I recently came across a book titled The Little Book of Hygge, and it was quite a nice little read. If you have never heard the term hygge, it is the Danish word that loosely translates into coziness of the soul. If you are not quite sure what this means, think about a cold winter day with a fresh thick blanket of snow outside and you are cuddled up on a comfy couch in soft warm socks with a coffee/tea/hot chocolate in your hands while just a few feet away is a roaring fire contained within a beautiful old stone fireplace. That is hygge. Or at least one interpretation of it.
Hygge (pronounced hooga) is extremely central to the Danish way of life. They basically have a whole dictionary of suffixes that are attached to the word hygge to further specify the type of hygge they are speaking of. For example, hyggesocks. Do you have a pair of hyggesocks in your drawer?
I did not realize that I had been craving a hygge lifestyle and in fact, for much of my adult life I have unknowingly been incorporating aspects of hygge into my mental and physical space. It was only through reading The Little Book of Hygge, that I could finally put a name to it. It is definitely worth a read so I would strongly suggest picking up a copy from your local library.
Hygge will mean different things to different people but it comes down to the basic principle of cozy bliss. For me, a hygge space is one that has a lot of neutral tones, natural woods, plush comfortable furniture, small pops of colour and a lot of plants. And a huge part of hygge is all about lighting. I don’t mean hanging fixtures and sconces illuminating a space in artificial light. Rather I mean the light that comes in from windows, a roaring fire or most importantly candlelight. When I discovered this, I realized that I had found my people! For a long time I thought I was the lone wolf when it came to appreciating a light bulb best when it was turned off. I have even been called a vampire more times than I can count because I prefer to be in dimly lit spaces. And I can’t even remember the last time I took a shower with the light on. This means shower by daylight in the day time and shower by nightlight at night… I know it’s weird, OK!
Another facet of hygge is the story behind an object. This means that a pricey item purchased from the store does not necessarily hold the same value as a relatively inexpensive hand me down object with memories attached. I recently read about a study that was conducted where researchers visited thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales and purchased a multitude of items with an average cost of $1.25. They then hired writers to come up with a unique and compelling story behind each item. They then turned around and sold those items on ebay with a starting bid of the same discounted price that the item was purchased at. They ended up making several thousands of dollars in profit. I found that extremely interesting. Perhaps those buyers were feeling the hygge, even though the stories were falsified. That just goes to indicate that the human mind can find comfort not only in objects but in the stories behind them, even if the story is falsified.
Although hygge is such a vital part of the Danish lifestyle, the concept exists anywhere in the world. The Danes make it a top priority and do it so well that I presume that is why they are so known for it. It is important to note that Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world.
In an effort to create a more hygge life for myself, I am attempting to be more conscious about it. I recently purchased a house and it will be a blank slate when I move in. My goal is to create a hygge explosion all over that baby. I intend to share my design process in this blog so stay tuned for a look into my attempt at creating a hygge home.
Maybe after reading this, take note of all of the things in your life or your space that make you feel the hygge vibes. It feels good, doesn’t it?