Imagine the thing or person that brings you the most comfort. The smile of a loved one, the feeling of changing into comfortable clothes after a long day of work, the first sip of a delicious herbal tea. All of these encompass the essence of hygge.
Hygge is a Danish term that doesn’t have a direct translation in English, but basically means ‘comfort’ and ‘coziness.’ Pronounced “hoo-guh,” it’s a word that describes what it means to be cozy, warm, and to spend intentional time with loved-ones.
Embodying hygge can bring one more comfort, inner warmth, and intentional presence. There are simple, everyday things that anyone can do to bring more hygge into their life, so let’s dive in.
What Is Hygge?
Hygge has its roots in Scandinavian culture, where it has been practiced for centuries. It was developed as a way to endure the long, dark, and cold winters that Scandinavian countries experience.
To get through the harshness of winter, one must make their home as cozy as can be. This includes having soft candlelight glowing and fire bringing warmth to the space. It’s settling down with a book and a hot cup of tea while snow lazily falls from the heavens. Hygge is wearing comfortable and warm clothing that makes one feel snug and calm.
While these are important aspects to create a more hygge-like space, one of the most important parts of hygge is spending intentional time with those you love. Nothing quite beats the comfort and warmth one feels when having a good time with someone who is dear to their heart. Such time with family and close friends, with who you can be completely comfortable, chases away the darkness unlike anything else. This case study from the University of Western Ontario analyzes the benefits of hygge in the experience of higher education.
There are even scientific studies that say soft warm light makes one feel more creative and comfortable with those around them. Some key factors of hygge may include aspects of:
These are the core aspects of what hygge is, but to take a more philosophical approach would be to embody hygge every day, in any environment. This would be to bring more comfort and inner warmth into every day, a truly hygge lifestyle.
While hygge is especially appropriate during the winter season, when we need all the warmth and coziness we can get, hygge can be incorporated into any season. For this, it is helpful to see hygge as more of a way of life, than say a particular sort of setting.
You can bring hygge into your everyday life by your thoughts, how you view yourself and the world around you, and by doing little things that bring you comfort. Maybe it’s paying attention to something you might overlook, and soaking up the comfort you experience from it.
You can bring hygge into your everyday life by your thoughts, how you view yourself and the world around you, and by doing little things that bring you comfort.
For example, let’s say one loves coffee and has it almost every morning. To incorporate hygge, one could let themselves find stillness for a moment as they lift their coffee mug to their lips. Feel the warmth of the mug on your hands, the smell drifting to your nose, and the delicious taste of that exquisite first sip. By bringing hygge into your everyday life, small and ordinary things can turn into a comforting and joyous affair, if only for a moment.
By taking comfort in these small acts, one can find more joy and gratitude for life as one navigates their day.
Examples of Hygge
Let’s take a look at some more examples of what hygge is and how it can be incorporated into everyday life.
A large part of hygge is spending time with others, especially those you love. What makes the experience hygge is the intention and presence one has when with others. Hygge is truly listening to those around you and being grateful for their presence. To do this, reflect on these things: when I am with others, am I giving them my full attention? Am I paying attention to the things that make this human amazing? Am I appreciating those things?
Hygge greatly influences interior design styles, which we’ll dive into more below. But, to start, it’s important to address how one feels in their environment. Is one’s home space a place they feel comfortable, cozy, and creative in? If not, what would make it more so?
Less Screen Time
Along with spending intentional time with others, hygge is also about spending intentional time with yourself and doing things that bring you value. This includes putting down your phone, turning off the tv, and settling into the quiet of stillness. Instead of scrolling through social media, find a book to get lost in or learn from. Instead of the family watching tv every night, try playing a fun board game that everyone can be involved in.
Hygge can influence one’s apparel by focusing more on what makes one feel comfortable. By finding clothing that feels good to wear, one can find cozy apparel for every day as well as for a nice night out.
Hygge is a part of Scandinavian culture. Americans adopted this way of life from being inspired by how the Danish people, as well as the Swedes and Finnish people, find comfort in their everyday life. They are a culture that focuses on spending time with each other and doing activities that bring them pleasure.
Hygge is apparent in Scandinavian homes, interior and exterior, in their apparel, and in their warm beverages and tasty pastries. Because of how quickly hygge has grown in popularity, there are now a number of books on the subject.
Recommended Books That Explore Hygge
If you’re interested in diving deeper into the subject, check out “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living.” The author, Meik Wiking, has explored the concept of hygge and happiness for years and goes deeper into how one can incorporate it into their everyday life.
If you want more inspiration for how to make your home more hygge, as well as hygge-inspired recipes and drinks, check out “How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life” by Signe Johansen.
In the memoir, “Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasure. Living the Danish Way” by Charlotte Abrahams, one can read a hands-on experience of a woman who decided to change her life and live a hygge lifestyle.
