Scandinavian is an interior style that seems to be on everyone’s agenda. However, it means a lot more than you may think. We speak to Copenhagen-born interior designer Cat Dal to find out how Scandinavian design should really be done. And having travelled the world and lived in East Asia for 13 years, she's an expert in taking the Scandinavian interior concept and making it look great anywhere - from Surrey to Singapore.
Read on to find out how you can bring a touch of true Scandinavian style to your home, without becoming cliché.
What’s one important design rule that anyone wanting to create a Scandi style interior should follow?
Function - it has to work! Whether you are designing a kitchen, bathroom or bedroom spend time really considering the way you use the space, and design it accordingly. Scandi design is smart design, so make sure your space is working hard for you to improve your daily life.
How should colours be used to emulate this design ethos?
In order to bounce around as much natural light as possible, Scandi homes generally favour a neutral colour scheme paired with natural materials. Explore different shades of monochrome. And imagine the colours of the sky and the beautiful tones from Mother Nature. This inspires Scandinavian indoor palettes. If you stick to organic colours from the dusty sky, greenery and sea you can’t go wrong.
Pictured: Cat Dal interior design for Jessica De Lotz jewellery Store.
What do Scandinavian interiors mean to you?
From personal experience, I believe Scandinavian design means ‘Hygge’. This is a term not directly translatable in the English language, but sort of means ‘cosy’ and nourishing to the soul. When I was a child my parents would say we are having Hygge time. We would light candles in the living room, drink hot chocolate and eat biscuits on a Sunday evening. This ideal is incorporated throughout the home, so that every room can have Hygge moments. It’s about celebrating the daily, simple things in life that make you feel good.
Why do you think that it’s so important to bring nature indoors?
Scandinavia is a very outdoorsy place. People love to hike, ski, bike and even swim all year round (trust me, I’ve seen little grannies go for a daily swim in the lake in December- often naked!)
There is a real emphasis on the importance of nature in your general health and wellbeing. Foliage can especially change the whole atmosphere and feel of a room into one that’s very calming and nurturing.
Pictured: Cat Dal interior design for Gianluca's Coffee Cult (in collaboration with Ardour Designs).
How do you feel the Scandinavian interior ethos is translated in the UK?
I believe the ‘care’ behind simple and natural design from Scandinavian countries is starting to become more apparent. During the recession the UK moved away from opulent, fussy design to stripped back and industrial New York looks, which is cool but can also be a little cold.
Without wanting to sound too cheesy I think the Scandinavian ethos is bringing the love into design. Simple, good craftsmanship and respect for nature seems to be influencing UK design.
What kind of dining table would you opt for, to create a Scandinavian look?
Socialising is a very big part of the culture. Having family and friends over for a dinner party means needing a large dinner table with a flexibility of seating. Low hanging pendants and lit candles are vital for creating the atmosphere, as well as a cosy glow.
Are there any “Scandi-interior” design misconceptions that you find annoying?
The idea that everything is just white! Yes, you can have a white room but for it to come alive and be warm and atmospheric, you need tons of textural layers, from floorboards to linen, plants, wall coverings, stone or sheepskin. It’s also a misconception that the palette always needs to be light... some of my favourite places in Denmark are dark and moody, with murky grey and green walls.
And how do you think lighting should be used to complement this? Why is lighting so important to a room?
Lighting is vital, it can completely transform a room. During the day I would say to get as much natural light as possible for general wellbeing. Use mirrors and reflective surfaces to bounce it around. It’s also common to keep windows free from treatments to allow for a connection to the outdoors, and to completely maximise natural day light. For the evening little pools of light at different heights create a cosy atmosphere.
If someone asked you for a clean and modern Scandinavian look in their dining room, but they didn’t know where to start, what would you tell them?
I would start by looking at your storage situation- remove all clutter and store unsightly items away. Invest in a well crafted wooden dinning table and gorgeous pendants to hang over head. I would also suggest a large textured rug under the table and then to hang a few black and white family pictures or great artwork. And, of course, invest in a beautiful plant or three.
What do you think makes a Scandinavian interior seem cliché?
I think the only danger of making it seem cliché would be by using too much wood - so suddenly your British home resembles a sauna. Consider the environment around you. Some of the Scandi concepts just might not work for you. For example, windows without any curtains look great in the country, but might not work so well in a crowded city. Also keep an eye out on new young Danish designers and you will be ahead of the crowd. Keep it simple and you can't go wrong.
My favourite room in the house is…My open plan Dining/Kitchen room
Bath or shower? Shower
The best home investment I ever made is… Copper Tom Dixon Lights, they give me so much joy.
If I weren’t an interior designer I’d be…a journalist perhaps
My most regrettable interior choice was… I once bought a sofa before sitting in it - it was awful!
Find out more about Cat Dal, here.
And if you're feeling inspired, make your own Hyyge moments at home with our stunning living room range.
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