You may have seen the recent hype about Hygge and wondered what on earth it was all about. I thought the same six months ago and decided I needed to become informed and bought myself The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. I sat down and read the book in one sitting and I am now a believer. Meik is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and I think it says a lot about the Danes to begin with that they even pay people to research Happiness – what a fantastic idea. It is no coincidence that the Danes are said to be the happiest people in the world and it appears to come down to one thing – a word that doesn’t really translate into the English language but is known as Hygge. Í am going to tell you a little bit about what this is and how you can use it to improve your life – if like me you are hooked, I highly recommend you buy the book to find out more.
Hygge is the Danish way to live life well rather than a trendy style – something that will be out of fashion soon, this is simply a better way to live day to day and translates into all facets of Danish living. In terms of interiors, Hygge means comfort, style, good lighting and rooms that are conducive to relaxation. Importance is given to the correct lighting for a space from beautifully designed statement pendants to a group of candles on a mantelpiece. Seating should be good quality with layers of comfortable cushions and throws. I can’t stress enough that good design is absolutely key to getting Hygge right. A statement armchair is a work of art and may cost as much as a monthly salary but will be treasured and a talking point of the decorating scheme. Less is definitely more which is seen in beautiful Scandinavian style that is sweeping the globe.
Hygge is mostly suited to a cold climate. It’s that feeling when you have been for a long walk, your hands are tingling with the cold and you sit by a roaring fire with a hot drink, with good close friends listening to the howling wind outside. The feeling is one of tiredness from exercise, comfort, warmth and friendship. We have lots of words to describe it and I am sure you can all put yourself in this position and know how lovely it feels. I have taken several lines to tell you and could go on and on – the Danes just call it Hygge!
Central to Hygge is comfort with nice things to eat and drink. Coffee is the drink of choice, which is something that Australians can relate to with good quality cakes and treats.
A Danish home is incomplete without the ubiquitous candle. As lighting is so important to Hygge, you need to have lots of different options and mood lighting from candles really sets the scene for a cosy, warm environment. Candles as part of a styling vignette look great in many decorating styles – a word of caution though – you do need to air the room after using candles as they can emit harmful particles. Don’t let this deter you though – just bear it in mind.
Layers of beautifully textured, soft warm throws are another interior styling ingredient for Hygge. Danish style has a minimalistic look where every item in a space is well considered so anything piece that you include has to be either beautiful or have a purpose – a gorgeous chunky knitted throw serves both with its accent of colour and texture and warmth on a cold evening. Remember this mantra when you are putting together a Scandinavian style look – beautiful or useful – it is key to getting the look right.
The Danes think carefully about all aspects of their home and beautiful porcelain is no exception. I love these pieces from Broste Copenhagen – each item is a work of art in its own right – a beautiful meal or drink deserves to be presented well. This is all part of understanding Hygge.
Some of the world’s most iconic lighting comes from Denmark. Lighting designer, Poul Henningsen is well known for his beautiful pendants and lamps which are a work of art and have been gracing homes since their inception. As proper lighting brings harmony to a home, it is such a key area of getting Hygge right in interiors, a piece like this is a worthwhile investment.
Cosy, cosy and cosy are the words to remember for Hygge. Even in an Australian home which is designed and geared towards the warmer months, you can find a cosy corner. A place to sit that is comfortable and private – perhaps an area that isn’t often used, but that is a lovely place to sit and read without the intrusion of media devices. This comfy corner below is very Hygge!
Hygge is not all about large gatherings or entertaining on a huge scale, it is about close friendships, family time, good quality design and comfort. Small candlelit dinner parties, reading by the fire, games evenings with family, good food and warm comforting drinks are the order of the day. In a space that is beautifully lit and well thought through with items of beauty and purpose – no wonder the Danes are so happy.
I hope that this has given you just a taste of Hygge – I would love to hear if you practice this in your own home or whether you plan to? It is a great way to live your life and at the very least very timely for the onset of colder weather in Australia.
If you love Scandinavian style, you may also be interested to read my 5 key elements of Scandi Style: