5 Tips: Best of Contemporary Scandinavian Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important aspects that will make your home feel more open, comfortable and just generally more like “home”. I’ve always leaned more towards lamps and candles than overhead lights and that is the Scandi way. But now I’m going to provide you with the science of why and how you should light your living room. So you can understand the best Scandinavian lighting style and apply it to your home.

If you are lucky enough to have plenty of natural light then you are off to a head start, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. There is a whole world of contemporary Scandinavian lighting that will transform your living space into a hygge haven!

1. Let the natural light in from outside and reflect it where you can

I’ve been studying the window treatments of Scandi homes, because we’ve just moved from brilliant sunshine in Australia to the UK, where the sun is sporadic at most. You will be hard pushed to find curtains, blinds, the English favoured net curtains etc in many Danish or Norwegian interiors.

This puzzled me at first because I thought “but it’s so cold, surely the net curtains help to keep the cold out”, but I realise letting the light in is far superior to the cold. Also the Scandinavian’s have their insulation and heating figured out. And a lot of them do have curtains or blinds, but they are discretely tucked away so you don’t notice these during the day.


Ok so above is a styled, extreme example of a Nordic window treatment, but you see what you need to do. There is good reason a lot of Scandinavian homes have white walls. It reflects the light and maximises the little bit you do get. Likewise a well placed mirror will shed more light on a room if it is opposite a window.

You can see how keeping the colour of your furniture and textiles light will also spread the light a bit further. Think of the light as a precious resource and ways you can maximise it. It will certainly help you get through the winter with a better mood!


I love this picture above, I don’t know where the original source is, but I have pinned it about a thousand times! Here, the light is coming in through those glorious windows and rebounding by the off white furniture. The low level lighting is reflected off the soft colour wooden beamed wall. They have made a liar out of me and included down lights, however I am ignoring those!

What else reflects the natural light? Well, duh, a mirror. And round mirrors provide a softness and interest to a room, making it less formal than a rectangular mirror. Oversized mirrors are huge at the moment, and really the most popular in Scandinavian design, apart from those oversized rectangles casually sitting against the wall. The mirror below is by Umbra.


Then you can look at your walls. Yes, the typical Scandi apartment has loads of white walls. It’s not just fashion. It’s just science. White scatters the light, making your rooms appear bigger. And if you are thinking about repainting your walls Farrow and Ball have a fantastic guide on the colours and the position the room faces.

Don’t forget to follow through with your white/off white throws, light grey sofas, light coloured wall hangings as these will all contribute to scattering more light around your room.

Top 5: Scandinavian Furnishings to Maximise Light through Reflections

Umbra Mirror
John Hanley Wool Throw
Ikea Faux Sheepskin Rug
Kardiel Amsterdam Mid-century Modern Sofa
Normann Copenhagen Side Table

2. Speaking of Natural Light, Light some Candles

So you knew it was coming, just look at the gorgeous main photo with the lovely large candlestick holders (Georg Jensen?).  Candles provide the most beautiful of all light. It is soft, warm and instantly flattering!

Now it does take a lot of candles to give you a lot of light, but the glow of these candles is a warmer colour than other light will give you.

There are beautiful candle holders that come in a range of sizes. Try mixing a candlestick with tea lights in glass collectively for a warm glow, much like below:


Get the look: Normann Copenhagen Heima Candlestick , iittala tea light holders, iittala tray

Candles not only brighten up the room, in winter they make you feel warmer as a part of your subconscious is connecting that naked flame with fire and warmth. Try looking at a candle and feel cold, it’s nearly impossible. So lets rival the Scandinavians in burning more candles than them (just make sure you choose natural candles – unscented or essential oil scented are safest for your family).

Top 5: Best Modern Candle Holders to get the Scandinavian Look

Normann Copenhagen Nocto Candle Holder
iittala Tea Light Holder
Tom Dixon Etch Tea Light
Tom Dixon London Candle
LSA International Hurrican Lamp

 3. Lamps, Floor Lamps, Table Lamps

There’s something cozy, or dare we say, hyyge, about lamps and the softer light they produce. When it’s evening, or when it’s a grey afternoon, you want to bring warm colours into your home, not cool blues.

Selecting a warm coloured bulb is the key to your success. You want to keep the bulbs under 3000k. My husband often complains about my bat vision as the darkness falls, I only have candles and two lamps with low light. If it was just me, I would seek out a 1000k bulb, however as I have to share my house with two small people and a man, our bulbs are 2700k.

The chart below should help you to choose your bulb.


