We’ve been pretty fortunate with this year’s mild winter, but there’s something about the short days that makes me want to stay inside. I love being warm at home on a cold, dark night. It’s a perfect time to slow-roast or bake, build a fire and binge watch. Doesn’t that sound nice? The people of Denmark actually have a term for this feeling, “hygge” (pronounced Hoo-Ga), and although interpretations differ, it can be considered “the art of creating intimacy” or “cozy togetherness”.
Making your home cozy involves much more than decorating. It’s about creating a mood so that your space seems inviting, comfortable, a sanctuary against the harsh weather.
All five senses need to be considered and delighted. So, let’s get started.
Touch – Although I wouldn’t change my furniture for a cooler season, it’s a time to use luxurious fabrics as accents – soft fluffy throws, velvet pillows, or a suede runner on the dining-room table. More practically, make sure your home is well insulated, and that you have energy-efficient windows. There is nothing cozy about drafts. Next time you’re planning to repaint, think about having foam insulation installed. Check your windows. If they’re original to your older home, they may leak and need replacing. Your fuel bills will reflect the change immediately, and your house will instantly improve its hygge. If you have a fireplace, build fires (wood or gas) to warm the skin and create a golden glow.
Smell – Just cook something – a pot roast; banana bread; cinnamon cookies. People will walk in your house and be instantly enchanted. This leads us to…
Taste – If you cook something, people will want to eat it. This is a time for slow-simmered, deeply flavored stews and braises. Think of foods to nurture your body and warm your soul. Cook food that makes people feel at home.
Sight – Let’s discuss lighting. It’s important to use layers of light. If you have generalized overhead lighting (often recessed), keep it on a low dimmer setting unless you’re doing a project that requires close work. To create a moody space, use table lamps and lots and lots of candles. Use candles even when you don’t have company coming, to have a romantic night with your house. Despite their flaws, all homes look better bathed in candlelight … and so do their owners!
Display your family photos artfully. Tough as it is to edit, the fewer you display, the more people will look at them. Enlarge the ones you’ve chosen, frame and arrange them on a wall, and keep bookshelf frames limited.
Hearing – Listen to the crackling fire. Put some jazz on to your Sonos. The dog just sighed with contentment, and there are squirrels running across the roof. The wind is blowing outside, and no one wants to leave. Most importantly, have interesting and intimate conversations.
Are you feeling hygge? Contact me if you need some hygge help.
Constance Hall is an interior designer and certified “furniture fanatic.” She‘s the owner of Constance Hall Design and can be reached at 914-238-6614 for all interior design needs.