THERE'S so much more to Scandinavian style than flat-pack furniture and its attendant stress.

Instead, just think about rooms that seem with their colour schemes to be flooded with light whatever the weather, are furnished with pieces with timeless good looks and effortlessly seem to combine comfort with elegance.

This is the essence of cool, calm, sleek Scandi style' and those appealing qualities explain perhaps why we don't seem to be able to get enough of it.

While Swedish giant Ikea has long dominated the mass market with its winning combination of top class design and rock bottom prices, the growing popularity of the look has now brought a host of other smaller companies to the UK, offering people even more opportunity not only to interpret the look in their own homes but in a more individual way.

Companies who've recently come to the UK include inspirational Finnish fabric makers Marimekko through to Iittala, which offers a treasure trove of Finnish glassware and accessories.

Scandinavia's style is inspired partly by its seasons as interior designer, Gail Abbott explains: "In the far northern countries of Scandinavia, the clear summer light is one of the dominant features of the landscape. Forests, lakes and mountains are bathed in its clarity, and for half the year the sun hardly sets below the horizon.

"People make the most of the outdoors while they can, for the winter means long dark days when light is low and short-lived. Because of this, light is a quality that is highly valued."

So the fundamental principles of the Scandinavian look are - light-reflective white painted walls, modest window treatments designed to avoid blocking the light and a basically uncluttered feel. They work together to create a smooth blend of the contemporary and the timeless, which can suit any home and isn't expensive to achieve.

But while pale walls and white surfaces give an authentic feel to a room, acres of white could be cold and unappealing in our hard Northern light, so the use of an accent colour adds individuality, interest and warmth.

Traditionally, those colours are sourced from the rich palette of the outdoors to provide an uplifting contrast.

Gail, author of a new beautifully illustrated book, Living with Light, which shows how to recreate all the home-transforming elements of the style says: "Outside in winter red berries, a dark green pine tree, or a clear blue sky provide relief from the acres of whiteness and so those colours are reflected indoors in Scandinavian rooms.

"Red and blue are characteristic colours but any vivid tones, used with restraint, will inject a touch of drama. Blue and white are as fresh and easy to live with as a summer's day. In countries where the warm months are short, homeowners like to make the interiors of their house as delightful as a walk outside, and there's nothing like the combination of sky blue and brilliant white to evoke the wide-open spaces of the Scandinavian countryside."

If you're yearning for Scandi-style' follow Gail's guide to the look


Gail says: "Getting light into rooms instantly improves them - particularly in our often sunshine-starved Northern hemisphere homes - and there are plenty of ways to do that without spending a lot of money. Used well, also, all these elements will combine to make a room appear bigger than it actually is."

To create Scandi style' opt for simple, clutter-free rooms with white walls and painted or pale coloured floors and white-covered furniture. Pale furnishing fabrics on furniture needn't be impractical as long as they're loose and in washable fabrics.

If all white is too cold for your taste, opt instead for a soft colour palette of soft white, pale greys and blues, and include an accent colour - blue or red is characteristic of the look - and can lift a white room.

Dress windows simply to allow light to filter through, or use white-painted shutters - both treatments work well.

Allow every surface to reflect light - even in small rooms - by using mirrors and gleaming materials like stainless steel and chrome.


Panelled walls are a characteristic feature of many Scandinavian rooms, both traditional and contemporary, partly because most houses are built in wood Panelling in these homes can feature tall, rectangular panels of fine moulding, or carved panels that normally line the lower part of the walls only.

Transform your own plain walls by creating a grand panel' effect. Fit strips of decorative beading or narrow wooden moulding with mitred corners to a plain wall and paint them to match, or use a classic Scandinavian contrast like blue or green on white walls. well as gorgeous accessories.