There are times of the year when summer warmth and light seem a long way off. Add the stresses of daily life to these dark evenings and everyone needs a little comfort and calm. Comfort and calm is something Nordic countries do perfectly with their concept of hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-ga’). But what exactly is hygge?
What is hygge?
Although there’s no direct translation into English, hygge was originally a Norwegian word for ‘wellbeing’, first appearing in written form in the 18th century. Hygge flourishes most in the long Scandinavian winters when the sun disappears for months at a time, however, it can be enjoyed at any time of the year. Hygge creates a cosy intimacy that embraces you, your family and your friends. If you’re ready to embrace this hygge cosiness here are a few ideas we’ve put together.
Tall a random poll of Scandinavians and ask them what they associate with hygge and most answer, ‘candles’. There’s even a rumour that Scandinavia burns the most candles per head in the world! Whether you prefer scented or unscented candles, their flickering warm light dispels chills creating the perfect atmosphere for cosy nights in, romance with your partner, or entertaining friends.
With long, dark winters, Nordic dwellers value the importance of lighting. A hygge home takes advantage of as much natural light as possible, then supplements it with lamps. Choose lamps that are easy on the eye, then place them carefully to create relaxing pools of light or position them so you can read your favourite winter book easily.
Texture and natural elements
Lean back against chunky knit cushions, caress the feet with fluffy rugs or cuddle up in cashmere and faux-fur throws. Arrange them all to add style to a room as well as provide a sense of comforting touch. Take texture further with rustic wall tapestries, wicker chairs or even plants while choosing wood floors or furniture brings nature into your home.
Colour is vital in adding hygge to your home. Go cool white and bring it alive with colourful furniture, fabrics and accessories (including your candles) or decorate rooms in a warm and inviting palette. Think about how colours make you feel rather than following the latest fashion trends.
Hygge is all about being comfortable in your home so indulge yourself with some new loungewear. At the end of the day, slip into loose kaftans, silk harem trousers or cashmere pyjamas. Let their colours and prints reflect your personality or choose them to complement your home.
Books and nooks
When it’s cold and dark outside curl up with a book. Colourful and stylish book covers can become a real feature in your room, making it feel cosy and lived in. Be creative about arranging and storing them – pile them on tables, stack them on the floor next to your sofa or bed or be original with shelving systems. And, of course, you’ll need a nook for reading in. A comfy chair, a soft throw, good lighting and a small table for your hot drink and you’re ready to lose yourself in a book.
Long winter evenings give you plenty of time to revive an old hobby craft or learn a new one. Knitting and sewing continue to grow in popularity or switch off the TV and immerse yourself in some creative colouring or a crossword or two. Just a couple of hours will see you feeling revived and ready to tackle life with fresh vigour.
Entertaining hygge style
Share hygge with your friends. Plan relaxed gatherings where you sip gløgg or mulled wine and eat simple but tasty food whether it’s artisan cheese and biscuits or a hearty stew. Keep everything simple and don’t worry if your crockery doesn’t match or you haven’t spent all day slaving over the stove. Hygge is about sharing friendship not showing off.
The simple things
The essence of hygge is simplicity and the little indulgences that make our daily life more cheerful. Slow down and really savour your hot drink and slice of cake or run yourself a bath, light some aromatherapy candles and shut out the world for a while.
Hygge is all about creating environments that become your sanctuary. Do this and you’ll notice an improvement in your daily wellbeing and more moments in life that warm your soul and make you smile. And, remember hygge is not just for winter!