Happy New Year! Resolve to embrace hygge

Some people hate when the holidays end. But for me, it’s time to just be. To be happy, be comfortable, be at home, warm and cozy, right in my own house. The Danes have a term for this: it’s called hygge. The first thing to know about this design buzzword (besides that it’s pronounced HUE-gah) is that it’s an old Nordic concept and “is simply the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Friends. Family. Graciousness. Contentment. Good feelings. A warm glow.” I am writing this post with two huge pots of chili on the stove (one white and one red - let me know if you want the recipes!) while sitting in my living room with the dog at my feet, the football game on and the kids hanging around. That’s hygge. Hygge is also about being surrounded by cozy, familiar and comfortable things. The design of this room certainly contributes to enabling this feeling of well being and happiness.


Here’s what the space looked like when we first bought the house (on the left)  and it was a dining room. This room couldn’t be more boring, stiff and formal with that 80’s polished brass chandelier. 

I wanted to transform the space into a room we’d use more often by taking away the ritualization of the “dining room” and embracing the Danish idea of hygee. When I saw this House Beautiful photo (on the right), I knew it would serve as my inspiration.

The space before.

The space before.

Hygge inspiration.

Hygge inspiration.


The Papa Bear by Modernica (on the left), an iconic mid-century chair with matching ottoman upholstered in a nubby wool, invites you to put up your feet and the Icelandic sheepskin flung over the back adds a layer of warmth and luxury.

On the velvet couch (on the right), big enough for 10 to sit comfortably, I added throw pillows of different shapes and sizes in a variety of fabrics and designs: dots, stripes and even bugs all play off the butterfly shades with it’s gold threads playing off the gold mirror and chandelier. The pillows add dimension and texture -- a mix of silk and velvet, some with piping, some plain, lying in twos and threes with an Brahms Mount alpaca throw blanket (best throw ever!). To me, it all says come relax.

Texture and color also play a big role. The whole design started with the couch, the most important piece of furniture. I believe that the more couch the better so go as big as you can go while maintaining the best quality as possible. This couch can fit a crowd but its slim design doesn’t overwhelm the room. The down cushions are not too soft and not too hard- just right! The rich blue velvet  says hygge like nothing else could and because the couch is the same color as the walls, Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue, it recedes to make the room feel grand. This is one of the greatest colors ever, sexy and cozy at the same time.

Although the TV is in a functional spot,  it’s not above the fireplace. I saved that spot for my favorite ornate mirror. 

There are some other details that say hygge: I added the chunky built-in shelves (painted the same Hague Blue but in a high gloss). The shelves had to be chunky and modern to balance the substantial original marble fireplace and the ornate mirror and created to hold decorative objects and books that tell the story of our family. My grandma’s vase and new design books are mixed in with artifacts we brought home from vacation, as well as paintings and photos from antique fairs, yard sale finds, and even an old mink stole all add warmth, texture and depth to the room. My living room is not just a space for entertaining traditionally thought of in American homes, it is it’s heart second to the kitchen of course...

It’s pretty hygge, too, don’t you think?