The Danes are probably rolling their eyes at its sudden popularity (this year saw the publication of nine books on the subject), but we can blame us when the nights are drawing in and the world seems to have gone a little mad/to hell in a handcart (depending upon your perspective)?
There is no direct translation for hygge (pronounce it hue-gah) – more than anything, it’s a feeling or atmosphere, which is rooted in a sense of togetherness, warmth, well-being and comfort; a kinship which is about simple, traditional values.
Now, this sense of well-being probably has *something* to do with the enlightened and progressive society and policies in Nordic countries (gender equality as a given, the standard of public services and living etc). We can’t help with that, but we can definitely get on board with the idea of simple pleasures as an antidote to the frenzy of daily life. Moreover, as the cold (and craziness) bites, we very much want to curl up safe at home with the people we love. So, we teamed with The White Company to hygge our homes. (Just in time for the freezing snap and – whisper it – the festive season.)
Let there be light
But not, under any circumstances, overhead light. Use table lamps to create soft pools of lighting – perfect for reading (alone; in companionable silence; with a little one on your lap), cosy chats – or just gazing out the window, day dreaming and watching the world go by. (Hygge is big on slowing down.)
Fire and candlelight are really where it’s at when you’re thinking hygge. Not all of us have an open fire or stove, but lighting a candle is definitely within reach. Simple white pillar candles are perfect – and be generous with them. By a fireplace, as a table centrepiece, to welcome visitors into your home – they work brilliantly in hurricane lamps, too. We love the idea of lanterns by the fireplace – or leading visitors up the path to your front door. Consider adding some metallic surfaces to reflect the flicker of light.
A note on scent: this is not the time for complex, provocative scents. Opt for something fresh and natural: bay, lavender, clove. The White Company’s Winter fragrance, with its notes of cinnamon, orange zest and clove is, hands down, one of our absolute favourites for this time of year.
Comfort. Beauty. Utility.
Keep in mind the Scandi aesthetic: stripped-back, natural, designed to last. So when you’re dressing your home – and yourself – opt to invest in quality; look for natural fabrics and simple designs with attention to detail. We read this as: feel free to liberally swathe yourself in cosy knits and cashmere – not forgetting the world’s cosiest slippers. This roll neck jumper was The Dream. (We shot this on a chilly, drizzly day in the countryside, so I feel it came through the hygge comfort test with flying colours.)
Do the same in your home. Have sheepskins by the side of bed so sleepy, warm toes don’t get a shock in the morning. Throw a blanket over the end of your bed and the arm of a sofa. Combine chunky knits with faux fur and sheepskin. It’s very Danish to have a basket of slippers by the front door (presumably so you can cast off your shoes in inclement weather). Or opt for a basket of blankets tucked away by the side of your sofa. Who could say no to being swaddled in a cosy knit on a cold night?
What I like about the philosophy of hygge is that it’s really about creating a feeling – that sense of well-being and contentment that comes from being with family and friends; and from having a home which welcomes you – and them. I love walking into my home. My shoulders fall, the house embraces me, and I feel a warmth that is far more than physical. So there’s plenty of room for sentiment here: drinking your morning coffee from the cup which once belonged to your grandmother; the patchwork quilt which has been in the family for years; the shawl which you brought your babies home from the hospital in. I love that we are creating our own memories – our sense of hygge – with the fabrics of our life; like the blanket my daughter has at the end of her bed which she uses to make a house for her teddies, and curls up under when she’s feeling low. My little boy has the patchwork quilt I had made just for him before he was born. It is through using things that we imbue them with meaning.
Chelston throw, £120
Contrived bouquets of hot house flowers are the antithesis of hygge. It’s about the seasonal and the natural: the driftwood you picked up on the beach; the bay branches from the garden; the branches of turning leaves you found during your weekend walk.
This is the time of year to fill your home with greenery. Flowers are starting to feel not quite right, so swap them for branches of bay, eucalyptus, berries and fir.
FYI: it’s official. Wreaths are A Thing. You can definitely have one up before Christmas. You could even make one yourself (from the aforementioned driftwood or branches, for instance).
Slow down. Pause. Savour the moment. Be together.
From top step: Pillar candles in small (£6), medium (£10) and large (£28). Mini sparkle pinecones, £10 for a set of 10.Winter Signature candle, £20; Mercury fluted tealight holder, £15; Fir & Berry Botanical candle, £36; Textured roll neck, £119; Artisan mug, £10. (Jeans, Ida by Donna Ida; boots, Seven Boot Lane)
This post is a collaboration with The White Company. All words, styling and photographs our own.