How Did Vikings Decorate Their Homes

The Vikings, with their fearsome reputation as accomplished warriors and seafarers, hold a fascination that continues to captivate our imaginations. Yet beyond their exploits on the battlefield and their legendary voyages, there is much to unravel about the daily lives of these Scandinavian people.

One intriguing aspect is how Vikings decorated their homes, offering a glimpse into their aesthetic preferences and cultural values. This article delves into the world of Viking home decor, uncovering the techniques and designs that adorned their living spaces.

Viking culture continues to exert a significant influence on modern interior design, with its emphasis on nature, craftsmanship, and functional beauty. Interior designers today draw inspiration from the distinctive elements present in Viking homes to create unique and inviting spaces. By understanding how Vikings decorated their homes, we can explore the enduring appeal of this ancient culture’s style and rediscover ways to incorporate its essence into our own living spaces.

Join us on a journey through time as we explore the mysterious world of Viking home decor. From the importance of creating warm and welcoming atmospheres to the intricate craftsmanship displayed in every aspect of construction, we will uncover the unique features that made Viking homes distinctive.

Discover how these fierce warriors created sanctuary-like dwellings that not only served as places of shelter but also reflected their identity and values. So let us embark together on this exploration as we step inside the fascinating homes of the Vikings.

Viking Home

The Viking home served as the heart of Viking society, playing a pivotal role in social and cultural activities. This section will explore the significance of the Viking home and its function as a place for gathering, storytelling, and bonding. It will also delve into the importance of creating a warm and inviting atmosphere within these homes.

Social and Cultural Activities

Viking homes were not just places to live; they were social hubs where family and friends would come together to celebrate, discuss important matters, and form alliances. These gatherings often took place around the hearth, which was considered sacred and represented warmth, protection, and prosperity. The hearth provided both literal and metaphorical nourishment for the family and community.

In addition to being a space for socializing, Viking homes were also venues for cultural activities. Storytelling played a significant role in Viking society, with masters of words capturing their listeners’ imaginations with tales of gods, heroes, and mythical creatures. These stories helped preserve their rich oral tradition while entertaining and educating those gathered around the fire.

Creating an Inviting Atmosphere

To create an inviting atmosphere within their homes, Vikings embraced simple yet effective design principles. The use of natural materials such as wood created a sense of warmth and connectedness with nature. The layout of the dwelling was carefully planned to foster comfort and functionality. Furniture was arranged in a way that encouraged interaction while providing areas for relaxation or work.

Additionally, Vikings adorned their homes with decorative elements that added beauty and character. Animal hides or furs were used as rugs or furniture covers to provide both insulation and aesthetic appeal. Woven tapestries featuring intricate patterns or symbols were hung on walls to add color and texture to the living spaces.

By focusing on creating welcoming environments within their homes, Vikings ensured that each person who entered felt comfortable and respected. This emphasis on hospitality is mirrored in modern interior design, where designers strive to create spaces that invite connection and foster a sense of well-being. The enduring appeal of Viking home decor lies in its ability to evoke a feeling of warmth, authenticity, and community, making it a source of inspiration for contemporary designers.

Materials and Construction

The construction of Viking homes was heavily influenced by the availability of natural resources in the Norse lands. Timber and thatch were the primary materials used in building Viking houses, as they were abundant and provided excellent insulation against the harsh Scandinavian climate.

Timber, particularly oak, was the most commonly used material for constructing the framework of a Viking home. Large logs were carefully chosen for their strength and durability, and then shaped into sturdy beams that formed the skeleton of the house. These beams were joined together using traditional woodworking techniques such as mortise and tenon joints, creating a solid structure capable of withstanding strong winds and heavy snow.

Thatch, typically made from dry grasses or reeds, was used to cover the roof of Viking houses. This natural roofing material provided excellent insulation, keeping the interiors warm during winter and cool in summer. The thatch was laid in overlapping layers, ensuring that rainwater would flow smoothly down the sloping roof without seeping through.

Viking architecture also showcased unique craftsmanship in its construction. Skilled woodworkers intricately carved decorative elements into timber panels and door frames, showcasing elaborate patterns and motifs inspired by nature. These ornate designs added both aesthetic appeal and symbolic meaning to Viking homes, reflecting their close connection with their surroundings and beliefs.

