Winter is coming, and for many of us, that means snow, ice, and freezing rain are just up the road where they’re sure to make driving more stressful and prevent you from enjoying the great outdoors. The snowy landscapes of places like the Twin Cities or Oregon can be beautiful. But, sometimes, they are best enjoyed from a cozy vantage point indoors (such as your home’s interior after implementing these great tips). Many of these ideas are borrowed from the unique Danish concept of the “hygge” life.
Hygge (pronounced, “hoo-ga”) is defined as a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. Use the following tips to transform your interior into a cozy setting that’s tranquil and warm and start living the hygge life before the cold weather sets in!
1. Pull out the throws
During medieval times, castle dwellers hung large, thick tapestries on their walls to prevent draughts from seeping into their great halls. They sewed thick quilts and blankets (bedclothes) to help them weather the long winters. While we have central heating today, this practice of pulling out heavy quilts and throws continues.
What could be cozier than a freshly laundered comforter or quilt on a cold December day? If you’re purchasing throws for the upcoming season, choose soft materials like fleece that feel good against your skin. Stocking up on thick quilts is also a great way to save a buck – just pile ‘em onto your bed and crank that heat down a few degrees.
Another great option is purchasing a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets have been used by therapists and psychiatrists for years, but now they’re all over the place, and for good reason! Similar to meditation, these blankets help the user focus on sensory experience. This can help regulate your mood, mitigate those wintertime blues, and get you off and running on living the hygge life.
2. Add more textiles
To improve the ambiance of your home during the winter, you might want to add some seasonal textiles (rugs, curtains, drapes) to your living space. For instance, swap light curtains with heavier draperies. Heavier drapes are better at blocking out draughts that may seep in through older windows. If you have wood or tile floors, place some faux-fur rugs on them to soften up your setting. Sumptuously soft throw pillows can also help you create a cozy interior that’s in stark contrast to the harsh weather outdoors.
3. Get into knitting
Consider getting the materials to knit your own blankets and comfy clothes. Much like reading or watching a movie, knitting is something to lose yourself in while the sun is hiding out behind thick winter clouds. According to the New York Times, knitting can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, reducing levels of that pesky stress hormone, cortisol.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll likely find that your hand-knit pieces are much more comfortable than store-bought ones. If you end up taking a liking to knitting, you could even search for a local knitting club to hone your skills while meeting some new friends.
To help you get started, check out this article on learning how to knit.
4. Light up your home
Lighting is an absolutely essential consideration during the winter months. If you’re like most people, going to work when it’s dark and coming home when it’s even darker can start to wear you down a bit. If you or members of your household miss the intense sunlight of long summer days, you’ll want to have plenty of lamps to brighten your home. Pay homage to your college dorm room and throw up some warm-colored (orange-hue, not white light), string lights to really drive your hygge life home.
On the other hand, if you don’t mind the lack of bright sunlight, you might enjoy the ambiance of candlelight. Candles can help create a romantic winter interior worthy of any of your favorite Hallmark movies. If you have allergies, you might want to switch to soy candles as they contain no harmful chemicals.
A surefire way to nail your winter lighting game is to contact your local electrician. They can help you understand the distinctions between different types of lights, be it CFL’s, LED’s, incandescent, etc. They can also install more advanced lighting fixtures that will keep you feeling warm and fuzzy all year round.
5. Throw some logs on the fire
A fireplace is a no-brainer for the winter months. Not only can it help you create a cozier home, but it can also help you save money on your energy bills. A few notes: before winter arrives, get your chimney and fireplace checked out by a professional. Oftentimes, there’s something amiss with the flue or an unsuspecting critter trapped inside. Additionally, an inspection could save your home from a house fire, prevent the outside from getting in, and help you avoid potential water damage. It may be a pain, but calling a professional always pays dividends in the end.
If you aren’t keen on chopping firewood out back, electric fireplaces are another great option – they let you enjoy the heat without the fuss of a traditional setup. Either way, it’s hard to beat the cozy feeling curling up to a warm fireplace can bring you. If you don’t have a fireplace, you might want to invest in a wood-burning stove or space heater. Using these features allows you to turn down your central heating and reduce the wear and tear on your furnace or boiler. Add some greenery to your mantelpiece, candles, and lamps to create a happy and relaxing area.
Pro Tip: Jesse with Chimcare states that the National Fireplace Association recommends at a bare minimum that you get your fireplace inspected. With over 20,000 chimney fires per year, you can’t take that kind of risk. When searching for a qualified chimney sweep check out the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s website.
6. Create a reading or movie nook
Just because it’s frigid outside doesn’t mean you can’t travel far and wide to warmer places. You just have to…imagine it. Movies and books can help transport you there, and having your own designated spot for reading or watching Netflix can make it easier to forget the drab weather outside your window.
You can start simple – grab some of those throws or that blanket you just knitted and make the couch a comfy lair. Conversely, you can go big, and hire a contractor to do something really spectacular. What better time is there to create that home theater you’ve always dreamed of? If the electrician is already coming by to set up some new lighting fixtures, why not have a chat about setting up some surround sound speakers? Just imagine – you could be curled up on your couch watching the Avengers while the snow comes down in droves outside.
If you prefer books, look into a new bookshelf to house your favorites, and place it right next to your chair or couch. That way you don’t even have to get up when you finish one, you can just grab the next novel right off the shelf. Bean bag chairs are also a great addition to any comfy reading nook.
7. Add some greenery
Once winter has set in and the leaves have vacated the trees outside, it can leave you longing for mother nature’s lush greenery. Few things can brighten up a home’s interior during the wintertime and help you live the hygge life like adding some greenery.
What’s more, many types of houseplants can improve the air quality of your home. Because your home is closed up during the winter, unwanted air contaminants or pollutants can remain trapped indoors. Plants can brighten up your setting with their vibrant green hues, but they can also remove some of these harmful contaminants like formaldehyde and benzene. Choose plants that are known for their air-purifying qualities; these plants include aloe vera, Boston fern, ficus, rubber plant, bamboo, and spider plant. If you have a green thumb, try adding them to most all your rooms–kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedrooms.
8. Create a tea or coffee bar
Without the warm weather to energize you, you’ll be needing an extra dose or two of morning joe or green tea. Consider creating a special coffee or tea bar in your kitchen or dining room. Warm beverages are one of the most important components of the hygge life. Indulge yourself with a special assortment of coffees and additives like flavored sugars and syrups. Need ideas? Check out Pinterest and you’ll find plenty of inspiration for creating this type of feature in your home.
9. Change up your wall art
Many people change their wall art on a seasonal basis. What types of scenes are most cheerful to you? You can add wall art that brightens your winter home or complements the winter season in some way. If you’re redecorating your walls on a budget, consider shopping for some new wall hangings at your local craft stores, which often feature art at discounted pricing. Pro Tip: Artist and Designer Shaun Thomas recommends introducing wood artwork (like the pieces below) into your home. Wood brings a warm and earthy tone that can brighten up any room during drab winter months!
For many who have mastered the hygge life, winter is their absolute favorite time of the year. Does the cold weather normally gets you down? Do you find yourself longing for summer months? Remember that taking a few steps towards optimizing your home’s interior can make a huge difference. And who knows? Soon enough you might find yourself looking forward to the hygge life all year-round.