For the Danish, happiness need not be ostentatious — happiness can be found in simple things, such as the glow of a candle or a warm drink on a cold, rainy afternoon. They have a word that encompasses appreciation for all of life’s simple pleasures: hygge. You might have first heard of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) in the context of interior design, thanks to the trendy marketing of furniture companies, but hygge is more of a concept than a design movement.
Hygge is an integral part of the Danish cultural identity. That is why Denmark is obsessed with all things warm and cozy. To live a life of hygge means paring down your life to the coziest and warmest, and it’s the ideal atmosphere for people who are now working from home.
The Hygge Way
Hygge is both an adjective and a concept, meaning certain activities are considered hygge and some that are not. Those that are cozy, warm, and comfortable fall under hygge, while those that create physical and mental clutter aren’t.
For instance, sweatpants are hygge because they are comfortable loungewear. The Danish even have a word for it: hyggebukser, the type of clothing you won’t wear in public but live in when you’re at home. That nook where you can get cozy and read a book is called a hyggekrog. Candles, fireplaces, throw blankets, and long walks are all hygge, considering that Denmark can be a dreadfully cold place.
Meanwhile, activities that isolate you from the world and do not promote mental well-being is not hygge. Staring at your phone all day or playing video games isn’t hygge. But strict rules aren’t hygge, as well, because it is life’s simple pleasures to always be relaxed and at ease.
Creating a Hygge Home Office
The allure of hygge has found its way into interior design, with many companies creating furniture that embody the Scandinavian simplicity. And for people who have been forced to stay indoors and forego outdoor activities, a peaceful, hygge home would help them cope with the unprecedented amount of stress they’re going through.
So, here are some ways you can incorporate hygge into your home office.
The Danish love candles, so much so that they are Europe’s biggest consumers of candles, burning through 13lbs. of candle wax per person per year. Even with modern lighting, the Danish acknowledge that the soft glow of candlelight is better for the soul than harsh fluorescent lights.
Candlelight, however, isn’t a sustainable option for a home office. You’d have to burn a lot of candle wax to achieve the level of brightness needed for your demanding paperwork.
So, swap out your harsh lighting with softer options. Instead of installing one too bright fixture, install multiple lighting fixtures that cast a soft glow. Let natural light flood your workspace, too. Studies also show that soft natural light increases your productivity.
Hygge furniture makes you feel at home; that’s why Scandinavian pieces look soft, warm, and cozy, unlike ornate Baroque furniture with lots of carved and notched details.
Your home office, although built for productivity, should be filled with furniture that makes you feel at ease. Hygge is against having too many strict rules, which is why there’s no specific chair that embodies what makes everybody feel cozy. So, you are free to determine the perfect height for tables and chairs. You can choose an especially made piece to support your non-surgical scoliosis correction treatment, place a plush footstool for those aching calves, or even a velvet-lined ottoman big enough accommodate stretched legs.
To make your home office even more hygge, decorate it with blankets and fluffy pillows.
Neutral Color Scheme
Under hygge, colors shouldn’t be overwhelming; the color scheme should contribute to an atmosphere of harmony and peace. A neutral palette is the best way to achieve this ambiance. Think creams, ivory, light gray, and soft browns. Avoid overly bright or distracting colors.
While you can choose furniture in your comfort level, the pieces should fall in this color palette. Yes, there are no rules when it comes to cozy, but you won’t go wrong with these hues; they are universally comfy. No matter who your friends’ lifestyle inspiration is — Gloria Vanderbilt or Marie Kondo — they will find your neutral-colored space peaceful. So keep throw pillows in this color scheme, make sure the mandala flower tapestry has neutral colors, and steer clear of photo frames with distractingly bright colors.
As you continue your quest for the ultimate level of cozy and warm, keep in mind that hygge isn’t what you buy. It’s a state of mind. It’s about creating spaces that inspire contentment, even with so much stress in your external environment. It’s about finding happiness in simple things and finding fulfillment in the small acts you do every day.