Skip to main content

How to decorate a Nordic-style living room at Christmas

Want to change your living room's Christmas decor this year or make it more simple and elegant? Take note of these tips and replace the traditional red and green with Nordic-style tones. You'll see just how beautiful it looks! 

Come Christmas time, the living rooms of the most homes around the country are transformed and kitted out in their best finery to celebrate this festive period. When we think about what these decorations look like, what springs to mind? Typically basic accessories such as lights, ornaments (often red) and perhaps a spot of festive music to get us in the mood. What if we changed things up a little this year and tried something different?

We suggest some simple, affordable ideas to add a very Swedish touch to your home, with Christmas decoration ideas in the traditional Nordic style. Don't miss out on these tips to bring a winter-like atmosphere to your home. Let's begin! 

First steps for decorating in the Nordic style at Christmas

What we are looking for is the polar opposite of the traditional Christmas style, with that huge explosion of colours, in favour of a more northern style. Essentially, we must build a space where the following take centre stage:

  • A simple colour palette: look for neutral tones, such as white and earthy colours. You can also add small blue or red flourishes, a very typical combination of traditional Swedish Christmas decor.
  • Including natural elements, such as wood or plant life.
  • Aim for simplicity: we must not overload our living space.
  • A soft warm effect. What we are after is a cosy and peaceful setting. The best way of achieving this is by adjusting the room lighting.

Simple, right? Now that we have a basic idea of how to decorate our living room in Nordic-style Christmas decor, let's take a look at some practical examples for added inspiration. 

How to decorate your Christmas tree like the Swiss

We start with the most basic decoration of a Nordic Christmas: the Christmas tree. As already mentioned, we have to "unlearn" our typical approach to decorating the house. When it comes to the Christmas tree, it is best to use simple, elegant decorations.  

If your Christmas tree is a traditional fir, we recommend that you use white, red or blue Christmas ornaments. Remember to use your reds and blues sparingly. White ornaments are really easy to find and will give your tree a winter look, which is just what we're looking for. And try not to overdo it. As a final touch, you can hang a garland of warm white Christmas lights and, if possible, use small LEDs for a more classy look. In fact, you can always choose a much more minimalist look by decorating with lights alone.

There are many alternatives to the traditional Christmas tree and endless ways of decorating it. The most important thing about this style of Christmas decor is that everything revolves around soft tones.  

Wrap Christmas gifts in Nordic style

If we want that full Nordic decor experience, we have to take care of the smallest details, and we mustn't forget the Christmas gifts that go under the tree. Instead of typical wrapping paper with loud, multicoloured designs, the Nordics (or at least those that decorate in the traditional style) wrap their gifts with a much more 'natural' look and with a more homemade finish. Let us inspire you with two examples:  

If you like this idea, it's as easy as wrapping your Christmas gifts with brown paper, such as craft paper, perhaps adding a nice gift tape (to add a splash of colour) and a gift tag to include the name of the person the gift is for. Arrange them in a decorative way or use this idea to scatter the gifts under the tree. 

For another idea, what about replacing traditional wrapping paper with wrapping cloth? It's really easy to use, especially for those who don't want to waste much time wrapping presents or don't have the knack for it. Gift bags like these allow you to decorate presents in a different, Nordic and highly original way. As a final touch, why not wrap some twigs around the present with a bit of string?

Christmas lights to create a peaceful atmosphere

Earlier, we mentioned that Christmas lights also play an important role in Nordic Christmas decoration. You need to bear in mind that it is better for the lights to be a single colour and, if possible, they should be white or warm white, rather than some other colour.

Try to ensure that the lights give off a soft twinkle, so that they fill the living room with a touch of magic. As such, the bulbs shouldn't be too large or give off overly bright light that could overexpose the room lighting. This is ideal, because as well as getting a stunningly beautiful effect, you won't have to spend a fortune on Christmas lighting. 

You can play around with different decorative lighting effects. For example, you can go for the typical Christmas light garlands. You can use these to decorate almost any area: the Christmas tree (as mentioned earlier), window ledges or the edge of furniture, or even use it as a centrepiece. 

You can also go for aromatic candles or, for added convenience, LED candles. They're perfect if you have little ones at home or you simply prefer not to play with fire.  

Lamps are another great alternative. There are models that, although larger than usual, give out a soft light, making them perfect for the simple effect we're looking for. The key is to use just a few but to make them stand out, perhaps by placing a couple of ring lamps in the window, like in the photo. You can also place a star-shaped lamp display on the floor (as in the photo at the start) or on an item of furniture. 

How to decorate the Christmas table in Nordic style

The last element of the living room to decorate in Nordic style this Christmas is the dining table. This our suggestion for you. If you like it, be sure to take note! 

If you already have a wooden table, you have the perfect start for decorating a Nordic-style Christmas table. Why? Because, as we mentioned earlier, wood is one of the cornerstones of this natural Nordic style, so let's use it. If you don't have a wooden table, or prefer to use a tablecloth, another alternative for setting a Nordic-style Christmas table would be a tablecloth featuring soft, earthy tones.  

This is a simple, affordable Christmas decoration. It consists mainly of tableware in natural tones (our GLADELIG), with fine gold trim, transparent glasses like those you use every day, and a basic cutlery set in black tones. The only "special" touch we've added is a small centrepiece made from pine leaves and nuts, a few black candle holders of different heights to create atmosphere and, as a final touch, cloth napkins accompanied by a natural ornament.

This is our suggestion, but feel free to play around with different elements to achieve the Nordic look you're after, perhaps a white tablecloth or a table runner that has a fine print, maybe some gold trim, or perhaps even in the colours we mentioned earlier (red and blue).

What did you think? As you'll see, there's no one way to decorate the living room at Christmas in Nordic or Scandinavian style. In fact, there are many different and equally valid options, as long as you stick to the basic features we outlined at the beginning of the article. Remember: simplicity is key.

Get into the festive spirit and be inspired by more Christmas decorating ideas to get your home ready. Don’t miss out on these tips:  

We love it when customers use our products in a creative way. Why not try to do something new with them yourself? But do remember, any modifications or changes that you make to IKEA products will prevent them from being resold or used for their original use, thus invalidating IKEA product warranties and your right to return.