Don’t try pronouncing it on your own!
There’s a new design trend in town, and it comes all the way across the ocean from Denmark. Said as “hoo-gah”, it represents a somewhat ethereal ambiance that combines togetherness with warmth, coziness and comfort. And it’s captured the imagination of homeowners everywhere.
Imagine sipping hot chocolate by the fire. Enjoying a smooth glass of wine with friends beside a bubbling, moonlit waterfall. Or slipping into your softest pajamas for an evening of storytelling with the kids. Now you can begin to understand Hygge!
The concept of Hygge has suffused imaginations and interior spaces, and now it’s making a debut outdoors, showing up in everything from furniture to flowers. It’s about enjoying the little things in life, and celebrating the moment. Here’s how you can create that alluring sense of comfort in your outdoor space and get in on this summer’s hottest design trend.
Set The Scene
Hygge is all about making every moment special – not just the big ones, but the everyday, ordinary ones. Relaxing at a dinner table with family. Leafing through a book. Appreciating the cool breeze as it blows across your skin. Enjoyment is in every moment, and the scene you set can enhance that enjoyment.
Think about what makes you feel happy and cozy and be sure your space supports that. It can be different for everyone, but some universal principles will get you started. Begin with soothing foliage in pots around your porch or patio and accent them with colors that allow your eye and mind to relax.
White is a popular color in Danish culture, for good reason. It is often associated with peace, purity and simplicity. Imagine the delicate blossoms of lily of the valley mingled with soft, tall grasses.
Bring flowers to the table in bowls and vases. Don’t be fussy – it’s not about creating the perfect arrangement as much as adding a touch of personality and ambiance.
As for the rest of your table, cover it with a warm tablecloth and placemats, and use simple stemware. No need for a fork for every course! Focus on ease and simplicity.
It may surprise you to learn that some Hygge enthusiasts avoid playing background music when entertaining. The idea is that you and your guests will be listening to each other in conversation, and music can detract from the enjoyment if people have different tastes. Whether you choose soothing music or none at all is a matter of your personality and the setting you want to create.
Finally, one of the most beloved components of Hygge is a downy-soft throw blanket. If you’re entertaining outdoors on a cool summer evening, keep some handy in a basket so your guests can get cozy. Remember, it’s not about the literal (like getting warm) but about the feeling of sitting and enjoying the moment with comfort and ease.
Engage The Senses
A truly Hygge landscape creates a multisensory experience, from the sight of beautiful hydrangea blooms to the sound of water bubbling over a natural stone column and even the taste of garden edibles!
Jasmine, lilac and hyacinth bring divine scents as well as visual beauty. Roses are traditionally prized for both visual beauty and scent, and can go nicely from garden to container to tabletop décor. Whatever your pleasure, choose blooms that appeal on multiple levels.
Fresh herbs are the perfect addition to a Hygge garden, bringing soothing greens and pleasing scents. They can also be added to salads, main courses, and even cocktails as you entertain.
When it comes to sensory pleasure, don’t underestimate the power of water, whether bubbling in a small patio fountain or cascading into a koi pond. Water creates a calming environment and provides the backdrop for a peaceful garden walk and a conversation among friends.
Gather Around The Fire
Throw on some kindling, strike a match, and enjoy everything from a glass of wine to a favorite movie while snuggled around the fire. Fire pits and fireplaces bring warmth, coziness and will even create that cherished multisensory experience, from the light and heat of the fire to the crackling of the flames and the smell of charred wood.
Even better if you can cook on those flames! Toast marshmallows, grill hot dogs, or throw a pizza into a wood-fired brick oven.
Fire pits are also the ideal place to create a cozy seating area where you can gather friends and family for conversation or storytelling. Remember, it’s all about comfort and sitting for a while as you enjoy the moment, so add plenty of plush cushions, and don’t forget those blankets!
Light It Up
Fire pits aren’t the only way to brighten up a Hygge evening. Candles, torches and lanterns all add a special touch to a cozy gathering. Place tea lights in sconces on stone walls or along the edges of patios, float candles in bowls of water on your table, or set them into deep glass jars to sparkle and dance.
Landscape lighting is your Hygge ally. You can achieve magical moonlight effects by placing lights high up in trees, and enchanting ones by using them underwater in ponds or waterfalls. Lighting along patios, walkways and pool edges add to the ambiance.
From spotlights on the ground to fairy lights entwined in arbors, lighting creates exactly the type of comfortable, cozy atmosphere that fits with the Hygge lifestyle.
No, we’re not talking about checking your Facebook feed! Hygge is all about togetherness, and creating an environment that facilitates conversation. It’s about enjoying the company of family, friends and neighbors and taking time out of a busy day to appreciate the moment.
Whether you gather with one special person around a small bistro table or a large group of friends at a picnic-length dining table, seating areas should be designed to encourage intimacy. That may mean creating several different seating areas for different purposes like chatting or dining, adding soft cushions and pillows, and being aware of how elements of your landscape affect your ability to engage with others. For example, seating placed too near a running waterfall may make it difficult to have a quiet conversation.
Wherever and however you gather, remember to relax. Let the conversation linger. Don’t rush to get up to clear the table. It’s your moment to enjoy!
In American culture, we’re inclined to dine out for special occasions, especially if we’re meeting up with friends and family for an evening meal. However, in Denmark where Hygge originates, people are far more inclined to gather at home.
Sharing a casual meal in a relaxed environment in one of the central premises of Hygge, which means creating a setting that makes it easy to prepare and serve a meal. Remember – it’s not about having the perfect silver or the most tender steak. It’s about simplicity, about making the moment special through small details, and above all about being present.
If your instinct is to race back and forth between kitchen stove and dining table, serving multiple courses, spending more time worried about the contents of the salad than the quality of the conversation – relax!
A loaf of fresh, hot bread with a few slices of cheese and a glass of wine is far preferable to that pork-and-potato roast that you spent all day preparing. Plan a simple barbecue on your outdoor grill instead. An outdoor kitchen will give you all the amenities you need – a place to keep beverages cold, a sink to rinse hands or plates, and a countertop to prepare fresh salads, crudités and fruit bowls.
As life becomes ever more hectic, concepts of holistic health and well-being are catching on. Homeowners are less and less interested in controlling Mother Nature than in being in harmony with the natural world.
Perfectly pruned shrubs and manicured flowerbeds are out. Relaxing, natural ecosystems are in.
This growing desire for balance lends itself perfectly to naturalistic landscape design. Native grasses, seasonal flowers, and the interplay of light, sound, color, texture and motion all contribute to a soothing naturalistic feel.
Natural stone elements, whether as a patio, garden stepping stones, hardscape, or tabletop décor, help create the natural feel that you want. Bird feeders attract much-desired wildlife. Rustic, natural wood furniture, arbors and gazebos not only fit perfectly into a natural landscape but can help create the cozy seating and intimate settings so central to Hygge.
Whether you crave comfort and ease or simply the ability to enjoy the moment instead of racing off to the next, try adding Hygge to your outdoor space. And for once, enjoy a trend that’s focused on making you happier instead of worrying about “keeping up with the Joneses.”
If you’d like to learn more about how your outdoor space can become a place of special moments, get in touch with us for a consultation and let’s talk about creating that perfect place for you.