Scandi balance

Embrace the Swedish trend of achieving a more balanced lifestyle using the concept of ‘lagom’, with tips from Catharina Bjorkman – of Swedish wood burning stove company Contura.

The Swedish term ‘lagom’ (pronounced lar-gom) means ‘just the right amount’; ‘not too much, not too little’. It comes from the phrase ‘lagom ar̈ bas̈ t’ meaning ‘the right amount is best’, and is all about achieving balance, moderation and sustainable living, as well as prudent, and being content with what we’ve got.

Lagom is not just about our lifestyles; it extends to our homes as well. A balanced home means living sustainably, creating less waste, cutting down on clutter and embracing all things natural; from plants to light. In short, embracing lagom will lead to greater wellbeing and happiness at home, while benefitting the environment and your bank balance, too.

Embrace balanced colours

Your home should be a sanctuary, a place to unwind, and choosing a soothing colour scheme – cool greens, calming blues and pale or pastel colours – encourages us to relax and regenerate. Try pairing white or grey walls and plain wooden floors with accents of colour from cushions, lamps and rugs for a pared- back Scandi style.

Less is more

A cluttered home is a no-go when it comes to lagom. You need a space that balances and uplifts – and endless piles of laundry, stacks of old magazines and clutter isn’t going to cut it.

Take inspiration from Marie Kondo’s book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up and make time to have a proper clear out before moving in to your new home – the result will be a more pleasant place to spend time, and you will feel more refreshed and happy as a result.

Add greenery

Plants are an inexpensive yet simple way to bring the outdoors in and add a touch of nature to your home. They also brighten up living spaces and help keep the air clean.

Aloe vera, spider plants and cheese plants are easy to care for. Or add a selection of cacti with a mixture of metal and terracotta pots. For a splash of colour, try adding an orchid or a window box of flowers to herald in the spring.

Let there be light

Try to use less energy in your home by making the most of natural light. Ensure windowsills are kept clear of clutter and don’t position any furniture where it will end up blocking the sun’s rays.

Dark curtains can also be switched for lighter ones, or removed entirely, in time for summer. It’s also worth switching to LED lights which use 85 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs, making them super-efficient and sustainable.

Recycle and reuse

Being frugal and spend-thrift is also a part of lagom. Upcycle projects can provide huge gratification. You can upcycle items you already own to create completely new and unique items. Rather than discarding items and spending on new ones, sand and paint a shabby wooden sideboard, upholster a worn stool with fabric from a dress that you no longer wear, or sew unwanted clothes into patchwork quilts.

Any furniture you have to buy also needn’t be brand spanking new; you can unearth some real second-hand treasures in charity shops or from websites such as eBay, Gumtree and Preloved that will add character and charm to a home. Opt for natural and sustainable materials where possible, such as linen, cotton, wool and wood, and consider how the items have been produced before buying – the more eco- friendly and sustainable, the better.

Invest in key pieces

Lagom is centred on frugality, but it’s also about spending wisely and choosing investment one-off pieces, rather than updating your home every season. Lagom goes against a throwaway culture and encourages us to be selective in what we choose to put in our homes, so pick items based on their practicality and function as well as their beauty.

It’s worth spending slightly more on larger home items such as sofas, dining tables, wardrobes and sideboards to ensure better quality, as these will last a lot longer and save time and money wasted on frequent purchases of poor quality items.