Now that the holiday season is behind us we’ve officially entered hibernation season. If you live in a cold climate like I do, you know that it’s all about catching up on Netflix and getting cozy under a warm blanket. One of the downsides of all this at-home time is that I tend to start looking at my own space with a much more critical eye than in the summer months when I’m outside. The secret to enjoying and making the most of these winter months is in creating a cozy interior. In other words, it’s all about the hygge.
If you’re not familiar with that term it’s a Danish expression that is pronounced “hoo-gah”. While there isn’t a direct translation to English in essence it means to create a warm atmosphere. The word cozy is the closest word we English speakers have for Hygge. So what does it mean and how do we create this feeling in our space? I’m breaking down the essential elements so you can give yourself the gift of Hygge this winter season.
CREATING A HYGGE HOME
You can’t create a hygge home without first addressing comfort. This is the foundation for all the principles of hygge. What does comfort mean to you? That’s the most important place to begin as we’re all going to find comfort in different things. One thing that most of us will agree on is that soft blankets and pillows are essential. This is the base of our comfort. Being able to cozy up in your favourite chair or sofa with a warm blanket, woolly socks and a great book is exactly what hygge means. There’s also a strong leaning towards natural materials so when creating this cozy interior, look for wool and cashmere.
Even if we don’t have much space to ourselves we can create a small hygge corner somewhere. It’s about more than just our environment so look for a chair or a window seat and start building from there.
This is the secondary layer after all the warm blankets have been laid out. Think about the elements that make you feel warm and comfortable. Nothing says let’s stay inside quite like a roaring fire. If you’re able, start with that. If you don’t have a fireplace, don’t worry. Candlelight can mimic the same effect and create the warm glow we’re after. The atmosphere of your home is most impacted by light so spend extra attention creating the right balance. You don’t want so little light that you can’t read but you also don’t need so much light that you find yourself irritated by the brightness of your surroundings. If you need to add some lighting to your space, read this post for my roundup of the best floor lamps.
Harmony is experienced through simplicity so make sure your space is clutter free and organized. It’ll be difficult to relax and create the perfect hygge home when you’re staring at piles of junk that needs to be put away. Spend some of your indoor time decluttering so that when you do take a break you’ll really feel relaxed and at peace.
Another essential ingredient of a hygge home is being with those who mean the most to you. Strong social connections are absolutely essential to hygge. Connecting with other people is important to our well being so although we’re hibernating we don’t have to do it alone. Spending time with family may be the easiest to accomplish but think of ways you can create an environment that allows you to include friends, neighbours and co-workers as well. Even something as simple as having an open door policy on the weekend so that friends feel comfortable stopping by for a coffee. This is the heart of a hygge home.
Gratitude allows us to appreciate all the little things in life that are easy to overlook. A big part of the hygge philosophy is intertwined with gratitude. It’s about being able to reflect on what your day, week or month has brought you and truly being thankful for all that you have. When you start to adopt a grateful mindset it can help to foster a positive mindset. This is particularly important in winter when we can be prone to feeling down and isolated.
What brings you pleasure? It could be a warm cup of coffee or a baked croissant. Whatever it is for you, be sure it’s on the menu when you’re creating a hygge home. Hygge encourages everyday pleasures and it’s something that North Americans don’t take seriously. We are much more accustomed to the concept of busyness than we are of pleasure so we need to take a note from our Danish friends here. Simple pleasures can be overlooked in our busy world but when we take the time to slow down and include small pleasures everyday, we just might see the ripple effect in our lives.
While I do love a good Netflix binge it’s also important for your Hygge home that you unplug and find joy in other aspects of your life. Even the simple act of thinking about this can help to create new habits that bring joy and peace. We often speak to our kids about doing other things besides being on a screen but we need to practice the same great advice for ourselves.
THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS FOR A HYGGE HOME
1/ Cozy pillows and blankets, preferably natural materials
2/ Great lighting
4/ Natural materials like branches, plants, etc.
5/ Comforting drinks and foods
6/ Relaxing sounds like a playlist or your child playing piano
7/ Calm colour palette
8/ Comfortable clothes
9/ Board games, books, etc.
10/ Sentimental items that resonate with you.
I hope this helps you get prepared for the winter months ahead. Rather than dreading the next few months we can actually learn to lean into them and enjoy the slower times meant for restoring.
If you’re planning a home project in 2024 reach out to me. I’d love to discuss how I can help.
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