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Design Inspiration: Sweden and Denmark

August 23, 2018

We're sharing some Scandinavian interior trends that are sure to catch on Stateside.

This past June I spent two wonderful weeks exploring Sweden and Denmark and was completely enamored with the culture, mindset and ambience of both Scandinavian countries.

I noticed many trends both during my travels that I expect we’ll be seeing state-side soon.

Right:; Left: Anthropologie

Rope, Twine and Cord

Rope, twine, and cord are all common in Danish and Swedish interiors. Living on a peninsula surrounded by the Baltic Sea, rope is a natural and textural element historically incorporated into everyday use on ships and docks. Today, it is found in all types of accessories ranging from floor lamps to end tables and ottomans, adding a bit of rustic charm to any room.

Left: Martin Solyst; Right: Beige Renegade

Whitewashed Walls, Floors and Detailed Trim

In both Denmark and Sweden, the simplicity and beauty of whitewashed floors and walls was abundant. So clean and crisp, the decorative woodwork and trim was almost always painted white – even on exteriors! I hardly saw a wall painted a color other than white, with nearly every room outfitted with intricately carved molding on the ceiling – a trend that lends a subtle sophistication and elegance to the otherwise minimalist design.

Top: Anitta Behrendt; Bottom: Vtwoenen

Upholstery with Large Arms and Small Legs

Thick, overstuffed arms paired with thin, spindly legs (usually made of metal) – an interesting juxtaposition most often seen on sofas and chairs. The lack of sectionals in this style, or sectionals at all, originally intrigued me; however, after recognizing room sizes are much smaller in Denmark and Sweden, I came to realize they have no need from such large-scale furniture.

Left: Lodgers; Right: Boheme Deluxe

Orchids in Windows

The windowsills in Sweden are exceptionally deep, leaving room for accessories or flowers and plants. It seemed as if every home, hotel, and building had at least one orchid in the window. Driven by my curiosity and the love to know the “why” behind things, I googled the Swedish national flower, thinking orchids would be ruled out due to climate alone.  While the orchid isn’t the national flower, in the middle of Sweden lies Jamtland which grows 20 native varieties of orchids due to the concentration of rich fen, making it one of the most important orchid regions in the world.  All of Sweden’s orchids are protected by law; you are not allowed to pick, dig up, or in any way remove or damage wild orchid plants. Nor can you collect or remove their seeds. The Swedes’ commitment to the preservation and conservation of nature is inspiring. I found the Danish take their flowers seriously as well – they do not have just one national flower but three: Marguerite Daisy, Red Clover, and Forget-Me-Knots.

Falun Red

The quintessential Swedish home is a red and white painted wooden cottage. Of the 700+ photos I took on my trip, over 40 photos included these red cottages – I fell in love with each and every one. The most intriguing part of these homes – they are all the EXACT same color red.  Known as Falun Red, the facades are painted with a copper-vitriol paint to prevent rotting. Why red? Originally every building, from the humblest of hut to the most extravagant of mansion, was designed of timber from Swedish forests, making Swedes consider wooden houses unattractive and un-original.  The Swedes wanted houses built of brick or stone, so they painted their homes red to look like brick or pale yellow to represent stone. With so many red homes, I wonder if anyone has mistakenly walked through the front door of their neighbors’ home instead of their own?

Susan Brunstrum
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