How to Design a Scandinavian Kitchen

Making the kitchen a long-lasting, cozy, and practical area is the main goal of current renovation trends. Something that will blend elegance, usefulness, and simplicity. European design patterns, which offer this combination and even better practicality, are still at the forefront of kitchen ideas and trends. One such design aesthetic that is steadily gaining more and more attraction among others is Scandinavian kitchen design.

What is a Scandinavian design kitchen? 

Developed from the interior traditions of Nordic nations including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, the Scandinavian kitchen style dates back to the middle of the 20th century. The name became widely used and the design itself started to become well-known worldwide in the 1950s.

Scandinavian design kitchen is frequently linked to hügge or the "art of happiness." The term itself connotes happiness and well-being, which served as the inspiration for this kitchen. The foundation of this philosophy is laid in the purposefulness of this design, — to equip the space with comfort and coziness — thus fulfilling the existing concept.

Styles such as these are not defined by garish colors or an abundance of accessories that detract from the overall impression of space rather than adding to it. The goal of Scandinavian kitchen design is to fully embrace who you are without going overboard.

Main features of Scandinavian kitchen design

Calm and light hues are the main characteristics of the Scandinavian kitchen style. White may come to mind right away, but not always. You can use cream, milk, vanilla, ivory, or eggshell instead of pure white. Pastel hues are usually a good way to add diversity to the palette, but deeper colors are best used as standalone accents.

The greatest option for furniture is wooden cabinets. One of the most classic components that fits very well with the modern classics is this one. Additionally, wood will contrast stylishly with the kitchen's pastel color scheme.

You cannot cut corners when it comes to lighting because Scandinavian kitchen designs love light. Typically, a single center chandelier won't be sufficient; more lighting is needed for each work area, and accent lamps will.

What makes it special among other designs? 

The main characteristic of traditional Scandinavian kitchen design is minimalism in terms of both cabinet organization and aesthetics. When selecting the ideal design, clients are drawn to elements that are both simple and easily accessible. There is never any space for superfluous items in this kitchen because everything is a part of the larger vision. In this kind of space, everything has a place and a purpose, which is crucial to uphold. 

At Corner, we use this principle, and at the design stage, our specialists think about what each cabinet will look like inside. We also provide professional advice, helping to determine what the cabinet will be used for, what functionality or organizers are needed there, and whether it will be plate holders or a magic corner so that customers can use the hard-to-reach part of the corner cabinet.

That does not, however, obligate you to leave your kitchen immaculate. This is where you may allow your imagination to flow. The appropriate accents and decor will be added by the accessories, giving the room a new lease on life. In this way, the kitchen will radiate natural beauty in addition to the light sources.

Different organizers inside kitchen cabinets.

Main elements of Scandinavian kitchen design 

Scandinavian design kitchens are notable because they can be recognized due to their distinctive and unique features. Combining tradition and modernity, this style will remain relevant for a long time to come, also due to its consistency. Here are the key elements of Scandinavian kitchen design.

Natural materials

Scandinavian design kitchens incorporate a lot of natural elements, including wood in particular. It infuses the kitchen with the warmth and friendliness associated with Scandinavian kitchen ideas, giving it a feeling of vitality and homeliness. Wood will transform every space, including the flooring and kitchen cabinets, into a work of art that you can enjoy in your own house.

The most prevalent wood species are oak, walnut, beech, or ash. Because of its resilience to rot and water, oak is regarded as a classic and is typically selected in light hues. Because it can rival oak in durability and strength, walnut is a popular material for darker designs. The fact that the wood improves the kitchen's overall appearance and offers a feeling of authenticity and connection to nature is still what matters most. Our website features collections of kitchens where wood plays a major role in the design, and you can see how versatile it can look.

A kitchen corner with a kitchen island on the right, base and wall cabinets in the background and a pantry on the left.

Flat panel cabinets 

The storage organization is the primary area where the Scandinavian kitchen style is significant in all its design aspects. It will be essential to the kitchen's convenience and overall functioning.

Flat panel cabinets will be the best option. They offer a modern, sleek look that incidentally suits the minimalist aesthetic and simplicity of the style. This type of cabinet is usually less expensive than raised panel options due to the simple design, making them ideal for those on a budget. Flat panels also require much less maintenance, as they don't have crevices and grooves where dirt and grime can linger. In addition, flat panel cabinet doors take up less space and highlight the exquisite lightness of the kitchen. Among our kitchen design collections, there are options with similar cabinets that will surely catch your attention and interest, so we invite you to take a look.

