Modern, stark, discreet and casually minimalist. This, in a nutshell, give you a general idea of the latest Nordic living style. You may already be familiar with the Hygge trend, which has made a name for itself as a popular Scandi style free of flashy, gaudy colours and extravagant, eye-catching furnishings. It is a style that has long been embraced in Germany and elsewhere. Originating in Denmark, it quickly swept across Europe with its warm choice of natural materials and light-coloured woods, discreet lamps and accessories.
Joining the classic country-cottage style, the decorative modernist style or Art Déco, industrial style or colourful shabby chic, Hygge living is well established as one of the trendiest, most popular lifestyle choices. Lately, though, another interior decorating trend from the Nordics has found its way into many home-furnishing magazines, both print and online, and spread in the social media, most notably Pinterest and Instagram: As the latest interior design and lifestyle trend, the Swedish “Lagom” concept has met with keen interest, and joined the circle of life, home and interior decorating styles. So, what is it actually about?
For starters, the Swedish lifestyle, which covers anything from leisure options, work, travel, to day-to-day living and interior decoration, is pronounced “luh-gom.” The way of life that the term recommends focuses on just the right amount of everything. Striving for and implementing a healthy and sustainable work-life balance means to harmonize the various aspects and challenges of life. Lagom, “the Swedish lifestyle embodies a fundamental attitude that seeks to instil happiness by simple means. Think of it as a Nordic formula for everyday happiness,” as Brigitte, a German women’s magazine, described it. The philosophy from way up north does not suggest that you should generally make do without or less, but points to moderation, the golden mean: “not too much and not too little.”
In analogy to the Hygge trend, which also covers the social nature of people as well as their conviviality and bonding, the Lagom interior design style favours natural materials, bright earthy colours like white, grey or beige for walls or furniture. Lagom also signifies a sustainable, resource-conserving way of life. The home furnishings inspired by the concept are plain, elegant and subdued. It steers clear of gold and other showy colours favoured, for instance, by the French pre-war style of the Art Déco. A well-considered, simple cosiness is meant to spread elegance and sensuousness. Its purpose is to keep you grounded and true to your personal self. It remains up to you, the homeowner, how you approach a given part of your home in terms of a Lagom-inspired interior design. Whatever your choices are, they can be complemented by the selection of a certain colour palette that brings walls and furnishings into harmony with each other. Or you may simply exchange certain accessories or decorative elements with objects of more tranquil colours so as to accentuate the harmony within your own four walls.
The Lagom approach refrains from overdecorating the home while not leaving it too bare either. “When decorating your home, Lagom means to focus on objects that have an emotional significance. Swedes generally see to it that they keep a sufficient number of light sources about the house – light being a rare commodity during the long cold winters,” as Katharina Dippold wrote on welt.de, the online edition of a German daily. By cleverly distributing light sources throughout the flat, you can use lighting to accentuate things differently. To this end, you may use new ceiling lights, floor lamps, table lamps or candles that radiate cosiness in the uniform colour spectrum of the room they are in. Placing storm lamps on balconies and patios will create nice highlights, especially when summer turns into fall. To add some natural colour to a Lagom-style interior, you may simply bring in some pretty indoor plants.
If you feel like reading up on this Nordic way of life and finding out how to learn to focus on the main things in life, there are several publications on the subject we can recommend – available both as print and Kindle edition, and some as audio books: “Live Lagom: Balanced Living, the Swedish Way,” by Anna Brones, Ten Speed Press. “Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living” by Linnea Dunne, Gaia. “The Little Book of Lagom: How to Balance Your Life the Swedish Way,” by Jonny Jackson and Elias Larsen, Summersdale Publishers. And finally from the curator of an award-winning interior design blog: “Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life” by Niki Brantmark, Harper Collins.
But if you prefer to go exploring new furniture or accessories in the Lagom style on your own, there are countless home furnishing stores that stock just what you are looking for. And it need not be the all-too-familiar Nordic furniture place that has always appealed to young people with its stark no-nonsense designs. Wherever you go, you will quickly realise that the Nordic sense of home is here to stay.