How to Create a Hygge Home (Cozy, Warm, Welcoming, & Comforting to the Soul)
Winter is rough, friends. It just is. It's dark. It's cold. Frigid, actually, where I live. And for some, it can be downright depressing. Seasonal sadness reigns supreme for many people in winter. Even with the sparkling white beauty of snow and ice...it's still brutal for many people out there.
One way to counteract the negative emotional effects of the dark days is to create a "hygge" home for yourself! Hygge is a Danish word, pronounced (Hoo-Gah), and it means anything cozy, comforting, warm, and welcoming.
Hygge is a concept that originated in Denmark, has spread across the European continent, and is now entering America. And I LOVE it! It's a sense of warmth, kindness, coziness, belonging, and it can extend to physical places and objects as well as good times spent with friends and family.
Since I live at the base of a very large, forboding and dark mountain during the winter, and because of this, my sunset actually occurs nearly an hour earlier than even the science says....I need and want a Hygge Home! I've been working on this....
The Danish have ways of creating this kind of atmosphere in their homes, very simply, using lighting, candles, and natural simple things that work together to create a cozy feeling.
After doing some research and reading on this topic, learning that hygge is becoming a trend in many countries besides Denmark, and wanting to create more warmth in our chilly winter home right now, here's how I've tried to create an atmosphere of "hygge" in our little cabin in the middle of this cold, dark winter.
You may also enjoy this article with a hygge twist for the five senses: How to Create A Hygge Home This Fall (Sensual Hygge).
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How to Create a Hygge Home
It turns out that some of the most famous lighting in the world comes from Denmark! It's an art form there, and according to Helen Russell, author of A Year of Living Danishly, people will spend a very large portion of their hard-earned money on excellent, quality lighting. (By the way, Helen Russell's book is excellent: entertaining, while providing her personal experiences with the Danish culture! I highly recommend it!)
The lights in a Danish home require they are placed in strategic places, creating splashes of light that both create a warm feeling as well as provide the perfect amount of necessary light. The harsh overhead of American fluorescent lights are NOT part of a Hygge Home, it turns out (and I completely agree with this, as I have never been able to stand fluorescent lights!).
After searching out Danish lamps....I can completely understand the addiction to beautiful lighting. Really, I can. My favorite lamps have always been Tiffany lamps, but I can see the loveliness in the minimalism and perfection of a Danish lamp. I think that's where I'll be trending next, as soon as I can afford it.
The Danish create "splashes" of light with their lamps, too. They try to have little pools of light, rather than blasting a room with a ton of light. In this way they create an atmosphere of beauty...of warmth....to create a feeling of enjoyment and wanting to stay.
For my home, I strung lights up in the eaves of our cabin home and along the stairs to the loft. I think they look sparkly and beautiful!
Personally, I have always, always had a thing for Tiffany lamps. I even learned to make stained glass at one point in my life because I love light shining through colored glass. It's so calming, beautiful, and, well, just amazing! But the Danish have definitely cornered the market on artistic lighting, it appears, Tiffany aside.
I am still working on my lighting. I do have a couple of Tiffany knock-offs, and I do get compliments on them....but if I ever become rich and famous, I'll absolutely add a Danish lamp or two!
Just think: Cozy. Calm. Serene. Warm.
Candles & Fire:
Have you ever walked into a home lit only by candle light? It's soft, lovely, warm. It's welcoming. Think about the shows you've seen set in Medieval or Elizabethan times before electricity spread its harsh light. Those castles, (!) for Pete's Sake, were lit completely by candlelight, or maybe a torch or two. The lighting is always soft and lovely--never harsh.
Candles are HUGE in a Danish home--a Hygge home specifically. In fact, the Danish believe you really can't have too many candles. It turns out the Danes are not fans of unnatural fragrances, either. So if you are wanting a true Hygge home, you will probably want to choose candles made of clean burning soy or beeswax unscented or scented with essential oils.
In the spirit of trying to create more of a Hygge home, I have added LOTS of beeswax candles to our living areas. About 20 alone in our living room! And you know what? It's wonderful!
