Believe it or not, but the country with the most happy population in the world is currently Finland, followed right behind by Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Surprised? The cold weather, gloomy atmosphere and the lack of sun would bring to mind more of a depressing mood in their everyday life rather than happiness. However, the Scandinavians know exactly how to deal with the bad weather and they actually turned it into an advantage. They have learnt how to appreciate every small happy moment in their lives and how to enjoy the present, taking it exactly as it is. It all has developed into a lifestyle which is very popular in Scandinavia and it even has its own name: hygge.
What is Hygge?
Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word for ´´giving comfort and joy´´ which the Scandinavians use very often and describe it as the art of making a nice, cosy and happy atmosphere. The idea behind hygge is to choose to be happy at this present moment, to appreciate what we have and to stop chasing the happiness. No money can buy hygge atmosphere since no money can buy our happiness. Experiencing moments of pleasure on a daily basis and finding joy in everyday life is what hygge lifestyle is. It is the way the Scandinavian population lives.
During the last decade hygge also got its fame in the aspect of interior design and decoration, being a perfect description of a cosy, welcoming and homely space. A typical image of a hygge interior will be for example a sofa with many decorative cushions, a warm blanket, wooden coffee table with lots of candles on it, a cup of hot chocolate and a winter landscape behind the window. This image suits perfectly the Nordic climate, but how about hygge interiors in a slightly warmer environment, like Spain for example?
Since hygge is an experience rather than just a trend, it can be applied to any space at any time. Creating hygge style at home is fairly easy and the best thing about it is that there are none or very little expenses involved.
Did you know that Denmark is the biggest seller of candles in the world? Candles and fireplace are the main sources of evening lighting in a hygge home. Using scented candles will also add a lovely smell which will spread all over the space, making the ambient even more welcoming. If you´re using any artificial light, make sure it comes from small table lamps or floor standing lamps. Avoid overhead ceiling lighting, which gives too much general light to the interior and takes out the warmth from the atmosphere. The bulbs you´re using should illuminate warm light (2500k or less) to resemble the temperature of the candle light as much as possible. Fairy lights are also a very good idea!
Creating a cosy atmosphere is not so much about the colours but more about the texture that you´re using. A warm interior can also be achieved by using cool tones, as long as the fabrics and finishes have warm textures. Use decorative cushions and blankets in fabrics soft for the skin, like natural linen or cotton. Any kind of beads, fringes and pompons are always welcome in a hygge interior and areal rugs are always a must. It is all about the correct combination and the balance between colours and finishes. A leather sofa can also fit into hygge style, as long as it´s properly accessorised.
Leather, wood, natural fabrics and even stone finishes are the perfect materials for creating a cosy interior. Adding plants and flowers to your space is also a great way to make your room more hygge. The more natural-looking your interior is, the better. Avoid plastic and acrylic finishes, which only make the space feeling cold and artificial. Instead go for traditional elements, antiques and any upcycled pieces of furniture and décor.
It´s not about clutter
Layers of textures, busy patterns and antique elements, it all sounds like…clutter. However, cosy doesn´t mean cluttered. It is all about what we like and what we feel good at. Hygge style can be perfectly achieved in a minimalist home, where less is considered more and accessories are kept to the minimum. For some, shelves full of books and photo albums bring to mind homely atmosphere and family environment, for others – they are simply dust-collectors. Your hygge interior space should resemble your character. Only this way you will feel comfortable and happy in it.
A big part of hygge style is to be able to switch off from the internet and work for a moment. Spending time with close friends and family adds a lot to the cosiness of our space and is definitely one of the hygge experiences that take place at home. Any comfort food is always a good addition, especially when sharing it with the closest ones. Of course we can have hygge moments when we are alone as well, when we simply enjoy watching our favourite movie or reading a good book while having a cup of coffee or a piece of our favourite cake. Whatever we feel comfortable with.
Each and every one of us has a different perspective about feeling cosy. It all depends where we´re from and what our environment is. Hygge moments can be celebrated all year round. In the winter time it can be an evening by the fireplace and a cup of hot chocolate, whereas during the summer, you can enjoy it at the beach with a picnic dinner followed by star watching or having a bbq, ice cream and cold beers with friends in your garden. What we need to remember is that hygge is not simply a look, it´s an experience. Hygge style is about taking the best of what we have and we all know that the best things in life come free. Let´s celebrate this year´s Day of Happiness by appreciating the moment and taking the best of it. At the end if the Scandinavians can do it with the lack of sun and excess of rain, we should be able to easily reach their level of everyday happiness here in Spain.