Scandinavian vs. Dutch Interior Design
From art deco to rustic farmhouse, there are hundreds of interior design styles to choose from when decorating your space. But if keeping up with the latest trends sounds cumbersome, you can’t go wrong with Dutch design.
If you’ve landed on this article, you’re probably wondering what the differences are between Dutch design and Scandinavian design. These terms are often used interchangeably because of their similarities, but the two styles have some key differences. In this article, we’ll explore Dutch design vs. Scandinavian design, first taking a peek through their respective histories to better identify their distinct qualities.
Both Dutch design and Scandinavian design are classic interior design styles that have not only stayed in style for years, but continue to grow in popularity. Let’s dive into the distinctions between Scandinavian and Dutch interior design.
Dutch Design vs. Scandinavian Design – A Brief History
Before we can dive into the world of Dutch design vs. Scandinavian design, we first need to understand the deep-rooted history and influences of these two unique styles. These regions are geographically close to one another in northern Europe, but they definitely aren’t the same.
History of Dutch Interior Design
First, let’s start with a common question: what does “Dutch” mean? Dutch is not a country, it’s not even a place—but it is an adjective that represents the people of the Netherlands and a noun for the language of the Netherlands. Dutch people live in the Netherlands and speak Dutch.
The Netherlands is a small yet culturally rich country in northwestern Europe. The Netherlands is known for its notorious capital, Amsterdam, its fairytale windmills, Gouda cheese, fields of tulips, Miffy the loveable children’s character, countless museums, and much more.
Dutch interior arrangement is an art form in the Netherlands, and gained popularity in the early 1900s when ‘t Binnenhuis became one of the most important, if not the most important furniture creation movements of the time. Several architects and designers had a hand in this project, such as:
- Jac. Van den Bosch
- H.P. Berlage
- Gerling Hoeker
- William Hoeker
Together, these professionals focused on designing well-crafted yet affordable furniture for the masses. This movement carried well into the 21st century and these designers’ work helped pave the way for practical, yet well-made modern furniture.
The History of Scandinavian Interior Design
Scandinavian style encompasses trends from region consisting of five different Scandinavian and Nordic countries:
Like the Netherlands, each country is known for its own unique culture and interior design history. So, what do you get when you mix them all together?
The result: the clean and crisp Scandinavian design—also commonly referred to as “Scandi” design.
Scandi design emerged officially in the 1930s, and became formalized at a traveling design show called “Scandinavian Design.” (Source) While Scandinavian design rose to popularity during the early 20th century, this style’s emphasis on creating clean and sleek spaces didn’t gain popularity in the United States until the 1950s.
During this time, the Lunning Prize was introduced by a Danish-born man turned New York businessman to showcase young Scandinavian designers. The Lunning Prize was awarded annually between 1951 and 1972 and is credited for helping increase Scandi design popularity in the United States.
Dutch vs. Scandinavian Design Styles
Now that we’ve gotten familiar with Dutch Design vs. Scandinavian Design from a historical standpoint, let’s take a closer look at the two from a style standpoint.
Dutch design can be expressed in four words: simple, practical, innovative, and timeless. It emphasizes high-quality and intentional pieces to maximize the potential of any space.
While this style might be simple, it should not be overlooked. Dutch interior designers believe that less is more, but also that there is beauty in balance. So while these designers tend to opt for light walls while incorporating earthy tones, the white is often offset with the occasional pop of vibrant hues from a painting, statement piece of furniture, or another type of artwork. This contrast between neutral and colorful palettes creates an aesthetically pleasing appearance and a quirky feel, yet remains subtle rather than distracting.
A large family table is one of the most characteristically Dutch furniture pieces. It’s practical, yet beautiful. Its hand-crafted wood complements the earthy hues strategically incorporated throughout the rest of the space from the walls to the pillows.
While Dutch style favors the incorporation of a grand table, this style also believes that clutter diminishes the beauty of a space, and clunky furniture is no exception. The practicality of Dutch design ensures that every square inch of a room is being used to its full potential, while still keeping a comprehensive and fluid path, allowing you to seamlessly move in and out of rooms.
What’s more, this minimalistic design approach is not going out of style anytime soon. Add Dutch furniture to your space as a timeless, high-quality statement that’ll stay in style for years to come.
Scandi design shares a lot of characteristics with Dutch design. This minimalistic style looks both effortless and purposeful, with the incorporation of practical, clean-cut furniture and light earthy colors.
Like the Dutch style, it sticks to neutral hues but isn’t afraid to add a splash of color or fun patterns to a space. Symmetrical yet colorful patterns are visually appealing and support the idea that while a space may be minimal, it doesn’t have to be boring.
Scandinavian style also puts a lot of emphasis on negative space. This design style believes that light-colored walls are ideal for maximizing small spaces, especially those that receive a lot of natural light. The idea is that sunlight bounces off the light walls and makes the space seem brighter, more inviting, and a bit larger.
Scandinavian design makes conservative use of furniture, only adding a few pieces with a sleek and humble style to the space at a time.
The Difference Between Scandinavian Design & Dutch Design
Looking back at the background of both Scandinavian and Dutch design, it’s both apparent in name and history that these two styles originate in entirely different regions with unique cultures and histories of their own. While both rose to popularity in the United States during the same mid-twentieth century, they have managed to remain similar yet separate styles to this day.
Both styles employ a minimalistic approach and include light and bright spaces with earthy tones to maximize space. They both also include practical yet innovative furniture that’s built to last—both against changing trends and long-term use. However, Dutch design adds more vibrant colors for a quirky and humorous feel than the Scandinavian design. The fundamental difference, however, is in the approach.
Scandinavian design attempts to eliminate as much clutter and visual stimuli as is possible and practicable. This elimination, in Scandinavian design, makes a space appear larger, more open and inviting, and visually seamless.
Dutch design, on the other hand, focuses on intentional addition. The goal is not to eliminate, it’s to selectively add and appreciate. The result is a more curated and unique space, personalized to fit the individual living in it.