How To Hygge

Editor (and UK native) SarahLou Francis explains this classic Danish living philosophy and shows us how to embrace it in our own homes and lives.
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Editor (and UK native) SarahLou Francis explains this classic Danish living philosophy and shows us how to embrace it in our own homes and lives.
Photography: SarahLou Francis

Photography: SarahLou Francis

Originating from a Norwegian word meaning ‘well-being’, the definition of Hygge is somewhat open to interpretation – at it’s simplest, it means a sense of coziness, but this is only a fraction of it’s entirety. In practice, Hygge is a far more holistic approach to creating a sense of community, connection, and warmth; inviting closeness, and caring for ourselves and each other – it’s a feeling of balance cultivated in the spirit of ‘being’ not ‘having’, and an ethos that life should be savored not survived…

With autumn firmly on the door here in the UK, we wanted to share a few ideas to encourage you to think about how you might be intentional in creating your own sense of Hygge, both inside and outside the home.

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GO OUTSIDE
Creating a warm atmosphere doesn’t just have to be in the home. Give substance and meaning to the simplest occasion or activity and create a sense of camaraderie and contentment through shared experience of the simple things. Gather friends for an easy going pub walk, or a night hike with plenty of hot chocolate and blankets to wrap up in for a spot of stargazing; go for a bike ride together, or book a group glamping getaway and toast marshmallows around the camp fire.

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FIND YOUR SANCTUARY
'Hyggelig’ can mean to comfort oneself, or to be reflective. We believe it’s really important for us to allow ourselves time to idle, to dream, and to ponder…find a time and space where you can allow your spirit to catch up with your mind Try bathing by candlelight, a mindful morning of making a slow hot cup and journalling. Be spontaneous and take a day trip to your favorite place, make something, exercise, or just sit quietly and allow your mind to wander before you go to bed. Whatever works for you to allow yourself to catch up.

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CHOOSE CONTENTMENT OVER PERFECTION
We're fairly sure that not all Danish homes look like those we see on Pinterest or in magazines, but it’s well known that the Danes are very aware of design and put a lot of care and attention into their spaces. It’s not all about being too perfectly arranged or having the latest thing: it’s about being mindful of what you have and what you choose, editing, and being intentional in your decor to create your own style, whatever your budget. Take care of what you have, be content in it’s imperfection, and foster a sense of pride in your home – it is a reflection of you, and a home that feels cared for, open-hearted and unselfconscious feels cozy and welcoming to others, as well as being a happy place for you to be.

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OPEN YOUR HOME & SHARE A MEAL
We used to plan elaborate meals, and spend entire day(s!) scrubbing, cleaning and hiding stuff before allowing friends and guests to visit. These days, we've learned that (whilst we did some kickass dining) the warmth and connection that comes from simply sharing good things with good people far outweighs the stress we used to feel before a visit, the rush and often disconnection of cooking in the moment, and the exhaustion afterwards. We still tidy now, of course, but don’t seek perfection in the way that we used to. We now choose meals that allow us to be present with guests, and that are more about flavor and satisfaction than impressing our guests.

For a Hygge inspired evening, why not try a ‘pot luck’ supper (where each guest brings a contribution of their choice to the meal). Lighting candles and using flowers from the garden on the table will add a note of occasion. You can create a sense of belonging and comfort by offering food (nibbles) and drink as soon as guests have settled; a feeling of community and sharing by saying ‘yes’ when they offer to assist in the preparations (ask them if they don’t offer!); and the opportunity to relax and find sanctuary by lingering over finished plates. Simple savoring the meal will allow deeper conversation to find it’s own opportunity to begin.

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MAKE TIME FOR MEETING UP
Hyggeligt’ means “pleased to meet you”, and is also used to describe a chance meeting that felt warm and convivial.

It can be really easy to want to cocoon ourselves and hide away at this time of year. If having friends over feels too much right now, try seeking out a cafe and meeting for a catch up and a hot drink. You can limit the time you are out so you don’t feel overwhelmed, and, whilst it may feel like an effort, getting out and sharing time with people you care about will almost certainly help boost your feelings of balance and well-being.

We'd love to know your thoughts on the concept of Hygge? Do you maybe practice 'Hyggelig' without even realizing it, or will you be making some new plans in the run up to winter? We'll be sharing some more thoughts on Hygge for you and your home very soon!

p.s. Our favorite instant home (and mood) lifter!