Cozy Up to Hygge, the Design Trend to Ease the Winter Doldrums
In the last decade, the Danish term hygge has taken the lifestyle and design worlds by storm — even landing on the Oxford Dictionaries’ “word of the year” list in 2016. So what is hygge, exactly?
If hygge has a season, it’s most certainly winter, when cuddling up under woven throw blankets in front of a roaring fire is the sensible thing to do on a cold, snowy evening. And if hygge has an era, perhaps it is now, when we’re all channeling our inner homebody more than ever.
What is Hygge?
What is hygge? Hygge (pronounced hyoo-gah) can be a noun, adjective, or verb. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”
Its versatility as a word underscores the breadth of the concept. Hygge isn’t simply brewing a hot cup of tea or donning fuzzy slippers; it’s a lifestyle. It’s a state of mind. A crucial component of hygge is that it extends beyond tangible and material goods. Hygge is about creating a sense of togetherness and finding shared comfort.
The trend took off globally around 2015, but it has been around in Denmark since the 1800s. It is perhaps unsurprising that a concept built around coziness would come out of the frigid Nordic region. During the winter months, Denmark can see as little as seven hours of sunlight each day. With long, dark days in winter, Danish residents have become experts in creating warmth and joy through other means.
It’s important to note that Denmark often lands at the top of Gallup’s World Happiness Report, so there is something well worth exploring in hygge. If you’re ready to embrace the trend in your home, here are some ways to create hygge spaces in every room.
Hygge at Home
Hygge style is all about contentment, relaxation, and simple pleasures. Peace and happiness mean different things to different people, but there are some universally comforting elements anyone can incorporate into their home design. Here are some of our favorite ways to embrace the Danish lifestyle trend at home.
Your bedroom should serve as an oasis—a respite from your daily routine. There are dozens of ways to incorporate hygge style into your primary bedroom, from soft cashmere throws to plush armchairs.
1. Layered Bedding
The bed is often the centerpiece of master bedroom design. Adding layers of soft, warm bedding creates the kind of luxury hotel feel anyone would wish to dive into at the end of a long day. Consider using two duvet inserts to add a cloud-like, thermal layer atop your sheets. In cold winter months, a soft cashmere throw adds additional coziness to a dreamy bed.
2. Soft, Upholstered Furniture
When considering additional seating for your master bedroom, select pieces with softer fabrics and lines. While a structured sofa may look elegant in your living room, your master bedroom seating is where you may embrace a cozy chair and sumptuous, tufted ottoman with boucle throw pillows. Texture, warmth, and depth created by fabrics and plush cushions make for an inviting seating area.
Finally, candles can infuse your bedroom with warmth and brightness in the shorter days around the winter solstice. A warm, earthy scented candle like leather or wood fire can instantly transport you to a rustic New England mountain lodge, and a candle’s soft, warm glow can instantly evoke a cozy, nested atmosphere.
Since an essential component of hygge is actually gathering with loved ones, a home’s living room is an ideal space to truly embrace elements of hygge at home.
1. Focus on the Fireplace
Most often, a living room’s fireplace is typically set as the focal point of the space. Design your seating to orbit around the fireplace, inviting guests to sink in and enjoy a crackling blaze. The sights and sounds of a fire are instantly calming and create a quintessential hygge vibe.
2. Cuddle-Ready Fabrics
Accents such as throw pillows and blankets in soft-to-the-touch fabrics like chenille, shearling, and cashmere further welcome everyone to settle into your seating for a long, enjoyable day or night.
3. Intimate Seating Areas
Creating smaller gathering spaces within your larger space where people can burrow is another way to embrace hygge design. A welcoming corner of a sectional sofa or a quiet reading nook for playing board games tucked away from traffic encourages your family and friends to enjoy warm and restful moments.
What better way to create a sense of togetherness — one of the core tenets of hygge — than gathering with loved ones for a hearty winter meal? While you may envision a dining room as a more formal, less casual space in your home, there are many ways to introduce a feeling of comfort and relaxation into this part of the home.
1. Layered Rugs
Comfort begins with your choice of flooring. Consider adding a rich, warm, and textured rug to anchor your dining room table so that your feet feel warm either tucked in cozy socks or slippers, or bare feet when you sit down to dine. For an extra sense of warmth and texture, place a patterned rug over a more neutral base rug for a layered look.
2. Upholstered Seating
You may also opt for upholstered dining room seating. A durable fabric in the right pattern can stand up to wear, tear, and spills while inviting your guests to sink back into their comfortable cushioned seats.
3. Warm, Textured Fabrics
Embrace texture and fabrics in your tabletop design, as well. Incorporate runners, placemats, and cloth napkins to add texture and warmth to your wooden table.
4. Candlelit Glow
Finish your tabletop scheme with candles. Dim the overhead lights and dine in the warm glow of unscented tapers in an elegant candelabra. You may feel as if you’ve time-traveled back to 19th-century Copenhagen.
Hygge is a centuries-old tradition in Denmark, but if it’s new to you, there are ways to infuse your home with hygge style easily. Creating thoughtful spaces that encourage relaxation and embracing design elements that invite coziness are the first steps to living the hygge lifestyle. Don’t forget to ask your loved ones to join you. Enjoying calming spaces together, while the day or night slips peacefully by, is the cornerstone of hygge.
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