Crackling wood in a fiery hearth paired with a hot cup of tea, a knit blanket and watching the snow lightly fall outside. Sounds like a scene in a Christmas movie, right? Well, this snapshot encapsulates the Danish lifestyle trend referred to as hygge. And in the last year, it’s crossed the pond and made it’s way into American interior design.
Roughly translating to ‘cozy’ (but on a much deeper level), hygge — pronounced “hoo-gah” — is all about living a harmonious, happy and relaxing life by indulging in the comfort of home. However, when we think of the word hygge (or type it into Pinterest), things like fuzzy socks and wool blankets and snuggling by the fire come to mind. But just because the snow stops falling doesn’t mean the hygge has to go along with it!
In Denmark, hygge is a yearlong affair! It’s embedded in the Danish culture and their daily lives. And despite the imagery and elements associated with the word, slowing down and genuinely enjoying the moment alone or with those around you is by no means confined to one season.
Most of us want to live in a soothing environment among things that bring us comfort and joy year-round. And hygge puts a name and an action to those simple desires. During Winter, embracing hygge only seems natural. So how do you honor the hygge concept during the warmer seasons? We may drink hot cocoa in one season and cold beers in another, but the hygge moments always remain. Rebecca Thandi Norman, writer for Scandinavia Standard, says, “When it’s not so cold, spring hygge looks like garden parties with lots of flowers, light colors, and taking shelter from the rain in a cafe.” Here’s a few key ways on how to hygge during the warmer seasons.
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Live By Floral & Fruity Scented Candlelight
As The Little Book of Hygge states, “No recipe for hygge is complete without candles.” They are truly the corner stone of the hygge movement (an overwhelming 85 percent of Dances mention candles when asked what they most associate with hygge). But just because it’s Spring doesn’t mean you have to give up on your scented candles. Instead of pumpkin spice and cinnamon, opt for fresh linen and floral fragrances like jasmine or lavender. Citrusy scents like grapefruit are also great, especially in the Summer when the bugs start to come out!
Do A Spring Clean
Danish design is all about streamlined minimalism. So, to hygge authentically, you must take your Spring Cleaning seriously. Living clutter-free is something truly embraced by the Danes. And even though the idea seems exhausting, no one can deny the pleasure of a perfectly clean home. Very much like the philosophy brought to us by Marie Kondo, the Danes believe in order to live an authentic hyggelig (hygge-like) lifestyle, you must be free from the things that do not bring you joy. So go through each category of your belongings, decide what stays and what goes, dust your surfaces and attack those cobweb-filled corners. Then, take a deep breath, sit back and enjoy your freshly clean and joy-filled home.
Let There Be Light
Winter can make one crazy after a while – trapped inside your home trying to stay warm. But with the warmer seasons comes longer days and more natural light for you to take advantage of! Once you’ve cleaned your windows, embrace the sunny skies by adding neutral or sheer curtains to let the natural light flow in. Switch off the AC in favor of opening the windows to let the warm breeze dance about your home. Sit by a window with your coffee and a lightweight blanket and listen to the birds sing.
Also, use the arrival of Spring to brighten up your home with lighter fabrics and brighter colors. Swap your heavy bed sheets for a lightweight pastel linen set. Replace chunky throw pillows for those that resemble plant motifs or floral patterns.
Another crucial hygge-must is incorporating natural elements into your home decor. And luckily, this is a cinch during the warmer seasons. Try to highlight any natural wood feature that your home has, like flooring or ceiling beams. Use earth tones and organic materials such as variations of woods, stones, linens and metals. “The greatest thing about organic materials is that, if you treat them right, they have the ability to age well. How they carry the story of being used over time is the best example of bringing soul, authenticity, attachment and a sense of belonging — qualities like these are closely attached to the phenomenon of hygge, we believe.”
One of the easiest ways to bring the outdoors in is to gather some branches and flowers from your garden or the local florist and keeping simple arrangements in a few rooms. Find a few fabulous vases for around the home and fill them with fresh flowers as a delicate way of reminding you that life is beautiful. Houseplants are another great way to bring nature into your home. Not only do they look stylish, they also help to purify the air. So bring the greenery in and create your own personal oasis! Succulents are easy to maintain and fun to cluster together. Or purchase a ponytail palm to put in a sun-filled room.
