Health Connect Series: The Headquarters of Hygge

Imagine a cold winter evening, snow blowing as you make your way into a warm house after a long day. The heat embraces you just as the aroma of dinner and dessert fill your senses. The lights are dim, and the candles are lit, creating a soft glow. Your favorite people are there with smiles and greetings. This feels like home. This feels like hygge.  


In Wisconsin, our idea of socializing or catching up with friends often lands us in a restaurant or bar. In Denmark, they save the money, and the home is the center for socializing. The Danes opt for hjemmehygge, or home hygge. That’s why it’s vital to make it a place you want to be.   


Home is Where the Heart is. The idea of a hygge home is that it feels safe, warm, and cozy. It feels like a place where you can be yourself, be comfortable – literally and figuratively. It's where your social battery doesn’t drain and where you want to be at the end of a stressful day. There are things that may make a home feel hygge, but a hygge home is more about making the space your own. Think of it this way: when you go to someone else's house, it may be cozy and charming, but it isn’t home. And nothing feels as good as walking into your own, comfortable space at the end of a long day. Not because of what it looks like, but because of what it feels like to you.   


There are elements that you can add to your home to make it feel more hygge, like candles, a fireplace, a nook (a hyggekrog), wood and ceramics, greenery, and textures. Should you run to TJ Maxx and Target to find candles, blankets, and lamps to fill your home? Surely not necessary. There is no one right way to make a perfectly hyggelig home, but there are a few changes you can make without breaking the bank.   


Lighting for Instant Hygge. The goal of a hygge home is warm and peaceful lighting. A golden glow. A rule of thumb is the lower the temperature of the light (not an ad, just a great explanation about the temperature of light), the better. Harsh, florescent overhead lights? Not hygge. Candles and lamps with soft white bulbs? Instant hygge. Most Danes light candles almost every day. Do avoid harmful fragrances and ensure you air out your space from the soot after burning a candle. Candle warmer lamps offer the glow and warmth of a candle without the soot and great for spaces where real candles are not allowed.  


A Cluttered Home is a Cluttered Mind. Your home environment is not just for looks. It can impact your health. You know that sudden calming feeling after deep cleaning your kitchen or even just picking the clothes up off your bedroom floor? According to Frank Lipman, MD, in his book, How to Be Well, “organization experts believe that space and mind work seamlessly together.” If fact, having a clean and comfortable space can help regulate emotions, improve focus, and help you have a sense of order and control.   


Personalize Your Space. It’s comforting being surrounded by items that remind you of those you love and things you are grateful for. Adding personal touches, like pictures and artwork can make your space feel like home. Showcase a family picture. Frame a recipe in your grandmother's handwriting.  


Level up your hygge by hosting a painting night with friends. Togetherness is a pillar to hygge. Spend a night with friends creating something and making memories. Then display the artwork or frame a picture taken from that night to remember the memory.  


Add in texture. Don’t be afraid to use a variety of elements when decorating or deciding which items to keep when decluttering. Woods, ceramics, books, and soft rugs provide a more comforting feel than plastic and steel. Drape a blanket or two on your couch for a soft touch of coziness. Display a few books on a shelf or on your coffee table. Sneak in some greenery to liven up your space and you now have a hygge home.   


A hygge home can be magic to a homebody’s heart, an excuse to avoid the public and snuggle up on the couch. But in the winter, when it’s dark and cold, we all tend to spend more time at home. Make it a place you want to be. A place that sets your mind at ease and reminds you of all the things to be grateful for. Make your home a headquarters for hygge.  


Lila Tully, CHES  

Health Education Specialist, ViaroHealth  

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