Timber (particularly oak)Framework
Thatch (dry grasses or reeds)Roof covering

Overall, Viking homes were built using locally available materials with great attention to detail and craftsmanship. The combination of timber and thatch created a cozy and sustainable living environment for the Vikings, allowing them to thrive in their harsh surroundings. The influence of Viking home construction can still be seen today in modern Scandinavian architecture, which often incorporates natural materials and traditional woodworking techniques.

Welcoming Guests

The Viking entrance to a home played a crucial role in creating a welcoming and impressive first impression. Vikings believed that the entrance was not only an access point but also a boundary between the outside world and the sacred space of their homes. As such, they adorned their entrances with various decorative elements to signal prosperity, protection, and hospitality.

One of the most prominent decorative elements used at Viking entrances were runes. Runes were ancient Norse symbols that held great significance and power. These symbols were often carved into wooden beams or stones positioned at the entrance of Viking homes. It was believed that these runic inscriptions would ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune to both residents and visitors.

In addition to runes, artistic carvings were also commonly found at Viking entrances. These carvings depicted scenes from Norse mythology, warriors in battle, or animals that held symbolic meaning for the Vikings. The carvings served as both aesthetic decorations and storytelling devices, showcasing the skill and craftsmanship of the Vikings.

Another significant element at Viking entrances was protective talismans. Vikings believed in the power of amulets and charms to protect their homes from negative energies or harm. Talismans made from materials like bone, metal, or wood were hung above doorways or attached to door handles, serving as a form of spiritual protection for those who crossed the threshold.

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These elaborate decorative elements not only added beauty but also provided an insight into the values and beliefs of Viking society. By taking care in crafting an impressive entrance, Vikings demonstrated their pride in their homes and their desire to create a warm and inviting space for guests. Today, these ancient traditions can inspire us to add meaningful ornaments and symbols to our own doorways, infusing our homes with a touch of Viking charm.

Decorative ElementSignificance
RunesWard off evil spirits and bring good fortune
Artistic carvingsShowcase skill and craftsmanship, depict mythology or symbolic scenes
Protective talismansServe as spiritual protection for the home

Viking Style

Viking homes were not only functional spaces but also served as visual representations of the culture and values of the Viking people. Ornamentation and symbolism played a crucial role in Viking home decor, adding depth, meaning, and beauty to their living spaces.

Decorative Tapestries, Rugs, and Wall Hangings

One prominent feature of Viking home decor was the use of decorative tapestries, rugs, and wall hangings. These textiles were not merely decorative but also served practical purposes such as insulation and soundproofing. Intricate designs and vibrant colors adorned these textiles, often depicting scenes from Norse mythology or everyday Viking life. Symbols such as the Tree of Life or Yggdrasil, animals like ravens and wolves, and geometric patterns were commonly found in Viking decor.

Distinctive Patterns, Symbols, and Motifs

Vikings had a rich tradition of symbolism, reflected in their home decor. One beloved symbol found in a variety of forms was the Valknut: a triple triangle knot that is associated with Odin, the chief deity in Norse mythology. The Hammer of Thor or Mjölnir was another powerful symbol found in Viking homes. It represented protection against evil forces and fertility.

Geometric patterns such as swirls, spirals, interlacing knots, and checkerboard designs were also prevalent in Viking ornamentation. These intricate motifs showcased the craftsmanship skills of the Vikings while adding an aesthetic appeal to their homes.

Color Palette

The color palette used by Vikings for their home decor consisted mainly of natural hues inspired by their surroundings. Earthy tones like browns, grays, greens, reds, and blues were predominant choices for textiles. Natural dyes derived from plants such as madder root or woad leaves were used to create these colors.

Moreover, Vikings believed that certain colors held symbolic meanings. For example, red symbolized strength and power while blue represented spiritual and intellectual qualities. By incorporating these colors into their home decor, Vikings not only added visual interest but also imbued their living spaces with deeper significance.

The ornate tapestries, intricate patterns, and symbolic motifs in Viking home decor continue to inspire contemporary design trends. The enduring appeal of Viking ornamentation can be witnessed in the resurgence of Nordic design in modern interior aesthetics.

Elements like minimalist furniture with clean lines, natural materials like wood and fur, and subtle nods to Viking symbolism are now sought after by individuals looking to incorporate a touch of Viking style into their own homes. By honoring this rich Viking legacy in contemporary design, we pay homage to the craftsmanship and cultural heritage of the Vikings.


