The Danes know a thing or two about living. Denmark is often cited as the happiest country in the world thanks to the people’s approach to life, love, money and success. But what is it about the Danish culture that seems to lend itself to such unabashed contentment?
For some, it’s the Danish ability to live in the moment and enjoy the small day-to-day things in life. For a Dane, having a huge house and a nice car on the drive is important, but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all, and it’s certainly not worth sacrificing one’s happiness to achieve. The Danes believe in enjoying life as it arrives and focusing on what you do have, not what you don’t.
Hygge is a philosophy that emerges from this kind of thinking. It’s where you enjoy the moment you have – like the time you spend with friends and family – and take it for what it is, without wanting more.
Hygge and Interior Design
Hygge isn’t, technically speaking, an interior design movement. Sure, you often hear about “hygge living rooms” and “hygge bathrooms,” but a bathroom is no more hygge than a church is a building.
The reason hygge got caught up with the world of interior design comes from the fact that the philosophy can be expressed in interior design. Hygge design eschews flamboyance and expense and instead focuses on providing things that people need to live their lives in comfort.
Hygge design is almost a critique of many modern home interiors, pointing out that you don’t need extravagance to have a high quality of life. Much more important is the attitude in your heart than your choice of wallpaper or lighting.
How Do You Achieve A Hygge Interior?
Let’s suppose, for the sake argument, that you want to achieve hygge in your home through interior design. What should you do?
The first thing to note is that hygge is something that happens inside you, not something which is “out there.” Hygge, therefore, is fundamentally a reflection of your inner sentiment – the way you feel on a day-to-day basis. Anything that appears in your home should be a reflection of your experience, not the other way around.
So with that caveat out of the way, what does a hygge interior look like to you?
Remove The Clutter
Even if a room is neat and tidy, the design itself can make it look cluttered. Intricate patterns and embellishments and can all combine to generate unnecessary visual noise. Hygge rooms, however, remove all kinds of clutter and stick with essential, functional designs that aim to take away stress.
If you look at some of the kitchens on Haus of Design, you’ll notice a pattern emerging: they’re attractive, but they don’t feel crowded or stressful. In a sense, they’re peaceful.
Clutter can be a stressful experience for some people. It forces you to focus on the mess while you could be enjoying your surroundings. Decluttering is the first step of creating an environment in which you can achieve hygge.
Light A Fire
The nights are long and the weather cold in Scandinavia, so fires are popular. It’s hard to enjoy the moment or develop a sense of inner peace without warmth, cosiness and a reminder of childhood. Fires are the perfect complement for hygge homes, acting as a centrepiece around which the whole family can gather and enjoy spending time together.
Avoid Bright Colors
There’s nothing in hygge which says that you can’t use bright colours; it’s just that loud tones tend to evoke strong emotions that might not be consistent with the philosophy. A bright bedroom might be a great style statement, but it’s hardly going to generate inner peace – at least not with the lights switched on.
The goal of hygge is to do away with the bright colours that saturate our daily lives outside the home and replace them with something more simple and less intense. With neutral tones, you can create a relaxing space that doesn’t ask anything of you. Your home’s interior can fade into the background, allowing you to focus on important things, like the relationship you have with your children.
While some eastern philosophies say that people should avoid comfort, hygge doesn’t agree. Physical comfort is an integral part of being able to enjoy the moment and experience life’s pleasures.
Because of this, you’ll often find so-called “hygge interiors” emphasising cushions, throws, and rugs – anything that helps to make a space cosier.
Creating a hygge space is easy. Look at your couch as it stands right now and adorn it with a blanket, some cushions and perhaps a side table to keep your possessions. What you want to create is the perfect place to curl up and have a sip of hot cocoa.
Put Candles Everywhere
In a world of LED lighting solutions, candles can see a little old-school. But humanity evolved through aeons where fire provided the only light. We’re almost spiritually energised by the light produced by a regular flame, which is why hygge interiors tend to emphasise candles.
You place candles in all kinds of locations, including on your mantelpiece, coffee table, and window sills. Just remember, if you do decide to use live flames to follow standard fire safety precautions. You don’t want your relaxing hygge paradise to transform into a raging inferno.
Remember That Hygge Interiors Are About You, Not A Particular Design Standard
Hygge, fundamentally, has nothing to do with any particular interior design style but more what’s going on in your heart right now. If you find yourself stressed out by modern life, unable to relax, then going in the direction of hygge could be just what the doctor ordered.
No – you’re not going to be able to deal with deep-seated anxiety, but adopting a more minimalist approach to life could help you appreciate the things that really matter.
What those things are is still a choice that you have to make. But transforming your home from something merely functional into something that helps you relax is a great start.
Got Something to Add?
Have you embraced the Hygge movement? Let us know how you are incorporating in your interior design by commenting below.
Until next time, Hygge!
Helen, Nial and Lewis.