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30 July 2014
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Scandinavian bedroom

Scandinavian country (17th to late 19th century)

The Scandanavian country style suits the Nordic climate. Interiors let in as much light as possible during long, dark winters, while readily-available wood is used for warmth.

Red and white gingham

You can mix both looks in one room if you're careful; a streamlined sofa can sit comfortably alongside a gingham check curtain. Look at the room sets next time you go to IKEA and see how it's done.


  • rustic, farmhouse, peasant
  • light, bright whitewashed rooms
  • simple painted furniture with folk art stencils
  • bleached wood floors
  • unfussy window treatments


  • Swedish folk art - rose painting and floral motifs and the Norwegian equivalent called rosemaling
  • Carl Larsson
  • the English arts and crafts movement

The names

  • Carl Larsson - a Swedish artist known for his watercolours depicting rural family life. The pictures showing him and his family in their home published in the book Ett Hem (A Home) became hugely popular in the late 1880s. His wife Karin was instrumental in designing their home with textiles and furniture.
  • The style was seen as radically different as it marked a departure from the typical nineteenth century Victorian style of dark rich colours, drapes and clutter.

At the time

  • 1876 Telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell
  • 1898 Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw
  • 1889 Eiffel Tower was completed
  • Paul Cezanne and Edgar Degas were the painters of the time
  • Gilbert and Sullivan were popular in Europe

Scandinavian stencil, fabric pieces, day bed and chairs

Get the look

  • Flooring - floors should be bare floorboards. The wider the planks the better. Choose roughly chopped boards for that peasant look. You could paint them off-white with a whitewash, or use a lye treatment, where lye is applied to the floorboards to draw out the yellow of the pine, and then is oiled to a milky white finish.
  • Patchwork - add striped or rag rugs and patchwork quilts for the beds.
  • Furniture - paint wooden furniture in faded primary colours. Add simple stencils in contrasting colours of hearts and roses. Make seat pads out of checked fabric.
  • Beds - furniture shapes should be plain and simple. Cot beds and day beds are typical.
  • Walls - walls should be plain white and preferably of bare plaster or painted tongue and groove.
  • Fabrics - choose small gingham checks, sprigged florals in bright colours.
  • Curtains - hang plain muslin instead of curtains or hang simple curtains from a wooden curtain pole.
  • Lighting - choose plain wall sconces in tin, brass or dull gold.

What to invest in

  • Surviving objects are rare in this country

Where to see it

  • Carl Larsson's house Lilla Hynttnas in Sundborn, Sweden is open to the public

Further reading

  • Creators of Swedish Style by Carl & Karin Larsson (V&A Publications)
  • Scandinavian Painted Decor by Jocasta Innes (Cassell)
  • New Swedish Style by Sasha Waddell (Conran Octopus)
  • Essential Scandinavian Style by Rosalind Burdett (Ward Lock)

Image copyright:
Main room image, fabric samples and day bed images courtesy of

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