What is the ‘True’ Hygge Home Design?

Quick: describe your ideal home in one word.

Is it big? Stylish? Functional?

Forget the extravagance. My ideal home is cozy.

I know I’m not the only one who feels that way, because hygge, which first hit the international scene in 2016, has been one of the top interior design trends this year. If you follow any lifestyle or design accounts on social media, you’ve definitely heard of it. To date, its hashtag has attracted over 1.6 million Instagram posts.

Like all design trends, it’s attracted its share of praise and contrarian dismissal (can you even pronounce the word hygge?), but it’s not exactly a groundbreaking concept. Hygge has been around for a while – we just didn’t have the right word for it.

What is it?

For the official definition, let’s go straight to the source:

“Hard to explain and even harder to pronounce, the Danish word ‘hygge’ (pronounced ‘hooga’) translates roughly to ‘cosiness’. It may be hard to say, but that hasn’t stopped people finding out that hygge might be a recipe for a happier life.

In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that’s hygge too. There’s nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world?”

And in case you were wondering, TIME magazine offers three equally confusing choices for pronunciation: “hyue-gar”, “hoog-jar” and “hoo-gah.”

In terms of home design, the word refers to items and colours that invoke a sense of warmth and coziness. We’ve been doing that for a while across the pond; you don’t have to look far to find beautiful rooms adorned with vintage textiles, warm throw blankets, pendant lights, and candles. Think of rooms that make you want to spending cold nights curled up by the fireplace, or warm afternoons on the patio. That’s hygge.

To me, that pretty well describes the ideal home design. Maybe it’s because I, like the Danes who coined the term, live in a chilly climate and love nothing more than to watch the snow fall on the window from the comfort of a cozy space.

On the other hand…

Are We Ruining Hygge?

I can’t help but feel that the new hygge design trent distills the concept down to material things – and not handmade pieces or treasured keepsakes, but things you can easily find at any Sears store. If hygge is all about warmth and familiarity, how does that square with buying brand-new, mass-produced products to create the atmosphere?

And it ignores something that comes up time and time again in descriptions of the style/lifestyle: the importance of other people.

Search #hygge on Instagram and you’ll find a lot of empty rooms, cute objects, and selfies. What you generally won’t find are people sharing those nice spaces together.

I like that hygge celebrates the kind of spaces I love to be in. And it’s nice knowing that other people feel the same way. But like most things, I think the Internet gets this one wrong.

I like that hygge celebrates the kind of spaces I love to be in. And it’s nice knowing that other people feel the same way. But the idea of what constitutes warm and cozy should be different for everyone.

My thoughts? If you really want to create a hygge space, find a place you’re already in love with – your family room, your study, your backyard patio – and find ways to share it with people you care about. Throw a casual dinner party. Have board game nights. Sit and read a book with your partner.

After all, hygge is supposed to be about enjoying the good things in life with good people. Don’t forget the ‘people’ part of that equation.