Swedish furniture design and Scandinavian minimalist trends continue to dominate the interior design world. In the past, the Danish trend of hygge has grabbed headlines, but now it’s stepping aside to make room for another Scandinavian lifestyle trend: lagom. Unlike hygge, which is all about charm and coziness, the lagom interior design trend and lifestyle embraces a minimalistic approach that is reflected in both design and mindset. Where hygge puts an emphasis on comfort, lagom seeks to find contentment.
Pronounced “lah-gome” (with an emphasis on the first syllable and the second syllable rhyming with “home”), the word roughly translates into having not too much or too little. It’s more than just a minimalist trend. It’s about trading in the idea of consumerism and living in moderation instead. It also embraces sustainability and looks to reuse and recycle rather than discard and replace.
“Lagom is about finding a balance that works for you,” explains Niki Brantmark, founder of the My Scandinavian Home blog and author of “Lagom: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life.”
“In an age where we feel connected 24/7 and time-poor, the lagom philosophy is about finding balance, slowing down, and taking time to do things right in an uncomplicated way.” That can change everything, from how much you buy at the grocery store to the way you decorate your home.
“Lagom isn’t about denying yourself life’s pleasures; it’s about enjoying everything in moderation in a healthy, balanced way,” Brantmark says. “By channeling the Swedes and making subtle changes to your routine, you can bring a sense of equilibrium to your life and a greater feeling of calm and contentment.”
Although the word itself is Swedish, the concept of living well with less is not unique to Sweden, notes Naomi Crocker, an executive and consular services coordinator of the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. She points to Americans who grew up during the Great Depression, when most people learned to live with much less than they needed.
“They passed on to their children the notion of working hard to have enough but never taking more than you truly need,” she says. Although not everyone in America still embraces that idea, she says many still consider it part of their legacy and responsibility. “Whether the message concerns water, food waste, use of personal vehicles, or electricity, lagom is evoked each time we warn against using resources more than are needed,” Crocker explains.
Lagom at Home
From a design standpoint, adopting lagom interior design may initially sound similar to focusing on minimalist design, but there’s a difference. While minimalism brings to mind stark white walls and nothing but the basics, lagom and Swedish furniture design in general invites the use of color; it just doesn’t overdo the color palette. The colors are often neutral but not as cold and clinical as the white hues of minimalist design.
“Due to the lack of light in winter time, Scandinavians work hard to ensure as much light as possible in the home,” Brantmark says. “The color palette is usually made up of pale colors, such as light gray, and the tones are on the earthy spectrum.”
Accents of deep blue, green, and vibrant oranges and yellows may also work themselves into the scheme. “The key is to use more vibrant colors in moderation and find a balance that works for the room,” Brantmark says.
Anyone can implement a bit of lagom into a home, and it doesn’t mean you have to change your design style. After all, it’s not all about minimalist furniture design. If anything, all that’s required of lagom interior design is a shift in mindset.
“The best way to start is to have a big clear-out, keeping only items that you use and love,” Brantmark suggests. Change brightly colored walls to softer, natural tones, and add touches of texture with linen, felt, wood, and sheepskin. Look to Swedish furniture design and simple but versatile pieces that complement — rather than overpower — one another to create a lagom interior.
Sophie MacGregor, managing editor of the U.K.-based Houseology Design Group Limited, suggests incorporating woven natural materials and touches of natural greenery to create harmony in the space and further reinforce the sustainability mindset of lagom and Swedish minimalist design. If you’re buying new items for your home, then look for sustainable materials, such as fabrics made from recycled fibers and natural, locally made textiles and furniture.
Putting It into Practice
Like hygge, lagom is about more than just the way you design your space. The balance that’s reflected in each room’s design carries over into the type of energy that’s used in the home as well as how much energy is used. For example, a big part of lagom is focused on reducing energy consumption, so using renewable energy sources and eco-friendly fuels is important.
Most changes are subtle but effective, such as switching out standard light bulbs for energy-saving, longer lasting LED lights, using curtains to block the hot summer sun, or keeping the heat inside during winter. Think about turning the thermostat down a degree or two during cold months and adding an extra blanket to the bed instead.
Bigger steps toward becoming more lagom include such choices as switching to solar panels to provide clean, sustainable energy for your home and buying appliances like refrigerators and washing machines that are designed to use less energy.
“It can be incredibly rewarding to base your entire philosophy on lagom and move through life making choices that are based on something other than your own needs and wants,” Crocker says. “On a more concrete level, viewing life through the ‘lagom lens’ can help with everything from decluttering a closet to maintaining a healthier diet.”
As you look for ways to streamline the design of your home, CORT Furniture Rental can help you find the pieces inspired by Swedish furniture design that are sure to be “just right” for your lagom lifestyle.