Inspiration from Scandinavian Design
We often think of Scandinavian design in the very modern, IKEA-defined sense--all clean lines, blond wood, and white walls. But there's actually a world of beautiful color at work in these cold climates. People spend a lot of time indoors and have come up with ways to delight the eye and make their interiors (and sometimes exteriors) come to life. Lars Bolander's new book, Scandinavian Design, written by Heather Smith MacIsaac, takes an inspired look at homes in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, expertly defining the major themes and palettes that make this region's design so enticing. Lots of ideas for both interior and exterior paint, too!
Sure, there is pale wood, much of it painted in pale hues. It's a way to make the most of available daylight and also reflect candlelight in the evening. "In Sweden, there's the influence of Gustav III and Versailles--elegant and light. Soft dove grey and faint yellow. Just to keep the rooms bright--bouncing light around, even at night," says MacIsaac. "And 'paint it white' is a definite trick. But 'paint it gray' is also a nice departure--slightly more interesting and unexpected. Sweden, especially, has a palette of beautiful grays. You have to keep the gray pretty pale."
"Norway has this tradition of folk painting--they have such a raw environment, such a rough Winter--it's really rugged. The palette--the blues, reds, and yellows--have trickled down from folk pieces. A cobalt blue, golden yellow, and red. These are all biproducts of copper mining that made their way into everyday colors. They have to preserve the wood and a lot of these paints have protective qualities."
"Painted furniture--there is so much of it in these countries because they weren't always starting with fine woods, and pieces were often mismatched. It's really a nice look. It really does change the formality of furniture pieces--it makes them much friendlier. Especially something like a whole suite of furniture--it's a way to make it younger and fresher."
"The colors of old . . . they're colors, but they're greyed down. Even though they want to bounce the light around, they really rarely use gloss paint--more matte and pearl. The gloss is too hard, and this maintains a softness. Gloss is less forgiving for uneven surfaces, too. Whereas France is more fancy--and often uses shiny finishes--a matte finish is more humble."
"You can have a quiet color interior but still have great color surprises in store." While you won't necessarily find a riot of color in Scandinavian homes, there are often little moments like this tucked into cabinets, closets, ceilings, etc.
"The Scandinavians never try to compete with nature. You're not going to be distracted from the beauty of the outdoors. It's more of a quiet space. It's not about turning your back to the outside."
Definitely pick up a copy of this wonderful book and get inspired to try out some of the paint palettes you see inside. Bet you'll learn to appreciate color in a whole new way!