What is Hygge? Ways To Bring Hygge Into Your Home . . .
20 Minute Read
What Is The Definition Of Hygge?
The Danish word Hygge (which is pronounced Hyoo-ga) is hard to explain, since it doesn’t have an exact translation in English. Hygge is kind of a way of living, with the emphasis on enjoying the contentment that comes from simple moments that build our wellbeing, and the satisfaction that comes from nourishing our bodies with great food, and our souls by sharing time with loved ones.
What Are The Benefits Of Hygge?
Many of us have become aware of the benefits of mindfulness over the past few years, and how gratitude can help our mental health. Because hygge incorporates both of these ideas as part of it, hygge is said to reduce stress levels while increasing emotional well-being. Working on our social connections is a major part of hygge, which is also great for feeling supported and our health generally – and the hugs that we all missed while in pandemic lockdowns are so important for emotional regulation.
Hygge is so much more than just things to decorate the home with, but there are elements of Scandinavian style that are known to be more relaxing, and good for us. Scientists found that warmer, dimmer lights to be more relaxing than bright white lights – which is exactly why we’ve included it in our list.
Why Did Hygge Become Popular?
The word hygge originated in old Norwegian, loosely meaning “well-being”, with Danish writers first using the word around the end of the 18th century. Danish people have embraced hygge as their own since then, and Denmark has frequently topped lists of the happiest places to live in the world, with many attributing this to the fact that hygge is so good for our happiness levels. Hygge then shot to worldwide fame around 2017, when the happiness researcher Meik Wiking released his bestselling book The Little Book of Hygge.
While buying items for the home isn’t a necessity for creating feelings of hygge, retailers grabbed onto the idea and marketed products to the millions of people who wanted to make the most of the happiness that Danish people have, and that hygge might be able to bring them. This meant that sales of blankets, candles and cushions went through the roof, and since then, searching for #hygge and other related hashtags on social media returns millions of results, often of perfectly curated, comfortable spaces.
How To Bring Hygge Into The Home . . .
While hygge isn’t really a style of décor, it is very much part of the Scandinavian way of life, and so interior designers tend to keep it in mind when they are styling homes. The broad, very subjective nature of hygge is an advantage when it comes to decorating, since it means there isn’t a single correct way to create a home that has hygge at the heart of it. What makes you happy is the right approach if you’re looking to maximise the benefits of hygge.
Keep Décor Simple
Scandinavian design doesn’t strictly fall under the minimalist category, but it is very definitely a simpler style of décor. Clutter is cleared away, and there is a heavy influence from the great outdoors – which is why natural and restful shades are the key to the look.
Wall décor tends to be shades of off-white, with earthy, light brown shades of taupe and sand commonly favoured. Colour can be brought in using light, washed out pastel shades, but if the room suits a darker shade, then deep oceanic hues of blues and greens, or forest-inspired shades of green and brown are ideal.
When it comes to furniture, plenty of natural wood features. This tends to be in lighter shades of pine, but if your preference is for darker wood finishes, they work well too – so whichever of our wax finishes is your favourite, it will certainly suit the Scandi style.
Soft furnishings and accessories tend to be heavily influenced by nature, which means cottons, linens, wools, and animal hides all work well – although today faux furs and hides are preferred over the real thing. Blankets, throws and cushions tend to be in natural shades, with textures layered to create visual interest, and to create a cosy and comfortable feel. Textures don’t just feature in bedrooms and sitting rooms either – textured curtains, light fittings, fabric wall art, storage baskets and table cloths are all ways to bring that hygge feel into kitchens, bathrooms, and home offices.
Check out our Rustic Home Office blog here
Switch Your Lighting
While hygge doesn’t exactly translate to the word cosy, cosiness is definitely part of the atmosphere, so your lighting needs to reflect that too. Super-bright lighting might be necessary for rooms when you’re working in them, but they generally aren’t part of the hygge atmosphere – so ensure you’ve got a range of lighting solutions that allow you to create a welcoming glow.
Light bulbs that are used in fittings other than the overhead or task lighting should be warm white ones to build a soft glow, with table and floor lamps preferred to overhead lights.
Decorative lighting can contribute to the ambient lighting, with fairy lights, festoons, or LED strips providing a lovely warm glow. Candles can feature too, whether tiny tea lights or pillar candles. If real candles aren’t suitable due to children or pets in the home, then battery operated LED candles can work just as well to help build that cosy hygge atmosphere.
Make Use Of Your Fireplace
Snuggling up in pyjamas, with a hot mug of something delicious and chatting with a loved one while a fire crackles – it you can almost feel it, can’t you? And really, there are few things more hygge than that scene. If a real fire isn’t an option in your home, then turn to technology to create that atmosphere.
