As we welcome a New Year at the stroke of midnight on December 31st, many of us see the calendar starting again as a chance to instill our own new beginnings. An annual time to reassess and realign our goals, it’s also a chance to recharge, reset, and reflect on our habits, mindsets, and lifestyle. At the heart of most resolutions lists is a hope to find an overall healthier and happier lifestyle. Often this can be achieved by incorporating and practicing wellness in our daily lives.
Hygge (pronounced hue-gah), a Danish inspired design trend, aims to do just that. This 18th century concept focuses on enjoying life’s simplest pleasures through contentment, warmth, and togetherness.
Difficult to define in translation, the ambiance and feeling of hygge could be represented by the feeling of slipping into a warm bath, taking the first sip of a hot mug of chamomile tea by the fire, or enjoying a long, hearty meal among friends. It can be whatever relaxes you, makes you feel at ease, and makes you feel comfortable.
You don’t need to make big changes to create an environment conducive to a hygge lifestyle.
Here are 11 easy ways to incorporate the calmness and serenity of Hygge in your life and in your home:
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1. Keep it Simple
Two of the core values behind this Scandinavian way of living is simplicity and purity. In a world that gets busier by the day, it’s a reminder to create an environment and safe space that encourages you to savor the moment and share in the company of those you love most. To start, think of environmental elements you can add to your home to help make it your personal sanctuary and what that looks like to you. A calm and serene physical environment helps to lead to a mindful way of living and ultimately a healthier and happier lifestyle.
2. Create a Comfortable & Cozy Atmosphere
Hygge will help bring warmth and coziness to every room in your home without deconstructing the foundation it was built on. No matter what style home you have, there are ways to incorporate this decor trend and still maintain a chic, modern look. Here are a few easy ways to add cozy elements to any room in your home:
Plush, soft rugs are an easy way to incorporate a new element into your living space without changing everything at once or adding too many expenses. Consider a neutral color that matches your design, while also adding an element of softness to the room. Don’t sacrifice comfort for design – make sure the rug you choose is cozy and comfortable beneath your feet.
Throw blankets are another inexpensive and easy way to quickly incorporate an element of coziness into any room. There’s nothing quite like curling up on the couch with a mug of hot cocoa, wrapped in a cocoon of big, soft blankets. If you prefer a minimalist design, consider a blanket basket or trunk to keep the throws tucked away when not in use.
We’ve all seen them – and might even own a few. Yes, we’re talking about scratchy, itchy, uncomfortable throw pillows. While they may look beautiful resting on your couch, you don’t necessarily want to lay back on them while you read. Instead of styling for design reasons only, keep comfort in mind when replacing or shopping for new throw pillows.
Choose Comfortable Furniture
If you do decide to make a big change, focus on a large cushioned couch that makes it easy to spread out and has room for more than one or two people to sit. When shopping for a new sofa, consider a quilted pattern with a monochrome color palette in mind. In larger living areas or open floorplans, the style of couch you choose can change the ambiance of multiple rooms and help to achieve that charming and cozy look you’re going for.
Dress for the Occasion
The Danish have a word for that favorite pair of sweatpants you would never wear out of the house – hyggebusker. Fuzzy socks, oversized sweatshirts, soft shawls – if you love it, put it on, and get comfortable as you burrow under the blankets clad in all your coziest clothes.
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3. Add Warmth & Light
While the summer days are long, throughout the winter months Denmark is enveloped by darker skies starting as early as 4pm. Lighting candles to keep homes light and warm is a Danish tradition and it has quickly been embraced as an essential element of the hygge lifestyle. There is an unattainable magic surrounding the glow of candlelight and basking in it as you watch the snow fall outside your window.
When styling your home, make sure to utilize lots of candles. The Danes typically use unscented candles to simply embrace the light, so if you do choose a scented option make sure it isn’t too overwhelming of a fragrance.
Aside from candles, choose lights, lamps, and bulbs on the warmer end of the color spectrum to provide a softer and more calming ambiance. Lights have the ability to set the tone of your entire house and impact your overall mood and warm light has been known to promote an intimate environment while relaxing the mind and body. A dimmable lamp that allows you to control the brightness is also a great way to adapt your atmosphere for reading, watching movies, or enjoying conversations with company.
4. Natural Elements, Colors, Contrast, & Textures
The idea is to turn your home into a haven, exuding a calm and serene environment. When it comes to designing your space, consider monochromatic color schemes that incorporate a subtle mix of tonal shades. While choosing neutral or pastel colors, you can still incorporate different textures and fabrics to create a dynamic and stylish space.
By keeping the colors soft and simple, you can find contrast in the materials you use. The Danes draw inspiration from nature in their mix of minimalist and rustic design - bringing natural materials such as wood, leather, and wool into their space alongside sleek and smooth materials such as ceramics or marble. From there, incorporating soft fabrics such as cashmere, flannel, quilts, chunky knits, and even linen will help to find the perfect balance of serenity and comfort.
