'My vibrant home is a joyful take on Nordic style’ says this colour-happy home owner

A mix of Nordic simplicity and vibrant decoration is a recipe for success in this uplifting home in the Buckinghamshire countryside

blue and grey kitchen with floral wallpaper
(Image credit: James French)

After outgrowing their previous 1970s home and keen to buy a bigger property in the nearby countryside, this newly-renovated 1920s house in the Chiltern Hills ticked all the right boxes for this Finnish-born home owner.

‘We didn’t want to take on a building project and renovation,’ she explains. ‘However, the house was newly renovated and in immaculate condition and since I’m from Finland, I was drawn to the white walls and hardwood floors, which instantly reminded me of the tranquillity I feel in houses back home.’

Calm, relaxed living room

scandi living room with white sofa

(Image credit: James French)

‘Although I love this minimalist look, I hadn’t chosen the kitchen or the bathrooms and it felt too much like the previous owners' space. My husband and I are outgoing people and I felt strongly that I needed to express our personalities with colours and prints without losing the sense of calm already here.’

‘The house is bigger than our previous home so we didn’t have enough furniture and it was a little overwhelming with knowing where to start. I lived in the space before I made any changes – I’m quite a slow interiors decorator – and if the house hadn’t already been painted white that’s where I’d begin.'

Cosy living room layout

scandi living room with striped rug and blue sofa

(Image credit: James French)

'It’s much easier to see how the light works in rooms and gradually build-up colour. For example, our living room is quite dark and I wasn’t sure what to do at first. I decided to embrace the cosiness by buying a pair of rich teal sofas arranged around the wood burner, which is a great contemporary colour as I’m not keen on traditional styles. From here, my confidence with colour and pattern began to emerge.'

‘I grew-up in a pared back Finnish environment and spent my childhood playing in the forest and by the lakes, so I love seeing greenery, flowers and wildlife in my home. Being surrounded by nature, even if only in prints and plants, is good for your mental health too and I really feel that. Living abroad had an impact on some of my decision-making.'

Comfy spot

Scandi living room with green chair

(Image credit: James French)

‘In particular, I connected with fashion and interiors in the Netherlands where design is colourful, quirky and full of joy, it’s very refreshing. This was where I developed a genuine passion for bold interiors, which encouraged me to become brave in my own home. My Instagram @nordiclivingincolour reflects my love of colour too.'

‘That said, I’ve retained my love of Nordic simplicity and don’t like so much colour that rooms feel claustrophobic. I achieved the balance with plenty of white empty space – not crowding the walls with too much art or putting wallpaper on all the walls so it’s very calming.’

Colourful kitchen wallpaper

grey kitchen with floral wallpaper

(Image credit: James French)

‘Lockdown became the catalyst for big changes. Without travel I needed some excitement in my life and bright wallpapers seemed to satisfy that need! I’d been struggling with making the kitchen-diner come together, which is a big room and felt very bland.’

‘I went for kitchen wallpaper first in a wonderful Swedish flower print on a white background to bring more personality into the room. It's called Rabarber by Borastapeter (available at Wallpaper Direct). This left the dining area looking disjointed – and then I had a brainwave. I used the same pattern on a dark background, which felt more glamorous and appropriate for dining.’

Mix and match scheme

blue and grey kitchen with floral wallpaper

(Image credit: James French)

‘The wallpaper opened the creative floodgates as I had a palette of colours to build the rest of the scheme. Greens and pinks appear in both wallpapers, picked out with plants, a chair and accessories.’

‘To balance out the bold pattern I added touches of black, which also makes the shaker kitchen look more modern. I was a bit unsure about doing the wallpapering myself so once restrictions had lifted, a decorator friend did this room, the living room, and snug alcoves.’

Focal point island

blue kitchen island with floral wallpaper

(Image credit: James French)

‘The kitchen island is in Farrow & Ball’s Downpipe but I’m going to paint it dark green to go with the floral wallpaper and black furniture.'

‘I get so much joy from the colourful floral wallpaper, which adds colour and a contemporary feel to the traditional shaker kitchen.’ 

Colourful alcove

alcove with wallpaper and wooden cabinet

(Image credit: James French)

'When it came to choosing furniture, it was essential any design changes worked around things we already owned but there were pieces we needed to buy. I think carefully before I spend and I’m conscious about buying furniture that will last us forever as I don’t like to throw things away.’

Tranquil home office

green home office with desk

(Image credit: James French)

‘I didn’t need to change the shelf or desk as the whole home office space was uplifted with Little Greene’s Pleat 280, a gorgeous green.’

‘I wanted each room to feel special and have its own character because they all have different purposes. What’s common is the Nordic minimalist backbone of white space and hardwood floors, which is an important calming foundation. I can’t imagine ever having carpets – we use rugs in Finnish houses and have a special frame in the garden for beating the dust out of them!’

Colourful loft space

orange office with desk and chair

(Image credit: James French)

'I like genuine Scandi designs – I’m the founder of Scandi design shop, Cloudberry Living – which might mean investing in a designer piece like our Louis Poulsen light or buying from affordable Ikea.’ 

Relaxed bedroom scheme

green bedroom with wooden bed

(Image credit: James French)

‘In the bedroom I wanted a light, airy Nordic look with luxury copper touches in the picture frame and planter for a luxurious boutique hotel feel. Hanging greenery adds a pop of contrast colour to the calming blue and green bedroom scheme.'

Botanical-themed bedroom

white bedroom with black bed and floral posters

(Image credit: James French)

‘In my daughter's bedroom, the botanical posters from Finland are a perfection reflection of her style. The rattan side table is from La Redoute.’

Compact en-suite

small bathroom with blue tiled shower

(Image credit: James French)

‘I carried the Nordic colours that run throughout the house into the en suite bathroom too.  The copper toned splashback is from Howdens and the blue-green Lily Pad tiles are from Ca' Pietra. I love them.'

Reading corner

library with books and chair

(Image credit: James French)

'It’s taken four years to get to this point – this is what I mean about being a slow interiors decorator! I love all of it - our house finally reflects our personalities and feels like our home. Wallpaper has made such a difference, it brings joy to the rooms and has been the biggest success.'

'But this isn’t the end. When I change something in my home, I feel like I’ve been transported to a different place, I get a great deal of satisfaction from these projects, so there are more ideas to come.'

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