This is funny, though: Mr. V., upon entering the first evening of my Hygge experiment, asked if we were having a seance or something! Yes. His exact words. LOL Egads! Can you imagine? So, I explained, and he's good with all the candles now.
Fire, in general, is a good thing to have in a Hygge home. If you are fortunate enough to have a wood burning stove or fireplace, you probably are well on your way to having a Hygge home! There is just something so cozy about a real wood burning fireplace crackling away. That atmosphere!
We have a gas fireplace in our home, and it seriously adds the "cozy, warm" touch. Besides the fact that it is our primary heat source, it is also incredibly soothing. I can't tell you how many people mention first thing, "Your home is so beautiful! I could just stay here forever." Well, I think part of that is because of the fireplace!
We do also have a wood burning stove, but honestly, it would cook us in our small home. So, we just rely on our fireplace and the heating downstairs, which circulates upwards. The builders of our home did a fantastic job with insulation, I can tell you!
Natural lighting is another factor in a hygge home. Sunlight shining into correctly placed windows for maximum heat retention is not only beautiful, brightening, cheerful, and great for plants, it also creates a fabulous daytime atmosphere of openness and air.
We do not have curtains on our windows because the builders of our home figured out how to situate the windows to align with the sun's rays during both the Winter and Summer to maximize heat in Winter and minimize it during the Summer. Therefore, we enjoy beautiful views and natural lighting year round all day long.
I'm not suggesting you remove your blinds, though. Depending on where you live and how your home is turned, you may really need them for warmth, protection from neighborly gazes, and even cooling in the summer time. But think about it----can you let in more natural sunlight? Especially in the dark days of Winter?
The Danes, it turns out, almost all have access to extremely warm housing, even in the dead of winter, due to the heating systems most have installed. However, here, in the United States, we do not have this central heating plan for everyone across the nation. Therefore...blankets! What is better than a pretty, warm throw on a cold evening?
I love to have my Mom's homemade quilts available for people to use as we gather on the sofas to watch a show or just to talk. They are warm, beautiful, and really, nobody wants to get up! :-)
When they are not in use, I just keep them folded across the arms of the sofas in the Winter. In summer, they are stored away, and I miss them being out. Our cats love them too!
The Danes love minimalism. So, part of having a Hygge home is having a home that is easy to be in. Uncluttered. Based on Helen Russell's reporting in The Year of Living Danishly, always CLEAN. You won't be walking around piles of stuff in a hygge home, absolutely not.
Recently, we put our home on the market to sell, as we are looking for a homestead with some land for pasture in another state. Well, we rented a connex to store the items we have in the house that we don't use.
So....now we have a very uncluttered home. All the furniture without a real purpose is out there, along with trinkets, pictures, etc. We have really decluttered quite a lot....but we have absolutely retained the personality of our home! I would say it's a minimalist home with a cozy factor. And I think that must be Hygge.
I think this is what the Danish value: Simplicity. Warmth. Necessary items that are beautiful at the same time. I like it too.
Things from Nature:
Yule logs at Winter time, flowers in summer...A Hygge home is one that incorporates the natural world. Natural wood with beautifully patterned chairs, natural mosses formed around LED candles...that's the picture. The perfect combination of modern, minimalism, and natural.
Final Thoughts on Creating Your Own Hygge Atmosphere in Your Home
I love this concept of hygge. More than the actual physical accoutrements in the home, a Hygge home is welcoming...one where people feel welcome. It's a place of camaraderie and joy.
During this holiday time, and as we head into the Winter Days, my goal is to create this kind of place, especially since I'm here so much. What about you? How do you feel about creating your own Hygge space this Winter time?
For more information on Hygge, there are actually some Facebook groups out there that are very interesting! The books I've read on Hygge culture include The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell, The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Weiking (he discusses happiness in depth in his book, too), and How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life, and a few others!
What do you think of the concept of Hygge? Have you even heard of it? It's new to me! But evidently in the past year, this is concept that's been gaining a lot of traction in our country as far as trends go. Personally, I think this is a very healthy way to live!
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Go out there and get your Hygge on!
Leave comments, my friends! If you know more about hygge, please share with us! If you have other ideas for creating a hygge environment, let us know in the comments!
Hugs, Health, & Self Reliance,
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