Denmark is considered one of the happiest places to live(link is external).
It’s a country with long winters. Really long winters. The shortest day of the year provides only seven hours of daylight. For months, the sky is filled with clouds dropping rain or snow.
It’s no surprise the Danes have developed expertise in surviving and thriving under gray and dreary winter conditions. How do they do it?
One Danish cold-weather coping mechanism is the pursuit of hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”), which is commonly described as being cozy. Who wouldn’t want to feel cozy during the chill of winter?
This approach to living and decorating has gained worldwide popularity in recent years. (Amazon offers over 900 books on the topic!)
More than Cozy
Hygge means more than chasing away long, dark winters with a crackling fireplace, or sipping something hot in the warm glow of candles, wrapped in a down throw or a soft sweater. It’s more than sharing a meal with friends in a comfortable environment. And it’s not a winter-only pursuit.
- Being present in the moment
- Unplugging from technology
- Connecting with the important people in your life
- Slowing down
- Being comfortable in your skin
- Prioritizing the personal
It’s about creating an environment that encourages all of the above. Hygge is the pursuit of everyday happiness.
The term hygge comes from old Norse language and roughly translates as “well-being.” It is marked by a lack of conflict, an appreciation of refuge, and the protection of personal shelter, shared with your favorite people.
How to “Hygge” Your Home (and Your Life)
Hygge tends to center around home, hearth, health, and happiness. It’s about being yourself with others, without worry or judgment. Hygge is a haven. It’s also found in homemade items: food (from scratch), fashion (think knitting), and flame (lighting candles or making a fire).
Hygge homes are relaxing by careful, intentional design. Like minimalism, you won’t find clutter in a hygge home. However, unlike the stark white and cold hard edges often associated with minimalism, there is a great deal of sensory luxury in a hygge home, which incorporates tactile comfort along with olfactory delights, delicious tastes, calming sounds, and soothing sights.
Your first steps toward a “hygge home” might include:
- Natural materials – decorate with plants, wood, stone, leather, and soft natural fabrics.
- Simple approaches –eliminate anything that’s not essential to your well-being before adding comfy touches.
- Unplug – turn to books and traditional games instead of televisions, computers, and game consoles.
- Use neutral, natural palettes – select neutral colors from the outdoors, such as stone gray, taupe, or cream with touches of brown, rich sea-blues, and warm moss greens.
- Dim the lights – trade bright overhead lights for candles, table lamps, and task lighting (for reading, playing board games, placing puzzles, etc.).
- Connect – furnish your home to entertain small groups of close friends for intimate dinners and long conversations, including comfortable seating and places to set mugs of steaming tea, cocoa, coffee, or mulled cider.
- Prioritize kitchens and dining tables – cooking, eating, and drinking are a group activity in a hygge home. Make sure your kitchen can accommodate food-centric entertaining. Select a beautiful wooden dining table with comfortable chairs.
- Showcase relaxation – decorate with items that beg to be touched, including beautiful throws, fluffy pillows, comfortable furniture, and thick pile rugs.
- Go beyond sight and touch – add beautiful, soothing music and natural essential oils for a thoroughly hygge environment.
When adding hygge to your home, you are creating space for a comfortable connection with others and areas dedicated to enjoyable solitary pursuits—both of which encourage a happier, more positive outlook.
So take a page from the Danes and start “getting hygge with it.” Then put on some thick fuzzy socks, brew a cup of tea, wrap up in a blanket, sit in your favorite chair, and enjoy your hygge home.