Beige base cabinets with framed doors and beige wall cabinets with open shelf.

Neutral color palette 

Scandinavian kitchen design uses white so frequently that it can be seen as a defining element of the whole scheme, which isn't accurate. Neutrality and mutedness are key components of this style's color scheme.

You shouldn't be constrained to the color white and its tints. The Scandinavian kitchen will look lovely with soft pink and blue hues. These hues foster a feeling of peace and tranquillity in addition to maximizing natural light. A light grassy green will transform the space into a natural living space when paired with wooden cabinetry or flooring, which you can see in our Rebel Kitchen collection. Dark or black colors can be used to help to balance the palette and prevent monotony across the kitchen as best illustrated by our Loft Dark Oak kitchen design.

The primary goal of the color scheme in the Scandinavian design kitchen is the same as that of the entire design: to infuse your house with a feeling of harmony and tranquility. Therefore, choose the hues that will lift your spirits.

Open shelving 

This is a common feature of Scandinavian design kitchens that lets you showcase your favorite glassware, plates, and other household things along with ornamental pieces that will ultimately adorn your kitchen. Even though it sounds cliche, these shelves open up your kitchen and give your family and visitors a warm welcome.

You can use open shelves in place of or in addition to kitchen cabinets. For a diversified and well-balanced appearance, they are typically combined with top cabinets, arranged next to one another, or equipped with shelves inside the cabinets themselves. The most important thing to keep in mind is that to maintain everything neat and orderly, they need careful styling and routine maintenance.

A light oak round dining table, base cabinets with two open shelves and a tall cabinet behind.

Simple yet effective functionality

Functionality is key in Scandinavian design kitchens, where efficiency and practicality reign supreme. When choosing cabinet organizers, opt for items that maximize storage and organization space, such as deep drawers, pull-out shelves, and built-in dividers. Consider built-in appliances and hidden storage systems to keep your cabinets clean and clutter-free. Also, make sure the layout of cabinets promotes a smooth workflow and easy access to the items you need. There is a special quiz on our website, during which you can see examples of the organizers we offer for our customers.

Lighting

Nordic country residents have plenty of natural light throughout the summer, but very little during the winter. This is a reason why lighting is so important in Scandinavian design kitchens. Glass doors, skylights, and large windows are the modern features that let natural light stream into the space and fill every nook and cranny.

Given the significance of natural light in kitchen design, light-colored window elements and thoughtful window placement will maximize the impact of sunlight entering the space.

A kitchen with dark wood base cabinets, dark grey upper cabinets and under cabinet lighting.

How to select cabinets for Scandinavian design kitchen 

The first step in remodeling a kitchen is selecting kitchen cabinets. Appliance placement, furniture selection accuracy, and overall design harmony will all be influenced by their layout and design. Picking cabinets could appear difficult, but if you agree to follow the rules of style, it is rather easy.

So, what are the best cabinets for Scandinavian kitchen designs?

Wooden colors for cabinet fronts

As we previously mentioned, wood is an integral component of Scandinavian design kitchens and is currently a popular material for kitchens. Nothing compares to the classics, whose customs are expertly incorporated into a contemporary environment.

Light oak is our first choice when it comes to cabinet wood in the Scandinavian design kitchen. This is also somewhat of a classic since it completely adheres to the maximalism and simplicity that characterize this style. The space will be radiant during the day, reflecting the sun and radiating coziness and warmth. The kitchen can appear optically larger when light wood is used, which will make it even cozier and more appealing. 

More vibrant woods, like American walnut or dark oak, can be utilized for cabinets, even though the Scandinavian kitchen style is based on using as many light colors as possible. These cabinets should, however, be toned down with lighter hues. For instance, you may put a gray or beige kitchen countertop over them, depending on the wood's color. You can use the same white, which is always ideal when paired with any shade, to create a matt white coating or embellish it with barely perceptible colorful stone veins. If placed among light-colored cabinets, dark wood shelves can look stylish and draw the attention that's needed. 

The key is to avoid going too dark and to strike the ideal color balance so that the kitchen's lightness can be fully appreciated.

Design types for wooden fronts

After deciding on the material for your future Scandinavian kitchen cabinets, it's time to consider their construction, namely the fronts, so here are some of the types that are usually considered for this particular style.

