We look to the Danes for some added comfort, coziness and the feeling of home this season
By Abigail Thorpe
This summer is all about relishing moments with friends and family, and bringing that feeling of coziness, comfort and joy to the inside and outside of your home no matter the occasion. Particularly after the difficulties of the past year and a half, we’re ready to live each moment to its fullest in a way that goes beyond mere possessions and mindless distractions.
For inspiration on how to live this summer mindfully, taking extra care to make moments sweet, intentional and oh so full of peace and joy, we look to a Danish concept for inspiration that’s been taking the world by storm over the past few years: Hygge.
Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah) is the Danish word for cozy, but it embodies so much more. Originally from Norwegian and old Nordic dialect meaning to seek protection, refuge and shelter from the outside elements, the word was adopted into the Danish language in the 18th century, and it’s become an intrinsic value and practice of the Danish people.
Hygge can be that feeling of ease when you’re someplace comforting; it can be enjoying a moment like that first cup of coffee in the morning or a laugh with a close friend, or it can be a gathering of close friends over food and drinks. It means different things to different people, but at its heart is a feeling of being home, of comfort, warmth, happiness and ... coziness. Even in summer, Hygge is a big part of daily life in Denmark, and Americans are starting to catch on too. Here’s how you can make your summer a bit more hyggelig, courtesy of the Danes.
At its core, the concept of Hygge is about enjoying the moment, and so much of that feeling of comfort comes from your surroundings and space—even more than we know. While you’re getting into the spirit of adding some hygge to your life, look to how you can set up the ideal environment right at home.
Keep it simple.
The Danes know how to keep things simple and tidy; even their furniture and design concepts are minimalistic, ergonomic and convey a sense of calm. Having a clean, tidy space you can relax and enjoy is conducive to a cozy environment to welcome family and friends or enjoy some time alone. Don’t overdue your space; focus on things that make it welcoming and restful, and add a few small touches here and there to make it a peaceful oasis you can enjoy all summer long.
Lighten the mood.
That’s where lighting comes in. It might sound silly, but lighting is a big part of creating that hygge moment and space. It adds depth, comfort, beauty and relaxation, and can completely transform any indoor or outdoor space. Candles are an easy way to add lighting, but also think about lamps, natural sources of light, and even some outdoor additions like a fire pit or tiki torches. But keep the light calm and natural. Fluorescent brightness isn’t a great way to set the mood.
Add some green to your space.
No, not in the paint sense, we’re talking about adding some plants. Particularly here in the Inland Northwest during the summer, it’s time to embrace the green, lush blooms we’ve missed all winter. Add some indoor and outdoor plants to your space to create a calm, beautiful environment that’s as great for entertaining as it is to relax and have that perfect cup of lemonade in the middle of a summer day. You can even take the “green” concept one step further and find some additional ways you can be more environmentally friendly in your household this summer, whether it be doing away with toxic cleaners and chemicals, or starting to save scraps for your garden mulch.
Make it personal.
Hygge is a feeling and sense of being at home, so it’s only fitting that some personal touches will make all the difference in creating that safe haven you won’t want to leave all summer long. These are items that have meaning for some specific reason: things you love, family mementos, something beautiful you found during a trip. We all love a good Target trip, but it’s often the items that tell a story or bring back fond memories that make a place feel like home.
Take some extra time to add those little details to a dinner party or cocktail hour. Build an outdoor fire, add cushions and blankets for comfort, light the candles, and pull out the good glasses. One of the keys to hygge is living in the moment and enjoying the simple things in life.
Because hygge is as much a practice or experience as it is about your surrounding environment, there are certain habits or perspectives that are central to the concept. They are things we’ve heard before, but sometimes in the midst of the summer business and whirlwind, they go by the wayside. Here are some helpful ways you can slow down this summer and live in the moment.
Right at the heart of hygge is the concept of being present in the moment. When people talk about hygge, they are referring to gatherings or moments of enjoyment that are focused on that particular moment, and not clouded by what’s been or what is to come. Even if it’s just a small moment, if you make a point to enjoy it simply as it is, without rushing it or clouding it with the stress of what you have to do the rest of the day, you’ll learn to slow down and enjoy the small things in life.
Intentionality goes right along with being present in the moment. Take the time to be intentional, whether it is with the friends and family in your life, or simply in the way you spend your time. Take the time to make a cup of coffee in that mug you love and enjoy it in a beautiful space before you start your day; or invite a friend over for lunch, and be intentional about spending undistracted time together.
This extends to how you host or plan the night. Be intentional about creating a welcoming space that makes enjoying the night even that much easier, but don’t go running around trying to make everything perfect while your guests or family are together. Part of being intentional and in the moment is being there. Plan ahead, and when the time comes, relax and enjoy.
These days, we are all attached to our mobile devices, ready at a moment's notice to respond to that text, call or email. This summer, make an active choice to disconnect for those hygge moments. If you’re having friends over for backyard drinks, or having a family game night together, turn the phones off, or leave them in another room. This goes for video games and other electronics as well. Hygge is a feeling of togetherness in the moment, not watching a movie or talking on your phone while you’re trying to relax with your family.
Along these same lines, make a decision to leave topics that cause division or heightened emotions for another time. There are plenty of opportunities to talk about politics, religion or that argument you had the other night, but perhaps that relaxing gathering with your closest friends to reconnect is not that time. If hygge is about enjoying the moment and a sense of being at home, then a debate, no matter how well-meaning or polite, isn’t part of the menu.
Make it a daily habit.
Hygge doesn’t have to be a big affair or throwing a dinner party; it’s simply part of every day. Make a point to set aside moments each day to disconnect, relax and soak up the moment. It could be with an iced tea in the garden, reading a book in a quiet nook, playing games outside with the kids, cooking with your loved one, or even just relaxing after dinner together with a glass of wine.
Set aside time to enjoy moments with close friends and family that are intentional and fun, whether it be outside dinner parties, barbecues, afternoon tea or a summer cocktail hour, but then also make time for the daily things that we often take for granted, but that bring so much joy into our lives. Go out for a walk without your phone, stop to enjoy breakfast and coffee solo or with someone you love, or take an extra 20 minutes and soak up the sun while you catch up on that magazine you haven’t had a chance to read.
Whatever your summer hygge moments look like, take the time to relish them to the fullest, and make intentionality and beauty a part of your every day.