The world we live in can be overwhelming at times. (Hello, 24-hour news cycle and infinite social media scroll!) Wouldn’t it be nice if your home environment could offer a bit of respite from the outside chaos, or some of the balance you’re craving these days?
Well, balance is the exact goal of a Swedish design concept called lagom. The idea is all about not having too much or too little, but just the right amount. (Goldilocks would surely approve.)
“Loosely translated, lagom means ‘in-between,’” says Swedish designer Anki Spets of AREA Home in New York City. “The word doesn’t always relate to design. An everyday example of using lagom would be ‘not too hot, or not too cold.’ But as a design concept, it means ‘just right.’ Not too expensive, not too luxurious, not too spare, not too much color, etc.”
Lagom is hardly a new concept in its home country. But in the past few years, the lagom lifestyle has expanded outside of Scandinavia—and it’s not hard to understand why, says Lotta Lundaas, CEO and founder of Norse Interiors in New York City.
“People are looking for balance in their lives, more so now than before,” she says. “We’re always connected, we have all the stores in the world gathered in our mobile phones, and we can watch whatever we want, whenever we want. If we also have cluttered homes, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, which is a driving factor for lagom becoming trendy.”
Ready to bring the balance back? Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing your lagom home.
Lagom isn’t ‘perfection’
“Being from Sweden, ‘lagom’ is a word I’m really missing in the English language,” Lundaas says. “It’s something you see in Scandinavian homes, which are dominated by simplicity and a natural palette. The concept of lagom relates to the use of colors, patterns, the amount of furniture in a room, and even plants. Basically, the entirety of home décor should have the right amount of everything.”
That right amount will depend on your space and décor preferences—but don’t focus too much on perfection.
“To incorporate lagom’s philosophy, there is no right or wrong, just a feeling of balance and equality in the finished design,” says Misty Yeomans, senior color expert at PPG Paints. “You can add touches that reflect authenticity, such as a family heirloom. But don’t overdo it. Remember, lagom is all about not too much, not too little.”
Steps to get your home lagom-ready
“Less is more, so start by decluttering,” she says.
Clearing out excess furniture is next.
“Think about what your main furniture pieces should be in every room,” Lundaas suggests. “A trademark for Scandinavian design is to combine form and function. An item shouldn’t just look pretty … it should also have a practical purpose in the home.
“I like to have at least one piece of vintage furniture in every room, which I think gives it soul,” she adds. “Then I mix it with cheaper pieces, often things from Ikea, which I hack to provide with a personal twist.”
As for colors, Lundaas says to keep it simple, too.
“Pick one primary color as a base, and another two—max, three—colors to accessorize with,” she recommends.
For the main color in the room, try a warm neutral like a hazy gray or a natural white for a cozy retreat. Then use green or a touch of blue to bring a bit of nature in from outside, Yeomans suggests.
Accessorize with care
Spets also stresses that you don’t want the room to look barren, but cozy.
“These days, decorators are looking to warm up minimal interiors, and that is best done with a lagom amount of textiles, pillows, and throws, or a lagom amount of flowers for a pop of color, and a lagom amount of art,” she says.
“It’s easy to associate lagom minimalism with a room that feels cold and impersonal,” Lundaas says. “But by making smart choices like the right lighting and incorporation of warm hygge elements like candles and blankets, you can still create a cozy atmosphere without having too many things in your home.”
What to buy for your lagom home
Ikea Landskrona sofa, $800
West Elm Valley Ridge rug, from $299
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