The Danish concept of hygge (pronounced “hue-geh”) has been gaining popularity of late. Founded on the principle of recognising – and encouraging – moments of extraordinary contentment, cosiness, or social fulfilment, it has been billed by many as the next ‘big thing’ in design and décor trends.
With that in mind, it’s a little ironic that hygge is not actually about material possessions (even if it has been used to sell many a fluffy blanket and scented candle in its time). If anything, hygge disdains the notion that expensive objects and brand-name items are the keys to fulfilment, focussing instead on the value of experiences and relationships more than things.
“A hygge home doesn’t have to be filled with the latest trendy furniture, or decluttered to the point of monastic minimalism, or whatever else the design zeitgeist dictates,” says Tony Clarke, Managing Director of the Rawson Property Group. “Hygge is a very personal concept. It’s that x-factor that turns a house into a home – into a space that feels safe, tranquil, intimate and joyful to you, where you can relax and connect with your inner self and your loved ones.”
According to Clarke, achieving this doesn’t have to be an expensive operation. It just requires a little self-knowledge and creativity. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Security is a big part of hygge – it’s difficult to relax and truly appreciate an experience if you’re worried (even subconsciously) about your safety. For this reason, Clarke says home security should be a top priority for hygge-seekers.
“Whether it’s a sturdy door, an extra set of locks, an alarm system or an electric fence, it’s important to be able to feel secure in your home,” he says. “Lying awake listening to bumps in the night is far from hygge – you want to be able to close your front door and put all your worries aside.”
Tranquillity is also central to hygge, but can mean different things to different people.
“Some people enjoy the hustle and bustle of a busy neighbourhood and feel on edge when things are too quiet,” says Clarke. “Other people feel anxious when they’re surrounded by ambient sounds, and prefer their homes to be places of quiet solitude.”
To get that hygge feeling, Clarke recommends thinking about what tranquillity means to you, and finding creative solutions to bring that into your home.
“Quiet, in particular, can be a scarce commodity in today’s dense neighbourhoods, but simple items like thick curtains can make a big difference,” he says. “If you can afford it, double glazing is also an excellent way to block out the outside world, turning your home into a tranquil oasis.”
Many argue that hygge can only truly be felt with company, as human happiness is so intimately connected to our relationships with others. For this reason, Clarke suggests creating designated “social spaces” in your home that support and encourage bonding with friends and family.
“Comfortable conversation spaces are a must for a hygge home,” he says, “whether it’s a circle of cushions on the floor or padded armchairs by the fireplace. It doesn’t have to be fancy, you just need a spot that begs for long, lazy conversations with no phones, no tablets, and no TVs to distract you from the contentment of good company.”
It’s not all about getting chatty, though – a hygge home should also enable you to indulge in personal delights.
“Whether it’s curling up with a good book, getting your hands dirty in the garden or whipping up a storm in the kitchen or workshop, your home should support the activities that you love,” says Clarke. “Try setting up a dedicated space for your hobby, even if it’s just a small worktable in the corner of the lounge. Having easy access means you’re more likely to indulge and cherish the experience – and that’s a very hygge thing to do.”
Above all, hygge is about appreciating the now, which requires mindfulness and the ability to be present in the moment. While your home can’t direct your thought processes, it can minimise negative distractions and give you the freedom to focus on the present.
“Try to keep things tidy and organised, and keep work away from your living and sleeping spaces,” says Clarke. “You want your home to be a place of contentment and relaxation, safe from tomorrow’s problems. Anything that causes anxiety should be kept out of the line of sight.”
Few homes are perfect, but Clarke says this doesn’t mean they’re not hygge.
“A chipped mug can still hold a delicious cup of tea,” he says. “Understanding that is the key to hygge, and could be the key to a far happier home.”