Check out this youtube video to hear from the author Meik Wiking what hygge means to him, as well as what hygge looks like in the Danish culture:
Hygge Interior Design
When one wants their home to be more hygge, then they are wanting to create a space of comfort, simplicity, and creativity. Hygge interior design is quite similar to minimalist interior design styles but with more of a focus on natural light, soft neutral colors, wood furniture/finishings, and clean lines.
Of course, a hygge inspired design wouldn’t be complete without fuzzy throw blankets and pillows on a plush, comfortable couch. These are very important for hygge aesthetic.
Hygge interior design is quite similar to minimalist interior design styles but with more of a focus on natural light, soft neutral colors, wood furniture/finishings, and clean lines.
Hygge in The Home
If you’re wanting your home space to capture the essence of hygge, then you want to create an environment that is easy to share with others. Since hygge is about spending time with those you love, you want there to be plenty of lounging space where you can all be together.
Try incorporating these aspects into every room so that your whole home can be hygge.
- Warm lights – candles, soft/warm light bulbs, fireplace, hanging lights)
- Soft neutral colors – Creamy white and pastel colors
- Natural materials
- Minimal clutter
- Lots of natural light
- Books/inspiring decor – keep it simple, decluttered, and not too busy
Creating a space that is comfortable and relaxing to be in promotes many health benefits. This Conference paper from Aalborg University explores hygge as a design vision for sustainable smart homes.
For hygge decor, focus on things that feel inspiring and comforting to look at. These include things like living plants, cozy landscape photography, and vintage/simple paintings. Have candles out with scents that match the season, as well as coffee table books out for display.
Try to incorporate natural trinkets in a simplistic way, such as a bouquet of feathers, little pinecones next to the candles, or dried flowers hanging from the wall. All of these elements will be illuminated in the soft light during the evening, making the space feel that much cozier, yet simple and down to earth.
Because hygge interior design is similar to minimalistic design, there shouldn’t be too much clutter or ‘things.’ Hygge focuses on the simple, intentional, and comforting aspects of life – the things that matter most to us.
Hygge Living Room
All the above can be incorporated into a hygge inspired living room. But, this is the place you might want to put the most focus on, as this is the space that will be shared with your loved ones.
Plenty of comfortable seating, along with soft pillows and blankets make it a space one would love to relax in. If one has wood floors, include a cozy rug to put your feet on and have candles emitting a soft glow to the room. Because it should be a space to gather and relax in, it shouldn’t be too cluttered and there should be plenty of open space.
Try to allow as much natural light into the area as possible, so open the curtains and let the sunlight spread across the room. This natural light will be highlighted by neutral-colored furniture and the natural materials in the space.
All the aspects of hygge interior design can be incorporated into the kitchen. This would look like neutral-colored dishware, wooden tables and chairs, and soft white walls. The countertops are free of clutter but may be decorated with some cookbooks, plants, or a cozy tea corner.
The decorations are simple, but there is a natural light filtering through, making the space feel comfortable and easy to be in. These are all the elements one needs to feel inspired to bake or make a delicious meal.
What Is the Hygge Concept?
The hygge concept focuses on what brings one comfort. It is spending intentional time with those you love and creating a space that feels cozy and creative. Hygge is about focusing on what matters, what we are grateful for, and what we want to spend our time doing.
How Do You Practice Hygge?
You can practice hygge by being grateful for what you have, taking pleasure in the simple things of life, and being present when you are with others. It is finding moments to feel intentionally cozy, in whatever forms that means to you.
How Do You Make a Hygge Kitchen?
If you can, allow natural light into the space. Maybe freshen the walls by painting them a creamy white, if they aren’t already. Focus on incorporating soft, neutral colors in your dishware, dish towels, and countertops. Keep decorations minimal, but inspiring and consisting of natural materials. Examples of this would be a wooden bowl of fruit, a living plant somewhere near a window, or an artistic tea corner.
Everyone deserves a little hygge in their life, and the likelihood is that hygge already is a part of most peoples lives, it’s just not described as hygge. To confirm this hypothesis, I asked a few of my friends and family what makes them feel comfortable, content, and/or soothed. Here’s what I found out:
|Feeling of Comfort/Content/Soothed||Tally of Family/Friends|
|Being with spouse or partner||2|
|Being in nature||4|
|Watching/being with animals||3|
|Spending time with family||2|
|Taking a bath||1|
|Drinking herbal tea||1|
|Sitting next to a fire||1|
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Living A Hygge Lifestyle
Hygge can be incorporated into one’s lifestyle in a number of ways, whether that’s in their home design or how they relax in the evenings. Hygge is all about comfort and intention, so if those things are included, then you are living a hygge lifestyle. Nonetheless, we can all find more ways to add comfort and pleasure to our day-to-day lives.
What are some ways that you can incorporate more hygge into your life?