One of the key aspects of Viking home decor was the lighting, which was essential for creating a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. Vikings relied on various sources of light to illuminate their homes, such as open fires, torches, and oil lamps. These sources not only provided light but also played a significant role in heating the space during harsh Nordic winters.

Open fires were commonly used in Viking homes as both a source of warmth and illumination. They were often placed in the center of the room, serving as the hearth and focal point of social gatherings. In addition to providing light and heat, fire held spiritual importance in Viking culture, symbolizing protection, comfort, and community.

Torches were another popular source of light in Viking homes. Made by wrapping pieces of cloth around wooden sticks soaked in animal fat or tar, they were an effective way to bring light to specific areas of a room or guide guests through dimly lit corridors. Torches added an enchanting and mysterious ambiance to the Viking home.

Oil lamps were also widely used for lighting purposes. These lamps consisted of a bowl or container filled with oil and a wick made from twisted fibers that soaked up the oil to create a flame when lit. Oil lamps not only produced light but also emitted a pleasant fragrance when scented oils were added to the oil mixture.

The Vikings had their own unique lighting fixtures that reflected their rustic style. Simple metal chandeliers with hooks for hanging oil lamps or candles were common in larger homes. Occasionally, carved wooden sconces mounted on walls were used to hold torches or candles. The simplicity and functionality of these lighting fixtures added to the overall charm and authenticity of Viking home decor.

Incorporating elements inspired by Viking illumination into modern interior design can add character and warmth to any living space. From incorporating candles or Scandinavian-inspired lighting fixtures to utilizing natural materials like wood and metal, there are countless ways to pay homage to the Viking legacy. By embracing the Viking approach to lighting, individuals can create a unique and inviting atmosphere that exudes both history and comfort.

Furniture and Seating

In Viking homes, the furniture and seating arrangements were designed with a focus on simplicity and functionality. Vikings valued practicality in their everyday lives, and this was reflected in their choice of furniture. The most common types of furniture found in Viking homes included benches, stools, and chests.

Viking furniture was typically crafted from wood, particularly oak or pine. These sturdy materials ensured that the furniture could withstand the test of time. The craftsmanship involved in making Viking furniture was remarkable, with intricate carvings and attention to detail. The designs were often geometric or animal-inspired, showcasing the Vikings’ connection to nature.

Seating arrangements in Viking homes were communal in nature, reflecting the importance of social interaction within the society. Benches were usually long and placed against the walls or around the hearth to create a cozy gathering space for family members and guests. Stools were also used for additional seating options.

To add comfort to their seating arrangements, Vikings used animal hides and furs as upholstery. These natural materials not only provided warmth but also added a touch of luxury to their furniture. Animal hides were either draped over benches or used as cushions for backrests.

Overall, while Viking furniture may have appeared simple in design, it was highly functional and made to withstand the rigors of everyday life. The craftsmanship showcased their attention to detail and pride in creating durable pieces. Today, these elements can be incorporated into modern interior design to bring a sense of rustic charm and simplicity into our homes while honoring the rich legacy left by the Vikings.

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Personal Touches

One of the most significant aspects of Viking home decor was the display of Viking artifacts. Vikings took great pride in their accomplishments and possessions, showcasing them within their homes as a way to honor their rich heritage and personal achievements. The practice of displaying Viking treasures and artifacts served as a visual representation of their status, power, and triumphs.

Within the walls of a Viking home, visitors would be greeted with an array of weaponry, jewelry, and other items that held personal significance to the homeowners. Swords, axes, shields, and spears were commonly displayed on walls or hung above doorways. These weapons not only showcased a family’s strength but also acted as protective symbols against potential threats.

Jewelry was another important element in Viking home decor. Brooches, amulets, rings, and bracelets were often put on display to demonstrate wealth and social standing. These pieces were also adorned with intricate designs and symbolic motifs that reflected Norse mythology and beliefs. Additionally, displaying valuable items like gold and silver objects showed off the economic prosperity of the household.

To create an authentic Viking-inspired display in your own home, consider incorporating elements such as swords or replicas of ancient Viking weapons on your walls or as part of a focal point in your living space. You can also feature decorative boxes or stands to showcase smaller artifacts like jewelry or trinkets with historical significance. Using shelves made from raw timber or stone materials can add an earthy touch to your display area.

By incorporating these personal touches inspired by Viking artifacts into our own homes today, we not only pay homage to the rich heritage of the Vikings but also add unique character and beauty to our interior design. Whether it’s displaying ancient weaponry or showcasing intricate jewelry pieces, embracing this aspect of Viking decor allows us to connect with one of history’s most fascinating cultures while creating a truly captivating atmosphere within our homes.

