This season, hygge, a Danish concept for a happy life at home, tops the interiors trends list with an overkill of books, magazine articles and PR promotions.
But Britons argue about what Hygge — pronounced “hoo-guh” — really means. They think of blankets, candles and cinnamon buns. Some say the English word “cosy” just doesn’t do the idea justice.
Hygge is emotional: getting together with friends and family, enjoying a simpler, less-stressed life and eating well, some fans say. But one writer dismisses it as “a smug Scandi lifestyle trend to keep you indoors under a pile of blankets”, and a “waste of London”.
Brontë Aurell, Danish co-owner and founder of ScandiKitchen café, grocers and online store in the West End, says: “People are missing the point.” Hygge is a state of mind, she asserts. It’s simply relaxing, wherever and however you live.
Aurell’s home in Queen’s Park is all white, in true Danish style. She says Brits are good at hygge and do it all the time, in the pub, at the café and at home, whether shared flat or mansion.
We know happiness lies not in a cushion, candles and a throw, but in the atmosphere we create. We love being cosy, especially at this bleak time of year. Here’s how UK designers do it.
“Heave out the Hygge,” says the London interiors king. Individuality counts, he insists: “Banish the bland, dare to be different.”
Use colour and pattern, the bigger in scale the better, to make “brave statements”. Add thick rugs to floorboards and choose wallpaper with dark backgrounds — Haslam loves House of Hackney. Lose ceiling spots and let light fall upwards or sideways.
Director of the Andrew Martin brand, with a shop in Walton Street, Chelsea, Waller favours dark colours to create cosiness. He suggests walls of deep “library” red, or rich grey with metallic glints of gold, copper or bronze. Memories make us happy, he adds. “So have things at home from your travels, childhood and your journey through life.”
Dulux designer/consultant Shillingford calls rich colour “visual comfort food”, listing paint shades to prove it — Crispy Crumble, Walnut Cake, Mellow Mocha, Roasted Pumpkin, Rich Praline, Treacle Tart and Rum Caramel come in a paint tin. “Go the darkest you dare — like new Wild Blackberry and Cherry Truffle.”
Layer up textures, with wool, velvet, cashmere cushions, throws and blankets. Mix heavy cable-knits with lambswool, and finer embroideries with faux fur. Tartan and/or tweed give a heritage vibe, or go for slub silk’s soft glow.
The Sanderson studio head of design says: “Heavyweight curtains, a log-burning stove and classic furniture gems make up my snug aesthetic,” plus earthy shades and patterns with a rural feel.
From soft furnishings specialist Prêt À Vivre, Cassabois says ordinary curtains won’t cut it with “big glass windows in modern conversions and new builds”. She fits heavyweight textured sheers on narrow ceiling tracks to “stack back” neatly, letting in lots of daylight.
COSY QUICK FIXES
Light corners with table or floor lamps for instant ambience. A parchment or cream silk lamp shade flatters rooms — and faces. Gold shade linings spill out warm light. Vintage-style filament light bulbs make most colours cosy.
Fill an unused fireplace with candles. Better still, burn a real fire or install a stove from a specialist, like Chesney’s. If you have no chimney, a Chesney’s electric stove has realistic flames and steam posing as smoke. In the bedroom, up your duvet tog rating, buy a high, padded headboard in soft creamy suede and throw down a thick bedside rug.