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The Most Inspiring Décor Ideas From Sweden

Picture of Judi Lembke
Updated: 6 June 2017
Sweden home décor—light, airy, natural—took much of its inspiration from Swedish artist Carl Larsson, who found his design inspiration from the light and weather of Sweden: long, dark winters with just a few hours of natural light meant it was necessary to find a way to bring light into the home. Things have evolved somewhat since then but that famous Scandinavian style—clean, modern, and light—remains the standard bearer.

Clean Lines

Every Swedish home begins with clean lines. Sofas, in particular, are very clean: no fussy flowers dancing across the fabric or ornately carved legs. Instead, choose a solid neutral color and simple, clean feet for your sofa—best in a natural wood. Side tables and coffee tables follow the same rules: clean, natural, and not too fussy, even when trends from other countries make a slight impact.

Swedish decor
Clean lines on your sofa | © Designmilk / Flickr

Woven Textiles

Textiles are from natural fibres, whether that’s the covering on your sofa or the pillow you’re using as an accent or the curtains hung from the windows. Simplicity combined with quality building blocks extends to the textiles you choose. This is a good thing to remember when buying old-fashioned throw rugs for halls—a traditional woven rag rug—always a great way to add color—should be of quality natural fibers.

Gray Walls

If the walls aren’t white they’re probably gray and that gray is mostly likely a dove gray. It’s the perfect backdrop for those clean lines you’re going to have running through your furniture. After that, it’s all about layering up the accents. One of the few times you’ll see this rule broken is in children’s rooms, where Swedish parents let their imaginations run wild.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons | © Emily May / Flickr

Bright-ish Accents

Accents in gentle executed primary colors running through throw pillows or blankets casually tossed over the back of a sofa are a great way to bring some color into a room, but don’t go too bright. Try a soft blue, a gentle red, or a bit of pattern, as long as it’s not too loud. Carpets, on the other hand, are often Persian-style, with intricate patterns. If they’re not Persian, they’re very modern, with blocks of color.

Swedish decor
British accents in a pure white kitchen | Courtesy of Miserv

White Kitchen

Clean, white, modern kitchens with wooden, marble, or granite countertops remain a favorite in Swedish home décor, often without any handles on the doors and very little kitchen equipment on display. Accents, such as flowers or a colorful bowl and perhaps a signed lithograph are often the only spot of color.

Monochrome Art

Swedes love good art and it’s rare you’ll enter a home that doesn’t have at least a few decent pieces on the wall. Monochrome has made a big comeback, either through very stylish photographs or through clean graphics. Get a few complimentary ones and line them up carefully for a clean look that will fit right in with the rest of the look.

Swedish decor
Courtesy of Miserv

Colourful Prints

If monochrome isn’t for you, go for colorful prints, preferably signed and numbered. Swedes love modern, contemporary art that adds a pop of color, so it’s not terribly difficult to find these sorts of pieces for relatively reasonable prices. Places like Bukowskis are where you’ll find quality and the chance to bid your budget.

Swedish decor
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons | Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Light Floors

White painted or bleached wooden floors help brighten rooms and give a fresh, clean look. Not always easy to keep clean, they’re still worth the effort as they go very well with the rest of the clean aesthetic of the rooms, particularly kitchens.

Lots of Candles

Again, it’s all about light, so Swedes are big on candles, lots and lots of candles. Big candles, small candles, loads of tea lights floating in a big bowl of water—anything that will bring lots of light into the room is very important. In fact, if you’re invited to a Swedish home for dinner, instead of flowers, bring a couple of scented candles. They’ll be lit immediately and your hosts will be delighted.

Swedish decor
Always light plenty of candles | ©Ullis / Flickr