In the world of interiors, modern Scandinavian interior design is synonymous with a neutral palette, clean lines and pared-back pieces. And the beauty of this timeless style is that it fits seamlessly into almost any environment – even one that’s many thousands of kilometres from its Nordic epicentre.
When New Zealand-based interior stylist Michelle Halford and her husband Dean built their Auckland home more than seven years ago, there was no doubt that Scandinavian style would be the guiding light for their interiors. After all, Halford has built a reputation off the back of her popular blog The Design Chaser, a long-running tribute to Nordic design.
The family home for the couple and their two sons is, says Halford, “clean, elegant and layered”. There are the obvious markers – iconic pieces of furniture, like the String Shelving System, dot the home – but the Scandinavian influence can also be felt in more subtle ways, including in the fragrances that Halford enjoys.
“Scandinavian style takes a 'less is more' approach with the use of natural materials like leather and wood. I love how these materials smell and how they patina beautifully over time,” she explains. “The Nordic tradition of using candlelight is synonymous with coziness, and the addition of warming scents makes for the perfect 'hygge' moment. It's all about creating simple luxury.”
How would you describe your interiors aesthetic?
I feel most comfortable surrounded by neutral colours and pared-back styling, but I'm also a very tactile person. I gravitate towards textiles and surfaces that encourage engagement through the senses, and I love injecting warmth through textural elements. It's important for me to create spaces that not only look beautiful but feel comfortable and inviting, and I believe this is best achieved through a slow, considered process – by choosing pieces that will last, and creating a sense of harmony with things you love. For me, that includes books, art, textural layers, sensory elements and handcrafted pieces.
What are some of the most treasured objects in your home?
Our beautiful Armadillo Agra rugs from The Ivy House. Handcrafted by artisans from pure wool, they are works of art that ground our living and dining spaces and provide an incredible softness underfoot. My book collection, which includes a diverse range of inspiration across interiors, art, design, architecture and photography. Lamps are a bit of an obsession for me, and some of my favourites include our DCW Editions wall and floor lamps and Lumina table lamps. Artworks by New Zealand artists, including two by Jane Denton and one by Toronto-based Anna Church.
What time of day do you most enjoy being in your home?
I've become such a homebody in recent years, and have really come to appreciate those quiet moments I get to myself. Waking up early before the rest of the family and enjoying a coffee on the deck in summer, or getting stuck into a work project while the kids are at school. But equally, I love family time – when we all sit down to eat dinner together or cuddle on the couch watching a movie.
Do you gravitate towards any particular notes or fragrances for your home?
It depends on the mood or experience I want to evoke. For summer days I enjoy fresh and uplifting notes with mellow undertones – combinations of lighter florals and musk spring to mind. On summer evenings I'll usually choose scents that are more sensual such as woody or leather notes. In my home office I gravitate towards uplifting scents, while in the living area I tend to turn to scents that are more calming and restorative.
At home I've been burning LUMIRA Paradiso del Sole to evoke a vibrant yet relaxed mood – perfect for summer days – and Tunisian Mint Tea, which I find both calming and uplifting. I also adore the LUMIRA Perfume Oils. This summer I've been alternating between Balinese Ylang Ylang — I find its earthy, smokey scent incredibly captivating — with No.352 Leather & Cedar, which is so warm and sensual. The Paradiso del Sole Hand Wash is amazing too! I love that it's kind to my sensitive skin and that it comes in a glass bottle with refill pouches.
How do you like to use scent in your home?
Lighting candles is a ritual for me. I love the sensory power of scent, how it creates a mood, transports me to another place or evokes certain memories. It also creates a warm welcome for visitors. Friends and family always comment on the beautiful scent that envelopes them as they walk through the door of our home. Using my LUMIRA products is a daily ritual. I love lighting a candle first thing, and again as the sun goes down. I apply the perfume oils after I shower and never leave home without one in my handbag. The Hand Wash is perfect for both the kitchen and bathroom.
What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
Reigniting projects that were put on hold in 2020, and starting new ones. Continuing to work with wonderful brands and people.
Written by Michelle Bateman