If the arrival of blustery winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere has you feeling a little deflated, a fun new trend is here to raise your spirits. “Friluftsliv,” pronounced “free-loofts-liv,” is a Nordic concept that embraces interaction with the outdoors, even during rain and frigid temperatures. The idea is to embrace nature in all of its phases and seasons, because there really is no “bad weather” as long as you’re prepared.
A Lifestyle of Outdoor Adventure
Though most people outside Scandinavia have never heard of it, Friluftsliv is far from new. Loosely translating to “open-air living,” the term was first coined in 1859 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Whereas the Danish term “Hygge” refers to surrounding oneself with cozy, comforting, and indulgent pleasures, especially in the home, Friluftsliv is a kick in the pants to go out adventuring for the benefit of your mental and physical health. In fact, Friluftsliv has even inspired its own law in Norway, called Friluftsloven, which includes the right to roam nearly anywhere you want. You can even major in Friluftsliv in college.
“Friluftsliv is not connected to a specific activity,” says Bene Lier, secretary-general of Norsk Friluftsliv, an umbrella organization of 18 Norwegian outdoor organizations. “For Norwegians, the word has a deeper meaning, like ‘disconnecting from daily stress’ and being part of the cultural ‘we,’ which binds us together as human beings as a part of nature.”
Blurring the Edges of Indoors and Out
A glance at the #friluftsliv hashtag on Instagram provides a great sense of what this trend is all about. Amidst all the scenic landscape shots are painstakingly curated outdoor ensembles, lantern-lit cabins, camper vans bursting with gear, campfire meals, and artfully flung woolen blankets. When it comes to fashion, Friluftsliv is all about practicality, like raincoats, sturdy leather boots, and wide-brimmed hats. But the concept applies to home decor, too.
A big part of Friluftsliv is inviting the outdoors into your living spaces. Bring in the textures, colors, materials, and scents of your favorite landscapes to make your home feel more cheerful even in the darkest months. Houseplants, dried greenery, framed nature scenes, rustic wooden objects, and even scented candles can help set the mood, infusing the spirit of the Friluftsliv lifestyle in every corner of your home. These visuals and sensory triggers can help us feel connected to “kos,” the Norwegian word that means “having a good time.”
Creating transitional spaces between your home and the outdoors can also help enhance a sense of Friluftsliv in your life. Give your patio, balcony, or backyard a cool-season makeover with a fire pit, some soft throw blankets, and an abundance of candles and lanterns.
Decorating with Outdoor Gear
To really nail Friluftsliv as a design aesthetic, create little vignettes that suggest you’re always in the process of leaving for another adventure. Hang items like sleds, snowshoes, and oars on the walls as decor, and set up a rack with all your outdoor layers like coats, gloves, and boots near the door. But even more importantly, actually use all that stuff.
Having these items visible in your home can help remind you of how good it feels to get outside in the fresh air, stretch your legs and challenge yourself physically, or just find a dry place to sit and relax. The 21st century essence of Friluftsliv is disconnection from the digital world, for however long you can get away with it. So wrap up, stay warm, and get ready to look on the bright side of wintertime.