Design Dilemma: Beyond IKEA, Going for the Swedish Look
Nothing has done more to popularize the look of Swedish design than IKEA. The look has become so popular because it’s fresh and unpretentious.Â Like the Swedes themselves, the look is egalitarian and simple without severity. And guess what? You don’t need to visit IKEA to achieve something of the same Swedish spirit in your own home.Â Here’s what we noticed on a recent trip toÂ Sweden:
1.) White, white and more white. In Sweden, the sun lies low in the sky and onÂ winter days, the sun rises late and sets early. That means that Swedes are into maximizing light. Most Swedish homes have huge windows, and interiors almost always seem to be painted a bright white to reflect light and bounce it around to the maximum.
2.) Bare wood floors. In Sweden, wood is plentiful, and wood floors are a perfect choice because they are warm and welcoming, yet practical. Swedes revel in the beauty of the wood itself, using rugs only as small accents. Lots of snow and rain makes most carpeting impractical. Occasionally, Swedes will boost the light factor in their homes by painting wood floors white.
3.) White laminate kitchen cabinets. In keeping with all the white elsewhere in the home, Swedes choose high-gloss, white laminate cabinets that remain without cabinet pulls and handles that might otherwise disturb the utterly sleek look. The high-gloss look is often balanced by touches of wood on countertops or backsplashes.
4.)Blonde wood. It goes without saying that when you think Swedish, you think light-colored wood. Light wood keeps spaces serene and avoids the heavy feeling that dark woods bring. Blonde wood is often used in floors, but also in countertops and furniture elements as well.
5.) Bare windows. Swedes just don’t do curtains. If blinds or shades are used, they roll up tight, and out of sight.
6.) Just enough and nothing more. You won’t find Swedish homes jammed with furniture and knick-knacks. Swedes keep everything light and bright by opting for fewer pieces of cleaned-lined furniture than you might find in a typical American home. A good way to help achieve the Swedish look is by eliminating one more piece of furniture than you think you need. Similarly, the quantity of objectsÂ is always pared down — just enough to seem cozy, but not enough to seem cluttered.
7.) Grey and black as design accents. The traditional Swedish colors are blue and yellow, but modern design has moved into a starker, more graphic look that often incorporates grays and black as accents against a pure white interior.
8.) Nothing overstuffed. Swedes revel in sleek armchairs inspired by the design of the 50s. You won’t find the big bulky arm chairs and couches common in American households. Chairs are smaller, more design conscious and easily movable. Matching sets of chairs with couches are avoided in favor of a more free-wheeling, relaxed look. Even when the look is more cottage-y, the scale and girth of furniture is still on the slim side.
9.) Lots and lots of recessed lights. Swedish homes are filled with all sorts of lighting, including eye-catching, sculptural pendants. The backbone of lighting in a Swedish home, however, Â is always aÂ well-planned installation of recessed lights. Recessed light can provide cheery overall lighting on gloomy days but can be dimmed down to provide a cozier more romantic look.
10) Top of the line tile and fixtures in the bathroom. Swedes spend a lot of money for beautiful (but always sober) tiles and bathroom fixtures. The most popular looks of the moment are shades of gray, black and white in the bathroom.