Framed fronts are often used as cabinet doors. This can also be found in the Japandi kitchen design, which has features of Scandinavian style, competently intertwined with the oriental traditions of Japan. The doors of such cabinets emphasize the features of the overall design, their simplicity and naturalness, allow the material to show its beauty. They also show themselves from a practical point of view. Framed fronts are easy to install, the presence of frames makes them more stable and durable, as this structure will protect the cabinets from unnecessary damage. This type of door is also famous for its versatility, as they can be made not only of wood, but also of materials such as laminate or MDF, and also have more possibilities in the choice of sizes and modifications.

Flat, slab or frameless cabinets are also a popular choice, which like framed fronts offer a minimalist aesthetic and convenience, but are opposed in some criteria. First, they have a more modern look than traditional frame fronts. Secondly, cabinets with these doors usually have more interior space, allowing you to store additional items in them. This option is suitable if your kitchen is small and you need cabinets with maximum capacity. Also, the advantage of frameless facades is that they are simplified functional customization, which is suitable for Scandinavian kitchen design, and you can easily adjust the height of internal shelves, and add or remove doors with minimal tools and effort. 

Combining features from various door types, slim shaker cabinet fronts are a fresh spin on traditional doors. Narrower stiles and rails on these fronts create horizontal and vertical frames that encircle the central panel. But rather than making the space between the cabinets or the kitchen seem smaller, the frames' presence serves to visually enlarge it. Such cabinets also boast of their durability, and versatility, allowing them to easily blend into the overall design. Slim shakers which are characterized by triangular profiles are becoming especially popular nowadays due to their clear geometrical and aesthetically pleasing shape, which makes them also perfect for Scandinavian kitchen design.

As you can see, different types of cabinets have many similarities and differences. In the end, your choice for your Scandinavian design kitchen will depend on the look you have in mind for your kitchen.

4 type of wooden fronts: framed cabinet fronts, slim shaker fronts, slab doors and painted matte fronts.

Handles/Hardware/Handleware 

Installing handleless cabinets would be a smart move in the direction of total minimalism. A design like this will make the kitchen appear more streamlined overall and will draw attention to the crisp, flat lines and design elements that define the Scandinavian kitchen style. 

You may question, therefore, how will one gain access to the items within. Various choices will preserve the design's attractiveness while still being useful, and we are going to tell you about them.

A push-to-open mechanism is one of the most common variants of handleless fronts. Thanks to the combination of a spring and a magnet, doors are opened with a simple push of the hand, shoulder, or foot, which comes in quite handy in everyday life. The push-to-open mechanism is also a relatively inexpensive alternative to other handles, which when designing a kitchen is definitely a plus. The disadvantage of this method of opening doors is that it leaves imprints on the surface. In this case, we offer a special anti-fingerprint finish for our clients to use on their cabinet fronts. However, a simple cupboard with a simple mechanism can be tidied up just as easily and quickly.

Another suitable option for handless cabinets would be built-in handles, or as they are also called Gola Profile. They are installed along the top edge of the cabinet door or drawer front, forming a single element. Essentially, the kitchen cabinets are equipped with handles, but the handles themselves are hidden inside the cabinets rather than sticking out.

Finger pull wooden handles typically consist of a recessed groove or indentation along the top edge of the cabinet door or drawer front, allowing for easy opening with the fingertips. They are usually barely noticeable, but they become not only an added embellishment to the cabinets themselves but also other wood accents in the kitchen, complimenting them.

These hardware choices can improve the overall beauty and practicality of your Scandinavian kitchen design, whether you favor the smooth appearance of recessed handles, the sleek modernity of integrated handles, or the cozy feel of wooden finger pulls.

Different types of kitchen handles: push-to-open mechanism, finger pull wooden handles, cut out handles.

Scandinavian design kitchens are still a shining example of classic style and practical elegance. The newest kitchen trends of 2024 provide homeowners with a wealth of alternatives to design their culinary refuge by elegantly fusing current innovation with the timeless appeal of Scandinavian style. 

The core of Scandinavian kitchen design never goes out of style, whether it is adopting textured textures, subdued color palettes, or eco-friendly materials, and keeps creating kitchens that are both fashionable and long-lasting.

Victoria Hoffman
May 22, 2024
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6 min read
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