Pronounced “hoo-guh,” hygge comes from the 16th-century Norwegian term hugga, which meant “to comfort” or “to console” — what we might call “to hug” in English.
Although the Danish now use the word for a different purpose, this sentiment is still there. Nowadays, hygge conveys a sense of coziness, indulgence, and enjoyment of the small pleasures in life.
Think of snuggling up on your sofa with a soft blanket, a mug of cocoa, and a book; or of your whole family sitting around a dining room table spread with delicious and warm comfort foods. Such moments embody hygge, and are the best way of translating the complex term to English.
In Denmark, hygge is a way of life; and Meik Wiking, author of “The Little Book of Hygge,” compares Danes’ obsession with it to Americans’ obsession with freedom.
Although Americans are becoming increasingly interested in hygge themselves, the U.S. may still have a lot to learn from Denmark, which the World Happiness Report has deemed the happiest country in the world for the past seven years.
How to Embrace Hygge in Your Home
In this video from VICE news, Wiking further describes hygge as “the art of creating a nice atmosphere.” Creating a comfortable and inviting environment to relax in is a huge part of hygge, and should be the first step for anyone who’s looking to incorporate it into their lives.
As big proponents of hygge ourselves, we’re going to cover the best ways to turn your home into a hygge sanctuary.
Our first piece of advice: Make your space comfortable.
We’ve encountered many spaces that are the picture of perfection, but fall short when it comes to comfort. These rooms look amazing, but don’t make you want to pull up a chair.
To prevent this from happening in your own home, make sure your furniture is actually pleasant to sit in.
This may mean investing in new furniture that both looks and feels great, but could also entail getting your existing furniture reupholstered. We can add new foam cushioning to the seat, arms, and back of any type of seating, making it just as comfortable as it was when you bought it — if not more so.
Reupholstering is especially apt, since the Danes hate wasting anything, preferring instead to recycle and reuse whenever possible. As Culture Trip puts it, hygge is “more about the sentimentality of an old armchair that used to belong to a family member, for example, than buying lots of brand-new furniture.”
Other options to make your space more snug include incorporating throw pillows, blankets, and rugs. These items will add an element of coziness to any room, which is essential to hygge design.
Perfect Your Lighting
The right lighting goes a long way toward creating coziness as well.
Hygge-inspired homes tend to use multiple lamps rather than one bright fixture to create gentle light that doesn’t overwhelm. Be sure to use warm white lights rather than cool white lights for softer illumination.
Candles and fireplaces are also typical in Danish homes. Disperse candles throughout your space to set the right mood, and if you have a fireplace, consider making it the focal point of the room. Nothing says hygge more than cozying up to a blazing hearth.
Make It Livable
According to The New Yorker writer Anna Altman, “the true expression of hygge is joining with loved ones in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.”
This means that in order to promote hygge, a room must be set up in a way that promotes interaction. In other words, it must be livable.
Think about the purpose of your room, and then ask yourself whether it fulfills that purpose. For example, if you regularly host board game nights in your living room, can everyone comfortably fit around the coffee table to play? If your family watches movies together here, is the sofa big enough for everyone?
Ensuring that your space will serve your needs well will better enable you to enjoy these pleasant moments shared with loved ones.
Incorporate Little Bits of Luxury
Hygge as a whole isn’t about extravagance, but as we mentioned before, it is about indulging and relishing the small pleasures. That’s why we recommend adding little elements of luxury to your home decor.
These elements can be as simple as a vase of your favorite fresh flowers, or beautiful drapes hanging from your windows. Imagine the soft touch of velvet upholstery beneath you as you sip your coffee in your favorite chair, or the feeling of a plush rug beneath your bare feet.
This kind of luxury is the kind that engages your senses and puts a smile on your face, if only for a moment.
Let Us Help
Whether you need us to reupholster a chair that has lost its comfort, custom-design drapes or throw pillows for your space, or something else altogether, we’re here to help you bring hygge — and more happiness — to your home.
All of our projects include a free one-hour consultation with our in-house interior decorator. Our decorator would be happy to help you assess your space and make recommendations to create a more comfortable and inviting environment.
Featured image via Unsplash