When interior design blogger Niki Brantmark swapped her native London for Sweden, she fell in love with the country’s understated style. Here she talks us through the essentials of Scandi design.
Perhaps we have to thank the arrival of Swedish flatpack furniture giants IKEA in the UK in 1987 for bringing Scandinavian style into the mainstream. Yet there’s far more to this supremely popular design movement than the ubiquitous Billy bookcase or Lack coffee table.
Characterised by clean lines, simple shapes and functional pieces, the Scandinavian design movement – which emerged in the 1950s – is still huge news in interiors, and its understated elegance has found its way into all corners of the home. Design classics such as Arne Jaconbsen’s egg chair have now become familiar and much-loved pieces, while a new generation of Scandinavian designers, including Note Design Studio and Anderssen and Voll, are coming to the fore.
Interiors blogger Niki Brantmark of My Scandinavian Home explains how to sum up Scandi style and why this design aesthetic continues to enjoy such popularity in the UK and beyond…
What are the guiding principles of Scandinavian interior design? Combining form with function. The majority of items found in a Scandi home are aesthetically beautiful (in a minimalist way) and also have a sense of purpose.
What is it about the Scandi look that has become so popular? My personal reflection is that de-cluttering the home and going back to basics has become more and more popular all over the world as people look towards a simpler life and the possibility to ‘switch off’. The Scandinavians are masters of this!
What key items would introduce a Scandi flavour to a home? A Thonet chair (thonet.com.au); the Wishbone Chair designed by Hans J. Wegner (carlhansen.com); a Vintage Beni Ouarain or Boucherouite rug from Beldi Rugs (beldirugs. com); a black zig-zag floor lamp from Made In Design (madeindesign.co.uk), A Gotland sheepskin rug by Trill Farm (trillfarm.co.uk), the CB8011 light by House Doctor DK (en. housedoctor.dk) and the Skultuna gold candle votives from Gramercy & Co.(gramercyandco.com).
What colours sum up typical Scandi interiors right now? Last year I would have said black and white was the predominant theme, however the trend is moving towards white with a softer dark grey, dark blue or earthy green accent.
Can you describe a typical day in the life of an interior design blogger? After the school run at 8am (my girls are 5 and 7) I pour myself a coffee (I have come accustomed to the Swedish super-strength variety!) and sit and write the day’s blog post for myscandinavianhome.com. It takes several hours and I always aim to publish by 11am so people can enjoy it on their morning coffee break. I then work with my social media sites for a while, replying to comments, sharing content and so on. I round off the morning replying to emails – right now I’m inundated due to the launch of my book Modern Pastoral. In the afternoon I might do a press interview, some photography and styling for blog content and sponsors or research for the next day’s post. I really love what I do, my day always flies by!
What are your favourite homewear shops? I have so many favourites! Etsy for vintage and industrial items, linen bedding and sheepskin throws and eBay for second hand items – I love all the small independent shops and try to support them as much as possible. Nest.co.uk and Houseology are great for coveted Scandinavian pieces and Beldi Rugs for beautiful floor coverings and I also love high-street shops such as H&M home, IKEA (of course!) and Anthropologie.
Can you describe your favourite room in your house? A few years ago my husband and I decided to turn the entire top floor of our three-floor house into our bedroom. It has a big sloping ceiling, floor to ceiling windows and a balcony, and I’ll often tiptoe up there for a quick read in the calm, light-filled space… until my little girls notice I’m missing and come to find me!
If you could save just one item from your house in a fire, what would it be? I’d grab the laptop used to store all our family photographs – I take thousands! Failing that I’d probably wheel out our midcentury drinks trolley we were given as a present from my parents-in-law – it’s one of my favourite pieces. Even better if it still had drinks on it, I think I would need one by that stage!
How do you sum up your interiors style? Fairly minimalistic with a relaxed, bohemian touch. Colour-wise our home is decorated in monochrome with pastel accents. I just painted a wall in the guest bedroom rose quartz – the Pantone colour of the year – and I love it!
As a former Londoner living in Sweden, are there any quintessentially English design elements that you miss? In Sweden they never have wall-to-wall carpets. I really miss stepping out of bed onto a lovely, cosy, warm carpet, but my Swedish husband’s not having any of it!
Modern Pastoral by Niki Brantmark, published by CICO Books (£19.99)
Call 01256 302699 and quote GL8 to purchase a copy of Modern Pastoral at the special price of £14.99 including free p&p.
Photography by James Gardiner © CICO Books