Hygge: a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
As a Canadian I know what it means to brave a cold and dark winter. Year after year I hear people talk about the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and how the winter blues hang on just a little too long. This is the story about how and when I discovered hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”) and how I am now incorporating as many “hyggelig” (hygge like) elements into our home.
In the fall of 2020 the global pandemic was in full effect. Winter was on our doorstep and anxieties surrounding mental health were growing. How would we fair as a population dealing with a global pandemic while in the depths of winter? This is when I started to search for ways to change my perspective and appreciate the home Scotty and I had been growing together in.
In my search I stumbled upon a concept that was entirely new but felt like I had known it my whole life, hygge. If you haven’t heard of the Danish (originally Norwegian concept), it’s a lifestyle built around feeling cozy, connecting with loved ones, and embracing the simple pleasures of life. It’s not particularly a decor style or self-care practice but rather an overall feeling of comfort, wellness, and contentment.
It’s lifestyle practices like “hygge” that have lead the Danish to rank so highly on the World Happiness Index despite their harsh winter climate. Once I learned this I was hooked! I immediately allowed my obsessive gene to take over and I dove deep into books and articles about the concept. I now have deep adoration for the Danish and cannot wait to visit Denmark as soon as possible to see it for myself.
Though you do not need anything at all to experience hygge there are certainly elements to a cozy home. Today we are exploring the concept of hygge when it comes to home and how to create a space that evokes the feeling of comfort. With all of this being said I can almost guarantee you already have some of these elements in play!
*Quick disclaimer before we dive in. There are so many aspects to hygge that aren’t in this post. We are just going to focus on elements that really bring out the feeling of cozy. However, I want to be clear that you really don’t need anything new to experience hygge. I just hope to inspire you in some kind of way through this video and blog. Sending you a virtual snuggle no matter what.
The great thing about creating a hygge home is you don’t need much. Whether you have a small or large home there is likely room to put together a cozy corner. The Danish refer to this little spot or nook as a “hyggekrog”. The best place to start is to craft your hyggekrog with existing items in your home. For instance a few pillows, a blanket, a good book and a cup of tea are the perfect combination to outfit any cozy corner. QUESTION: Looking around your home now — is there one space in particular that already exists or could be transformed into a hyggekrog?
When asked what was the one thing people identified most with hygge and overwhelming amount of Danes said candles. I think many of us have experienced the ambiance candles bring to an environment. Whether it is the cozy feeling of a power outage after a storm or a romantic candle lit dinner, candles just have a way of evoking intimacy in a space. You can instantly change a room by turning off artificial, harsh white light and replacing it with candles.
If you are not into the idea of having burning candles a great alternative is the battery operated candles. A few months back a kind woman commented on my YouTube video (up above) how she was worried about her curious cat knocking over her lit candles. She said she replaced her normal candles with battery operated ones and they look just like the real thing! No matter your choice of scent, length or colour any candle is most certainly hygge-approved!
No recipe for hygge is complete without candles. When Danes are asked what they most associate with hygge, an overwhelming 85% will mention candles.Meik Wiking | The Little Book of Hygge
Now that we have covered candles you know how important light can be to a space. Let’s go a little bit further into this topic because Danes are obsessed with lighting in general. The rule of thumb for selecting the perfect light is, the lower temperature of light the more hygge. Let me show you some examples from The Little Book of Hygge (page 16).
Light design is so important to the Danes because like Canada there is a limited amount of light in the natural world during the winter months. They also have a long history of people invested in creating the perfect fixtures. A hyggelig lighting strategy would include candles and pools of light in the form of floor or table lamps around the room. Fairy lights are also included in this type of light design as they give off a festival, coming together kind of feeling.
When asked “Where do you experience hygge most?” 71% of Danes said home versus outside. Though you can experience hygge anywhere home seems to be the frontrunner. Adding plants to the home has a way of bringing life into a space. Not only are plants amazing for our health but they truly make any space feel happier and more lived in. Natural elements like plants, wood, textured pieces, clay etc. are a sure fire way to add some hygge vibes to your home especially during the dark days of winter.
