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How to Embrace Hygge, The Danish Secret to Cozy Living

In our chaotic, stressful age, the Danish concept of "hygge" (pronounced "hoo-ga") offers an appealing alternative. Hygge is all about coziness, comfort, and well-being. But what makes hygge so appealing, and how can you add it to your home and everyday life?

What is Hygge?

Hygge is more than just a word; it's a concept with no direct translation that encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment. It's all about enjoying the simple things in life. The Danish word hygge derives from a Norwegian word, hugga, that's also related to the English word "hug." It means something like "to comfort and protect." It's often associated with being warm, safe, and sheltered. But it's also about the feeling of being present and engaging in the present moment. It's the warmth of candlelight, the joy of a hot cup of tea, or the comfort of a soft blanket.

Why is hygge so popular?

In recent years, hygge has become popular outside of Denmark. The concept was so influential worldwide in 2017 that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. People are drawn to hygge because it prioritizes coziness and taking things slow. This is a direct contrast to our overstimulating, digital-first, always-busy culture.

What are hygge colors?

Hygge is often associated with a specific palette of colors that evoke a sense of calm and comfort. Earthy tones like soft greys, muted blues, and gentle browns are popular. White and pastel hues are also restful to the human eye. But you can add hygge touches to any interior. Even if you love bright colors!

How to Make Your Home Hygge

cozy bedroom with many pillows and blankets and soft lighting

Creating a hygge atmosphere in your home is about focusing on comfort and simplicity. Here are a few key principles:

  • Soft Lighting: Dim, warm lighting is key. Use candles or fairy lights to add a soft glow to your space. It’s better to have multiple sources of softer light, like candles, a floor lamp, and a wall sconce, than to have bright floodlights or a big, central light on the ceiling.
  • Comfortable Textures: Incorporate plush throws, soft pillows, and comfortable furniture to create a cozy environment. It’s ok if your couch cushions look a little bit squashed, so long as it’s comfortable to sit on.
  • Natural Elements: Add plants or elements of wood and stone to bring a touch of nature indoors. Natural textures help us feel grounded and connected to the earth, even in the middle of big cities.
  • Personal Touches: Include items that have personal meaning, like family photos or handmade decorations. Family heirlooms and antiques are also hyggelig.
  • Simplicity: Declutter your space to create a serene and inviting environment. Leave the mementos out that bring you joy to look at, and hide your TV remotes, stacks of mail, or other sources of visual clutter.

Winter and Fall Hygge Ideas

tray of decorated gingerbread cookies

There are a lot of ways to embrace hygge during fall and winter. In fact, many Danes associate this concept closely with Christmas and wintertime, because so much time is spent indoors at home, that creating a cozy atmosphere becomes very important. Hygge also refers to activities and practices, so don't limit yourself to decor. 

  • Fairy lights: A string of fairy lights adds warmth to any space. So if you're wanting to create a cozy, inviting space, hang some fairy lights around doorways or above windows. 
  • Natural foliage decorations: Don't stop with just a Christmas tree. Bring in responsibly-harvested evergreen branches to create a garland or wreath. 
  • Potpourri, pomanders, or other spiced fragrances: warm spices are the perfect cozy accent. You could also add an oil diffuser with a longer-lasting fragrance. 
  • Beef up your blankets and area rugs: Make sure you have plenty of area rugs if you have hardwood or tile floors. Your feet will stay warmer and your space will feel cozier, too. And feel free to add throw blankets to every armchair and sofa, so you can always feel warm and fuzzy. 
  • Decorate gingerbread cookies with friends and/or family: This is a creative way to get festive that's fun for everyone, and very traditional. 
  • Read by the fireplace: The ultimate winter hygge activity. Bonus points if you include a hot drink like tea, cocoa, or mulled wine. 
  • Cook your soups and stews in a slow cooker: In addition to being hands-off and easy, slow cookers make the whole house smell good. 
  • Warm socks and sweaters: If your feet are warm, chances are, so is the rest of you. 
  • Invite people over as often as you can: The most hygge thing you can do is spend the season with your nearest and dearest. Don't hesitate to invite your friends over, even if it's just for a cup of coffee. (For a Scandinavian twist,  always include a baked good--cookies, cinnamon buns, or coffee cake are all traditional things to offer your guests in the Nordic countries.)

How to Live a Hygge Lifestyle

coffee cup on a table next to a fireplace

In essence, hygge is about creating an atmosphere where you can let your guard down and enjoy the simple pleasures of everyday life. It's a reminder that sometimes, the most precious moments are found not in grand gestures, but in the comfort of our everyday surroundings.

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