How to bring Hygge into your home

This week I went along to the first Hygge Cambridge event at Novi, a fabulous espresso and cocktail bar on Regent Street in Cambridge. I was both delighted and terrified at being invited to be their guest speaker (public speaking is totally not my bag) but I decided it would be a good little challenge for myself! My talk was on How to Bring Hygge into your Home and I chatted about the various tips that people could take on to make their home a little more hyggelig. It was a lovely evening with a great crowd and I’m looking forward to more Hygge Cambridge events in 2017. If you live in/near Cambridge and fancy joining future events, follow on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date!

For those of you that weren’t able to make it, here’s an overview of my talk on How to Bring Hygge into your Home.

Skandinavisk Hygge Scented Candles and Diffusers
Skandinavisk Hygge Scented Candles and Diffusers

Hygge originates in Denmark and I first heard about it a couple of years ago. It’s a big thing in interiors but over the last few months, it’s taken over like avocado on brunch menus. But what does hygge actually mean? The first thing you’ll learn is that there is no direct translation into English. Well actually the first thing you probably want to know is how to say the damn word (it’s hoo-gah btw – I know, right?!)  There are several words that get thrown around when trying to explain the definition. Words like cosiness and intimacycontentment and indulgence. It’s very much about taking time out for yourself and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Bringing the concept of hygge into your home very much depends on what you consider life’s simple pleasures to be. My interpretation of hygge in the home is that it’s not just about taking time out, but rather a way of life and a concept that affects the entire design of your home. The idea is to create a space that you’re happy to be in, that doesn’t make you stressed, that you really want to spend time in. It’s relaxing and a little indulgent. There are no guilty pleasures with hygge it’s all about guiltless pleasures! Frankly, there aren’t enough guiltless pleasure in life. I’m not Danish (obvs) and I wouldn’t call myself an expert on hygge but I do know a thing or two about making your home lovely and bringing hygge into the home is simply about making it lovely. I’ve come up with six tips that I think will help bring hygge into your home. So let’s get on with it.

1. Keep it simple

Danish design, and Scandinavian design in general, is pretty minimal and hygge is very much about living simply, so clear out that clutter. Be really honest with yourself about things you have in your home. Do you really need it? Do you really love it? Would you miss it? Be ruthless and get rid. Having a clearer home will help to make it more peaceful and less stressful.

Be&Liv Palea Tall Candle, 24k Gold Plated
Be&Liv Palea Tall Candle, 24k Gold Plated

Once you’ve pared down you belongings, get organised with your storage. Well thought out storage is the best way to make the most of your space. My top tip for storage is to assess your belongings and design the storage to fit. Keep it to just enough rather than crowding every available space with drawers, cupboards and shelves. This will help it feel less cluttered and encourage you not to hoard.

Taking this forward, try to only buy things you really love. When you apply this thinking, you’ll reduce the chance of buyer’s remorse, and end up with a home filled with only the things that make you happy. Try to avoid the temptation to buy things just because they’re on sale or to impulse buy. And if it does happen, allow yourself to let things go that you don’t really want, rather than letting it take up valuable space.

2. Get the lighting right

Lighting is imperative for creating a cosy ambiance, and for interiors in general it’s an incredibly important feature when establishing the mood of a room or space. Most rooms will have a multifunctional purpose so will require different lighting levels to suit different activities. Identify the various ways you’ll use a room and ensure that appropriate lighting can be easily achieved for each task. Similarly in an open plan space you’ll want to create lighting zones as you’ll rarely want to light up the entire room at the same level.

To create lighting for a cosy, hyggelig mood, banish overhead lighting. There’s nothing cosy about overhead lighting and despite it being the most commonly used lighting, there are actually only a couple of instances where it really works. Over a table or kitchen island is an example where a pendant is a functional piece of lighting but as a general source of light it is neither flattering nor functional. Instead, incorporate accent lighting to highlight the focal points and task lighting for specific activities like reading. Play with the contrast between light and shade to add interest and dimension to your room. Lamps are key here as well as smaller light fixtures such as wall lights and decorative lighting like fairy lights and neon signs.

Farrow & Ball festive Hague Blue fireplace
Farrow & Ball festive Hague Blue fireplace

On the subject of light, nothing says hygge like a flickering flame, whether that’s a toasty open fire or a few dozen candles. Read anything about hygge and you can’t escape the candles so fill your home with them. Not keen on the idea of open flames? Perhaps you have little ones or pets to worry about. Try LED candles that you can buy as pillar candles or tea lights. They flicker just like a real flame and don’t get hot, just make sure you can’t see the bulb so pop them in a votive.

