What Are the Defining Features of Scandinavian Architecture?

Posted On Wednesday, 20 October 2021 20:19

Scandinavian architecture and home aesthetics are popular design choices for many homeowners. If you’re building a custom home, you may also have the option to build your home from the ground up with Scandinavian design principles in mind. A local residential architecture firm can assist you with everything from planning to building your dream home with these designs.

When it comes to Scandinavian and Nordic design principles, many people immediately think of furniture brands such as IKEA and Scandinavian Design. However, there are plenty of ways to integrate Scandinavian-style designs into your home that extend far beyond simple furniture pieces and interior design companies. 

Home exteriors in Sweden and Norway have many unique defining characteristics that separate them from other European architecture. The environment and weather are significant influences on the practical reasons for this style. In addition, countries such as Finland and Iceland that aren’t technically in Scandinavia are often sources for similar architectural inspiration when building a custom home. Here are a few basic principles associated with Scandinavian design that you might want to be familiar with when planning your custom home or remodeling project. 

Simple Colors and Finishes

Nordic and Scandinavian design typically utilizes a natural color palette for both the interior and exterior of the home. These colors are often muted and light without being particularly bright. White, lighter blues and grey are popular choices for kitchens and living spaces. Light wood colors and finishes are popular for floors, finishes, and exterior paneling. You should keep darker colors to a minimum throughout the space and exclude bright reds and yellows. Green serves as a natural color accent, particularly when set alongside wood surfaces, floors, and furniture pieces. However, this color rarely forms the basis for any larger design pieces. 

Natural Light

Homes in Nordic countries are situated in areas where cloudy weather, rain, and snow are common. In addition, the Northern latitude of these locations often means that daylight is limited, particularly during the winter months. In some parts of Norway for example, the sun does not rise during the Yule and Winter Solstice season. Many home designs feature large windows and skylights that let in significantly more natural light than most architectural designs in response to these conditions. 

The natural colors and finishes that are a part of the home’s interior design are often meant to accompany this natural light. Floor-to-ceiling windows with a minimalist frame are common throughout the home, particularly if it’s situated on a more spacious lot or in a remote location. If you’re designing a custom home in a location that’s in close proximity to your neighbors, you may need to rely on ceiling windows and skylights for this natural light. 

Energy Efficiency

Many homes situated in Norway, Sweden, and Finland have a higher energy efficiency than the average American home. They also often utilize renewable energy sources whenever possible, with the exception of solar panels. Homes in Iceland, for example, often use geothermal technology for all heating and cooling systems. A true Nordic home capitalizes on energy efficiency whenever possible, and as a result, the homeowner will often save money when paying their utility bills for the month. 

Plants and Greenery

Plants and other greenery often serve as a focal point for rooms utilizing a Scandinavian interior design. They are also effective centerpieces for tables and other furniture pieces that feature a minimalist design. Plants essentially serve as design accents that still maintain the natural appearance of the Scandinavian color palette. They pair best with white and light wood countertops, floors, or walls. Even a well-designed fake plant often creates the desired design effect and keeps the space looking airy and light.

Exteriors That Manage Poor Weather Conditions

It’s no secret that the weather is cold throughout the year in most Nordic countries. Many homes in these countries are designed with this weather in mind, with exterior features that help mitigate the effects of snow, rain, and darkness. Slanted roofs are common, with one side of the roof featuring a more gradual slant to allow for additional windows. Exterior surfaces are often a light wood color and have siding that isn’t immediately visible from a distance. Windows up to the peak of the roof are common features of all Nordic home exteriors but aren’t always a necessity for maintaining a practical and clean design. 

Minimalist Design

The most important defining characteristic of modern Scandinavian and Nordic design is a minimalist design for both the interior and exterior of the home. There should be plenty of open space within the home to keep the entire room airy and light. In addition, wall hangings should only cover the room’s main focal points rather than the entire wall. The larger windows often associated with Scandinavian architecture assist with compensating for keeping the walls relatively clear. 

Exposed white or light-colored wood is also another popular choice for the Scandinavian interior. This design, particularly up and around a sloping ceiling, helps to keep the space comfortable and cozy. There is a striking absence of carpeting in almost all Nordic homes, particularly compared with American homes. Wood or laminate panel floors paired with a few tasteful rugs are the most popular choice to ensure the house doesn’t feel cold. Simple colors and textures go a long way within these spaces. This form of interior design aims to allow the room to feel fully occupied while using as few furniture items as possible. 

Minimalist design is also essential for the outside of the Scandinavian-style home. The only prominent features should be the windows and the roof. Because many Nordic homes utilize large windows to let in more light, they often serve as the home’s exterior centerpieces alongside the sides and front. Most of the time, porches and patios are borderless and are otherwise smaller than they would be for most American homes. 

Conclusion-- What Are the Defining Features of Scandinavian Architecture?

Natural light, simple colors, and modern exteriors often differentiate a home that utilizes Scandinavian design principles. Above all else, the interior and exterior of the home should feature a light minimalist design. If you’re interested in building a custom home with these design features in mind, contact a residential architecture firm to discuss creating the perfect Scandinavian-style home for you and your family. 

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