If months of spending most of your time at home has you rethinking your design scheme, you’re not alone. According to The New York Times, home renovation and remodeling is booming during the pandemic, sometimes prompted by the need to adapt homes for remote work and schooling.
One trend that’s continuing to grow is Scandinavian interior design, known for being simple, functional and environmentally conscious. The minimalist, clean style often combines different textures and features striking contrasts, with an element of coziness — or, as the Danish call it, “hygge.”
But Scandinavian design doesn’t just refer to what’s on your walls — it can also refer to how those walls are built. Unity Homes, a Walpole-based design and build company that’s affiliated with Bensonwood, has worked with companies in Scandinavia to improve its building methods, according to Sales Manager Dick Struthers.
Struthers said Unity Homes’ unique design and build process draws from techniques used in countries around the world, including Sweden, Germany, France and Japan. The process begins with a 3D computer model that’s customized to the client’s needs and budget. Then, large “puzzle pieces” of the home are prefabricated at Unity Homes’ facility, and later assembled at the build site.
“The Scandinavian countries seem to be pretty far ahead with this idea of off-site construction and on-site assembly of homes and buildings,” Struthers said. “A lot of it has been driven by energy — energy costs and a desire for better energy performance.”
He added that each component of the home is created with high-precision machines that ensure accuracy and make it so that the pieces seal together tightly. The homes are “about as hermetically sealed as you can get,” which helps improve energy performance, retain warmth and manage moisture. The company also installs mechanical air filtering systems into each home for optimal air quality.
Though Unity Homes typically hands off the finishing process to local contractors, the company provides materials for the inner finishings and fixtures that clients can customize for a more streamlined, modern look.
Scandinavian interiors often feature light, cool colors such as white and light grey, and punctuated with subtle pops of color. The style is known for incorporating warm textiles, as well as wood and metal furnishings; wood is also the material of choice for flooring.
According to Struthers, using wood rather than materials like steel or concrete in construction is also environmentally advantageous, because of its smaller carbon footprint.
“Most of the companies that we relate with in Scandinavia, we like using wood because of its carbon footprint basically,” he said. “So, we’re sequestering a lot of carbon that’s in the environment in trees, and then using trees to make lumber, and using that lumber in the home.”
Another element of Scandinavian knowledge incorporated into the designs are Unity Homes’ “tilt-turn” windows, which are set about halfway back in the 13-inch outer wall of the homes. According to Struthers, the company uses a special sealing technique on the windows that keeps moisture out — another plus for energy efficiency.
“That provides the best energy profile, and it provides a slightly different look in terms of the shadow lines and how the house might look from the outside,” he said.
The windows are important to consider when thinking about interiors too — because natural light is scarce for many months of the year in Scandinavia, the design style typically makes the most of any natural sunlight with sparse window treatments and light, reflective color schemes. For added illumination, try modern fixtures such as sconces and pendant lamps, or even candles to really cozy things up.
Whether you’re looking for a brand new, energy-efficient home or just a little more “hygge,” in your life, Scandinavian design might just do the trick.
For more information, visit Unity Homes online at unityhomes.com.