The Scandinavian Art of Balanced Living

In Sweden they have a word for balance – Lagom. It means ‘just the right amount’ and it is the essence of Scandinavian design, which has become so loved, respected and revered around the world. 

Characterised by simplicity with no loss of warmth, functionality without compromising sophistication, Scandinavian architecture and design is a lesson in skill and expertise. It is where the results speak for themselves and there’s no need for aesthetic hyperbole.

There’s a book by Linnea Dunne called Lagom: The Swedish Art of balanced living, that outlines an ethos that could not be more prevalent in today’s world as we all strive for balance between work, life and wellbeing. It’s this mentality that inspired our designer’s approach to the culinary space on this project, and such was its effectiveness that it went on to influence the curation of the rest of the house. 

The home in rural Surrey is an homage to the Scandinavian principles of Lagom. Surrounded by verdant green hills, the property has been updated to be the embodiment of balance. Straddling the line between architectural heritage and the beauty of modern living, the cosiness of a home and the connectivity with nature that’s afforded by the use of modern materials, the property achieves balance with graceful precision.

Beauty is more than skin deep

Scandinavian design is often conflated with simplicity, and indeed that’s a central tenet. However, it’s simplicity with intent that we treasure; every decision is made to support a holistic sense of wellbeing. This culinary space reflects that ideology, where our creative team has prioritised seamlessness between surfaces and spaces.

For example, the brushed steel worktops have been welded where they meet the sink so one flows into the next. Where plug sockets are set into stone patterned surfaces we have used digital printing to replicate the surrounding veined finish, rendering the fitting almost invisible. An extension which was added to the kitchen is formed almost entirely of glass, with bifold doors into the garden, extending the room, providing a clear delineation between the dining area and the workspace but creating continuity using the flow of light.

Everything is not as it seems

The real pièce de résistance is the kitchen peninsula, which gives the impression of being an island. With a comparatively narrow space to work with, our creative team opted for a more strategic use of space in creating a peninsula, but they still wanted the dramatic effect of a freestanding island. As a result, they employed the use of varied levels and depths to create a joyful optical illusion. 

In true Scandinavian style, the kitchen is very much about functionality, and so seamless design extends to the interior of the drawers and cupboards as well. Leveraging the expertise of SieMatic’s Multimatic solutions, storage is perfectly organised. While quality has been vehemently prioritised, so too has that pervading sense of balance, so accessories have been selected carefully in line with how the culinary space is to be used, rather than opting for the full range. Once again the house abides by the philosophy of ‘just enough’, making it tantalisingly chic and refined rather than oppressively overindulgent.

Simplicity that soothes the soul

Warmth is an enormous part of Scandinavian culture, born of a desire to nurture individuals and communities through harsh winter months. It’s central to their Hygge philosophy that’s been somewhat appropriated by popular culture in recent years. While images of cashmere socks and roaring fires might characterise that particular Scandi tradition, it’s the purity of the Lagom principles that shine in this house.

Clean, seamless and understated it might be, but it’s unequivocally warm and welcoming as well. A range of textures which add depth and richness to the space, eschew any chance of the largely monochromatic colour scheme being construed as clinical. There’s the ceramic stone island, the stainless steel worktops and the contrasting wooden surfaces, all of which create a feeling of sensuality and tranquillity.

Design is in the details

The purity of Scandinavian style hinges on the quality of design, and in this home quality is everything. From the Carl Hansen & Søn Elbow chairs to the carefully matched dining table imported from Denmark, it’s the skill and craftsmanship of the individual details that uphold its stylistic integrity.

That doesn’t mean that there is any shortage of luxury however. See the richness of the rose gold on the Occhio light fixtures, which are an unobtrusive but artful inclusion, enhancing the experience of the space but without obstructing the view of the garden. Meanwhile, the dark river washed black oak cabinetry and the highly sophisticated, top of the range Gaggenau cooking technology are standout features.

In balance, perfectly simple, just enough – however you translate Lagom, in a world of excess, its principles are a reminder of the delicious refinement in simplicity.

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