Maintaining Hygiene

One aspect of Viking life that is often overlooked is their understanding and practice of personal hygiene and sanitation. Contrary to popular misconception, Vikings were not dirty or unkempt individuals. In fact, they valued cleanliness and had practical ways of maintaining hygiene within their homes.

Viking homes typically had bathing and washing facilities that allowed for regular personal care. A common feature found in Viking households was a designated area with a basin or a tub filled with water for bathing. This allowed Vikings to clean themselves regularly, even during the harsh Nordic winters. Additionally, running water was sometimes available through channels or pipes connected to nearby bodies of water.

To ensure effective cleaning, Vikings used various tools and natural substances. They would make use of soap made from animal fats mixed with lye, as well as ash from the fireplace which acted as a natural abrasive cleanser. Hair combs made from animal bone or antler were also utilized for grooming purposes.

Furthermore, while indoor toilets were not yet prevalent in Viking homes, they did have designated areas outside for waste disposal called latrines. These latrines were usually located away from living areas to minimize odors and maintain cleanliness.

Overall, the Vikings prioritized practicality when it came to maintaining personal hygiene within their homes. Their understanding of cleanliness and sanitation demonstrates their advanced societal practices and challenges misconceptions about their way of life.

  • Viking homes had designated areas for bathing and washing with basins or tubs.
  • Vikings used soap made from animal fats mixed with lye for cleaning.
  • Hair combs made from animal bone or antler were used for grooming.
  • Latrines were used for waste disposal outside of living areas.


In conclusion, exploring the home decor of the Vikings provides us with a fascinating glimpse into their rich cultural heritage. From the significance of the hearth as the center of society to the intricate craftsmanship involved in Viking architecture, every aspect of their homes tells a unique story. The Viking style is marked by its ornamentation and symbolism, with decorative elements such as tapestries and carvings reflecting their belief systems and traditions.

The lighting fixtures used in Viking homes, often simplistic yet rustic, created a warm and inviting atmosphere. Additionally, the furniture and seating arrangements favored by Vikings combined functionality with craftsmanship, using animal hides and furs for upholstery. This attention to detail extended to the display of Viking artifacts within the home, showcasing their treasures and personal items.

As we honor this rich Viking legacy, it is clear that their influence extends beyond history books into modern design. Many elements of Viking home decor have found their way into contemporary interior design, incorporating symbols and motifs that evoke a sense of mystery and adventure. By incorporating Viking-inspired elements into our own homes, we can pay homage to this ancient culture while infusing our spaces with a sense of charm and character.

Frequently Asked Questions

What did a Viking home look like?

A Viking home, also known as a longhouse, was typically rectangular in shape and made of timber or logs. The walls were constructed using upright wooden planks, which were often reinforced with horizontal beams for stability. The roof was thatched with straw or turf to provide insulation and protect against the elements. Inside, the home was divided into several sections or rooms using temporary partitions.

One end of the house housed livestock during winter months, while the other end served as living quarters for the family. The central section was used for various purposes such as cooking, dining, and socializing. Overall, Viking homes were practical and functional structures designed to withstand harsh Scandinavian weather conditions.

Did Vikings paint their houses?

While Vikings did not typically paint their houses in vibrant colors like we do today, some evidence suggests that they might have painted certain decorative elements on their dwellings. Archaeological findings have uncovered remnants of red-colored paint on various artifacts associated with Viking architecture, such as doorways and posts.

It is believed that these painted elements could represent symbolic designs or serve as a way to add beauty and visual interest to otherwise plain wooden structures. However, it is important to note that not all Viking houses would have been painted; rather, it seems to have been a less common practice limited to specific architectural features.

What was a typical Viking house?

A typical Viking house was a long rectangular structure known as a longhouse. These houses were usually around 20-30 meters in length and provided enough space for both humans and animals to coexist under one roof during winter months when outdoor conditions were harsher. The entrance to the house consisted of a large doorway at one end where cattle could be brought in and out easily during severe weather conditions.

Inside the longhouse, there would be an open hearth in the center used for cooking meals and providing warmth throughout the dwelling. Sleep areas were partitioned off towards either ends of the longhouse, allowing family members their own private space. Often, extended families or multiple generations would live together in a single house, emphasizing the close-knit nature of Viking society.

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