Carl Larsson (1853-1919), Swedish artist, is generally credited with popularizing the Swedish style of decorating. The style is also heavily influenced by the light and weather of Scandinavia. Long dreary winters with early dusk and a lack of natural light necessitated combined to create a need to bring the lightness indoors.
Anything pale, light, airy, and lustrous is popular with Swedish style decors. Since pale walls, floors, and furnishings reflect the natural light, interiors decorated with this style are cheerful, calm, and even warm even on the darkest winter days.
Read about some of the specific details that combine in homes decorated in the Swedish style.
- Walls, floors, accessories, and furniture are painted or stained in pale tones of white, cream, soft yellow, pale pink, soft green, and dove gray. These surfaces are accented with gold and red.
- After white, blue is the color most often used in Swedish style interiors. The tone reflects or emits the feeling of a clear, fresh day and coordinates easily with the other colors of the Swedish color palette.
- Against the clean white ground, accents of red look fun and bold in Swedish interiors. The color is found in wallpaper, fabrics, stripes, and floral prints.
- Straight lines and gentle curves combine in Swedish style furniture. Legs on case goods are delicate and tapered at the floor.
- Simple light-stained wood or padded headboards are common on beds in Swedish style interiors. Canopy beds are popular and use yards of white fabric mounted on a coronet or hanging from poles or rings on the ceiling. It's common to find a bed tucked into a small cove and trundle beds and day beds are often seen.
- Extra seating is provided by benches of simple, delicate design. Padded cushions and bolsters soften the look.
- Wooden frames and delicate, carved legs are found on a typical Swedish style sofa. Upholstery is simple on seat cushions and back pillows.
- Light colored hard and soft woods are used for case goods and flooring. Birch, white pine, beech, and alder are readily available and common. Woods are often bleached or painted or stained with white or pale paints.
- Most wooden furniture is painted in white, cream, soft gray and other delicate, light colors. Stencils are added for color.
- Fluted, delicate legs, carved table borders and mirrors, and beaded edging are common on furniture.
- Simple woven, textured white fabrics of linen or cotton are common. Textures, stripes, checks, and plaids add more color.
- Patterns used in Swedish decorating are usually color on a white ground. Small floral prints have lots of white ground, too. Stripes, checks, and plaids are almost always white and one other color.
See more about Swedish Design.
Learn more about decorating styles in our Decorating Styles Guide.