Fact 1: Denmark sees, at this time of year, fewer than eight hours of daylight each day. Sun comes up around 8-ish, sets around 4-ish. Fact 2: Denmark came out on top in the UN’s 2016 World Happiness Report. Fact 3: The U.S. ranked #13.
So … what gives?
Turns out those great Danes know something we don’t, and that’s how to get cozy. How to slow down, simplify, turn inward, focus on what really matters. It’s a term they call hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), and if you were to ask a Dane, they’d likely say, Oh, it doesn’t have a translation—it’s just a feeling. Which is probably true. But for good measure—and, you know, good publicity—the Visit Denmark website offers a more expanded definition: In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family–that’s hygge too. There’s nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life.
For advice on how to create that “warm atmosphere,” we turned the pros: local folks with design cred. We wanted to know how to hygge-ify our spaces—how to create a homey haven where we can unplug from the world at large and curl up in the cozy, casual comfort of our own shelters. After all, we’re at our happiest when spending QT with the ones we love—and a roaring fire, a good book and a cozy blanket don’t hurt.
HOW TO HYGGE
Tips and tricks for doing as the Danes do
1. DON’T FUSS
We know, we know—the Southern way is to dust off the silver when you’re expecting dinner company. That wouldn’t fly in Denmark, though, where they want guests to feel comfortable and at ease. That goes for everything on the table, from the pork roast in the braising pan to the fuss-free table settings. (East Fork Pottery place setting, $154 at eastforkpottery.com)
2. LIGHT A CANDLE
From our research, this seems to be the most hygge thing you can possibly do: Fill your home with candlelight. Rogers-based interior designer Melissa Haynes turns to the Winter Solstice candle by Waterworks; Little Rock designer Chandler Bailey prefers the sweet-pea-and-jasmine scent from Atlanta-based Pieces. We say, why not go for broke and get one from the motherland, with hygge on the label? (Skandinavisk Hygge candle, $46 at burkedecor.com)
3. PULL UP A SEAT BY THE FIRE
Sure, you can enjoy that crackling glow from across the room, but if you really want to get hygge, why not park your hiny right in front of the embers? A pair of leather stools ought to do the trick. (Cooper stool, $798 at serenaandlily.com)
4. KEEP LIGHTING SOFT
It’s dark out (especially in Denmark), but there’s no need to overcompensate with too-bright lights. Keep overhead lighting soft and textural—we love this capiz pendant from Providence Design. (Snow Capiz pendant, $715 at Little Rock’s Providence Design)
5. ADD TEXTURE
Nothing says “not hygge” like a sleek, sterile space. Natural fibers to the rescue! Add in a seagrass basket, a cork stool, a live-edge wooden bench … well, you get the picture. (Seagrass basket, $29 at Fayetteville’s With Home Supply)
6. MIX IN WARM METALS
Brushed-nickel finishes have had their day in the sun. To warm up your kitchen—which, really, is practically the headquarters of hygge—swap out all that silver in favor of brushed bronze or satin brass, says Distinctive Kitchens and Baths designer Alissa Oates: “They mix well without having to go through and update the hardware in your whole house.” (Delta Trinsic faucet, $698 at deltafaucet.com)
7. SOFTEN UP
Speaking of adding texture—a little bit of lambswool goes a long way. Add a fuzzy throw pillow to the sofa, or stick a lambskin over the back of an armchair.
(Gray lambswool pillow, $70 at Lake Village’s Paul Michael Company)
8. GET CUDDLY
There’s nothing cozier than a woolly blanket. Melissa Haynes reaches for this chunky, looped throw, handwoven in Peru from ultra-soft fibers. (Henley throw, $598 at serenaandlily.com)
If you’re trying to reach peak hygge, you’ll never make it with that T.V. on. (Or that tablet in your lap. Sorry.) Hit the books instead—we’re diving into this coming-of-age tale that unfolds in a high-end NYC kitchen.