With winter looming and coronavirus-induced shutdowns reoccurring around the country, many of us are searching for that feeling that normally comes each holiday season. It’s that sensation of internal coziness when everything feels right with the world for a brief moment. It comes with pleasant experiences like gathering with good friends or sitting by a crackling fire with a warm drink in hand. Think of tight hugs from loved ones, fuzzy blankets, mood lighting, and hearty laughter. It’s contentedness that feels like a cup of hot cocoa has been poured over your entire soul.
There’s a term for that feeling in many languages. Popularized by the Danish as “hygge” (pronouced roughly “hoo-gah”), its also “koselig” in Norwegian, “gezellig” in Dutch, and “Heimlich” in German (though there’s unfortunately no word for it in English). Of course, it doesn’t just apply to the cold months; it’s inclusive of anytime you feel a thorough sense of well-being in a pleasant atmosphere, though its certainly something most of us are craving right now as ornery weather pushes us indoors.
If you’re feeling the need to get hygge with it this winter to put all this 2020 craziness behind you for a minute, here are four ways to usher that convivial feeling into your home — or at least enough until you can invite in the cherished company that completes it.
Build the hygge foundation with the perfect amount of radiance. Try taking the brightness down a notch with candles or string lights, thinking along the lines of Urban Outfitters’ Paddywax candles that will give off hints of suede, rose, and wild fig while also providing some flickering ambience. Alternatively, these warm LED curtain lights from Home Depot will instantly cozy up your space. And this prismatic orb table lamp from West Elm is sure to convey a hygge glow on a chilly winter night.
There’s no better way to create a cozy feeling than by putting soft, touchable textures all around you. You could begin with something like Pottery Barn’s plush Faux Fur Ombre Throw. A snuggly bathrobe like this fleece and sherpa-lined one on Amazon also gives you those warm hygge fuzzies, and knitted coffee sleeves like these start that feeling of well-being flowing with your first morning cup.
Hygge exists in opposition to complexity and chaos. Furnishings and accessories in warm neutral tones accomplish the goal of simplicity and serenity. Williams Sonoma’s Olivewood serving ware carries that feeling to the tabletop with its restful wood hues. A supple but unpretentious rug under foot like this one from Loloi Rugs candidly welcomes you into whatever space it’s in, and a smooth leather firewood tote like this one from CB2 brighten ups your wintry nights with its classic beauty.
Nothing about hygge demands perfection. In fact, accepting the little irregularities around you can help you create the same contentedness it implies. And you can find that anywhere. Hygge can exist in a tiny apartment as well as in the largest mansion. While there may be a few dings or creases here and there in your home (or your life), the key is to expel the clutter and love the rest.
It may be some time yet before the COVID-19 pandemic lets us get back to our normal lives. But who knows? Perhaps adding a little more hygge to our surroundings can carry us through the uncertainty of the coming weeks and months.