May 5, 2013

Bright ideas for spring from Scandinavia

Cheerful colors and pared-down lines lend themselves well to fresh looks for the season.

By KIM COOK The Associated Press

Perhaps to alleviate the dreariness of long northern winters, Scandinavian style tends toward folk-art florals, crisp checks, plaids and stripes, and wood furniture left natural or painted in colors that evoke the region's natural beauty.

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A pillow cover from Annika Schmidt of Portland features the Dala horse, a symbol of Swedish culture.

Courtesy Annika Schmidt

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The Isala table from Ikea reflects the Scandinavian spin on neoclassical design.

The Associated Press/Ikea

Additional Photos Below

The look is casual and easy, with playful touches and a simple yet refined vibe.

If all that sounds appealing as you shake off winter's gloom, you'll find many pretty, Scandinavian-inspired decor options for spring.

Scandinavian style is typically anchored by whites and creams, which provide a light-filled canvas on which berry red, sky blue, forest green and ochre offer pops of cheerful color.

Black sometimes provides a dramatic canvas, especially on a rug. But there are also soothing faded pinks, soft stone grays and dusky purples in the palette.

The Dala horse has long been a symbol of Swedish culture. Originating in the country's furniture- and clock-making towns, toy horses were made from scraps of leftover wood, and the icon often appears on decorative items.

Annika Schmidt, an artist in Portland, Maine, creates pillow covers and ceramic tiles printed with her own version of the horse entwined in flowers, rendered in berry reds or turquoise.

"I spent idyllic and carefree summers at my grandmother's house in Sweden; I'd spend hours playing in her small orchard, surrounded by roses," Schmidt says. (

This spring, Ikea honors its Scandinavian roots with an extensive collection, including designer Eva Lundgreen's Akerkulla floral motif curtains and rug.

The Hemnes furniture collection really nails the Swedish look with a linen cabinet in a deep red, a bed frame in gray and a shelving unit in blue.

An airy, pared-down version of neoclassical design was the hallmark of 18th-century Gustavian design, which has become popular outside of Sweden in the last 20 years.

Ikea's Isala side table is a great example, in clean white or forget-me-not blue.

In textiles, you'll find a kicky pink gingham check in the Emmie Ruta duvet cover, and a country floral in the Eivor Leva duvet cover. (

At The Company Store, there's the cottage charm of the Carrie comforter cover in an orange crewelwork floral motif on earthy chambray cotton.

The tailored yet elegant Hampton table comes in gentle shades of tarragon, ash and tan. (

Anthropologie's got the Amora bedding set with a colorful graphic on snowy white.

While South American in origin, the folk pattern is similar enough to those of northern design that it reads Scandinavian.

The same is true of the retailer's Fesi throw pillow from the Philadelphia-based design house Mushmina. It's a Moroccan-embroidered pattern, yet looks like a snowflake or ski haus motif.

The light and airy Speckled Blooms cotton curtain from Anthropologie features hyacinths. Pair it with a few painted furniture pieces and a striped rag rug in similar hues, and you're off to a great Scandi-style start. (

Burke Decor has a charming teapot sprinkled with playful tulips and blossoms, designed by Swedish ceramicist Camilla Engdahl. (

And at, find Oiva Toikka's plump little glass birds, made by the Finnish glass house Iitala.

Erja Hirvi's Keisarinna fabric for Marimekko, with white magnolia blossoms and branches scattered on dove grey, is also available at finnstyle.


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Additional Photos

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Hyacinth flowers repeat on the Speckled Blooms curtain from

The Associated Press/

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Magnolia blossoms decorate Marimekko’s Keisarinna fabric.

The Associated Press/


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