Hygge With Friends & Family
Part of the hygge aesthetic involves interaction with others and is best enjoyed with friends. And though it’s possible to hygge with yourself, it’s primarily a social endeavor. So eating wholesome food by candlelight or sitting out by the pool make for the perfect excuse for a gathering. Fantastic for uplifting others too, test out your baking skills and take your creations to a friend’s to indulge in a spot of hygge together. It doesn’t have to fancy; hygge has more to do with your mindset, relaxing and feeling comfortable with the people around you.
Enjoy The Space Around You
The Danes are experts when it comes to well-being; they don’t fight their surroundings, but rather embrace them! An emphasis on the need to escape the everyday to experience true relaxation is key with the hustle and bustle of Spring and Summer. After all, the key idea behind hygge is to enjoy the environments around you. And nowhere else is this more essential than in your home.
Each room should be a sanctuary — a place you can sink into at any given moment. Fill each room with elements that allow you to relax and reflect on good times. “Hygge has a complex nature and succeeding in creating a hyggelig atmosphere is about succeeding in passing on a feeling of belonging, feeling embraced and to some extent, recognized,” says Danish interior architects Signe Bindslev Hansen and Peter Bungaard Rutzou. “Aim to try to get as seamless an integration between aesthetics and function as possible.” So make small changes to your everyday environments that help you to revel in the tiny moments that make you smile and make your soul shine.
A key component to being cozy in the Winter is the yummy treats and home cooked meals. But just because the cold months are behind us, doesn’t mean we have to stop all the cooking and baking! Fresh fruits and veggies now feel just as indulging as a steaming bowl of potato soup. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter and try experimenting with your own indoor herb garden. There’s a magic in the process of baking and cooking, so grab your friends or family for a weekly home cooked meal and dessert.
While hygge is frequently associated with coziness, it’s a way of life which can be enjoyed all year round! This time of year is especially hyggelig as it’s a fresh, new beginning. And because it’s getting warmer, people are starting to go outside! If you have an outdoor space or garden, take advantage of it! Gathering your nearest and dearest friends for food and drinks in someone’s backyard is very hyggeligt. Even better if it runs late into the night.
Picnics with close friends and loved ones contributing in a communal meal at a secluded park or beach . . . Bliss! Of course your outing doesn’t have to involve food. Simply going on a nice nature walk, riding your bike with a friend or two, or sitting by the pool with your favorite magazine and a refreshing drink — these are also very hyggeligt for Spring and Summer.
How often do you feel like you’re rushing here and rushing there? You always have somewhere to be and thinking about the next thing to check off on your to-do list. But to truly hygge, it’s important to slow down a bit and take it all in. There will always be something else to think or worry about. But this concept teaches you to take each moment as it is, without rushing onto your next task or commitment.
Start becoming more aware of your pace throughout your daily routine. See if you can catch yourself rushing through certain tasks. When you are able to catch yourself, slow it down. Take the time to really enjoy your morning coffee. Resist the urge to multi-task, especially while you’re at home. Incorporate some much deserved “me-time” at least once a week as well as time spent with friends and family. Challenge yourself to be more mindful of your daily routine.
Don’t Overdo It
Hygge is never about extravagance. Indulgence, yes. But extravagance, no. Hygge settings are not about wowing or impressing your guests. It’s about creating a warm and inviting atmosphere that you, your friends and your family feel comfortable and relaxed. Dinners don’t need to be styled to perfection with a 10 course menu. Parties don’t need a long list of cocktails accompanied by an out of this world playlist. Instead, take your get-togethers back to basics with a more natural, laid-back feel.
Remember: The Simple Things In Life Are Hygge
You don’t need to overhaul your interior to make it more hyggeligt. Hygge is about bringing joy into the every day. Tiny additions to the home can transform any moment! Treating yourself to your favorite coffee, indulging in a late-night bubble bath by candlelight or finally putting your favorite photographs on the wall are all instant mood-lifters. Take the time to enjoy the little things. Celebrate comfort, contentment and kinship. Be thankful, not of where you live, but how you live.
The most important thing to understand about hygge is that it describes the feeling you get, not the surroundings. So yes a warm blanket it is very hyggeligt but it is the feeling it gives you which is important. So having that in the back of your mind will help you create more moments of a hygge nature.