Home & Garden

Is this Scandinavian home décor trend about to be as big as hygge?

Never before has “less is more” been more true

Scandinavian design ethos lagom Credit: Getty Images / imaginima

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It’s no wonder Scandinavian design concepts have been popular for years. With soothing colors, natural light, negative space, and clutter-free rooms, they allow for at-home moments where you can just … breathe.

One such concept that you may be familiar with is the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced “hyoo-guh”) — a quality of comfortability that’s permeated home interiors in the U.S. over the last few years.

But, while hygge has you reaching for the candles, blankets, and fluffy socks for a cozy moment, another on-the-rise Scandinavian design concept — lagom — describes an entire lifestyle rooted in balance. It’s an ethos of knowing when to stop.

Pronounced “lar-gohm” and a Swedish translation of "just the right amount," lagom is simple minimalistic living. Read: You have just what you need, and you aren’t living in abundance or being wasteful.

The million dollar question here is whether this Nordic know-how is why the Swedish population is consistently ranked among the happiest on the globe.

Why choose lagom?

lagom lifestyle
Credit: Getty Images / imaginima

When you follow an ethos like lagom, your kitchen counters—and your mindset—are clutter free.

Lagom fits perfectly into the modern world — one that balances caring for Mother Earth with caring for ourselves, especially as the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded.

Our homes now serve as literal home bases for so many things: work, school, relaxation. This means a simplified surrounding is a necessity.

And people are interested in finding balance. IKEA’s Live Lagom Project is popular for upcycling ideas and sustainable pieces in the Swedish brand’s signature clean design. Netflix’s “Tiny House Nation” series brings lagom into our downtime, showcasing stories of people who crave living simpler and limiting their environmental footprint by downsizing (in some cases, to spaces no larger than 300 square feet).

Gavin Brodin, founder and principal of Brodin Design Build in Beverly Hills, California, says, “Sustainable living and design is a priority when creating new spaces. We live in a world that is hugely challenged by environmental changes and being mindful of recycling or repurposing is key for the future of interior design.”

4 tips for establishing lagom at home

lagom arhaus and pottery barn
Credit: Arhaus / Pottery Barn

By embracing lagom as a way of life, keep your home simple with this contemporary storage system from Pottery Barn, and spend on quality furniture, like these classic Lunden dining chairs from Arhaus.

Lagom’s principles are as simple as the design aesthetic itself: If you don’t need it, don’t have it.

Brodin offers advice on how to make lagom part of your lifestyle.

1. Avoid clutter

Keep your home clutter free. Some rooms easily lend themselves to lagom, while others go in kicking and screaming. Brodin says, “One of them is the kitchen. Over time, we end up with a lot of items and gadgets that we don’t really use.”

Avoid collecting things you don’t need, and stop buying things just to buy them. If you don’t have those items, they can’t clutter your living space.

In simple terms, only buy or keep what’s just right and necessary.

2. Purchase mindfully and spend on items with staying power

Brodin encourages buying local.

“This keeps the environment in mind when decorating your home by avoiding buying cheap items that were produced far away and shipped across the world,” he explains.

He also points towards buying quality products so they last for a longer period of time.

“If you invest in quality furniture you won’t have to replace it as often,” he says. “Design classics stay relevant forever.”

3. Regift things you don’t use

Most of us have items and furniture we don’t need anymore. One idea is to sort and give away items, instead of adding to your local landfill.

For example, in your kitchen, keep your counter space free from clutter so that you have a clean cooking space. Brodin suggests, “If you aren’t going to use the Crock-Pot, give it to someone who will.”

Find places online like Facebook Marketplace, gifting groups, or Offer Up and regift whatever has outstayed its welcome in your home.

“You might be tired of your coffee table,” says Brodin, “but it could make someone else very happy.”

4. Use storage with caution

Brodin is a fan of keeping things simple. “Make sure you have sufficient storage for things you want to keep, but don’t want to look at, so you can keep your living area or workspace clean and simple,” he says.

However, this is not license to fill every nook in your home with things you don't need just because you can.

Have a critical eye. The bathroom is a clutter zone, and while it might be tempting to organize with plastic bins, don’t.

Brodin’s last word is to stay minimal in the bedroom. “It is not a storage space. It should be kept clean to provide space for mindfulness and peace.”

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