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Hygge and the Home

So Hygge was shortlisted as Word of the Year, but what exactly is it? And what does it have to do with your home? Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) originates from Denmark, and is very difficult to translate. It's best described as a cultural practice that focuses on the present moment, and enjoys small gestures. Lighting a candle and pausing with a cup of tea before a busy day, or curling up with a good book and a soft blanket before you go to bed. With cold winters and short days in Scandinavia, no wonder appreciation was made for cosy interiors, and enjoying the warmth of a fire or candle.

Coffee table with notepad in Scandinavian decor style

So how do you create it? What accessories do you need? Well, it's not really that simple. In the book of hygge by Louisa Thomsen Brits, she comments that home design has been focused on how things look, as opposed to how they feel. Instead of focusing on particular physical objects, to invite hygge is to focus on emotional need.

Brits says perhaps the most important element of hygge, if not its origin, is warmth. For example, setting up furniture around a central fireplace, with a coffee table ready to support a hot cup of tea. However, you don't need a fireplace to experience hygge - having a meal, or pausing for a break during the day with a lit candle is also a way of creating warmth in the house.

lamp on table in dark room

The idea of light can be expanded; Danes opt for softer lighting with floor lamps as opposed to a glaringly bright overhead light. In this way, light in the home is perceived as a source of comfort and creates a softness, as opposed to a purely functional action of lighting up an entire room.

vintage blanket on vintage chair.

Photo credit to Moon Angel

Brits also talks on the importance of touch in hygge. When we really notice the feel of material we focus on the present, instead of letting our thoughts wonder. Soft materials in a bedroom can be very calming and comforting. Having nearby blankets ready to curl up in can add that layer of cosiness to a room. Again, in tune with the idea of being connected to our surroundings, Danes often use natural materials in the house. For example, wood, brick, and stone.

Hygge is sliding into bed in the winter to find a patch of cat-warmth by our feet. Vintage textiles softened and worn with use, quilts patched with love, a basket of blankets arranged so that anyone can envelop themselves in warmth.

-Louisa Thomsen Brits

table that has been set with the only light coming from candles

Eating together

Sharing a meal as a social occasion at the end of the day is a great way to experience hygge. It is about enjoying the presence of each other's company for no particular reason. Eating hot food together around candlelight whilst enjoying each other's company creates atmosphere and connection. Putting a little extra effort into how things are presented turn eating into an occasion that is meant to be experienced socially.

An old tablecloth and tea lights in jam jars can transform an ordinary occasion into an experience that holds us together long after the candles have been blown out. 

-Louisa Thomsen Brits

We hope you have enjoyed this introduction to hygge, and that you understand a bit more about the meaning behind the word. If you are looking to learn more about it, you can click here to check out the book that was quoted throughout the blog. It's quite popular at the moment, so I wouldn't be surprised to find a book on hygge in your local bookstore!

Until next time,

The Mango Tree Team

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