How to bring the Danish art of hygge into your living space

Posted 02 December 2016

Hygge is a Danish concept that has gained popularity on this side of the North Sea in the last 12 months and promises to be the hottest trend this winter. Hygge is perfect for cold weather and can be easily introduced into your home with the help of our short guide.


What is hygge?

Hygge can be as difficult to explain as it is to pronounce. The pronunciation of the word has been analogised to the sound made when clearing your throat – something like “heurgha”. The Danes use the word as a noun, an adjective, and a verb, but one thing is for certain – above all, hygge is a state of mind.

The word can’t really be translated directly into English, but one writer has summarised it as “the absence of anything annoying”. Hygge is to do with enjoying the gentle pleasure of the little things in life, and being soothed by the lack of stress or other overwhelming emotions. This idea is particularly relevant as autumn begins to make way for winter – the clocks go back, the days get shorter and darkness gets longer. 

The Danes are perhaps more familiar with dark, bleak winters than most nations, and so hygge is their method of dealing with this. So prevalent is the concept of hygge in Danish daily life that doctors even prescribe “tea and hygge” as a cure for colds and flu, so perhaps we British can better enjoy the winter months with a little bit of hygge.


Try natural fibres

Hygge is all about enjoying yourself and feeling pleasure without guilt. In the winter, this means making yourself as cosy and comfortable as possible. It means warming up your clothes on the radiator, wearing woolly socks and snuggling into winter scarves. To hygge your living space, take a leaf out of the book of Scandinavian design and add some natural fibres to your home. Wood in particular can add warmth to a room, as well as leather.

You don’t need to do anything as drastic as replacing your sofa, though – why not pick up a few cosy throws and dot them around your living room? You’ll very much appreciate them when you’re cosied up on the sofa watching TV one winter’s evening.


Embrace low light

The lack of light during the winter does not need to be a source of stress. In fact, shorter days can present a great interior design opportunity as you can play with your lighting options to create a suitable ambiance. Danes are big fans of low lighting, and burn more candles than almost any other country in Europe. Candlelight dinners are not just the preserve of romantic restaurants – in fact, enjoying your food by candlelight whether you’re with loved ones or alone is the perfect way to hygge an evening. If you’re not a fan of candles, you can create a similar effect by forgoing your ceiling light and instead using smaller standing or table lamps. 


Entertain guests

Hygge isn’t something that should be enjoyed alone. In fact, Danes loves to talk about hygge with one another. When enjoying dinner together, Danes talk about what hygge events are coming up in their lives, and then thank their host for providing such a hygge atmosphere. It’s no coincidence that Denmark is consistently found to be one of the happiest countries on Earth, as studies have shown a strong link between expressing gratitude and feeling happy. So, beat the winter blues in the coming months by inviting your friends over. Whether you just fancy tea and a chat, want to throw a huge dinner party or order pizza and enjoy a film, make sure you do it with company to really hygge your life.

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