There are some very efficient electric stoves that mimic wood burners, with the advantage that there isn’t any clean up required the next day. Otherwise, use candles grouped together, or for a super-quick fix, simply put one of the YouTube videos featuring a glorious fireplace and crackling fire on your TV. Some play for up to 12 hours, meaning that you can chat for hours, or read and gently nod off in comfort.
Build A Snug
Although some people might use their sitting room as a snug, snugs aren’t really living rooms. Rather, they are places in the home that are so invitingly cosy that you can’t help but want to sink in and enjoy. They might be a window seat, a little-used nook or even a conservatory or summer house. Pile up the cushions, blankets and add bookshelves – maybe with photo albums or photobooks – nearby to encourage daydreaming and enjoying the moment.
Put Happy Memories On Display
Looking at a favourite photo from an amazing trip or a memorable day can make you smile each time you see it – so get them printed and framed, or printed onto canvas, and display them around your home. Happy memories can include objects too, and while filling your space with too many items isn’t ideal, keeping hold of, and displaying items that mean a lot to you can be part of hygge.
For smaller items such as tickets from meaningful days (such as the first date you had at the cinema with your partner), try framing them alongside photos, or other things that make you feel warm and fuzzy. Bigger items that you’re proud of, like trophies, or artwork that a loved one made for you – incorporate shelving into your home in strategic places to build the good feelings.
Use Your Other Senses
Hygge isn’t just about what you can see and feel, it is multi-sensory – so don’t forget to fill your home with scents that you love. Using scented candles or using essential oils can help to adjust your mood – lavender, bergamot, and lemongrass are all well-known for increasing the feeling of calm, but whatever smells great to you is perfect for building feelings of hygge.
Of course, taste comes into play too, but keep your recipes simple. Baking delicious treats, or using a slow cooker to create a warming casserole when you’re home from a long day, or even just making hot toast with real butter – they smell good and taste great, which all adds up to that feeling of contentment.
Activities To Build Hygge
Hygge isn’t just about how you style your home – it is also about what you do in it to create those feelings of comfort and happiness. Generally, the simpler, the better, although if bigger and complicated (such as in a fancy dinner party!) makes you happy, then that counts as hygge too.
Socialising Is Essential
The pandemic put a stop on much of the socialising we’d have normally done with friends and family at home, but connecting with our loved ones is definitely an integral part of hygge. The feeling you get after a lovely evening with friends, eating and drinking together, talking about the best of times, and planning for more to come – that is the very essence of hygge. It doesn’t have to be planned in advance either! Friends turning up at the last minute with takeaway pizza and wine, with a few candles stuck in empty wine bottles on the table can be just as perfect as a dinner that has been carefully planned for months.
Take Your Time Over Warm Drinks
Whether tea, coffee, cocoa, or something a little stronger is your preferred hot beverage, taking the time to really enjoy it is what hygge is all about. Teapots, cafetieres and favourite mugs, cups and saucers – as well as a yummy treat to snack on – they’re all ideal for snuggling up with and feeling content. If you’ve got a friend or family member to enjoy a warm drink and a snack with – well, so much the better for hygge.
Find Better Loungewear
Is your current loungewear old pyjamas and tracksuits that don’t really fit, but are kind of comfy? Upgrade them to something that feels wonderful against your skin and comfortably flatters your figure to really increase the hygge. Luxurious pyjamas and loungewear that makes you feel amazing when you change into it is the name of the game here – so whether that is brushed cotton or soft fleece, or cashmere and silk, it doesn’t matter. So long as whichever fabric you choose makes you feel great and you really love them, then they’re perfect for optimal feelings of hygge.
Make Time For Hobbies
We’re often so busy that our hobbies get neglected – but sitting and doing what makes us feel great is part of hygge, so add it into your week. Your favourite hobby might be art-based, crafting, reading, or maybe baking – whatever you enjoy will help to raise your sense of wellbeing, so carve the time into your week.
While we’re talking about relaxing, indulgent self-care is also well worth putting on the schedule too. Enjoying long leisurely baths and showers, using your favourite bath products, and taking time for you is important – just don’t forget to have those clean warm pyjamas ready for when you finally get out!
Turn Away From Tech
So many of us spend evenings half watching TV and mindlessly doom-scrolling on our phones, going to bed feeling unsatisfied and restless, like we’ve wasted an evening. Choosing to switch electricals off completely, or simply choosing a great playlist and talking to family members or our partners over a leisurely dinner, or indulging in a hobby rather than zoning out can really increase our feelings of wellbeing.
