Denmark is the happiest country in the world1, and a lot of Danes attribute their national cheer to hygge (pronounced hoo-gah).
Hygge is often compared to the English word 'cosiness', but stands for so much more. Often considered a way of life, it's the sense of wellbeing and warmth that can be found in spending time with loved ones, savouring everyday pleasures, and taking the time out to relax. It's about appreciating simplicity over complexity and extravagance in all aspects of your life.
The concept has roots in 19th-century Denmark, but is only just starting to spread across the globe. It's having a particular impact on interior design, as people look to transform their homes into welcoming sanctuaries where their worries can slip away.
Your living room is the natural place to start when embracing hygge, and creating the right atmosphere doesn't have to be tricky — after all, hygge isn't supposed to be high-maintenance. Read on to discover the golden rules of hygge living room design.
Lighting is one of the most important elements of any interior design, but even more so when it comes to creating the cosy, welcoming atmosphere associated with hygge. You need warm, soft lighting dotted around your lounge, rather than big and bright sources of light.
Using candlelight is one of the easiest ways to create the right ambience in your living room. 85% of Danes say the thing they most associate with hygge is candles2, so they're a must-have accessory.
Simply place a few pillar candles or tealights around your lounge, and enjoy watching the warm light of their flames flicker across your walls. Adding a scented candle could be a great choice too, as aromatherapy can do wonders for your mood. While the aroma of pine is said to reduce stress, cinnamon and vanilla can bring a sense of warmth and happiness.
If you have a fireplace, using this rather than the central heating can be a great way to bring extra cosiness to your room. And to complete your lighting design, use dimmer switches, lamps and possibly even fairy lights to create layers of light that can suit different needs and occasions.
Hygge turns the modern trend for large, minimalistic, open-plan spaces on its head. Intimacy is integral, with Danish-language lecturer Susanne Nilsson telling the BBC that:
"[Hygge] works best when there's not too large an empty space around the person or people."
You can find a great deal of comfort and security when snuggling somewhere small. Clever placement of furniture in your living room will allow you to create a cosy nook — the perfect place for curling up with a book.
If you have a bay window, consider converting it into a charming seating area. There's something extremely comforting about sitting back and watching the world go by, or tracing raindrops with your fingertips as they run down the windowpane.
Take advantage of other recessed spaces, like the area underneath your staircase, by filling them with shelves of books. Add a loveseat where you can cuddle up with your other half, or perhaps just a glass of wine. The curved arms and sumptuous cushioning of our Churchill 1.5-seater make it ideal for relaxing — especially in cosy woollen upholstery.
Another great way to increase the sense of intimacy is to incorporate a variety of textures, which will bring extra dimension to your space. Our hair-on-hide rugs are great for introducing warmth and comfort to wooden floors, while artworks and hangings will bring interest to your walls. Experiment with tactile textures throughout the room, from metal lampshades and glass tables to leather cushions and wool throws.
Although moments alone with your thoughts or favourite book are to be savoured, hygge is centred around togetherness. So, if you want to embrace the lifestyle, consciously appreciating moments shared with loved ones is hugely important.
Making your living room a sociable and welcoming space is crucial. Corner sofas are a great place for friends to gather and share a conversation, while 4-seater sofas are ideal for families who want to cuddle up and watch a movie. Just don't forget a coffee table for all your drinks and snacks!
Fun elements like a cocktail cabinet or shelf full of board games are also great ideas if you'd like to entertain in your lounge. Finally, don't forget those all-important photo frames so you can look back at the memories you've shared — sure to give you that warm hygge feeling.
Hygge means being kind to yourself: taking time out to de-stress and indulge in the things you enjoy. Constant rushing isn't good for our emotional wellbeing, so learning to be a little more relaxed can do us the world of good. Your living room should be the place you go to unwind, so consider this in your interior design. Make sure to invest in a comfy sofa, and a luxurious footstool so you can put your feet up. Choose a fuss-free colour palette of calming neutrals, and surround yourself with items you love.
Although hygge is experiencing a burst in popularity around the globe, it's been a mainstay of Danish life for decades. There's no reason you can't adopt the philosophy into your everyday life, and interior design, for 2017 and beyond.