Scandi Brown. The Scandinavian palette warms up.

Scandi Brown. The Scandinavian palette warms up.

Across Scandinavian design shoots, blogs and home tours, earthy, warm tones are colonizing minimalist landscapes.

Zara Home's 'A life of simplicity' editorial was shot at the home of a Danish architect close to the Copenhagen Opera House.

Zara home shoot Copenhagen

Image credit: Zara Home

Some commentators are defining the interest in browns as a nod to the 70s, echoing a parallel trend in fashion.

Or it's the cool change - interiors are reflecting the golden brown hues of autumn.

The season for hygge

The chill in the air invites us indoors for some Scandi 'hygge' with family and friends, in warm, comforting environments.

The Nordics are forever in love with their forests and as the cold arrives and the forests turn to browns and reds, the Scandinavians turn this timeless, classic picture of nature inward.

Modernist Scandinavian furniture has classically been in the warm tones of natural wood. Brown furniture symbolizes stability, simplicity and comfort. Earthy tones are also connected to reliability and endurance.

There is a broad spectrum of earth tones showing up in Scandi homes from a light camel to dark chocolate. Combined with Scandi minimalism, it stays contemporary - a new Nordic style.

Wall colour

Brown toned walls match well with natural wood pieces as well as dusty pink textiles.

Dulux’s pick for 2019 is a warm shade of caramel, called 'Spiced Honey'.

Dulux brown wall

Image credit: Dulux

Brown wall shades mix well with both contemporary Scandi design peices, plants as well as vintage finds and classic Scandivanian modern design.

'If there is going to be wall colour in Danish homes, light grey has been Danes' preferred choice for many years. But if you considering a change, you could think about having a look at a colour card in brown tones', comments Danish interior designer, Mette B. Seerup. 'A light beige wall colour throws a warm and friendly light over the room, while textiles in dark earthy tones and ceramics in terracotta add hygge and intimacy'.

Earthy tones are both elegant as well as neutral and set a relaxed tone. You can combine the more neutral tones with stronger accents to mix it up. It's easy to update an earthy base with ornaments, textiles and artworks in brighter or darker palettes that you can lighten up when the weather starts to warm.

Furniture and textiles

But brown doesn't have to feature on the walls. Scandi brown trends often feature the standard white walls accented with brown furniture or textiles to introduce the warmth.

brown sofa in Scandi style living room

Image credit: Main Lifestyle

Brown furniture and materials are part of a trend of bringing nature into our home.

Henriette Ekholm, head of interior design and communication at IKEA Denmark comments, 'Brown comes up again and again in the natural materials we want to use in our homes, with increasing earnest. Natural fibers, weave, terracotta, pots, timber, especially darker wood like walnut and oak are all materials from the brown colour palette that combined, give harmony and calm in home decorating.'

Brown not only brings nature into the home, especially autumn elements, but warm brown tones are also comforting during politically unstable times.

Apart from the change of season and political climate, there's additional arguments as to why we're pining for the stable, calming aspect of browns.

Danish textile designer, Margrethe Odgaard, contends that it's too many hours in front of screens that has us hankering after authenticity, presence and sensuality in our design sensibility.

After nearly twenty years where Scandinavian style has cultivated the graphic black/ white universe, Odgaard contends Scandi style is now opening up for a full colour spectrum. She argues that it's a reaction to the many hours we spend in the virtual world where tablets, digital platforms and social media has drained our senses. She says we are longing for authenticity, intimacy and sensory tactility in our interior design. Colour is an important instrument because it makes room for emotion. Odgaard comments,

'Five years ago, it couldn't get blue or grey enough. Now we want to surround ourselves with dark and warm colours, which the body experiences as something that warms and nurtures us while the blue tones clarify and cool us. '

Simple living

Whether or not it's a 70s throwback, browner tones demonstrate a more rustic tendency, away from bling. Back-to-basics to more simple living.

brown kitchen details

Image credit: Kinfolk

Whichever is the truest, it is undeniable that these narratives of why Scandiphiles are returning to earthy tones, are as tight as a textile weave. Whether its the change of season, or the panic over climate change that motivates an interest in nature, it is undeniable that now more than ever, there is a biophillic need for us to bring nature inside.

It is also understandable that in an uncomfortable political climate and with pressing environmental concerns, we are seeking the comfort and stability of brown as well as the nostalgia and comfort of the browns of our childhoods; the chocolate brown velvet sofa we nestled into to watch Postman Pat, or mission brown countertop that was the stage for scenes of baking with Mum.

It's all the same, for any number of reasons, brown is tapping into a need.

And yet, incorporating brown, Scandi style, is not a tacky return to the 70s.

Scandi brown remains clean and contemporary, a restrained serving, like a square or two of 70% cocoa Lindt that's hard to resist.

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