Aside from textures and materials used in your decor, consider how you’ll bring the outdoors in. The human-nature connection has been studied by psychologists for years and there is no debate that our affinity for the outdoors is a powerful and valuable component of our well-being. This could be as simple as positioning your furniture so that no matter where you rest in a room, you have access to natural light, heading to a local nursery to pick up plants for each room, or creating an outdoor space you can spend time in throughout all four seasons.
During the colder months, make a point to rearrange your furniture so you have a view of the outdoors to watch the sunset or let the light stream in while you read, work out, or relax in your loft or living room.
5. Declutter & Display What Makes You Happy
One of the philosophies of hygge is to hold on to what has function and value, and to say goodbye to what doesn’t. This act of decluttering doesn’t mean getting rid of everything and starting over. Hold on to what makes you feel happy and make sure everything has its place. If something has a home, it becomes easier to keep excess clutter in check and to avoid distracting elements that cause stress.
Consider investing in clever storage solutions, whether that’s a coffee table that doubles as a trunk for cozy throw blankets or side tables with cabinets to hide away what doesn’t need to be out on display like extra magazines and coasters.
While decluttering will help create a clean environment, it doesn’t mean you have to put everything away. Hygge is all about happiness and it’s important to display whatever treasured memories and items you have that make you feel good. This could be a gallery wall of family photos, shelves of souvenirs from your favorite trips and travels, or any other items you enjoy looking at each and every day.
6. Utilize a Fireplace
Settling in and huddling around the fireplace during long Scandinavian winter nights has become a Danish tradition celebrated all winter long. Spending time with loved ones within the warmth of a roaring fire is the perfect opportunity to live in the moment, enjoy each other’s company, and practice gratitude.
Having a fireplace in your home is a natural way to make everyone feel warm and welcome. Strategically center your furniture inward towards the fire and invite company to relax and unwind in its warmth.
7. Feature Statement Accent Pieces
When following hygge design guidelines, feel free to add a statement piece to any room for an extra element of interest. A beautifully quilted chair in a unique pattern, a multi-tiered glass chandelier, or even a large piece of art can add to the ambiance and feeling of the room. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style – versatile rugs, soft throw pillows, and more can help refine the style of the room without giving up the comfortable and cozy atmosphere you’re aiming for.
However, don’t add too many statement pieces to one room. Otherwise, items can be overlooked and you can sink back into more of a cluttered aesthetic, so make sure to choose pieces you love and add them in sparingly.
8. Spa-Style Bathroom
While the first room on your list to bring hygge to might be your living room or bedroom, your bathroom can easily be optimized for relaxation and rejuvenation. Big, fluffy towels, soft robes, neutral calming colors, clean, decluttered countertops, and soft dim lighting are a few ways to create a spa-style bathroom in your own home. Adding in a few candles for extra ambiance and playing soft, relaxing music through a waterproof sound system will turn an overlooked room into a space of tranquility.
9. Gather with Friends & Family
While this Scandinavian way of life celebrates health and happiness through environment, community also plays a huge role in hygge. Whether that’s settling in for a long, hearty meal, gathering around the fireplace with a mug of glögg (Scandinavian mulled wine), or simply spending time together in a shared space, this refreshing take on daily life emphasizes savoring the moment in the company of others.
10. Discover a New Hobby
While many resolutions include trying something new, this year, choose one that brings you a sense of peacefulness. Avoid options that may cause stress or make you feel overwhelmed, as they should bring out positive feelings of accomplishment and contentment rather than negatives ones. From learning a new instrument or reading a book from a genre you don’t typically choose to putting together a rooftop garden or taking time to meditate each morning, there are endless options to challenge yourself without stressing yourself out.
Something as simple as cooking a new dish a week can be just the activity you need. Consider enlisting your friends and family to try new hobbies with you to create new and lasting memories that help you to reconnect and gather together with them in a new way.
11. Retreat & Take Time and Space for Yourself
Although hygge encourages you to surround yourself with loved ones and take the time to fully be present with company, it is equally as important to find the time to unwind on your own. One way to do this is to create a hyggekrog or a cozy corner. Whether it’s an entire room, a private nook, or even a window seat, having this personal space will provide an ideal spot to retreat to when you need it. Make sure to incorporate all the elements that make you feel most cozy and at home from comfortable furniture and accessories to the actual positioning of your nesting spot.
Take advantage of natural light near a window, position yourself within arm’s reach of a bookshelf, and set up a side table for candles, a glass of wine or cup of coffee, and maybe even a soft cardigan or sweatshirt draped nearby for easy access.
No matter which resolutions you choose this year, consider incorporating a few ideas from one of the happiest countries in the world. All you need are a few key pieces and practices to remodel your lifestyle and achieve a quiet and peaceful home you can escape to after a long day. For more ideas on how to create a healthy and happy home environment, click here.