Stylist's Guide: Scandinavian Minimalism on a budget

Louise Parker of Studio Gabrielle, an interior design & styling agency, investigates the growing trend for Scandinavian Minimalism, enlisting the insight of some experts in the field to discover whether it's possible to achieve the lux aesthetic on a budget...

Scandinavian style stands for simple, calm and pure expression. This makes it easy to grasp, very photogenic and ultimately, attainable for all. But is it affordable for all? Many might associate this look with designer brands and high price tags, but thankfully for those of us who strive style but are on a tight budget, both well-known and independent brands have adopted the trend in order to offer timeless design to the mass market.

In our stylist's guide, we have paired this with the fundamentals of minimalism to buy less, select better and invest in key pieces in order to live better. We talk simple forms and a 'less is more' outlook with a selection of bloggers and stylists who know a thing or two about Scandi Minimalism. Finally, we share some top buys to get the look at the end of the post.

Image: Abi Dare

Image: Abi Dare

Abi Dare, author of These Four Walls / @thesefourwalls

“One of the keys to achieving the minimalist Scandinavian look is choosing colours and window dressings which make the most of natural light - something which need not be expensive at all.

So, for example, try sheer white curtains rather than heavy drapes. And avoid cluttering your rooms with lots of throwaway accessories, which can make spaces feel cramped and constricting. Instead, invest in a few timeless designs that will last for decades to come. Scandinavian brands do these brilliantly and many of their most popular pieces were actually first developed back in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.

But most of all, focus on creating a comfortable space that you want to spend time in, with lots of texture and warmth. Scandinavian style is supposed to be welcoming and liveable rather than showy, so it lends itself surprisingly well to small budgets.”

Hannah Thinnesen Trickett, author of Hannah in the House / @han_house

“There’s a lot of thought and practicality that goes into creating a Scandinavian minimalist home. When planning my home, I start with a focus on the functionality of each room. There’s no point in creating a minimalist room that serves little function to you as it’s likely you’ll end up buying ‘things’ to compensate for the lack of practical design - creating clutter and foregoing the intended style.

I buy fewer items, choose well and invest in quality. Once I started to live by these standards I’ve become much happier at home. Balancing budget and style is always tricky when you have your eye on key designer pieces. It’s also a confusing message. Budget and designer don’t tend to go hand in hand. However these days it’s quite easy to create a particular style on a budget. Scandinavian minimalism doesn’t mean that the items you buy have to be expensive and designer. The idea is that you choose well. Saying that, if you buy fewer items, you should be able to afford a little more on what you do choose.

If I do buy low-end furniture, with the aim of it being ‘temporary’, it’s responsible to ensure the item can either be rehomed or recycled when it’s no longer needed. Also if you find cheaper items that you will cherish for a long time then that’s a win, it’s not all high-end design classics. My advice if you want to start collecting designer items, start small. I did so with my wine glasses from Iittala and plates from Menu.”

Caroline Birk Bahrenscheer, author of September Edit / @septemberedit:

“It is difficult for me to describe what I do to create Scandinavian minimalism, being a Scandinavian myself. I just do it without thinking.

But in my own interior, I focus on materials like linen, wood, stone and ceramic. I go for a subtle and calming colour scheme, pairing high street objects with more expensive investment pieces. I decorate my walls with minimalist drawings that I do myself and vintage artwork as I like having art that is not easily attainable.”

Carsten Nielsen, designer at Bycdesign studio / @bycdesignstudio:

“I love to create design that doesn’t cost a fortune, as I think everyone should be able to afford art/design on the walls of their homes. Today, there is a massive focus on how to create a harmonic home and that’s something we all put our effort and take great pride in. Creating a nice atmosphere and helping us to relax more.

I love modern art - as well as the mid-century lifestyle because it’s a timeless style that never gets boring. I have a big passion for Bauhaus as well as old Danish architects in furniture design. I love the geometric proverbs, not least the 60’s - when there was a great focus on geometric perspectives. My love of geometry makes me work a lot in the mid-century universe that I love.”

Evalotta & Elin, concept stylist at Sundling Kicken / @sundlingkicken:

“Choose one object that you really love the shape of and let it speak for itself. Put it on a clean surface, like your dining table, window sill or perhaps your living room sideboard. You can add one or two things to complement your favourite piece, just make sure that they don’t steal the show.”

Hege Morris - scandi minimalism on a budget

Hege Morris, author of Hege in France / @hegeinfrance

“To achieve a Scandinavian minimalist look on a budget, it’s important to invest in a couple of key pieces. Buy inexpensive items to compliment them. I’ve found nice items in the most unlikely places. Supermarkets, second-hand shops and markets are good places to find great things. I often use magazines in my styling. Photos from magazines are very effective and they don’t have to cost a fortune. Green plants are another favourite of mine. A couple of inexpensive plants can really change a room.

Good storage solutions are essential for any minimal home, so invest in some nice storage. My favourite at the moment is the IVAR cabinet in pine from Ikea. It’s inexpensive, but painted the same colour as the wall it looks amazing. Display key pieces and add budget finds for a nice minimal Scandi look."

Olivia Atkinson_A Stylists Guide Scandinavian Minimalism

Olivia Atkinson, stylist at Olivia Atkinson Design / @oliviaatkinsondesign:

“I’m always searching eBay for a bargain. Before buying an investment piece, I check online to see if there are any cheaper second-hand ones available. Thrift shops are also a great place to find items, one of my best finds recently was a HAY J77 chair.”

Image: Selina Lauck

Selina Lauck, author of Selina Lauck / @selina.lauck:

“For me, the theory is always ‘less is more’. I like the idea of designing, building or recreating my own furniture with a mix of designer pieces. There, you have a perfect combination of affordable and expensive investments.

I do a lot of searching for second-hand design classics because of their good quality they do not really age and sometimes you can get some pretty good deals.”

GET THE LOOK 

As these experts suggest, investment pieces with budget finds is the best way to create the look for less, so here are some shopping suggestions to get you started! 

Anik Mirror, €63 - 10119 Design / Arnold Circus Stool, £59 - Studio Martino Gamper / Small Glass Flower Pot, £10 - Arket / Atlas Lamp, £444 - KaiLinke / Bellvis Cushion, £25 - Urbanara / Betwa Candle Holder, £16 - Urbanara / Through by Gurilla - approx £69 - wedoart.fo / Viva Glass Teapot With Infuser 1.2l, £28 - Habitat / Drop Chair by Fritz Hansen, £249.90 (on sale) - Nest / Jessen 3 Seater Sofa, £1699 - Someday Designs, Drop Candle Holder by Ichendorf Milano, €18 - Analograum / Collar Vase 12cm Light Grey, approx £22 - Cooee Design

Anik Mirror, €63 - 10119 Design / Arnold Circus Stool, £59 - Studio Martino Gamper / Small Glass Flower Pot, £10 - Arket / Atlas Lamp, £444 - KaiLinke / Bellvis Cushion, £25 - Urbanara / Betwa Candle Holder, £16 - Urbanara / Through by Gurilla - approx £69 - wedoart.fo / Viva Glass Teapot With Infuser 1.2l, £28 - Habitat / Drop Chair by Fritz Hansen, £249.90 (on sale) - Nest / Jessen 3 Seater Sofa, £1699 - Someday Designs, Drop Candle Holder by Ichendorf Milano, €18 - Analograum / Collar Vase 12cm Light Grey, approx £22 - Cooee Design

Teapot 2/3 Cups by Ichendorf Milano, €29.50 - New Forms Design / NY11Bar Chair by Norr11, £215.20 (on sale) - Clippings / November #01, €87 - Aure Studio / Lux Velvet Floor Cushion in Navy Velvet, £69 - Made.com, Hubsch Terrazzo Mirror Round, £31.10 - Einrichten Design / Dipped Chromed Metal LED Desk Lamp, £24 (on sale) - Habitat / Candlestick Holder, £17 - Arket / Glass Jug by Eva Trio, £26.50 - Connox / Silver Mirrored Cube, £40 - Urban Outfitters, Terrazzo Plate Round,- from €20  Analograum, Plate Glazed Porcelain, €22.50 - Tine K Home, Push Coffee Maker by Muuto, £78.32 (on sale) - Nest

Teapot 2/3 Cups by Ichendorf Milano, €29.50 - New Forms Design / NY11Bar Chair by Norr11, £215.20 (on sale) - Clippings / November #01, €87 - Aure Studio / Lux Velvet Floor Cushion in Navy Velvet, £69 - Made.com, Hubsch Terrazzo Mirror Round, £31.10 - Einrichten Design / Dipped Chromed Metal LED Desk Lamp, £24 (on sale) - Habitat / Candlestick Holder, £17 - Arket / Glass Jug by Eva Trio, £26.50 - Connox / Silver Mirrored Cube, £40 - Urban Outfitters, Terrazzo Plate Round,- from €20  Analograum, Plate Glazed Porcelain, €22.50 - Tine K Home, Push Coffee Maker by Muuto, £78.32 (on sale) - Nest