Read more tips on lighting in my Light in the Home mini-series

3. Create zones

Dividing your home into zones is particularly important in large open plan spaces. Without walls, a home can feel larger and can help to incorporate more light but it can also be difficult to create the feeling of intimacy and cosiness. Make sure your different areas are defined in the way you light them, how you use colour and the layout of your furniture. By doing this you will be able to carve out individual smaller spaces that each have their own feel and personality, but still maintain a good flow throughout the home.

Image courtesy of Loaf (featuring the Crumpet sofa)
Image courtesy of Loaf (featuring the Crumpet sofa)

Each room or zone will have their specific uses and therefore the way you bring hygge into that area will be different. Design each space based on the activities you will be using them for so that they function well for their purpose. Ensuring the room is practical as well as beautiful will help make it a peaceful place to be in and use, whether it’s a cosy living room to curl up with a book, a soothing bedroom to snooze in or a luxurious bathroom to unwind in.

Check out my post on open plan living for more tips on creating zones

4. Surround yourself with things that make you happy
MiaFleur copper and black espresso cups
MiaFleur copper and black espresso cups

It seems obvious but if you surround yourself with things that make you happy, your home will naturally make you feel happy. As I said, hygge can mean different things to different people so don’t just light a bunch of candles and read a book by the fire if that isn’t your jam.

Art has the ability to evoke emotions and can completely transform the mood of a room. Investing in a piece of art that makes you feel content and peaceful will do wonders to add hygge. I’m a big fan of Cambridge Contemporary Art and they kindly let me borrow a few of their beautiful ceramics to display. Even if you know nothing about art or have a limited budget, their friendly staff can help you find something perfect for your home. They also have a marvellous array of home accessories such as ceramic tea light holders.

Cambridge Contemporary Art have also kindly offered a discount of 10% off purchases online or in one of their galleries until 31st December 2016. Just use the code HyggeCambridge or mention Hygge Cambridge at the till.

Ceramics from Cambridge Contemporary Art
Ceramics from Cambridge Contemporary Art

In a similar vein, photographs of your favourite people and places are a lovely addition to your walls. But don’t just think about what you can see, consider all the senses. Plants and flowers not only look beautiful but can also improve the quality of the air and introduce beautiful scents. If music is your thing then make it super easy to be able to play your favourite tunes at the press of a button, and scented candles or diffusers are a lovely way to add soothing fragrances to your home.

5. Add texture

Texture is such an important part of both hygge and interiors. Hygge is a year round concept but it really comes into its own this time of year. With the dark days and chilly temperatures, what could be better than retreating into the comfort of your own home? You’ve got soft lighting but some super soft textures will really up the cosiness factor to make it a place that you and your guests will never want to leave.

You can never have too many cushions in my book and I can find a place for them in almost every room in the house. Plump, squishy cushions and pillows look cosy as well as adding softness and are a great way to add colour and texture. Throws and blankets also serve a similar purpose and are wonderful for curling up with on the sofa. Rugs are a great way to define a space and can feel lovely and fluffy underfoot. Opt for natural fibres like wool that will last well and be easy to clean.

Image courtesy of Art Club Concept
Image courtesy of Art Club Concept

Choose a variety of textures and layer them up to give a more relaxed feel. As well as fabrics, incorporate natural materials like wood, stone and concrete. Hygge is more about an effortless style that looks beautiful but is also inviting. This is not about having a showroom worthy home, it should be a place where you and your guests can feel completely comfortable in.

6. Embrace imperfection

My final tip for bringing hygge into the home is not to worry about everything being perfect. It’s so easy to get stressed about making everything look beautiful and while there’s nothing wrong with taking pride in your home, the pressure of magazines, books and social media can take the joy out of it. Don’t worry about what everyone else’s home looks like, don’t worry about what is/isn’t trendy, and don’t worry about what other people think. It’s your home and the most important thing is that it makes you happy. And if you can create a home that makes you truly happy to be in, then I think you’ve succeeded in bringing hygge into your home.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and please feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions, thoughts, or perhaps your own tips on hygge in the home!

Huge thanks to Jo from Hygge Cambridge for inviting me to speak at the event and to Novi for hosting us in their beautiful venue!

J x

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