[Pronounced. hoo-gah / hue-gah]
[Definition. “quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”.]
As the dark days of autumn and winter hit, it’s natural to feel a bit down in the dumps due to the cold grey weather and lack of light. Despite their miserable winters, Denmark is consistently at the top of the list of the World’s happiest countries and they attribute this to the art of hygge.
Hygge phenomena hit the UK a few years ago, however this is not just an interior design trend, but a cultural concept. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what hygge means, as there is no literal translation in English, but hygge originates from a Norwegian word meaning ‘wellbeing’ and ‘hug’. The concept is often described as being more of a feeling or mood, than any specific physical state, and is defined in the English Dictionary as a “quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”.
There is no place more important than your home to experience the hygge wellbeing hug. The hygge culture has a name for a hygge like place – ‘hyggeligt’ and recommends that every house should have a ‘hyggekrog’- a cosy corner where you can hygge until your heart is content. To achieve optimal hygge in your in your home put on your comfiest jumper, grab a hot drink, and follow the tips below.
Your hyggekrog should be a serene space, that oozes calm and everything you add should contribute to an atmosphere of peace. This includes the colour scheme which should never be too dramatic or overwhelming. Stick to neutral colour palettes using monochromatic or tonal shades like greys and browns to create a comfortable area.
Overhead lights are often too bright to create a homely feel, so the use of lamps and fairy lights are an ideal alternative to create the soft glow you’re aiming for. However, the undisputed king of hygge lighting is the humble candle. The idea of a simple lit candle will bring up memories of relaxing baths, romantic nights, or quiet moments for many, all of which encompass the hygge lifestyle. The warm radiance of a candle creates an inviting atmosphere that cannot be replicated by anything else.
Cosiness is key when it comes to hygge décor. To achieve this, layer your hyggeligt with soft furnishings, such as fluffy pillows, thick knitted blankets, and faux-fur rugs, made from the softest materials. Use a mixture of different patterns to add interest, and layer textures to create a bit of character. Try and stick to natural materials such as wool, leather and wood, and ensure that the overall look remains in the same colour palette to keep things looking and feeling minimalist.
Nature is innately calming, so the use of natural materials like stone and wood will make you feel like you’re bringing the outdoors in. Wood is a common material to use when trying to create a hygge atmosphere, this can be brought in through wooden furniture pieces which create a timeless style, wooden floors, both painted white, or left natural will make you feel like you are in a forest retreat, or accessorise with wicker items, chopped up logs, or create a twig feature, for a more modest solution. Introduce some plants into your space, not only are they stress-busting, but they will improve the air quality in your home and can add a pop of natural colour. By breathing better and feeling fresher in your environment, will help you capture that hygge feeling.
There is categorically nothing more enticing in the world than the idea of huddling around a roaring fire in the dead of winter. The flame brings an immediate sense of cosiness and warmth, and the visual element of the flickering firelight will instantly make any space feel more intimate. There is nothing more hygge than sitting next to an open fire, under a cosy blanket, with a hot drink in hand, feeling the warmth radiate around you.
Culturing an environment of happiness is key to a hygge life, and a great way to do this is to accent your space with meaningful items such as your favourite photos, collections from your travels, sentimental gifts, or items with a rich family history. The good thing about hygge is that nothing has to be perfect, so upcycled pieces of furniture, or recycled antiques are much more preferable than mass-produced items. Find a new use from an old item to personalise your space. Additionally, whilst you want to enrich your space with items that create happy memories for you, that does not mean you should be surrounded by clutter. Overwhelming spaces are not relaxing, so create some storage solutions and strip away any visual chaos that doesn’t bring you joy – make Marie Kondo proud!
When styling our homes, prioritising simplicity, modesty, functionality and above all else, happiness, will hopefully lead you to enjoy the environment around you. Each room needs to be a sanctuary you can sink into after a stressful day, and every item in it should increase your feeling of warmth, comfort and security. If you break it down, hygge is not anything in particular, what will be hygge for one person, may not be for another, so as long as you can enjoy the simple pleasures in life then you have succeeded in hygge-ing up your home.