The Dane's are known for two things: great design and hygge.
One of our latest obsessions (or procrastinations..) is scrolling through people's homes on Airbnb, especially Northern European cities such as Amsterdam, Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. It gets us really excited seeing the simplest, tiniest home oozing with hygge and the danish modern style (are we the only ones? or is this due to some of our (my) maybe more stalkerish qualities?). Even just one piece of furniture or one little wall light makes our heart skip a beat and an inner voice inside goes 'yes!'. But how did good design and hygge end up as a national language in Denmark?
The Danes believe that design plays a huge role in our quality of life and our over all well being and have therefore always stressed the importance of well designed environments and spaces, from huge public buildings to the smallest lamp in the living room corner. Their approach to design has always been human focused resulting in functional yet comfortable and beautiful creations. An obvious example of this is at Copenhagen airport, where as soon as you step foot into the city, you are greeted with real wood parquet floors. The subtle richness of wooden flooring will give any space a sense of warmth and coziness, a sense of home and hygge.
Hygge is about comfort, warmth, beauty and the enjoyment of simple pleasures,. Danish design is characterised by simplicity, functionality, beauty and humanness. The two go hand in hand and it's pretty self explanatory why, when it comes to hygge, Danish modern is the design style that relates the most.
Below are a few key design principles that will help add some hygge to your space. (All images are taken from real Copenhagen homes found on Airbnb).
1. Warm light - Ceiling lights just won't do. It's important to have a light source in every corner, be it a floor lamp , wall lamp, desk lamp or pendant - mix it up! Play around with layered ambient lighting, from the floor level up to the ceiling. Diffusers that control the intensity of light are also a great way to set the right atmosphere/mood. Always go for warm coloured light bulbs (yellow - not white) for that cozy-homey feeling. Open fires or a wood burning stove are also very hyggelig but if that's not an option, candles (lots and lots of them) will do just fine.
2. Cozy zones - Create small intimate corners with an old piece of furniture and some interesting lighting, make it personal - make it a space that you'd like to sit at at the end of a long day or in the early morning. Place an old armchair infront of the fireplace or by a window offering a view to create a cozy nook for reading.
3. Beautiful comfortable furniture - Choose quality furniture thats simple and beautiful yet comfortable to sit on for hours. Go for rich tones of wood such as teak, mahogany, walnut or rosewood. The richer the tone, the better. Choose a piece of furniture with a story, with a history - your grandmother's old armchair! Something of good craftsmanship, that was made well and long lasting - nothing overly ornamental, just simple, clean lines.
4. Comforting accessories - Textiles really add warmth to a space so think blankets, cushions, rugs and throws. In the living room a wall of picture frames, or a neat collections of personal treasures or handmade objects. In the kitchen using glass storage jars or exposing kitchen equipment and utensils give the sense of home cooking and meal time.
For more on hygge and design check out Charlotte Abraham's book 'Hygge'