture creates visual interest and adds a tactile indulgence. (How the fabrics feel are as important as how they look.) In a Scandinavian home, texture also creates the comfy, cuddly, cozy aspects of hygge. Wool, camel hair or angora are warm and compelling for throw blankets and rugs. Make a cozy nook with layers of cushions, fluffy pillows, comforters—all those soft textures where you can curl up alone or entertain guests in the candlelight, sipping on glogg, nibbling on cheeses and crispbread, enwrapped in the harmonies of ABBA.

Don’t neglect the natural fabrics spun from plant fibers. Cotton keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Hemp lends a distinctive note as a tablecloth or bedspread. Linen, woven from flax, makes beautiful formal tablecloths and window treatments that allow natural light into a room.