One of the key areas of hygge and the part of our life where so much of it can be implemented in the home. The home is the space we return to after a stressful day. It is the place where we rest and recharge our batteries for the day that is to follow. It is the place where we enjoy our family and friends.
It is the place where we wish to feel relaxed and able to just kick back and unwind.
Of course, the problem is that this is often not the case. Often, our home is chaotic and unpleasant no matter how hard we try. Most people are doing something wrong, and the thing that they are doing wrong is not grasping the idea of hygge. By making some alterations, you will bring a sense of order into your home life that has been sadly lacking. Things will suddenly have their place and purpose rather than simply collecting dust.
As a result, your home will become a place that you are happy to return to.
We aren’t talking about making massive changes. It’s not as if you will be stripping your home back to the absolute bare bones and starting all over. Instead, this is about making small changes that are then able to have a major impact on how you feel about the space as a whole. To do this, we need to begin by looking at key areas that are often a concern so you are then in a position to tackle them accordingly.
Also, it should be noted that this is something that everyone can do, and it also applies to every room of the home as well as the outside. Anything that is seen as being your space, your part of the world, can be influenced by the concept of hygge. You just need to be willing to embrace the concept and put different things into action.
So, let us start things off with something that may not be that easy for some individuals.
Step 1: Assessing Your Belongings
Most people could be classed as being materialistic in some way. You might not even be aware of it, but over time we tend to have this innate ability to just accumulate ‘stuff.’ Materialism is anti-hygge. The accumulation of items and belongings just for the sake of owning something is not an accepted way of life in Denmark or other countries that embrace hygge.
• List Your Spaces
Start by walking through your house with a piece of paper and a pen. This is an arduous task that will take a lot of time. It’s important to be thorough for minimalism to stick. As you walk around, both inside and out, take note of all your different spaces. Be specific. Don’t just write a bedroom. Instead, write a bedroom and closet as two separate spaces. Similarly, in your kitchen, you can operate into cupboards, counters, and pantry. Continue until you have a list of everywhere in your house. This list will seem daunting, but creating small, attainable goals will help in the process.
• Decide on a Schedule
Organizing schedules should have some structure but they should not be too rigid. Often you will find that it takes longer to go through items than you would have initially thought. As well, normal life is also happening. Children need to be taken to school, Dinner needs to be made, and Social events need to be attended.
Be realistic when deciding when you will look at each space. Maybe choose one room per week. Or, if you have a long weekend coming up, devote one whole day to organizing. You know how efficient you can be, and you won’t change overnight just to accomplish this new task.
If you are honest, you will look around at your belongings, go into cupboards and other storage places, and then try to remember why you bought something, and even where or when. Also, how many times have you gone looking for something only to stumble across an item that you forgot that you owned? This all happens because we tend to collect too many things, so we have no idea how to deal with them or even why they exist.
So, the first thing that you need to do to successfully incorporate hygge into your home is to assess your belongings. You need to be honest with yourself, and even be quite brutal in deciding what to keep and what to throw out. This is the concept of de-cluttering your home, and we will revisit it once again later in this post.
This assessment may take you some time to complete, but you have to work through it as it forms the basis of hygge in the home. It gives you the canvas that you are then going to work from and produce a home that is far more relaxing and comfortable than it is at this moment in time.
At this point, it is all about the awareness of what you own. After that, you can then move onto the next step, which is bringing some sense of order to your home.
Step 2: Order and Practicality
Owning items, whether they be ornaments, furniture, or anything else, should only occur when those items provide you with something. There has to be a practical reason for you to own it, or else you go against the very idea of hygge. If you fail to do this, then you are simply accumulating junk, and junk is pointless.
Those that incorporate hygge into their home believe that everything needs to have a purpose. The table has to be used and not just left in the dining room that simply gathers dust. That TV stand should not block access to your window or other items of furniture. It must have its position where it can perform its function without any interference.
• Begin with an Easy Space
Small wins will help this process be achievable. If it is spring, start with the coat closet and go through all your winter items. Chances are this was something you would have done anyway, so it is a good place to start. If you have children, decide what can be kept for next season and what will be outgrown by then. For adults, take stock of just how many coats you own. It’s probably more than you thought.
Often, there is a coat or two that has a broken zipper or a lost button that prevents them from being worn. Be honest with yourself. Are you going to repair these items? If the answer is no, put them in a giveaway box. If the answer is yes, put them in the car so that next time you are running an errand you can drop them off at a tailor.
• Beware the Junk Drawer
We all have at least one space in our house, and possibly many, that just accumulates stuff. It’s usually in a high-traffic area like the kitchen and is a place where small items go. The meaning is well. These items are found around the house and are put away because they should be in a drawer than to be clutter in a different place.
However, what is the purpose of these items? Will we use them again? Or are they just out of sight and therefore out of mind? Take your time and go through each junk drawer or junk space in your house. Empty everything and make the following piles:
- has a home in another place of the house
- potentially useful for the future
- not useful
Most of the time, these junk items should be relocated. The forgotten crayons belong in your child’s room with the other art supplies. The hair elastic belongs in your bathroom. A lot of junk is papers such as wedding invitations or Christmas cards. While the sentiment of keeping them is nice, if they are just sitting in a drawer without being seen, then they might as well go in the garbage or recycling.
Some items should be kept for future use. But be sparing when you keep these. You don’t need ten elastic bands. Probably just one or two will do. Be realistic and try to eliminate anything that is not truly useful.
