Hygge: Design and Comfort in Denmark

Hygge Danish Cozy house

(image: Sir48)

Homes are for humans, not for magazine layouts. Here’s how the concept of “Hygge”, the term for “cozy” in Denmark influences design, and life there.


There are times when you may find yourself in a home of such deeply-rooted comfort that it seems to defy description. Sitting in a cozy group, drinking coffee around a fire, sharing conversation and simply revelling in being in the good company of others, you can find feelings of deep belonging and happiness that are rare to discover in the hustle and bustle of today’s hectic lives.

In Denmark, ‘cozy’ is a way of life: warmth and comfort are the focus of home living as well as design. Here’s what we can take away from the Danish approach to living authentically.

Something is wonderful in the state of Denmark

In North America, we schedule playdates and fancy dinners, we strive to impress each other with showy homes and elaborate menus, and we spend our time subtly (or not so subtly) trying to outshine each other. While we may find peace at home a rare and almost magically elusive thing, there are places around the world where others honor it higher than almost anything else.

With their cold winters, high living costs and even higher taxes, the people of Denmark may have ample reason to complain. But recent surveys list the Danes as some of the world’s happiest people. How could these people could outrank their European neighbors, let alone those of us who live in warm, southern climes and island nations?

Warm and comfortable surroundings

The essential element to Danish life is the concept of hygge, which Danes consider to be a fundamental part of leading a happy life. This commonly used word (it is used not just as a noun but also has variations as a verb and an adjective), at its most simplistic means to relax in warm and comfortable surroundings, though even this definition doesn’t do the concept justice.

The fact that this ineffable feeling has a very specific name highlights its importance. Central to the lives of most Danes, hygge is not a tangible event that can be staged or planned (though there are ways of creating an environment that invites it), but rather it develops from one’s attitude, and the people and atmosphere around them. Hygge is very much focused on being in ‘the now,’ leaving the past and the future by the wayside. It can be found during a quiet talk with a close friend, a family celebration, or a night alone at home by the fireplace.

Home design by candlelight

Candlelight and fires are a large part of inviting hygge, as are cosy furniture groupings and simple, comforting food and drink. Try adding soft textures to your home in the form of throw pillows, warm woollen rugs, and soft blankets that feel good next to the skin. With a beautiful combination of classic Danish styles and soft colors, you can create the warmth you want in your home by mixing and matching cosy elements in any room in the house.

Bring literal warmth into your home as well. One of the most common home improvement projects in Denmark is adding underfloor heating in kitchens, bathrooms, and sometimes throughout your home. Underfloor heating can offer a source of primary heat in your home that will drive down your heating costs, and it can also ensure that your house remains at body temperature every moment of the day, which will ensure everyone is always comfortable.

Hygge is a living concept

At the same time, this design and living concept is not restricted to long, cold winter nights. Hygge can be found on a picnic, at the beach or at a barbeque in the summer. Where friends gather, and share their time, where they put aside the stresses of the day, and focus on what is happening now, that sense of well-being rises.

cozy book tea hygge


Create a sense of well-being and happiness all year round by making comfort a priority for your home and outdoor spaces. Try creating warmth with an outdoor fireplace, and relax with a glass of wine with your friends or hot chocolate with your children on long summer evenings.

What’s your hygge?

Hygge is actually something that most of us already have in our lives, just like the Danes. We find it in sharing a meal with friends, snuggling on the couch with our children, or celebrating a joyous event with our loved ones. We just need to recognize how to cultivate and nurture it.

Discover the knack of simply enjoying the moment as it is, rather than focusing in on expectations and what happens next every minute of the day. Stop checking the clock and worrying about what else is on your to-do list. Enjoy the warmth and comfort of your home and the people with whom you choose to share your time by bringing these design ideas into your space.


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