Bell Lamp in Sand by Normann Copenhagen,£164 (on sale) - Made in Design / Jobu Oven Mitt, $60 - Ode to Things, Orb Leather Dining Chair, £319 (on sale) - West Elm, Sarpaneva Cast Iron Pot, £185 - Iittala, Robin Chair, £249 for two - Swoon Editions, Bonbonniere 12cm Black, approx £18 - Cooee Design, Nordic Kitchen Teapot by Eva Solo,£45 - Made in Design / Urban Garden Dishwash 500ml by Meraki, £13 - Design Vintage / Large Vintage Dough Bowl, £85 - Design Vintage, Simple Sand Ceramic Teapot by Bloomingville, £16 - Trouva / Bedside Carafe, $190 - Anna Karlin, Lavitta Chair by Poiat, £371 - Finnish Design Shop

Bell Lamp in Sand by Normann Copenhagen,£164 (on sale) - Made in Design / Jobu Oven Mitt, $60 - Ode to Things, Orb Leather Dining Chair, £319 (on sale) - West Elm, Sarpaneva Cast Iron Pot, £185 - Iittala, Robin Chair, £249 for two - Swoon Editions, Bonbonniere 12cm Black, approx £18 - Cooee Design, Nordic Kitchen Teapot by Eva Solo,£45 - Made in Design / Urban Garden Dishwash 500ml by Meraki, £13 - Design Vintage / Large Vintage Dough Bowl, £85 - Design Vintage, Simple Sand Ceramic Teapot by Bloomingville, £16 - Trouva / Bedside Carafe, $190 - Anna Karlin, Lavitta Chair by Poiat, £371 - Finnish Design Shop

Aida Kitchen Stool, £59 - Swoon Editions, Glass For Champagne, €13.75 - Tine K Home, Organic Bergamot Juniper Shampoo, £12 -Austin Austin, Nomad Chair by We Do Wood, £645 - LOVEThESIGN / Pan/Vegetable Brush by Iris Hantverk, £18 - Trouva / Bardane Clear carafe 1L, £10.50 (on sale) - Habitat, K Lamp in Earthenware, £220 - Vitamin, Vilnia Rug in Sand by Jurate,€99 - Eporta / Ivory Ceramic Small Bowl by House Doctor, £6.95 - Trouva / Aalto Vase Savoy Clear 95mm by Iittala, £48 - Connox / Avery Bistro Table, £90 (on sale) - Urban Outfitters, Tray Circle in Sand, approx £38 - Cooee Design

Aida Kitchen Stool, £59 - Swoon Editions, Glass For Champagne, €13.75 - Tine K Home, Organic Bergamot Juniper Shampoo, £12 -Austin Austin, Nomad Chair by We Do Wood, £645 - LOVEThESIGN / Pan/Vegetable Brush by Iris Hantverk, £18 - Trouva / Bardane Clear carafe 1L, £10.50 (on sale) - Habitat, K Lamp in Earthenware, £220 - Vitamin, Vilnia Rug in Sand by Jurate,€99 - Eporta / Ivory Ceramic Small Bowl by House Doctor, £6.95 - Trouva / Aalto Vase Savoy Clear 95mm by Iittala, £48 - Connox / Avery Bistro Table, £90 (on sale) - Urban Outfitters, Tray Circle in Sand, approx £38 - Cooee Design

Extra Large Jar Vase, £19 - Arket, TR Bulb Table Lamp/Wall Light by Menu, £203.15 - Utility Design / Twisted White Candles, €21.25 for 12 - Tine K Home, Burnt Orange Woven Cotton Rug by Bloomingville, £55 - Trouva / Monroe Mid-Century Sofa in Feather Grey, £1399 - West Elm, Enamel Coffee Kettle by Hario, £49 - Arket /  Aztec Textile Cushion With Tassles by HK Living, €49.95 - OrangeHaus / Simple Sand Ceramic Teacup by Bloomingville, Single Thermal Double Wall 240 Ml Glass, £9 - T&SHOP.

Extra Large Jar Vase, £19 - Arket, TR Bulb Table Lamp/Wall Light by Menu, £203.15 - Utility Design / Twisted White Candles, €21.25 for 12 - Tine K Home, Burnt Orange Woven Cotton Rug by Bloomingville, £55 - Trouva / Monroe Mid-Century Sofa in Feather Grey, £1399 - West Elm, Enamel Coffee Kettle by Hario, £49 - Arket /  Aztec Textile Cushion With Tassles by HK Living, €49.95 - OrangeHaus / Simple Sand Ceramic Teacup by Bloomingville, Single Thermal Double Wall 240 Ml Glass, £9 - T&SHOP.

Complied and written by Louise Parker - Studio Gabrielle / @studiogabrielleuk

Stylists guide to Scandi Minimalism on a budget