Come as you are, cozy up and stay awhile. That is the exact sentiment that flows through a hygge home. Rosie (our litle golden doodle) has most certainly loved the idea of having blankets and pillows throughout our home. Dogs just seem to understand the importance of a comfy, cozy spot in the home. Making a home inviting is so easy if you have an eye for comfort items like textiles, blankets and cushions. When I was learning about hygge I found it so interesting learning how to bring all of the senses to a space. Think of sensory items like sherpa throws, soft throws and woven textures.
Let me set a scene for you… Think about coming home after a long hike through the winter woods to the smell of your favourite chili or soup wafting through the air. There is something so comforting about a familiar home smell. Smell is one of those senses that I think often gets overlooked when thinking about decor. If you want to create a real vibe people experience, add aroma to the top of the list. Through science, we know scent has the power to evoke an incredible amount of memory. It’s important to know nostalgia is like a feel good drug. If you can create nostalgia through a familiar scent it will make the space feel even more familiar and comfortable.
New items to your home don’t have to be the latest and greatest thing. Hygge is very much about connection. Indulge me for a moment, I have an example for this sentiment. In the winter of 2020 I was searching high and low for the perfect utensil jar. Thrilling, I know! (#thisis30 haha) I wasn’t finding what I was looking for so I had an idea! I commissioned a local pottery maker (and now friend) to craft one using inspiration I had found off of Pinterest. (Below is what she came up with adorned with a lovely sentiment on the bottom.) Now I look at this piece with such adoration. Yes, I look at our utensil jar with love!
Pieces in your home don’t have to be luxury in price tag. I think it would be great if things we owned meant something us or had a story. Antique and handmade items carry a story which builds appreciation for the smaller things in life. In my opinion that is very hygge.
Made by my wonderful friend Isabell from Play with Clay Hamilton. Find Play With Clay HERE.
Hygge in my understanding is not a minimalistic home. Hygge is about a life full of ease, contentment, comfort and loving what you have. Personally I think it’s hard to have a mind at ease in the midst of a bunch of clutter. When things have their own place it means they are likely to be remembered, used and put back. All of this to say, hygge is about taking pride and pleasure in the sheer simplicity of your surroundings. It’s about using your space for life rather than store a bunch of stuff. And as for the amount of “stuff” well that is certainly up to you.
I mentioned earlier plants are a great way to bring the outdoors in. Wooden items are very similar! The lovely thing about wooden elements specifically is they tend to add warmth to a rooms palette. We most recently added these side tables to our bedroom and I am so in love with their look (From Structube’s Clarence Range of Furniture). There is just something so homely about wooden furniture.
We found a great amount of hygge in our November escape to the woods at Find Arcana. You can learn more about this cabin in my travel section or on their website Find Arcana Here. Arcana is another great example of Scandinavian, hygge inspired design.
Last but most certainly not least is books. You guessed it, slowing down and enjoying a good book with your favourite cup of tea while a storm brews outside is one of the mainstays of hygge. Displaying your favourite stack of literature is a conversation starter when you have friends over and it really creates a sense of inspiration in a room. Don’t think just long novels. Coffee table books and culture driven seasonal magazines are also a great way to enjoy simple moments. Books have a way of making your home feel more welcoming and lived-in.
Thank you so much for your support on this blog post. I really hope you find as much inspiration from hygge as I have and that you loved this post. A lot of love has been poured into our home and I cannot wait to see what happens over the next few months! But for now I shall leave you with some more hygge inspired content as this topic is so much more than just items in the home. I hope you enjoy a small daily ritual today like that first sip of coffee or putting on your coziest knit socks.
All of my love,
Hygge has quickly become a universal word and a big part of the way I want to live my life. Though you don’t need anything to experience “hygge” there certainly is an environment that contributes to the vibe of “cozy”. Today’s blog and video is going to dive deeper into the elements that make for a cozy space.
Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world. That’s down to one thing: hygge. ‘Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight…’ You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right. Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge?
Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. He is committed to finding out what makes people happy and has concluded that hygge is the magic ingredient that makes Danes the happiest nation in the world. (Information for this article was sourced from Meik’s book and many hours watching countless videos on YouTube from Danes and people around the world).