Americans live life on the go. With traffic jams, deadlines and busy schedules winding us up tight, perhaps it’s no surprise that the Danish lifestyle known as hygge is growing in popularity. A home designed with hygge in mind is a calm oasis for relaxing with family and friends. What is the hygge lifestyle, and how can you live it?
The hygge state of mind
Pronounced as “hue-gah,” with the “h” breathed out like a short exhalation, hygge is a state of mind seeking comfort, coziness and a sense of well-being. There is no direct English translation of the word. The hygge lifestyle originated in the Scandinavian countries, particularly Denmark. Because of the long winters there, with fewer hours of daylight, the Danish made their homes into cozy, relaxing refuges. You don’t do hygge — you experience it. No wonder Denmark regularly ranks as one of the world’s happiest countries.
Read on for some ideas about living the hygge lifestyle.
Furnishings in a hygge home promote intimate gatherings of family and friends. Sofas or sectionals are arranged to create a comfortable place for warm conversations. Chairs face one another for interaction. An ample supply of pillows and cushions, as well as warm cashmere or faux-fur throw blankets, invites lounging and lingering. The look is uncluttered and minimalist.
Neutral-toned walls, ceilings and furnishings promote the hygge lifestyle. Wall art and plush rugs in muted contrasting colors add to the relaxing feeling. Warm woods and leather are often incorporated into interiors. Plants grace strategic corners and shelves, and bookshelves stock relaxing reads you can curl up with beneath one of those blankets.
Lighting plays an important role
Lighting in a hygge setting is warm and inviting — no bright white light, no fluorescent bulbs, no harsh LED. Select light bulbs with a Kelvin rating between 2,000 and 3,000, which will produce warm white light conducive to a relaxed hygge lifestyle. Strings of fairy lighting might grace the fireplace mantle, and lamps help layer the light. Candles are placed strategically about the home and add to the calm ambiance.
The grand centerpiece of the hygge lifestyle is the fireplace, snapping and crackling with a toasty fire that shoos away winter’s chill. If you don’t have a fireplace, you can stream a video of one on your television to add a sense of warmth and coziness to your home.
Your own Hygge getaway nook
A delightful aspect of the hygge lifestyle is the comfort nook, a spot tucked away from the rest of the home where you can settle in with a hot cup of tea or glass of wine, a good book and perhaps a scenic view from a nearby window. It’s your own private space in which to achieve zen, a concept from Asian cultures which also know a thing or two about achieving inner peace.
Your bathroom as an oasis
In the hygge lifestyle, the bathroom is more than just a place to bathe, dress and leave for work. The bathroom should also be an oasis of calm at the end of the day. Candles around the bathtub, plush towels and the warm embrace of a thick robe can all help integrate the bath into your hygge home.
Your actions, or lack thereof
Keep in mind that your hygge lifestyle will be wasted if you bring your work home with you. Your face should be lit by flickering candlelight, not the glare of your phone screen. Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, ignore your e-mail, and permit yourself to unwind. Hygge is not a thing you do, but a state of mind.