Space for Living: a big hygge

It’s that time of year. Maria Stripling hankers for a real fire, home-made stew and to curl up on the sofa with an atmospheric crime drama. It’s all very Scandi-chic.

I recently found myself purchasing two lovely new English wool blankets. And then candles – lots of them – bought online between cooking and watching The Antiques Roadshow last Sunday. It was then that I realised I’d caught the Scandi bug – and need a dose of hygge.

You wont find a single definition of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) in English. But it can mean cosy contentment and time spent among friends and family. A lifestyle in which you enjoy the simple things, mindful of the moment, with a touch of chic minimalism thrown in. You appreciate the beauty of a few carefully chosen, original pieces of furniture or a handmade light fitting.

The Danes are noted for being the happiest nation – and they buy more candles per person than almost anywhere else. So it occurred to me that to get over the post-summer blues you don’t have to build an extension or completely refurbish your home: a few simple steps could create that hygge look and feel that many of us seek. I intend to make the most of the late autumn sunshine hours, grab a jumper and sit in the garden with a coffee. I’ll plan my planting scheme for next year as I watch the leaves slowly change from reds to orange.

Buy blankets and Lakeland sheepskin rugs and drape them without restraint on sofas and across your favourite armchair. Add warmth and glow as the nights draw in and either go for a full-blown wood-burning stove or invest in candles (preferably beeswax). Light them every day! If you have space, create a corner library, complete with old comfy chair and subtle lighting, then while away the hours engrossed in your favourite read.

This article wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t mention the opportunity to transform your home and achieve that sense of well-being and contentment, no matter how small your living space. Renovating a tired kitchen and open plan living room might just be the right hygge project for you this winter. Anywhere which has decent natural light and a reasonable aspect has the potential to feel like a Scandinavian summer house – typically calm and relaxed. With minimal use of materials and colour, opening up rooms and letting natural light do the work for you, you can also make a small space seem bigger. Achieve dramatic effect by hand-painting existing wooden floors white, then add warmth and soul with oak beams, pine wood paneling and a splash of Swedish wallpaper or colourful artwork.

Be adventurous, but minimalist. Choose lights and pieces of furniture for their beauty, functionality and originality and you’ll keep them forever. Go for good design and quality craftsmanship and you will never grow tired of them as you curl up in your Christmas socks and jumper with a Nordic thriller.

I read somewhere that you can’t buy hygge or get someone to create it for you. It is the Nordic state of contentment in your own home. So go on – give yourself a hygge!

Maria Stripling

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