Scandinavian Workspace Inspiration for Renters


Last year, I sold my desk on a whim so I could use the money for a different desk.

Except, the second part of that plan never happened, which left me with no desk and a giant pile of files and craft supplies just sitting on the floor.

Spontaneity and decorating don’t always get along.

This year, I’m fixing the mess! I’m dreaming of white, bright, Scandinavian workspaces. All I want is a little corner of my own where I can work on DIYs and blog and stare at pretty pretty organization—and hopefully contain some of the piles of unfinished projects that collect around the apartment.

And since I’m a renter and many of you probably are too, I thought it might be helpful to highlight five elements that make a good Scandinavian workspace without a big investment. Here goes!

Scandinavian Workspace Inspiration for Renters

Scandinavian Workspace Inspiration for Renters via Idle Hands Awake

top image via The Design Files | bottom image via Hus & Hem

one: Plants! So important to bring life and warmth to an aesthetic that is otherwise pretty minimal. I love this concrete planter by The Armory Co. with its little succulent baby. Since my workspace will be a good few feet away from sunny windows, I’m thinking maidenhair fern, zz plant, and others that can tolerate being out of direct light. (If I had lots more light and less stuff to store, you can bet my desk would look like this!)

two: No boxy furniture here—Scandinavian design is all about openness. Slim, leggy pieces and open shelves give a feeling of space and minimalism. I’m leaning towards the Ikea Algot track shelving to create a corner desk with shelves above and around it. The system is inexpensive and modular, meaning if we move, I can rearrange it to fit our new space. Perfect for living the renting life.

three: Rich, layered textiles like plush sheepskins bring texture and interest to Scandinavian-style rooms. Go faux if you’re vegan like me. 🙂 This chunky knit throw is catching my eye too. And because I like a dash of boho with my Scandinavian, maybe a wee kilim?

four: Modern, simple art. Even though this gorgeous fashion illustration by Kristine Brookshire is more colorful than my inspiration images, its clean lines, basic shapes, and nearly monochrome palette still evoke that calm Scandinavian aesthetic. (Well, to me, but what the hell do I know?) Graphic black-and-white pieces work really well too, and I’m losing my mind over this enormous hanging canvas!

five: Metallic details add a bit of sparkle and semi-industrialism to round out the look. You know I’ll be using lots of copper in my workspace. (Hello, giant copper lamp of my dreams).

For reading all of that, you deserve a good laugh. This is what happened when I took away my desk:


That nonsense has been going on for a year. A year!

What do you think, renter-readers? Do any of these Scandinavian design ideas catch your eye? Who else has an absurdly embarrassing corner (or two) of their home?

Read the whole series:

Scandinavian workspace makeover — Before

How to shop IKEA like a pro

How to hang heavy shelves on horsehair plaster walls

Scandinavian workspace makeover — The Reveal

DIY Copper Inspiration Board


Author: Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

Maker, baker, cat momma, total nerd, perpetually covered in glitter/sawdust/paint. Blogging DIY and design for modern creatives.

11 comments on “Scandinavian Workspace Inspiration for Renters”

  1. I have a whole embarrassing room!! haha I wish I could have a room in my house that looks more like this. Sleek and minimal. Sometimes I feel like my whole house is a junk drawer! This is giving my ideas for my studio!!! Great work! Keep it up!

    1. “My whole house is a junk drawer.” Yes yes yes to this. We have vastly outgrown our little one bedroom (with one closet), in spite of yearly purging. This year we’re investing in some storage pieces to help contain everything! And, wait, you’re getting a studio?? Can I move in? <3

  2. I think every project goes through this phase. It’s like the evolution of a project is 1. Great big ideas! 2. Half completed project for extended period of time. 3. Reevaluate original project for one i can actually afford/accomplish 4. achieve some level of original plan 1.

    Also, YES to all things copper and green (aka living)!

  3. Hahaha, that’s my fear too! I’m working REALLY hard to purge purge purge and only by supplies when I have a specific use in mind (no more impromptu yarn skeins just because they’re pretty!). And I think I found a drawer unit that will provide some closed storage while still being slim. Plus, baskets! xoxo

  4. Hah I’m totally like you! I intend to do something and then I year goes by and I’m all “…oh yeah!”
    Love the inspiration. You can’t go wrong with scandinavian style!

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