As the saying goes, to some, a house isn’t necessarily a home. A home is a place where you feel completely at ease and enjoy sharing moments with family and friends.
It sounds simple but creating a cosy, comfortable home can do wonders for your wellbeing. This way of thinking is best known as hygge.
What is Hygge?
Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish lifestyle.
While there is no exact English translation it encompasses a sense of cosiness and contentment by enjoying simple things in life like the sweet scent of a candle, a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine with friends. It’s about creating a feeling of warmth and pleasantness.
You may have already experienced hygge without even knowing it. If you’ve enjoyed reading a book on a rainy day or nestled yourself by a crackling fire in winter, you have already mastered the art of hygge. But where did the concept come from?
The history of Hygge
The word hygge first appeared in the written language in the early 1800s and is said to be derived from the Old Norse word hugr, which refers to one’s consciousness. Since its first use it has evolved to become a fundamental part of Scandinavian living.
In 2016, it was thrust onto a global stage after it rapidly gained popularity as a lifestyle trend. It became so popular in the United Kingdom that it was even included in the Collins Words of the Year for 2016, placing second only to Brexit.
Hygge remains so important to the Danish way of life that the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen considers it to be “a defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA.”
So why adopt this Scandinavian way of living?
There are several good reasons to adopt the hygge lifestyle. One of the main benefits is its effect on your psychological state. Hygge is said to reduce stress by encouraging you to stop and smell the roses.
In our digitally driven world having a space to slow down and relax is more important than ever.
By adding small but significant moments of comfort, cosiness and joy to your home you can improve your wellbeing. Here are some easy steps to adopt hygge living:
1. Think cosy
Focus on the overall atmosphere of your home rather than specific items within it. Hygge is about how people feel when they enter your home, so think cosy and comfortable when in the design process.
2. Work with your home’s floor plan
Don’t underestimate the importance of your home’s layout. Work with your floor plan to create spacious areas and focus on the overall ‘flow’ of your home.
Question whether you can move easily from room to room and if each space gives the same impression. Your home should be holistic and consistent in order to create a relaxed vibe.
Make your home cosy, not cluttered. Scandinavian styles tend to be minimalistic so it’s important to think about the purpose each room serves.
A cluttered home can leave you feeling unsettled whereas a clean, organised area will allow you to breathe easy. This is an important part of hygge living.
4. Invest in candles
Is there anything more relaxing than candlelight? Investing in candles is a simple, inexpensive way to create a hygge atmosphere.
According to The Economist, the Danes are Europe’s biggest consumers of candles, burning through about six kilograms per person every year. That’s a whole lot of hygge!
5. Work with hygge colours
Choose a colour scheme primarily based on warm beiges and soft whites. These shades can brighten a room without appearing overwhelming. Incorporate greys, blues and natural greens and add natural timber where possible. Scandinavian design embraces simplicity, so keep it modest and avoid bold colours with the potential to clash.
6. Add textures
Once you’ve mastered your colour scheme, it’s time to add textures. Think cosy throw rugs and plush blankets, shaggy floor mats and soft pillows. Choose textures that make you feel comfortable and at ease.
7. Get the lighting right
Lighting can completely change the feel of a room so it’s important to get it right. If the lights are too harsh, the space can appear cold and uninviting.
Warm globes and ambience lighting can have the opposite effect. For this reason, it’s always worth investing in a few lamps for your home.
Given the Scandinavian colour scheme is relatively simplistic, why not go for a statement floor lamp to elevate your room.
8. Create a nook
Hygge living is about slowing down and appreciating your surroundings so creating a reading nook is a given. The Danish name for a reading nook even incorporates the word hygge – hyggekrog. This space can be anything from a comfortable armchair tucked into a corner to your favourite spot by the window.
9. Sit by the fireplace
Sitting by the fire on a cold winter’s day is quintessentially hygge. Not only does the fire warm you up, it can make a space feel inviting and intimate. Pour yourself a cup of tea, put on your pyjamas and nestle up by the fireplace.
If you don’t have a fireplace, why not purchase a small firepit for your outdoor area?
10. Bring nature indoors
Denmark is well known for its near eternal winters, when the sun barely shows itself and temperatures sink well below zero. It’s therefore no surprise that hygge encourages you to bring a bit of nature indoors.
While Australian winters are nowhere near as dreary, the principle still stands. Indoor plants add a natural vibe to your home and can brighten the mood when you’re cooped up on a rainy day.
Plants also have health benefits. They improve air quality and help to reduce stress.
11. Digitally disconnect
Turn off the laptop and put down your phone. It’s time to digitally disconnect. This means checking work emails, taking calls and scrolling through Instagram are all off limits. We lead increasingly busy lives so switching off at home is more important than ever.
You’ll soon discover there are plenty of activities that can help you unwind. Read your favourite book, take a hot bath or bake something warm and delicious.
12. Enjoy hygge with friends
If a digital disconnect doesn’t sound like much fun, don’t despair. Now that your house is warm and inviting, hygge can be enjoyed with others.
Invite your loved ones over for a glass of wine, a bite to eat and some board games. Social connection and a sense of togetherness is the foundation of hygge living and is key to our overall happiness.
Now that you know how to embrace the hygge lifestyle, try to put it into practice.