Hygge (pronounced hoo-guh) is a Danish word used to describe a feeling or moment as cozy or special. It's related to the English word "hug," which is also derived from the Old Norse word "hygga," meaning to embrace, comfort or console. Often described as "the art of creating intimacy," the concept of hygge involves recognizing and appreciating the present and living in the moment, typically in a convivial, comfortable atmosphere.
In home décor, hygge invokes the feeling of being cozy, snug and sheltered; a space where you and guests can easily relax and unwind. (Picture a big, comfy chair in front of a crackling fire that tempts you to curl up with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa). The concept stems from the Danes' desire to beat the doldrums of long, cold winters with little daylight by relishing in simple, comforting rituals that evoke feelings of well-being.
You can invite such feelings into your own life by creating a warm and welcoming space with the following tips.
Warm up your space.
» Add comfort by layering soft fabrics in different textures throughout the home. Think velvet couch, nubby woolen rugs, cashmere or flannel throws, lots of pillows, and sheepskin rugs. Small sheepskin rugs can be used to cover wooden chairs in the dining room for a cozy look and feel. Woven tapestries allow you to extend the softness to the walls as well.
» Old photos, heirlooms and antiques also evoke feelings of hygge.
» When it comes to music, records offer a warmer, fuller sound than digital tunes. The cold metal of electronics can disrupt the hygge feel, so enclose them in furniture when possible. We like Crosley's wooden or suitcase-style record players.
Bring the outside in.
» With the leaves long gone from the trees and the colder temperatures causing us to spend more time indoors, you can still get your green fix with houseplants. According to a NASA study, aside from adding uplifting energy, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, some plants, such as spider plants and Easter lilies, also help clean the air of toxins such as benzene and formaldehyde — definitely a plus when it's too cold to open the windows. NASA recommends at least one plant per 100 square feet of your home.
Clear the clutter.
» It's much easier to find your inner peace when you have mental clarity, and a cluttered space is reflective of a cluttered mind. Take time to rid yourself of (or at least organize) all your odds and ends, and surround yourself only with items you need and adore. This will help simplify your everyday tasks and leave you with extra time to relish moments like enjoying a cup of tea or a relaxing soak in the bath.
Create relaxation stations.» Your bed is obviously the most relaxing place in the home, so make it easier to spend more time there by investing in high-thread-count sheets and accessories like extra pillows, throws, reading wedges and breakfast trays. Make room to fit all that extra stuff with the largest bed you can fit in your space (and budget).
» You'll also want a cozy nook — or nooks — in another part of the house. Aim for a comfy chaise or day bed with a cozy throw and lots of pillows. Ideally, each resident in your home will have his or her own individualized nook.» Enhancing your time in the bathtub is an investment you won't regret. Stock up on candles with relaxing scents. Similar to bright patterns, avoid overwhelming fragrances, unless they really speak to you. We like LAFCO's candles, which you can find locally at The Cosmetic Market and Yessick's. Especially winter-worthy is the Champagne scent, with notes of ginger, grapefruit and raspberry.
Go au naturel.» Using natural finishes and colors present in the natural world — jewel and earth tones — is another way to incorporate the outdoors into your interior décor. Blonde or unpainted wood and natural finishes such as stone, ceramic tile and plaster create a more inviting, comforting space than metal, lacquer or metallic elements. Veer away from loud patterns and vivid colors in favor of warm tones in similar or complementary shades.
Entertain, hygge style.
» Gathering with others certainly produces feelings of comfort and well-being — especially when you've got warm goodies and adult beverages at hand. So be sure to stock the bar and keep serving trays and coasters at the ready so you can fully embrace living in the moment and be ready to entertain on the fly.
Don't relegate hygge to just your surroundings. Carry the concept over to your attire with flannel robes and cozy sheepskin slippers. L.L.Bean makes great versions of both.
Create intimacy through lighting.
» Turn off the overhead lights and bring lighting closer to you in the form of lamps, sconces and candles to create a softer glow and a cozier space. And keep your light bulbs' wattage low to create ambient lighting.