Why ‘Scandi-Cowboy’ Is My Go-to Entertaining Style This Holiday Season
Mixing Danish with dude ranch never looked so good.
Still decorating for the holidays? While some of you might have finished the assignment just minutes after Thanksgiving, others are still trying to figure out this year’s signature look. No matter if your plates are already set or if you’re still Pinterest perusing, I’ve got a style suggestion for you: Scandi-Cowboy. Hoedown meets hygge, it’s a design style that pairs rustic materials with playful patterns and can be both minimalist or bold depending on how you spin it to your own personal style.
The inspiration comes from a recent invite to kick off the holiday season with designer and lifestyle expert Nathan Turner at his Alisal Ranch annual holiday workshop. To give you a visual, think of decking the halls at a luxury dude ranch located just outside the quaint Danish village of Solvang, California. Where laid-back meets high end, nature is the main star and whimsical moments are woven throughout. Scandi-Cowboy is an alternate universe that comes together seamlessly for a holiday hit that evokes pure joy.
Turner’s advice when tackling the look? “Just be extra. I’ve never met a theme I didn’t love because it makes it fun and gives you something to work with. Deep dive into your theme and stick with it. It’s not a chore, make it fun!”
I know what you’re thinking. The season is upon us, I can’t whip this up! But Turner, whose eclectic style meets chic effortlessness, has some helpful tips to pull this off just in time for your upcoming festivities. Not throwing a dinner party this holiday season? These design ideas can be scaled-down into smaller moments around your home. Try a few of these details on a Christmas tree, a centerpiece, or even an inspired wreath that you’ll want to leave up into the New Year.
Ready for a little bit of country and a whole lotta cozy? Here are six tips for creating a Scandi-Cowboy holiday all your own.
1. Harness Your Hygge
Nothing screams Scandi like a little nod to classic Nordic design. Where most associate hygge with coziness, it also means finding joy in the simple things. Turner does just that, with whimsical touches of folk-style ornamentation and bright pops of white and red. When it comes to flowers, no need to get fussy. Think “of the forest” and reach for filler greenery, such as pine or juniper, which will last longer than blooms and can transition as winter decor into the new year.
2. Ranch, but Refined
Leave your spurs at the door. This lodge-inspired look is all about texture play. Specifically, it means mixing different natural elements such as wood, moss, and bark, which are then paired with a playful selection of modern plaid textiles. Just remember to lean more towards rustic than rodeo.
3. Pattern Play
Nathan suggests not only going bold with plaids, but to tie in a little folklore fodder. The key to mixing patterns is to stay within a cohesive color palette. Oversized white plaid with red and black details are an excellent accompaniment to traditional Nordic winter patterns (think holiday ski sweaters). The addition of splattered enamelware is another example of how easily you can weave a little rustic playfulness into the mix. Need a little inspiration finding the perfect mid-century inspired Scandi print? Check out Nathan Turner’s Holiday collection with Wallshoppe.
4. Nature Is the Perfect Neutral
Straw and woven accents like rattan, wicker, and distressed wood keep decor from becoming too precious. Scandinavian straw goats, bottle brush trees, and woven baskets paired with a few choice vintage finds make for a delightfully eclectic setting. For a more rustic-take, try arranging nuts, potted greenery, and figurines of woodland whimsy in place of a table runner. Potted plants such as rosemary and holly bush double as take-home gifts for guests and are the perfect height for cross-table conversations. Once again Turner’s style reflects affordability, mastery of texture layering, and the repurposing of materials once the event is over.
5. Achieving Maximalism Through High and Low
While this style is both chic and casual, the wow factor really comes together when showcasing a large collection of similar objects. To keep this look attainable, don’t focus on pricey materials. Turner suggests, “No matter what the style, impact through repetition is so important. Nothing should be too hard to find or expensive. When you think you have enough pieces, times it by five.” So when putting together your collection, go to a budget-friendly option like IKEA and then pair them alongside a few unique one-of-a-kind vintage scores to elevate the overall look.
6. DIYs and Customizations
Scandi-cowboy isn’t something that comes straight out of a box. Be prepared to make a few personalized adjustments. Turner dusted new terracotta pots with two different colored spray paints to give an otherwise flat object a quick patina. He also made a few special requests to keep the theme in check. When ordering a classic Swedish Princess Cake for his dessert table, he asked the local bakery if the traditional chartreuse-colored pastry could be created in a snowy white color palette to match the scene. “That would have really jarred the table,” says Turner, “so don’t be afraid to adapt your items to fit the color scheme.”
Now that’s what we call a real commitment to the creative brief! To see Nathan’s holiday entertaining designs in action, head on over to Sunset’s Instagram.