• Use Technology to Your Advantage
When it comes to paper, we often think that we need to keep it all, just in case. And some of this is true. Receipts are important in case something needs to be returned. Envelopes can have people’s addresses that will be needed for future reference. But it’s important to understand that the information is needed and not the physical paper.
Many free apps will scan and save your receipts for you so that you can throw out the original. Indeed, many stores now offer the option to send the receipt to your email instead of printing your one. Take advantage of this to help declutter your homes.
If there is important information like an address on an envelope, stop and put that in your address book. The same goes for recipes. Instead of having papers ripped from a magazine cluttering everything, sort them into one recipe book. It will make it so much easier for you to find when you want to be creative in the kitchen.
At this point, the objects left are not serving their purpose. Things are in order and have a practical use.
Step 3: Bringing Space and Light into the Home
As we mentioned above, we will look at the concept of de-cluttering in the next post, but there’s no doubt that when you do remove items from your home, that you then end up with more space. However, it is then a case of what you do with it that’s important.
If you look at the typical Scandinavian home, there are some very definite approaches to home décor. There is a sense that the rooms flow together. Light floods in and are bounced around the room by clear and clean surfaces that tend to be light in color. By using light in this way, you open up the room even further and create an illusion of it being more spacious than it is. Space is important. It helps to create a sense of calm that is often missing in our homes, especially when everything is cramped and we live on top of one another.
The Danes believe in trying to open up natural light as much as possible. Windows are left uncluttered to allow the maximum amount to flood in for as long as nature allows. Furniture is arranged in such a way that anybody can benefit from the light when in the room. It adds character and brings a better atmosphere to the room. It is certainly much better than sitting in darkness.
A hygge home makes use of not only natural light, but also carefully placed artificial lights, and they can come in different forms.
The one thing that the Danes hate is the idea of a large and strong main light that illuminates the entire room. That is harsh, it is overbearing, and it is hardly soothing and relaxing.
Instead, they prefer subtlety with lighting. They prefer light being used in the dark evenings to create a certain mood and feeling about a room. It should add to the atmosphere rather than take anything away from it.
The light should be used to accentuate a room. Candles create a soft glow that will then provide a sense of comfort. Small lights can be carefully positioned in a corner to provide a space to sit and read and relax. Fairy lights dancing across the fireplace to bring it to life even when the fire itself has not been lit. Lights used in furniture with glass fronts to highlight the objects that are on display inside.
You also cannot afford to forget the use of outdoor lighting. Your garden or yard should be a place of pleasure, and lighting can play an important role in that. We are not talking about large spotlights that illuminate every dark corner, but rather lights that enhance your appreciation for your space.
You may wish to include a light on your front porch that makes your door feel more appealing and inviting to guests. In the rear, lights on fence posts casting shadows on aspects of the garden while light dances across the plants is another possibility. You may also wish to incorporate a water feature due to its Zen-like properties, but make sure that it also has a light with it to add to the overall feeling.
In other words, soft and gentle lights outside can add a certain degree of warmth to your entire home. Light makes things seem less threatening, and the outdoors is transformed into a place where you want to spend some time and relax.
As you can see, there is a real sense of getting to grips with the lighting and using it to your advantage. You need to drop the idea of putting a light in a corner and using it from a purely practical point of view. That just does not work in hygge. There needs to be some thought that goes into the source of light, where it shines, its role, and even how strong it needs to be so it can do its job.
Step 4: Dealing with the Space Issue
Even though Danish homes are often relatively small, especially compared to the vast shells that we can often refer to as home, the space that is available in them is mind-blowing.
This is all down to the rather clever way in which rooms are arranged, furniture is designed, and storage is incorporated into every room. To those that use hygge in their home, there is nothing that is more claustrophobic than having too many things surrounding you. It creates a sense of the walls closing in and produces a stuffy atmosphere that is hardly relaxing.
Space deals with that problem in an instant. Of course, it does help that materialism is not a big problem in Denmark, so there are not the same plethora of objects to try to cram into our desired space, but at the same time, we are also not talking about people with limited belongings that could fit into the proverbial shoebox.
Instead, what we tend to have with people that belief in hygge is the idea of there not being anything in excess. You can own things, but they must serve you. Don’t be greedy—do you need all of those pairs of shoes where several of them are the same style just in different colors?
There is also a need for you to understand the flow of a room and the space that is required that allows you to, first of all, get to everything, and then for it to be able to be used. This ability to use something becomes more complicated if you have too many belongings that are effectively stacked upon one another.
So, to implement this, you need to be willing to deal with the clutter that you have accumulated over the years. You need to be willing to let things go and to allow them to potentially be moved into a new home where they can perhaps bring joy and pleasure to other people. However, that is for the post on de-cluttering, but there is one final aspect of hygge and the home that we need to address.
Step 5: Adding Comfort to Your Home
The fifth and final step that we will discuss at this point is connected to bringing some extra sense of comfort to your home. Now, you might think that you have already achieved this, but as you sit and look around the room that you are currently in, there will more than likely be areas that you are not that content with.
This aspect of hygge is so important that we have included it in its very own post. However, at this moment, we can sum up why it plays such a key role in the entire process.
Comfort and coziness trigger a more relaxed response in our mind and body. This allows the muscles to relax and things that may have previously been stressing us out just don’t seem to concern us to the same extent.