Have you ever adopted a philosophy about how you want to live and you’re sure there must be a word for it but you don’t know what it’s called? This happened to me over the last year. I live in a small space that was beginning to feel claustrophobic. And it’s no wonder: my boyfriend and I each run our own businesses out of a shared, 600-square-foot apartment!
We often have to get creative with how we use our space. The dining table is my drafting table during the day. My crafting corner becomes a reading nook at night. His desk doubles as our buffet during parties. It has required us to start seriously downsizing. Less stuff cluttering our space, focusing instead on a few meaningful pieces of furniture and accessories. Less activities that cluttered our life but didn’t add value.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re not minimalists by any stretch of the imagination. We still want art on the walls and throw pillows on the bed. And we’re not unique in our newfound lifestyle, I see it flooding my social media daily. People are seeking ways to simplify in a meaningful way.
Just what is the word for this? Is there even a word for it or was I going to forever be forced to say “we live simply and thoughtfully but we’re not minimalists”? It turns out there is a word. A hard-to-pronounce Danish word that perfectly encompasses our lifestyle: “hygge”. And hygge is hot right now!
Hygge has been adopted as a design word in the last year, but it’s more of a feeling than a style. For the Danes who live it, hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”) is about creating a sense of coziness and simplicity through special moments and thoughtful daily rituals. It goes far beyond how you decorate your home. Hygge is a way of life.
So how do you simplify your home, and in turn your life, to get that hyggelig happiness?
Start with decluttering your life. That doesn’t just mean clearing off the counter in the kitchen. It means being thoughtful about what you bring into your home. It means making cozy spots where you can enjoy time with family and friends. It means creating “simple moments” in your home to bring a sense of peace.
Take time to relax. Really relax, not just sit for 10 minutes to gather your thoughts. Hygge is all about focusing on the simplest aspects of life that bring the greatest joy: lighting candles at the dinner table, a daily cup of coffee with a cherished friend, riding your bike to work instead of driving, curling up in your favorite chair to watch the rain. Feel like your schedule is just too packed to make time for these simple joys? Check out my post about managing your time to achieve your goals.
Less stuff, more peace. Earlier I said that hygge is more of lifestyle than a design style, but there are design decisions you can make that assist in living a simpler life. After all, how you design your home is a part of your lifestyle. Danes are very thoughtful about what they bring into their homes. Furnishings are functional before being decorative. Art is minimal and meaningful. Bright white is a trademark – it’s what gets them through long, dark winters. Start really thinking about your décor – do the items have true importance to you or did you buy them to “fill the space”? Start removing items that don’t have an emotional impact on you – making space for things that truly matter such as family photos, your child’s artwork, or a souvenir from a favorite trip.
Stop shopping for things, start looking for memories. As I’ve discovered over the last few years of living in a small space, my things weren’t bringing me happiness. My joy came from moments spent with the people I love, doing the things I love. Once that realization hit me, it became easy to say goodbye. Goodbye to books I read once and never picked up again. Goodbye to that dress I wore one time five years ago. Goodbye to my huge DVD collection (and hello Amazon streaming!) In letting go, I found new interests such as gardening and crafting. Because I buy less “stuff,” I have extra money to spend on experiences that bring much more joy. Simple things like picking tulips with my mom at a local farm, a monthly brunch with my favorite girlfriends, weekend getaways with my boyfriend. My home doesn’t have to be full to be happy. A less cluttered home has directly led to a less cluttered life and that has increased my happiness factor by 100!
I’m sure many of you are already working on a hygge home, and lifestyle, without even realizing it! It’s a philosophy that resonates with all of us: happiness comes from the little things in life.