As we prepare for midwinter, it’s no surprise that we’re looking north for inspiration. As we British try to work out who we are and where we are going, the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced ‘hooga’) offers hope and comfort. It’s about creating a welcoming feel in our homes and lives and celebrating everyday pleasures. One could say that it is the complete opposite to showing off. Instead, it’s about inviting intimacy and ensuring your home is a nurturing and supportive haven. If you’ve ever felt the urge to light candles at breakfast time then the chances are you’re up for some hygge. The nearest English translation is ‘cosy’ but the sentiment behind the phrase is something that is closer to the feeling of warmth, togetherness and empathy which can touch even the tetchiest shopper in the run-up to Christmas. It’s the best of human nature, in fact, love made real.
The irony is that hygge can’t be bought and trying too hard is not the Danish way. So the best advice I can give you is to sit with your house and be honest about how you feel in each room. Remove anything in your home which evokes sad or painful memories, get rid of clutter and look to create a warm and natural feeling. Arrange your chairs so that guests will sit together in the living room or go for a bench alongside the kitchen table so that people will be closer to each other at meal times. If you’re unsure about an aspect of your decor, remember Henry David Thoreau’s wise words, “Our life is frittered away by detail…. simplify, simplify.” As this time of year affords us precious time and space for reflection, remember that you have to let go of the old to make space for the new. Make sure your home gives you a hug so you’re definitely on the right track as you prepare for new beginnings in 2018.