Heard of hygge? You must have. It’s the buzz word sweeping the world of self-improvement (and the subject of a big feature in this month’s issue of marie claire), promising to make your life better, happier and cosier with just a few steps.
It’s a Danish life philosophy all about pleasure, that lets you savour the good things in life, be that cosy sheepskin rugs and good quality interior design or pastries, cups of hot chocolate and salty Danish licorice. The world is your hygge oyster! And considering Danes are the happiest people in the world, perhaps there’s something in this funny-sounding word.
But how to add a little hygge to your life right now? We asked the experts – Anton Assaad, founder and director Great Dane Furniture, Anne Mortensen, marketing director at Cult Design (distributors of Hay in Australia), Meik Wiking of the Danish Happiness Institute and Charlotte Abrahams, author of the forthcoming design title Hygge (Orion, $32.99) – to weigh in on how to add a little cosiness to your life.
Burn lots (and lots and lots) of candles
“No candles, no hygge,” Meik Wiking, head of the Danish Happiness Institute writes in his The Little Book Of Hygge (Penguin, $24.99) out at the end of the October. And it’s true, hygge is all about making a cosy, inviting atmosphere for relaxation and repose, and nothing achieves that more than candles. But, he stresses, make sure they’re all-natural, beeswax, none of this scented candle nonsense. “Little clusters of tea lights on every surface,” Charlote Abbrahams, author of Hygge throws in. “Light is very important: Soft, atmospheric light.”
Anne Mortensen, herself an expat Dane, also stresses the importance of candles. “For most of the year, I will light candles at home every evening. It instantly makes me feel at home. The only candles that properly fit into my candle holders from home are from IKEA, so I make a bi-annual trip to stock up!”
An image from the Great Dane Furniture showroom
Move your furniture around to make little corners for relaxation
To make your home a bit more hygge interior design is a good place to start. “Design you love to live with for year after year is very important,” Anton Assaad, Founder and Director of Great Dane Furniture tells us. “[Scandinavian design is] relaxed and refined and I think this suits the Australian way of life.”
Abrahams is quick to stress that you don’t need to completely redesign your entire home to add hygge to your life. Sometimes it can be as easy as moving around the furniture. “To create a little cosy, open plan space is very hygge because it invites social interaction,” she says. She suggests moving a few squishy armchairs together so that they are facing each other, adding a rug in between, a floor lamp and a few throw pillows and blankets. “Instantly you look at [that space] and go, oh, that looks like a lovely, intimate, cosy space, where you can snuggle up on your own with a book or chat with your friends,” Abrahams says. “That’s very hygge.”
Host a dinner party
Whereas Australian social life is centred around going out, Danish gatherings are often hosted at home, with a hygge-centric menu that could include everything from roast pork to anything with a herring in it (not for the faint of heart).
“Decorating your home is [so] important, as we often invite friends and family home for drinks and dinner rather than meeting at a restaurant or for an Aussie bbq on the beach,” Mortensen says.
When it come to a dinner party menu, Jesper Hansen, the founder of Blond catering, Australia’s leading Danish catering company says that it’s about putting time and effort into the menu, rather than just picking up a few things from the shops. “It has to be something [where] there has been a bit of effort and care into preparing, not just beer nuts and a bag of crisps!” Hansen tells us. “If you don’t have time to cook a six course roast duck all afternoon, then you can do a simple favourite dish of your own, light a few candles and grab a bunch of flowers on the way home from work.” It’s all about putting in the effort and taking care in the table.
Drink hot drinks
Danes are all about the hot drinks, and nothing makes you feel cosy like a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Meik Wiking says that his favourite hygge thing to do is brew some coffee and drink it sitting in his bay window, looking out on the city of Copenhagen. A warm drink – a sticky chai, maybe, or a rich hot chocolate – feels like an indulgence, and one that you can add to your life pretty easily.
Wear lots of woollen clothing
This one will be a little bit more difficult moving into the warmer months, but hygge has a clothing element to it, and that element is warm and knitted. Hygge clothing are things that are cosy and make you feel good, from that favourite pair of comfy trackpants and you instantly slip on the moment you get home from work, to the big scarf that’s like an instant hug the moment you wrap it around you.
To find out what happens when our writer tries to live the hygge dream life for one week, pick up the October issue of marie claire, on sale now!