The Hygge Home
article & photos by renata haidle
“Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.” -Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living
Ah, October. What a wonderful month. Days are getting shorter, temperatures keep dropping, and increasingly we find ourselves reaching for our favorite sweater and a cup of something hot. Our need to make our homes snug and warm is becoming a priority, a preparation for the winter ahead, for a sort of hibernation of the soul, restorative and calm. October is the perfect time to transition into the hygge home.
Originating in the Danish way of life that has been taking the world by storm in the last few years, hygge is something most of us have been practicing one way or another - we just didn't have a name for it. Defined as a feeling of comfort, coziness, and togetherness, hygge can be easily achieved with a bit of thought and consideration to our surroundings. It’s not about acquiring new things or going on a mad shopping spree to the nearest Scandinavian design store - although design is an essential component of traditional Danish hygge. It is more about creating an atmosphere of calm and serenity where one can feel comfortable, safe, and joyful - alone or in the company of family and friends.
There are a few simple rules to apply when it comes to designing a hygge space. Let's start with light. Candles are probably the number one element that will warm up a room, and they should be strategically placed to create pools of light around various spaces. If kids or pets are a deterrent, you can use electric candles or several small lamps to recreate the same effect. Bright ceiling lights are functional and not in the least conducive to a calm and serene atmosphere. Whenever you want to relax, make sure you turn them down - or better yet, off.
Bringing nature inside is another element of the hygge home. This can be easily achieved with the addition of carefully curated wood objects, from vases to candleholders or any other decorative objects. Opt for simplicity - in this case; less is definitely more.
Textures provide layers to an interior and add a touch of warmth. Think chunky knit blankets, soft pillows, ceramics, leather furniture, wool rugs, and fur throws (artificial is fine if that is your philosophy).
Add potted plants to your space. Greenery livens up a space and has the additional benefit of cleansing the air of noxious chemicals. A shapely peace lily, a cheery and vibrant golden pothos, or a cascading English ivy are some of the best plants to fight indoor pollutants and will add effortless beauty to your home.
Old and New
Mix old, worn items with your contemporary decor. Choose objects that remind you of people you love or of moments when you felt happy. A few cherished objects with sentimental value will make your interior appear more homey and welcoming, and they will trigger a surge of dopamine every time you lay your eyes on them.
With that in mind, take inventory of your items and notice the things that don't give you pleasure anymore. Then, donate or recycle these things. A great way to get rid of unwanted decor items is to host a swap with your family and friends. One person’s trash is another’s treasure, as the old saying goes.
Turn on that fireplace if you are lucky enough to own one. Add comfortable seating in its proximity, where you can have a hot drink, read, or listen to soothing music. Bonus points if you have one or two friends join you while you enjoy the roaring fire.
A hygge home pleases all senses. Think of a comforting smell and try to recreate it. Is it baked cookies? Cinnamon-dusted apples? Comforting vanilla? We all have a favorite scent that reminds us of childhood or our favorite holiday. Scented candles and aroma reeds can help with that, and if you have the time and inclination, do bake those cookies. Simmer that mulled wine on the stove. Put that roast in the oven. And make sure you invite someone to share them with, as nothing says hygge more than an intimate gathering with the ones we love the most.
Easy tips to achieve a hygge life:
- Light candles
- Turn down the lights
- Bring nature indoors
- Prioritize good-quality, beautifully designed items over a cluttered interior
- Appeal to all five senses
- Cook a good meal with family or friends
- Simplify your surroundings
- Limit unnecessary screen time
- Be present in the moment
- Practice gratitude for all the blessings in your life.