Does winter have you running to the nearest travel agent for plane tickets to a tropical island? