Feeling Hygge

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Posted by Cheryl-Anne Millsap on Dec. 27, 2017, 6 a.m.

This is the time of year when comfort seems to matter most. Autumn brings jewel-toned leaves to replace the green grass of summer. Darkness falls earlier each day and lighted windows seem to glow. We bring out blankets, stock the woodbox and focus on making our homes into comfortable shelters from winter’s worst. We call this effect “cozy,” but the Danish have an even better word for it: Hygge.

Hygge is as difficult to define as it is to pronounce; hoo-guh is close (a quick YouTube search will provide several auditory examples). Hygge is a focus on the joy of simple things: a fire in the fireplace, a big pot of soup simmering on the stove, or a hot cup of cocoa cradled in your hands. It is warm flannel sheets and bright sunlight streaming through windows. It is time spent with friends and family, practicing a true appreciation of moments of contentment and happiness.

Coffee by the fireplace

Hygge is finding joy in the everyday. Here are some simple ways to put this Danish concept to use in your home.

Warm and Cozy

It’s easy to bring warmth to your home without touching the thermostat. Candles flickering in votives and in sconces warm dark corners, bringing intimacy to any room. A log fire snapping and popping in the fireplace provides a kind of background music for the season. A woven blanket or throw tossed over a comfy chair, a basket of magazines nearby and a steaming cup of tea make spending time indoors a treat even when the weather outside is at its nastiest.

Naturally Nice

Think natural and organic. Fill your home with natural scents, not the canned “pumpkin spice” perfumed air fresheners. The smell of fresh-baked bread or something delicious roasting in the oven can take the edge off the roughest day. Bowls of dried lavender bring a whiff of freshness and summer sunshine to a cold and cloudy day. Cinnamon sticks and dried citrus carry the fragrance of autumn and the festivity of the upcoming holiday season.

Candles and pinecones

Pools of Light

Turn off the harsh glare of overhead lights, especially florescent bulbs, and create instant warmth and mood with soft pools of light. Strategically placed lamps create a friendlier atmosphere. If you choose LED lights, look for those with warmer glow and use timers to have lamps on when you return home from a long day at work.

Unplug and Connect

Once you’ve focused on bringing hygge into your home, make the most of the atmosphere you’ve created. Sink into a comfortable chair, pick up a book or pull out a board game. Most importantly, put down your phone or tablet. Nothing kills a Hygge moment like being tethered to work emails or scrolling endlessly through social media feeds.

The Company You Keep

One of the most important elements of hygge is spending time in the company of family and friends. Invite friends over for a simple meal. Linger over a jigsaw puzzle or play charades with the grandchildren. Watch a favorite movie and share a bowl of popcorn. Focus on the people who mean the most to you.