Sophie Donelson, editor in chief of House Beautiful magazine, answers questions on hygge and offers ideas on making our homes warm and cozy this winter.
Q: We keep hearing about the Danish concept of hygge . But what is it, a trend, a style or an idea? What are the principles of it?
Sophie Donelson: Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a Danish term that relates to a warm atmosphere and a sense of well-being. It can be an experience, like having a cup of hot tea after a brisk walk, or a feeling, like enjoying the company of friends at home after dinner. It’s the idea of coziness, but with more depth. To me, the combination of the joyful parts of the holiday season (twinkling lights, wreaths, tartan) combined with the feeling of warmth and togetherness while it’s cold outside is a starting place. But the idea behind hygge is to enjoy it year-round. Brian Patrick Flynn, a producer and interior designer who splits his time between Atlanta and Iceland, describes a Scandinavia aesthetic where “everything around you is something that brings joy, whether it’s sentimental or something physical like a low-slung chair that greets you when you come home.”
Q: What are easy ways to bring a bit of hygge into my home this winter?
SD: Westport-based designer Brooke Crew says it begins with a mindset. “I always resist winter, but you have to embrace it,” Crew says. Although her clients often have large homes, she encourages intimate floor plans because good feelings come from togetherness, not vast space. “It’s community, family and connection that gets us through the winter,” she says. Crew suggests using occasional chairs or even a lightweight dining chair, which can scoot up close to a sofa or X-benches in front of the fireplace, to encourage warming up. She also recommends buying cotton branches, which feel warm and tactile, but don’t need to be watered or fussed over.
Q: A fireplace can be an eyesore when it’s not lit. What will make it look more like a welcoming hearth? Any ideas for restyling my mantle, which has looked pretty much the same for years?
SD: One classic stylist’s trick I can never get enough of is stacking a wood-burning fireplace with birch logs when you’re not using it. The bright white bark adds a jolt of freshness to that dark place. As for mantles, add some life: small potted houseplants, like ivy, a pair of rosemary topiaries or simple red berry branches in a bud vase makes a “dead” space alive. Flynn says to group potted white orchids inside an unlit fireplace to add brightness. “And the quickest mantel change up is one massive art statement piece that’s leaned instead of hung so you can swap it out seasonally for other things like mirrors.”
Q: Other than the living room, what are other areas of the home you can foster a hygge mentality?Read Full Article
SD: It’s not just stuff, though candles have a home in every room in my house. Try bending the rules a bit to let the hygge flow, Crew says. “Let your kids make gingerbread houses and keep them displayed after the holidays. Tack up their artwork on the fridge, just for the winter, or make a point of having hot chocolate at homework time. Think of just small, simple steps to being happiness during those months of darkness.”