Vail Design at Altitude column: Hygge is relishing small pleasures
By now, we are willing to bet you have heard about hygge — the Danish version of living well through relishing small pleasures. We love leafing through the pages of “The Little Book of Hygge,” by Meik Wiking. Hygge is a feeling of quiet bliss; taking pleasure in the everyday, the ordinary. After all, a series of small pleasures creates a wonderful life with the feeling of calm and a sense of well-being.
How can you bring hygge into your life and your home? We are a little obsessed with the small touches that evoke a complete feeling of contentedness. To paraphrase Wiking, we’ve created a list of hygge-esque for your home.
Create a hyggekrog, which is a Danish word for nook. Not all of us are lucky enough to have a separate nook, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a corner or special place where you can retreat from life, even for a little while. Snuggle into a favorite chair with a soft, cozy blanket and sip your tea or coffee. Take a minute to watch the steam quietly swirl off and breathe the aroma in before that first sip. Notice the mug — the heft and color or pattern. Be present, and choose only what brings you joy. A sturdy mug with a perfectly proportioned handle is the essence of hygge.
Cozy up to a fireplace. Feel the heat and, even more, take in the sounds of the crackling fire; soak in the bright orange, blues and yellows. Take in the pleasure of having the heat.
Hygge is about atmosphere, right down to the lighting. Going out to dinner when there are bright lights blaring overhead is far from relaxing; it takes away from the pleasure of the evening. Lighting at home is no different. Light a few candles, and let the soft glow and flickering light relax and calm you.
Bring nature inside
Nature is so important to all of us who have made Vail our homes. Bring bits of nature inside for another element of hygge. Furnishings and accessories made of wood — the natural color and soft curves are hygge. A tree, so strong and sturdy, must bend during a windstorm.
Add texture to the wooden pieces. Perhaps a nubby throw or animal-hide rug. Incorporate various elements of nature together. An antique ceramic vase with interesting wood branches set carefully on a shelf or table — it might be the first thing you see when you walk through the door after work. It welcomes you and beckons you to leave corporate America behind and settle into your quiet home.
Books: Being surrounded by books creates a sense of peace. The words dancing on the pages, the colorful spines arranged carefully on a bookshelf, tempting us to fall between the covers. Just knowing they are there is a bright spot.
I have a blanket from my grandmother. It’s cozy and colorful, but what I love most about it is the history. There’s nostalgia, memories and family lore wrapped around me each time I tuck myself in. Vintage pieces are the perfect way to transport yourself between today, tomorrow and the past.
Finally, the last tip is to snuggle into a blanket. Natural fibers such as wool or even a sumptuous fleece are decadent and oh-so hygge.
Take pleasure in everyday rituals and small pleasures, otherwise our lives will go by in a frazzled blur of anxiety. Sure, the big events in life are worth celebrating, but these grandiose events don’t take place every day. Sit back and take pleasure in the now, whether it’s bright sunlight in the morning or the quaint pitcher of milk beside your coffee that looks and feels just right — like home.
Yvonne Jacobs is the president of Slifer Designs. She loves finding beauty in the simple pleasures of life.