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How to Create a Scandi-style Kitchen on a Budget

The self-assured simplicity of Scandinavian style can transform the most modest of kitchens without breaking the bank

Houzz Australia editorial team. Journalist/photographer specialising in design, travel… More

Even kitchens in desperate need of an overhaul can be transformed into envy-inducing havens with a little knowhow, no matter how small the budget or footprint. Scandi-style kitchens may be simple and utilitarian, but they also manage to look effortlessly beautiful, with a pared-back aesthetic that’s easy to live with.

Follow these easy-to-achieve tips inspired by Scandinavian kitchens across the globe and yours will quickly become the joyful space you want it to be – to look at and to use.

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Add a splash of colour
While Scandi kitchens tend to be pared-back havens of restful tones and clean lines, colour is often used to inject a little joy. Pale blues and greens are easy on the eye, but don’t be afraid to add splashes of bright orange, yellow or blue.

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In the same kitchen, multi-coloured dining chairs add to the sense of fun.

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Forget perfection
If there’s one thing Scandi kitchens are not, it’s uptight. Taking the pressure off yourself and aiming for a casual, liveable kitchen, rather than one with designer-perfect looks, can be positively liberating… and far more interesting than a sleek kitchen devoid of personality.

If your kitchen needs more storage, don’t be too precious about it – open, utilitarian shelving takes nothing away from this feelgood kitchen. A linen tablecloth, candles and a vase or two of leafy greenery can turn any kitchen into an inviting place to be.

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Make the most of your available light
Natural light in the home is an instant mood-lifter and Scandinavians do whatever they can to up the feelgood factor during their long, dark winters. White walls – and even floors – are an easy and economical way to amplify whatever light you have coming in.

The owner of this Sydney apartment removed the lino and carpet throughout and painted the walls, floors and ceilings white. To add warmth, he then added recycled wooden beams and made the worktops out of old slabs of French oak.

See the before and after photos

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Incorporate a little earthiness
Scandi style may be big on clean lines and uncluttered surfaces, but it’s also about timber, leather and natural fibres – raw, honest materials. Open timber shelving is an easy way to achieve this, and gives you the opportunity to put glasses and dinnerware within arm’s reach.

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Favour flawless craftsmanship
If you’d love to replace some or all of your kitchen cabinets, there’s no need to spend a fortune. Do, however, make sure your cabinet-maker comes with reliable references, or that the flatpack kitchen you’ve ordered is of a high enough quality that its good looks won’t fade too soon. Cheap materials can chip, dodgy hinges can sag, and inexpensive handles can quickly lose their lustre.

Go for a less luxurious worktop or sink if it means you can spend more on doors and drawers – they need to be able to sustain heavy use to keep on looking smart.

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Combining upper cabinets with open shelving is another way to reduce your total spend.

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Embrace midcentury modern
It’s no coincidence that many of the most iconic midcentury architects and furniture designers hail from Scandinavia – Hans J Wegner and Arne Jacobsen are Danish, while Alvar Aalto comes from Finland, for example.

Take advantage of the enduring love affair with midcentury design and update your kitchen chairs, lighting and accessories. Midcentury pieces are a perfect match with Scandinavian style.

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Bring in natural textures
A welcoming space is a comfortable space, and the easiest way to achieve it is through soft, texture-rich furnishings.

Sheepskin – faux or otherwise – draped over chairs entices people to sit down and stay a while; woven jute or cotton rugs in earthy tones soften hard surfaces, and the green leaves of pot plants or leaves in vases bring the form and feel of nature indoors. And who can resist the pile of cut logs in this Swedish kitchen?

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If chopping wood to put on display isn’t practical at your place, consider timber worktops – they give any kitchen a homely touch, and can be an economical option. Best of all, a light sand and reapplication of kitchen-grade natural oil can restore their good looks. Or why not embrace imperfection and leave the dents and stains in place, so your kitchen tells a story?

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If the thought of anything but sleek stone or stainless-steel worktops makes you shudder, putting a collection of chopping boards on display is an easy way to introduce the touch of timber every Scandi kitchen needs.

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Carve out a place to sit
Even the tiniest of kitchens can become the place people gather for conversation and conviviality when there’s a stool or two on which to perch. A seating area that doubles as an extra prep surface is a smart use of space when a kitchen footprint is small.

Get tips for tucking a dining area into a small space

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Get rid of clutter
The secret recipe for Scandi style comes down to creating simple, restful spaces that are easy on the eye. That means putting all but a smattering of beautiful objects out of sight. The toaster, kettle, blender and juicer that tend to live on the worktop? Find them another home.

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Take the yellow out of timber floors
Pine is an economical flooring choice, but if Scandi style is your goal, you’ll need to eliminate the yellow tinge that tends to disfigure a pine floor over time.

Sanding floorboards back and applying a grey oil is an easy fix, and you can give the same treatment to a timber wall or ceiling panelling. Grey-toned engineered or laminate flooring is also worth considering if your floors have seen better days.

Are you a fan of Scandinavian style? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.
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