Few places in the world encapsulate the spirit of the holiday season quite like Scandinavia. It brings the scenery you’ll find on your favorite Christmas cards to life; ice and snow, roaring fires, with beautiful homey spaces that encompass the spirit of hygge.
A finalist for Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 word of the year, hygge is a Danish term defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”, and in recent years it has taken the interior design world by storm. Pronounced “hoo-guh,” the word is said to have no direct translation in English, though “cozy” comes close. And this Christmas look is no exception.
Brought to life in the Winter Wheat room, Simply Scandi is a Christmas design that pays homage to the Scandinavian roots on my dad’s side of the family, while still maintaining that new traditional style we are known for at Nell Hill’s (more is more, after all!).
Trimming the Simply Scandi Tree
In most Nordic countries, people put up their Christmas trees a couple of days before the “big event” and decorate them with flowers like a poinsettia. White amaryllis and red tulips are also popular, and are the color inspiration for the Simply Scandi color palette.
The first thing that strikes me when looking at the Simply Scandi tree are the various textures at play that make this design feel so inviting and warm. I love the addition of handmade-looking elements to a design, and this style has many to choose from. Felt, wood, woven, hand-painted, this tree is a symphony of artisan craftsmanship. Bright red, creams, and neutrals are the shining stars in this minimalist, albeit striking, look.
Although there are many differences between a commercial tree and a tree you might trim yourself, this look might be the closest to a traditional tree you might find in someone’s home. Simply Scandi is definitely one look that can be scaled back without losing its impact. When building at home, start by layering in lots of picks throughout the tree. Red berries bring cheer to this design. Group collections of ornaments in twos and threes nestled in and among the branches – not just the tips – highlighting different textures in your groupings. We use zip-ties to secure these to the tree. We feel it gives us better control over the presentation of the ornament on the branch instead of simply hanging them. Cascades of red ribbon are snuggled up amongst the details, their white snowflakes adding to the thematic design.
Decking the Halls, Simply Scandi Style
Scandinavian homes are often well-decorated for Christmas, with shiny baubles, candles, and various other shimmering objects to enjoy. However, you’ll also find a lot of small ornaments made from straw. This act comes from a tradition that dates back to the Remembrance of Birds. Farmers from the fall harvest used to leave bundles of wheat outside of their porches for birds to eat during winter. Offering straw meant that it would hopefully deter the birds from trying to get to their valuable grain stores.
Although this design doesn’t include any straw, we did take a nod from the Nordic and left no space untouched as we piled on the holiday decor for a festive Scandi space. Featured in this design are a cacophony of bells are suspended from birch logs fashioned to the ceiling, the decor spilling into your sightline, filling the room with Nell Hill’s style.
Decorating a Simply Scandi Tabletop
Many Nordic countries celebrate with an elaborate Christmas Eve dinner, which usually includes dry-cured lamb ribs, ham, goose, or cod fish cured in lye (lutefisk, anyone?). Boards full of these foods are passed around the table. The drink of choice is a popular one across Christmas in Scandinavia — glogg, a mulled wine into which you can dip cookies.
Scandinavian style is really known for its simplicity, and we played that up in this tablescape. An ornament plays double duty and acts as a napkin ring, holding a candy cane striped napkin atop stacks of cheery red and white dishes. The dishes themselves are simple in design, but the alternating colors give each place setting some additional dimension. A wintery green is a welcome addition to the centerpiece, making the dishes at each place pop even more.
I hope you enjoyed visiting the Simply Scandi room as much as we enjoyed making it. Until the next time, happy decorating!