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There’s a name for that cozy feeling you crave this time of year—and although the concept is perhaps universally understood, the pronunciation can be tricky.
“Hygge” (hoo-ga) is the Danish philosophy of enjoying life’s simpler moments. It’s a notion that first captivated Coloradan Alexandra Gove during a winter she spent in Northern Europe, and with more than 20 books on the subject due to hit stores in the next 12 months, it seems she’s not the only one looking for a little more hygge in 2017.
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“I discovered it living in Denmark,” Gove says. “There’s an overriding feeling of coziness; people are slowing down and enjoying the moment. There are candles everywhere—in the homes, in the cafes. I loved the concept immediately, and I just thought my family and friends would too.”
Gove and her Dutch fiancé, Koen Van Renswoude, launched Hygge Life—a Colorado-based online retailer and traveling shop (look for it at markets such as the Denver Flea)—to help the rest of us cultivate hygge at home. The business began as a lifestyle blog when the couple spent three months traveling around Europe in a small 1971 camper van. Today, Hygge Life offers a range of products, from alabaster candleholders to ethically sourced sheepskin throws, and the website itself is a calm respite. We asked Gove for her top three tips for bringing more hygge to your home in the new year.
In essence, hygge is about slowing down and appreciating life’s more mundane details. “It’s about making those small, everyday moments at home special,” says Gove. When you fix your morning coffee, make the decision to enjoy it in your favorite mug.
Softness is key, according to Gove. Incorporate warm, soft textiles throughout your home. “Everything should be 100 percent comfortable,” she says. This is where those sheepskins come into play: From furry baby booties to a deerskin rug, bringing in furs is a quick way to infuse a big dose of hygge into one’s environment. Hygge Life’s pieces are ethically sourced from Europe and are never bleached or dyed; the result is that the rustic collection looks and feels different from more manufactured options.
“The essence of hygge is candlelight,” Gove says. “The Danes in general burn a lot of candles.” The small amount of time it takes to light a candle makes a big impact on a room’s mood, making that moment more intimate and relaxing. Don’t be afraid to group lots of candles together, and don’t wait for an occasion to light them. Putting away phones, lighting candles, and enjoying a home-cooked meal with friends makes for a perfect hygge evening.