Cuddle Up With Your Pet
This advice is for pets of the furry variety, rather than those that need a tank or a vivarium, but having a snuggle session with a furry friend can really help to raise your oxytocin – that’s the hormone responsible for the lovely feeling you get from hugging a loved one. Oxytocin is important because it helps to lower stress levels, and reduce the chance of heart problems – and that’s before we count the benefits your pet will get from feeling loved too.
Spend Time Outdoors
While hygge is perceived as something to be experienced indoors during the autumn or winter, getting wrapped up and having a walk through the park, countryside, or even the beach is amazing for building feelings of wellbeing too. Endorphins from a brisk walk will help to make you feel happier, as will the exposure to natural daylight – not to mention the satisfaction of coming in from the cold to a lovely warm home.
Can Hygge Be Practiced In The Summer?
Despite the fact that hygge is strongly associated with winter, there are ways you can get feelings of hygge in the summer too – since those simple, blissful feelings that life is good are everywhere during the summer months.
Make The Most Of Outdoors
Getting outdoors as much as possible in the summer months is the best way to feel that satisfied feeling that is hygge. Nature helps us to return to ourselves – whether we refer to it as ‘forest bathing’, ‘grounding’, or something else entirely, there is plenty of evidence that exercising outdoors – even just walking, and especially with friends or family – is great for our health. For country-dwellers, this is easy, since it might be as simple as walking out the front door – but if you’re stuck in the city, there are still ways to enjoy nature and the outdoors. Your own garden, if you have one, as well as parks and waterways, and public gardens are all places to relax and enjoy.
Al Fresco Dining
Dining outdoors is a delightful part of summer – even with the hassle that insects sometimes cause! Breakfast in the garden, a picnic lunch with the children, or barbeque dinners that go on late into the evening are all wonderful ways to enjoy the Great British Summer – when, of course, it allows. When you’re at home, al fresco dining might simply mean taking your lunch into the garden, but if you really love it, it might mean that you decide to add outdoor cooking facilities like pizza ovens and grills.
For socialising and eating outdoors together with friends, picnics in the park, chips on the beach or having a barbeque on a portable grill are all fantastic ways to build summer hygge – just be sure to bring your rubbish home.
We know that camping isn’t for everyone, but done the right way, camping can really bring about feelings of hygge. As we’ve already mentioned, spending time in nature, as well as eating al fresco – it is all really good for us, and camping can be great for us too. Sitting around a campfire chatting, rather than being at home in front of a TV or PC means we’re working on our social connections too – which is all part of that hygge we crave.
Haters of camping usually cite terrible weather and wet tents as the reason for not enjoying it, and of course, the key to great hygge camping is staying warm and dry. A watertight tent, as many blankets as you can bring (remember to put one underneath you, to stop the cold coming up) and plenty of cushions all make for a much more camping hygge experience.
If you can’t bring yourself to enjoy camping, then maybe simply enjoying a fire outside in the garden on a cool evening is enough for you. A fire pit, or chimenea with seating, so that you can enjoy a drink and chat might be the ideal addition to your garden. If you don’t want a permanent fixture, or like to be able to have a fire in different places in your garden, then a portable fire pit is a great investment.
Switch Homewares For Summer
The Great British Summer isn’t known for being reliable, and sometimes we need a light blanket on those cooler summer evenings, to feel comforted without getting overwhelmingly warm. Switch out blankets and throws for summer weight, cotton ones. Much of Scandinavian interior design focuses on natural materials and neutral shades, but nature brings bright colours in the summer, so add accessories in shades that are reminiscent of flowers, forests, and beaches to add summery pops of colour.
Enjoy Summer Produce
Summer brings some pretty wonderful fruit and vegetables – who doesn’t enjoy summer fruits like strawberries, and lovely crisp salads? Indulging in summer produce isn’t just great for your health, it is deliciously satisfying too – and even more so if they have been grown in your own garden, at a Pick Your Own farm, or found at a local farmers market.
Arrange Cut Flowers
The spring and summer months brings glorious blooms to our fair isle, from early daffodils and tulips in the spring, to peonies in May and June, and sunflowers in August and September. Buying flowers, whether from your local farmers market, or just an affordable bunch from the supermarket is a great way to feel hygge, but you don’t have to spend money on them – home grown is even better for hygge! Taking flowers from your own garden means that you can enjoy them even more, or you might take the odd wildflowers from a nearby meadow or hedgerow – within reason, of course.
While hygge is something to bear in mind when you’re decorating your home, it is so much more than that. Because hygge means different things to different people, there isn’t a perfect way to achieve it, and that means that whatever makes you feel the best is the right approach for you. If it looks good, and feels good, then make the most of it – because the more you do it, the better it will feel. Getting started is easy, since all it takes is to enjoy the moment, so why not start building hygge into your life, and feeling the benefits today?
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