You probably see the buzzy term "hygge" on your favorite lifestyle blogs or hear it on an HGTV design show, and wonder what the heck hygge is all about. The Danish lifestyle trend evokes feelings of warmth and is all about comfort, but if you are living a fast-paced modernized life (especially with kids!), it may feel hard to find ways to incorporate hygge into your everyday life. These eight hygge techniques everyone should try for a cozy home are easy to do, and can help get you started on your journey to discover the true spirit of hygge living.
If you are not already familiar with the hygge trend of living a simplified, snuggly life, get ready to fall in love with the concept. Helen Russell, a British journalist and bestselling author of The Year of Living Danishly — Uncovering The Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country, experienced first hand what hygge is and how it is lived in the actual culture where it originated. "The word defies literal translation but the best explanation I’ve seen in more than six years of living Danishly is 'the complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming: taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.'"
Ahhh. Don't you feel cozier just hearing that definition? Read on for ways to include hygge in your home and help create a comfortable space where you can enjoy happy, blissful moments between your toddler's inevitable meltdowns.
1. Cozy Activities
First and foremost, understanding that hygge is not just about how your home is decorated can make a world of difference in embracing the lifestyle.
Pia Edberg, author of The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge, tells Romper that hygge is "much more than physical or aesthetic comfort." Regardless of how you may decorate your home, Edberg explains that cozy activities also play a role in creating a hygge environment. "It’s also about mental and emotional wellbeing and surrounding yourself with people and things that you love and that make you feel safe, warm, and cozy. It's also about doing cozy activities such as reading a good book with a cup of tea, having a good conversation with a friend or group of friends, or a snuggle with a furry pet. With hygge, we create comfort, intimacy, and connection."
2. Warm Lighting
Russell notes that candlelight is one of the more important aspects of hygge living, and explains how it is typically done in Danish culture. "Candlelight is a key component (Danes burn the highest number of candles per head in Europe.) and they’re everywhere: from the windowsill of my kids’ daycare to shops, banks," Russell says. "Hygge is so crucial to living Danishly that I once saw a camper van driving along the motorway with lit candles in the windows. This is probably illegal, but Vikings don’t tend to be too hung up on health and safety."
Although most of us tend to just flip on a light switch when we need to illuminate our homes, experts say that creating a hygge atmosphere in your home is as simple as lighting some candles or changing your bulbs. "Hygge lighting is cozy, warm, dim, yellow in tone," Edberg tells Romper. "So if you can get dimmers on your lights, use yellow toned light bulbs, light candles, hang fairy lights — these will make your space super cozy when lit up when it's dark outside."
3. Bring The Outdoors In
Russell says that the Danes typically use many natural elements within their homes to create a hygge environment. She says that "wood, leather, [and] sheepskin rugs" are common elements that the Danish use that can also be. incorporated to make your own home feel more hygge.
Edberg also recommends gathering natural elements that bring the outdoors into your home to make it cozier. "We naturally feel calm when we are surrounded by nature, so bring in lots of plants or flowers from outside to help you relax," Edberg says. "You can gather a bouquet of wild flowers to put in your home, or some interesting pieces of driftwood, or rocks/crystals."
4. Comfortable Textiles
Russell explains that comfort is key when it comes to hygge-inspired textiles, especially during the cold winter months when hygge involvement is at its peak. "Sofas tend to have a cozy blanket thrown over the back of them at this time of year and come with an abundance of cushions — Danes take their comfort very seriously," Russell tells Romper.
You also don't have to invest in anything expensive to make the textiles in your home hygge. "Find textiles that make you want to curl up in them," Edberg says. "You can take whatever blankets/pillows you already own and put them out on display around the house, on the sofas/chairs, kitchen, office, etc."
5. Soothing Colors
To make your home more hygge, changing up your color scheme may be something to consider if your home features more brightly colored items or wall paint. In Danish culture, Russell explains that coordinated colors are soft and inspired by nature. "Colors are low key and stylishly coordinated," Russell tells Romper. "So there’s been a big trend in grays and pale salmon pinks, but this year we’re seeing more olive greens and muted, botanical inspired colors."
With hygge, you can go dark or light in color within your home, as long as the color scheme is soothing to you. "I think whether one chooses lighter colors (pastel colors) or darker colors (deep reds/purple/green/blues) depends on personal taste, but I would stay away from anything too bright, energetic, or jarring like neon colors," Edberg says. "Basically, if you can make your space feel like a cozy spa or a cozy cabin getaway (whatever your personal taste is), it will feel hygge to you."
6. Express Yourself
Edberg suggests that reflecting your personal style by displaying items of personal importance in your home can be a form of hygge. "You want your space to feel like you. It could be photos of you and your friends/family, or a figurine you picked up on your travels, or your own paintings hung up on the wall if you're an artist. Display these, don't tuck them away," Edberg tells Romper.
7. Participate In Self-Care
Although it may not sound like something that will make your physical home cozier, participating in hygge concepts that evoke self-care can help put you in a hygge mindset, which will in turn allow you to more fully engage when making your home a more hygge space.
"Spend some hygge time with yourself, dim the lights, put on some candles and soft relaxing music (calming music is hygge!), and give yourself some self-love, like a hot bath, meditating, reading a good book with some tea, or cuddling with a pet," Edberg says. "Ultimately hygge is all about a feeling, rather than a visual aesthetic. You can literally hygge anywhere as it's all about the mindset and the love you put into a moment. It's about not judging anyone or anything, and allowing people to feel safe as who they are, while also feeling relaxed and comfortable."
8. Invite Others Into Your Home
Experts explain that in order to make your home a hygge environment, you should fill it with friends and loved ones to engage in hygge activities, especially in the colder months. "Hygge is tied up with the weather, which has a bonding effect," Russell says. "It’s so cold and dark October to March that everyone comes together. In warmer climates, you can still go out and spend time in restaurants and cafes, but living Danishly means you pull together at home and get hygge."
Once you have made your home a hygge haven, inviting others over to enjoy the space together is key. "I think one of the biggest things we can do, especially with the digital age distracting us, is deliberately creating connection and time with our loved ones or friends/family," Edberg says. "Do something intimate and not too overstimulating — like enjoying a hot chocolate and having a good catch-up conversation. Hygge is old fashioned, relaxed, and not fussy."