Chances are you’ve probably heard the word Hygge a lot as it has caught on as the new ‘must have’ trend, but I think along the way the term has slightly lost it’s meaning. I was listening to the CTRL ALT DELETE podcast a while ago and there was an episode with Sunday Times bestselling author of The Little Book of Hygge Meik Wiking. It was so interesting to hear about where this Danish concept derived from and he actually stated that there isn’t an exact translation for the word into English hence the slight confusion in its meaning. The closest description is that it resembles cosiness, however the true Danish meaning actually describes it as the achievement of an overall feeling. For our benefit the Oxford English Dictionary do also provide this definition below:
“A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)”
E.g. ‘why not follow the Danish example and bring more hygge into your daily life?’
So the question we all want the answer is how do we get that desirable ‘hygge’ feeling in our homes? I think one of the things that I love about the concept, which Meik Wiking pointed out in the podcast, is that it’s not all about going out and buying expensive cashmere socks. I think this is quite a common misconception, when typed into Pinterest the term Hygge brings up images of luxury fur throws and expensive soft furnishings – don’t get me wrong this does look very appealing but it’s not the only way you can achieve a Hygge space. This is mainly because the term itself isn’t something tangible, instead it’s something that you feel.
My trip to Copenhagen last year definitely shed some light on what exactly a place with hygge feels/looks like. I’ve written a whole blog post all about my Christmas trip to this beautiful place so definitely have a read of that for more on Danish design.
One of the reasons I love this concept so much is because a massive part of it involves lighting (my absolute favourite topic). If you follow my Instagram you’ll know I firmly believe that when creating a design the real success of the room really comes down to having enough and the right light sources placed at different heights all around the space. If you have a read of Meik Wiking’s book it dedicates a whole chapter to getting the right lighting, and if you think about it when you walk into a room the light is probably one of the first things that you subliminally notice. The ambience a warm light creates as opposed to a harsh white light can have a massive effect on your mood and the vibe of the room. The key here is to create the right balance of ambient light and task light to make sure the room is totally useable whether it’s a dark and gloomy or a bright and light day outside.
I’m also a big fan of using dimmers as it gives you complete control over the ambience of your room and allows the light to be switched from soft to bright depending on your need for the space. We’ve recently installed some of the Phillips Hue lightbulbs which I must say are rather genius. You can download an app on your phone that allows you to change the temperature and brightness of the light which is perfect for a room with dual purpose. The brighter light is perfect for reading or working where as the soft light creates a really cosy atmosphere.
A firm favourite designer of mine, Abigail Ahern is renowned for her clever use of light. I love the dark gloomy colours in her bedroom which I think work solely because she has created pockets of warm glowy light around the room. This is a really drastic example of a design that simply would not work without the right lighting choices. Slightly contradicting the above statement that you can’t simply buy Hygge, Meik Wiking does state that the Danes believe the quickest way to achieve Hygge is to light candles. Sometimes dimly light lights are still too much and only a candle can produce that soft glow needed to make a room feel cosy. My current candle favourites are this Neptune Amber candle and this candle from Next.
There is a reason why Danish homes quite often look like the inside of an interiors magazine and I love how Meik Wiking explains this by simply stating that ‘our homes are the Hygge headquarters’. Which if you think about it makes complete sense. We might search for restaurants or cafes that are hyggelig but ultimately our home is the place we feel most comfortable and safe and we yearn for it to feel cosy and welcoming. So how do you make your home more hygge? Texture is a massive component. Make the space tactile by really considering the different materials you use, this could be as simple as using velvet cushions or a chunky knit throw.
Blankets are such a good go to for a quick solution to making a space feel cosy, and there’s nothing better than wrapping yourself up with a good book and a cuppa! Nature is another important element to bring into your home. This can come in many forms, I love using wood finishes to add warmth to a room but also to add that ‘natural’ feel. For a little less pricey option probably the easiest way to inject life into your space is with plants! We all love a houseplant (even if it is IMPOSSIBLE to keep them alive for more than a week). A bit of greenery added here and there will be sure to revitalise your room.
There are so many other ways to make your place feel hygge (I highly recommend grabbing a copy of The Little Book of Hygge for more details), but the last thing I’m going to talk about is eclectic items. You really can’t beat the history and interest that an old vintage piece brings to a room. It’s perfect for creating a space that screams hygge as it adds so much emotional value.
Another reason why I think interiors play such a big part in the hygge concept is that it’s all about togetherness and socialising with the people you love. When designing a space it’s SO important to consider how it will work when you have guests, whether that’s providing flexible seating options or side tables to put glasses down. Meik Wiking believes that togetherness is such a fundamental part of the concept but also just generally in making people happier.
The winter months and Christmas in particular obviously lend themselves to cosy social gatherings. But it’s important to note that hygge is an all year round things, it could be a summer picnic with friends or a walk to your favourite beach. It’s about time spent with others in a place you feel relaxed and content. Also I must give a mention to the fact that food is an absolute must, hygge is all about indulging and sharing nice treats with friends, I’m not talking champagne and caviar or anything fancy, more like a big chocolate cake or hot chocolate. If you weren’t already, I’m guessing you’re now as onboard with this concept as I am?!
I hope this has inspired you to have a think about what your hygge home might look like. I think it’s important to remember that to the Dane’s this is just a way of life, statistically they are said to be one of the happiest countries – so I think that stands for something. More than anything, it’s clear that as a Nation we are beginning to question what it is that makes us happy, we are seeking more value from life in the form of spending time with loved ones and enjoying the simpler things.
I would love to hear any of your thoughts on this whole concept and if you have any other tips for making your home cosy and comforting. As always, thanks for reading!