You may be asking yourself, “Michele, what the hell is hygge?” I’m glad you asked because it’s the perfect question for this time of year. Post Christmas when the decorations come down and your home is looking a little hmmm…blah. Here is a little guide to help you achieve that cozy feeling we all want this time of year.
So what is it exactly?
hyg·ge pronounced “hue-ga”
a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
It’s one of those words that doesn’t have a literal translation but in Scandinavian cultures it’s defined by a sense of well being. It encompasses mind, body and spirit. Maybe its their long winter months that gave Scandinavian countries this outlook on living life in a simple, relaxed and of the moment view…Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world after all, but we can all create a little of this feeling wherever we live.
Think about sitting in your favorite chair reading a book. You’ve got a cozy blanket and a candle lit. Or you’re hanging with some of your favorite people. The room is softly lit, maybe a fire going. The conversation is flowing because everyone is engaged, not on their phones or doing something else. This sense of well being is what you want to create for a hygge vibe.
You can call it Scandinavian, Danish or Modern Organic style but it includes the following elements:
Let’s break it down a little further.
Cable knit throws, linen or woolen blankets or pillows. A faux fur rug or yes even some of the newer shag carpets. Baskets are also perfect for adding texture and you can use them to hold a plant or hide the remote.
Natural wood can be brought in through flooring, cabinets, shelving, picture frames and I love a wood tray to add as a base to ground other elements. Lighter wood is a hallmark of the hygge vibe but any woods mixed together will work.
I’m a plant mama so I love the sense of nature they add and it relaxes me to putter around watering, pruning and moving them around. Plants also have the added bonus of improving the air quality in your home. That being said, I also have some great faux plants to fill in spots that don’t have good light. That sense of bringing the outdoors in…is a definite hygge vibe.
Perfect segue from plants to natural light. We all know how good sunlight makes us feel. The Scandinavian countries because of their long Winters, use light woods, whites and neutral colors to carry them through the dark days. Opening blinds and curtains whenever possible to allow light in, even on cloudy days helps with that feeling of bringing the outdoors in, which helps our mental state.
Burning candles year around is one of life’s little luxuries. There is just something about lighting a candle that adds an element of relaxation to your space. Twinkle lights add a magical quality. Indoors or on the back patio, the ambiance they create is like adding stars to your surroundings.
Your sense of well being can be deeply improved with less clutter and visual noise. You should absolutely display things you love but one idea to try if you have multiple or a large collection, is rotate pieces monthly, quarterly or every six months. The joy from bringing out different pieces, pictures, etc. will be priceless. You don’t have to be a total minimalist but you can be a curator in your own well being.
In conclusion, there are no hard and fast rules to living hygge. It is what gives you peace of mind and it is not limited to your home. It can be taking a walk. Going for a hike or a picnic. Eating dinner outside with a fountain burbling and music playing. Taking time and connecting with other humans.
Cozy blankets, layers, a cup or glass of something to drink in front of the fire is just one way to create comfort and a sense of well being. Winter lends itself so well but find your hygge vibe year round by following the above simple guidelines and principles.