'Hygge' Is Going To Be Extra Important This Pandemic Winter

by Rachel Garlinghouse
Originally Published: 
Matthew Henry/Burst

My mom, being the amazing gift giver that she is, bought me a small coffee table book on hygge. I admit, I had no idea what hygge was—or even how to pronounce it—but the photos in the book were stunningly beautiful. Whatever the heck hygge was, I knew I needed it in my life.

This upcoming winter, many of us will be spending more time than ever before within the confines of our homes. Between COVID, influenza strains, and colds, plus many schools mandating remote learning for students, it’s bound to be a long winter. Because of these factors, it’s important that we appreciate and enjoy our indoor space, rather than resenting that it’s imprisoning us or becoming overwhelmed by it. Hygge, I’ve learned, is here to save the day.

If you’re as clueless as me, you probably want to know what hygge is and why we should all be jumping on the Danish bandwagon this winter. Reena Simon, an award-winning blogger and co-author of the upcoming book Scandi Rustic: Creating a cozy & happy home, shares, “Hygge means creating a contented, cosy and happy home to me. It’s about a feeling and never wanting to leave the spaces you create.” Rachel Bousquet, a hygge blogger, told Scary Mommy, “Hygge to me isn’t something you can touch or buy. It’s a feeling.” She added, “It’s the moment you walk into a space whether it’s outside or in your home and you feel a rush of peace.”

It’s likely you’ve seen some serious hygge inspiration all over social media, especially Pinterest and Instagram. Maybe you’ve even taken a peek at Reena and Rachel’s social media pages. Every hygge pic I’ve seen is a lot of neutral colors, mostly whites and beiges, with touches of blue, brown, or green accents. When I say “touches,” I mean touches. Hygge seems to err on the side of natural light, greenery (especially plants), and soft textiles. Every single image evokes some serious cozy vibes. The spaces are dreamy, minimal, and zen. There’s no overwhelming photo wall galleries, knick knacks covering every flat space, or jarring color palattes.

But let’s be realistic. Not all of us have hours upon hours of free time to convert our toy-laden living rooms into hygge-worthy spaces. I get it. I have four children and barely enough time to wash dishes much less declutter and revamp my kitchen.

Reena agrees. She told Scary Mommy that she just moved into a new home this week, one she and her family are renovating. Instead of pushing herself to immediately create a perfect hygge space, “the focus now is to make our home as comfortable as possible.” By doing so, she added, “you are more likely to feel emotionally safe and in these unprecedented times, I think that’s really important.”

Rachel says that though decluttering is an important step, hygge is about focusing “on the things you truly love that bring happiness to you.” For her, that means bringing on all things cozy, such as texture-pleasing blankets, candles, favorite books stacked in a visible place. She shared that hygge isn’t just about creating a physical space that exudes ease and peace, but about “creating space in your mind to decompress.” Reena agrees, adding that perhaps that best you can do right now is create a cozy corner in your home that’s perfect for reading. All you need? A candle, a cozy blanket, and a good book. Voila.

The good news? Rachel shares that choosing to create a hygge-home doesn’t mean rushing to the store to buy more or new. She suggests that we take on simple acts, such as bringing in greenery from outside, as a step toward practicing hygge and creating a more peaceful home.

Reena urges us to consider our light sources. Candles are a definite yes. Bringing the outside in, such as some wildflowers and considering adding in soft-to-the-touch items like cushions and blankets are ways to create a hygge-happy home. It’s important to note that Reena believes that hygge isn’t just about home décor. She shares that what we wear and cook (bring on the sweatpants and comfort food!) can contribute to a hygge-friendly home.

It might seem overwhelming to go from the home you have now to a home that you can truly call hygge-friendly. Rachel shares that the best thing you can do is start with a small space, like your coffee table. Step one is to declutter, giving yourself a fresh start. From there, she suggests putting a few of your favorite books in a cute basket, diffusing a favorite scent, and enjoying that. From there, pick your next space. Inexpensive options to hygge-up a space include throw blankets and battery operated twinkle lights, some of which you may already own or have elsewhere in the house. (Check out that coat closet you’ve been neglecting.)

Here I was thinking I had no clue what hygge was, but it turns out, I’ve been implementing some hygge vibes for years. When I turn on jazz, turn off all the overhead lights, and curl up on the couch with a new book, I’m getting my hygge on. Who knew?

Rachel and Reena taught me that the key is to start small and to pay attention to what feels good for our family. The goal isn’t to create a social media perfect photo that pleases others. Of course, Instagram can give us lots of inspiration and encouragement, but there’s no need to compare our hygge-vibes to those of another person. The dictionary definition of hygge is “cozy and comforting,” not “jealousy of others’ pretty houses.” So, yes, do some browsing, but then get to doing.

We need to ask ourselves, what makes us comfortable, brings us peace, and generates joy? What do we need within our homes to create positive, cozy feelings that will sustain us through the long winter season? That, my friends, is hygge.

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