To achieve an ambient soft light, mix up the lighting sources in your living room. Depending on the configuration and size you should probably have a least one floor/reading lamp and a table lamp.

We have a Glo Ball, which I think the bulb is still too bright for, but this sits behind your main line of vision as otherwise your eyes just keep getting drawn to this light ball. However even when this lamp is not on, it creates interest and looks like a piece of art, rather than just a lamp.


There are so many classic, contemporary styled floor lamps, the key is to select one that isn’t a fashion item and you won’t be thinking in a few years, “That trend is so dated, I must replace that floor lamp.”. Remember good design will last forever. So no tripod lamps.

An Anglepoise lamp is practical, as you can direct the light around the room and adjust the height, and is a classic design that will last a lifetime. It’s been around since the 1930’s and is enjoying a bit of a renaissance.

Anglepoise Floor Lamp

Fancy some art in your living room? The Flos Arco floor lamp is part of a permanent collection at the New York Museum of Modern Art. This is also a design staple, having been designed in the sixties, it is still featuring in designer homes and hotels around the globe.


Top 5: Best Scandinavian Lamps for your Contemporary Home

Flos Glo Ball globall-flos-lamp
Lightyears by Republic of Fritz Hansen lightyears-wood-table-lamp
Moooi Jumbo Yellow Floor Lamp moooi-jumbo-floor-lamp-yellow
Flos Arco Floor Lamp flos-arco-floor-lamp
Anglepoise Maxi Floor Lamp Anglepoise_Maxi_floor-lamp

4. Designer Lampshades/Ceiling Lights

When it comes to designer light shades, no one does it better than the Danes. The Danes might spend a fortune on a ceiling light shade, but it is a well chosen lampshade that will outlive trends and can be passed on through generations.

If you really want to give your interiors the Scandinavian look, then you can’t go past a classic Louis Poulsen PH 5. Since the 1950’s this shade has been providing homes in Denmark and the rest of the world with timeless style and subtle lighting.

Best Scandinavian Lighting

The picture below is from my dream home in Palm Beach, Australia. This shot really shows you the beauty of the Louis Poulsen PH shades at dusk and night time. They give the feeling of floating stars in the night sky.

OK, so enough about Louis Poulsen, if you want to find out more, you can read the whole story on the Louis Poulsen site.

If the PH style isn’t for you, then there are plenty of other Scandinavian shades to choose from. The minimal and classic cafe style shade or the bell pendant are staples that will provide a beautiful designer touch to your home.


If pendant lighting isn’t for you, there are many contemporary ceiling light fittings that will give your lounge room the Scandinavian touch. Like Tom Dixon’s melt range – these are a definite splurge, but so beautiful.


And then there is always the modern chandelier. Stop thinking about crystals handing delicately, the contemporary chandelier contains nothing like it. Menu do a range of Scandi chandeliers that you will really want to get your hands on.

These modern hanging lights will provide you a statement piece and just the right amount of moody lighting. Mix with a dimmer and you are on your way to cozy lighting.


Top 5: Designer Scandinavian Light Shades

 Louis Poulsen PH Artichoke  louis-poulsen-ph-5-light-shade
 Muuto Grain Pendant Shade  Contemporary Scandinavian Lighting
 Davey Lighting School Ceiling Light  davey-lighting-ceiling-light
 Menu Chandelier  Menu Modern Chandelier
 Tom Dixon Melt Ceiling Light  tom-dixon-melt-ceiling-light-modern-art

5. Decorative Lighting

Decorative lighting can transform your living space in instant and the beauty of it is that you can quickly remove it and pop it in another area of your house. I am referring to Irislights or string lights.

To get that authentic Scandinavian look, you can’t go past the Swedish designed Irislights. These little balls of thread add indirect lighting to any room and instantly provide a warm cozy feeling. Place them on your mantelpiece, in a bowl, around a mirror or on your dining table – you can get creative with the layout and their colours.


Irislights are also great for children’s bedrooms as they come in a range of colours, but you can also get that designer look for less with some string lights and your favourite hurricane lamp or vase.string-lights-ideas-string-lights

Top 5: Best Scandinavian Decorative Lights

Irislights irislights
Out There Interiors Copper Lantern
Graham & Green Cotton String Balls cotton-string-balls
Graham & Green Copper Sting Lights copper-cluster-string-lights
Out There Interiors Wood Base Lantern original_wood-base-lantern

So there are five ways to light your home with contemporary Scandinavian lighting. Feel your comfort levels increase when you embrace good design and get that hygge vibe!

Want more Scandinavian lighting inspiration? Head on over to our Light the Night Scandi Style Pin Board >>>

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