In our last blog post, we explored how Scandi style has become one of the hottest interior design trends of recent years. However, that obsession for all things Nordic has gone far beyond furniture choices. In addition, Brits have started to adopt the Danish concept of hygge. More than a trend, hygge is a way of life- and if you’re not already living it, you don’t know what you’re missing.
What exactly does hygge mean?
As a distinctly Danish concept, it is difficult to translate hygge into English. Many people use the word “cosy”, but that doesn’t quite hit the mark. The word itself comes from the Old Norse hyggja, meaning “to think”. That’s probably closer to the heart of the concept, since hygge is all about mindfulness. Modern life can be undoubtedly stressful, so it’s nice to take some time out to relax and refresh.
Visit Denmark, and you’ll find it hard to avoid hygge. It’s a core part of the Danes’ national identity, and also their daily lives. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why the Danish are one of the happiest nations in the world, despite their often-gloomy weather. In the winter, it’s not uncommon for the temperature to dip below zero most days, and sunlight comes at a premium. As a result, they find themselves spending much of their free time indoors. But rather than letting things get them down, they look for the hygge in everything. For instance, many people create a hyggekrok in their homes- a cosy little nook where they can wrap themselves up in their favourite blanket and relax after a long day. What’s more, the Danish passion for all things pastry-related is so hygge; nothing cheers people up quite like a sweet treat can. Even just taking the time to enjoy a good book on a rainy day is 100% pure hygge.
An international phenomenon
Over here, the hygge craze really kicked off back in 2016. In the year of Brexit, Trump, and enough celebrity deaths to fill a graveyard, it seemed that us Brits were in need of something to take our mind off things. Savvy publishers were quick spot this gap and bring the Danish concept over to our shores. Iin just a few months, the whole country had gone ga-ga for hoo-ga. Both Collins and the OED shortlisted it as a word of the year, and countless broadsheet column inches were filled with musings on the topic.
Two years on, and it doesn’t look like hygge is going anywhere any time soon. So, what are the best ways to transform your home into your very own hyggekrok?
Cosy up under candlelight
Candles are the perfect way of creating a warm, cosy atmosphere in any room. The Danes know this better than anyone, as they burn a whopping 13 pounds of candle wax per head each year. That’s more than anyone in Europe, and unsurprisingly, it’s all down to hygge. There’s something about a soft, flickering flame that taps into our subconscious, and it’s easy to find yourself lost in its gentle glow. They also offer a much more soothing type of light than a cold, harsh light bulb. Why not spend an evening with your loved ones under candlelight, watching a family favourite film or enjoying a board game? Just try not to let the hygge ambience lull you to sleep!
Fill your living room with natural fabrics
Materials like wool and faux-fur simply scream hygge. They conjure up images of cosy firelit cabins and shelter from the cold outside. That makes these fabrics the ideal way to turn your living room into a snugger place to be. A few carefully placed blankets and throws can instantly transform the feel of a room. They are also perfect for wrapping up for a nap when the mood takes you. Add a couple of knitted cushions to your sofa, and maybe invest in a new faux-fur rug. You’ll then be well on your way to creating your very own Scandi-style sanctuary.
Declutter, declutter, declutter
When it comes to creating your hyggekrok, clutter is a definite faux-pas. The Danes don’t have any time for unnecessary objects. They know that a tidy room makes for a tidy mind. When choosing furniture, be sure to select pieces that are going to fit comfortably in your living room without being too overbearing. For example, do you really need that huge coffee table, when a smaller end table would do the job just fine? Interior design is all about strategy, and it’s actually easier to create a mood when you stick with a few signature pieces. It’s also easier to relax and let your mind wander when you aren’t being bombarded with too many visual stimuli. As Ludwig Mies said, less is more- especially when it comes to creating a hygge atmosphere.
Create a dedicated reading retreat
Hygge isn’t just about your space- it’s also what you do in it. There’s nothing more hygge than cosying up on the sofa with a good book, and losing yourself for an hour or two. If you’re serious about Scandi living, then a dedicated reading nook is essential. Start with your comfiest seat to base things around. Then, add a lamp that provides soft light, but is still bright enough to see the page clearly. Next, a nice cosy blanket. The feeling is more important than its appearance, so opt for a blanket that’s soft and not too heavy- you’ll want it to feel like a gentle hug rather than a big squeeze. Finally, tuck up with your reading material of choice, and hey presto: the perfect recipe for a hygge evening.
Settle down with a hearty bowl of porridge
If you’re anything like us, then a warm bowl of porridge is an essential part of your winter routine. When getting ready to brave the cold weather on the way to work, there’s nothing quite like it. In Denmark, though, porridge isn’t just for breakfast. Rather, they might tuck into a bowlful at a family dinner, or just as a snack to get them through the day. When you’re all finished with redecorating your living room, be sure to treat yourself to some porridge. Add a sliced banana or some stewed apples for the perfect sweet treat.
Related: Scandinavian Design: Key Pieces