How To Hygge

This past year, I have been SUPER inspired by the concept of hygge! I read one book and immediately became OBSESSED and have been on my own little journey ever since. From a young age, I have always been attracted to a cozy home. I remember in junior high I took a bubble bath every morning. Haha—like, I got up extra early every morning just to enjoy my bath. I have always been obsessed with candles (more recently essential oils as well!), baking, blankets, slippers … all of the cozy things! So learning about the Danish concept of hygge really resonated with me and I wanted to learn everything I could.

The definition of hygge is “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).”

In this post, I will share all the books I read (there are so many great ones!) as well as things I’ve changed up in our home to create a more cozy living space.

Things I incorporated into our home/life:

More lighting sources. I have been slowly adding lamps, twinkle lights and other sources like a beautiful essential oil diffuser. The holidays really inspire this for me because I LOVE the feeling of walking into our living spaces to the glow of the Christmas trees and the twinkle of our outdoor lights through the windows. Although nothing will ever be as magical as the holidays, I aspire to add more twinkle year round because it makes our home so much more cozy at night.

Candles and oils. I don’t use as many candles as I used to, but a few unscented candles do make a big difference in the vibe. It’s a part of the ritual! For creating a cozy scent, I rely on essential oil diffusers (we have seven throughout our home— haha). My favorite oil combo is lavender, fir needle and some sort of citrus, like orange. So nice!

Minimizing. This is HUGE. I still would never consider myself a minimalist, but I have learned the incredible value in clearing out my home—donating, selling and generally just having less stuff.

Neutral colors and texture. This is my personal preference for decor that feels cozy to me. While I love to gawk at photos of colorful tile, bright sofas and wild patterned walls, I feel most at home in a neutral space. It somehow provides balance to my brain. At the end of a long day, what I really crave is a simple, neutral space, clean countertops, uncluttered surfaces and textured cozy blankets and pillows. (To be clear, my home is not always clean … I just crave that!)

Natural materials. This is SO big for me. A few years back, I started the effort to stop buying so much plastic and instead spend my money on items that are from nature—woven baskets, things made of wood, ceramics, vintage wool rugs instead of new synthetic rugs. It takes time. But over time you can improve the air quality in your home and the longevity of the things you buy. Hygge teaches that being surrounded by natural materials is good for us on a deeper level as well. It may sound silly to some, but I swear it has made a big difference in my home.

Saving special purchases for special occasions. I read about this in the first book I recommend below. I love this concept. Since I heard it I have begun to save special purchases and get them as a reward for milestones and celebrating goals achieved. It has made a massive difference to me in how much I appreciate these purchases and it feels good to have happy memories tied to items in our home.

Planning the hygge factors in each room. In the past, I would plan the decor for my rooms, but I didn’t put much thought into the emotional side of the decor or the memories I wanted to create in these rooms. The biggest difference the concept of hygge has made in my life is that I now plan my rooms around the hygge elements, not the decor elements. So for example, when in the past I would be worried about which wallpaper to choose for our bedroom, I am not concerned about how nice it is for reading at night and for morning routines, etc. In my kitchen, I once would have felt incomplete without a big design statement or a major color moment, but now I am planning for the parties we will host, nights at home with our kiddos and holidays. It’s a different perspective and one that is more based on making everyone FEEL at home rather than decorating for visuals.

By the way, I feel like I am just getting started and will continue working on my cozy goals in our new home!

Books I read and loved:
The Little Book of Hygge
Dwell Gather Be
Hygge: Unlock the Danish Art of Coziness + Happiness
The Book of Hygge

Each of these books are a quick read. I read most of them in 1-2 airplane rides. Although there will be some overlapping information, I felt that each author had a different emphasis and I liked learning from more than one person.

If you are interested in the idea of hygge, I would LOVE to hear what changes you made to your home and what has been the most rewarding for you.

xx- Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • I haven’t seen you wear glasses in a while Elsie, you look so cute 🙂
    Would love to hear a podcast episode on this too if you have more ideas to share, maybe in relation to how this influences your new house?

  • I would recommend reading Cozy Minimalist Home. It goes along with the others you’ve already read. While I was reading it all I could think was “yes! This is exactly how I want my home to feel.”

  • Textiles are super big for me. I add lots of blankets and use things like runners and cute embroidered textiles to soften harder wood surfaces. One of my favorites is a runner from the reception tables at a close friend’s wedding, which is now draped over our dresser and adds so much more coziness than the wood by itself! I think having a daily reminder of that memory and relationship is also right in line with the hygge mentality 🙂

  • Hi Elsie!
    Thanks for the great post. I read several books on Hygge about 6 years ago and the Hygge philosophy has changed my life. I live in Seattle and it is so gray and rainy that it can feel overwhelming sometimes. Now that I have locked into Hygge, I burn I unscented candles, use low and cozy lighting, diffuse oils, and drink tea all day. My son is a total homebody and he loves being in PJs all day and making blanket forts. One other thing I love doing is foraging for flower/plant arrangements — I find old branches, flowers or leafy greens from my yard, and pretty weeds on my walks and bring the outdoors in, even in the winter. My happiness at home has greatly increased.

    xx

  • So many beautiful ideas! I’m basically on lockdown over here in Ireland so I’m inspired to introduce more hygge into my home since I’m stuck here ????
    Also super random but thank you for using the word “resonate “ properly!! “…learning about the Danish concept of hygge really resonated with me and I wanted to learn everything I could.” I keep hearing people say “I resonate with that” and I’m like, no: things resonate with us, we don’t resonate with things! (End rant ????)

  • Love this! So many great ideas in this post. I can’t wait to check out the book recommendations.

    Jordan Joy | lifestyle blog

  • Love love love this! I’m buying these book titles ASAP! Had no idea about hygge- I totally agree with the additional light sources. I love Little vintage desk lights In the kitchen, dimmable outdoor string lights and salt lamp night lights in my stairwell to upstairs 🙂

  • I’ve just ordered a couple of these books from my local library to give them a read. I second Karo’s comment that I would love to hear you and Emma talk about this on your podcast, which I am loving! I push play as soon as I see it pop up and have really enjoyed getting to know you guys and your personalities. My fav podcast right now! Keep up the great work.

  • Loooove this – where did you get the blankets? I have cozy ones for Christmas but I need year round ones!

  • I’ve been also hooked on the hygge, but truth be told, I’ve been hygge-ing all my life, just didn’t know there was a term for it … lol. Thank you for sharing your fave books!

  • Yes! I absolutely love the concept of hygge, but I actually came across it a totally different way! While living in Portugal, I became friends with a group of Norwegian students, and they always talked about things being “cozy” or “not cozy”. “Cozy” seemed to be the biggest compliment they could give to something. And since they know how to enjoy life during the winter, I have been incorporating some of the things they consider “cozy” into my life in Ohio and it’s definitely been a much more pleasant winter!

  • Unfortunately, cosiness has lost some of its meaning, as it is minimal about decor. The little book about cosiness, is what we (in denmark) call a materialization of cosiness. I read a blog post where it sounded more like description of happiness (lykke in danish, it is also close to the word hygge) where it mentioned wearing a cute set of clothes and your favorite jewelery. Hygge is more about taking your ugly ,but comfortable, onesize on – outside too, so people will say “it looks soooo hyggeligt!”. And also a lot more to be with people – nearly always with food too! But no fancy food, and not too many people. It should be intimate and low casual. If you really want to make a cozy home, your home must not be too big (no big rooms in particular), and with lots of small “cozy corners” and many small lamps instead of a few large ones. We live with a lot of darkness outside in the winter months, and all the small lights and candels don’t make it to light inddoor, but more like the lightning you will find in a restaurent or something like that. Many of the new “architect-designed” houses that are being built now in Denmark have, for example. too large and open spaces for them to be considered cozy. I myself, live in one of them now, and looking for a new home, because you can’t make it “hygge” enough, when the outher lines not are for it.

  • As a fellow dane, the spread of the concept of “hygge” has been really interesting to me. Especially the focus on the physical aspects of hygge, when in reality hygge is something that often happens by chance or accident. You can set up the most comfortable, cozy space but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be hygge. Just like building a bird house does not guarantee a bird.
    Hygge is also very much a social concept and no amount of blankets, tea or candles will ever be more “hyggeligt” than a ‘alright just one more’ beer while enjoying one of the first warm summer nights with a couple of friends or an impromptu family game night during a power outage.

  • Where did you get your dress? Also, I have been enjoying hygge since over a year ago when I started watching UseLess channel. AT times like this its a good time to incorporate this.

  • My mother-in-law goes to Denmark for business a lot and got a book on hygge that I read over Christmas 2019 and love everything about it!

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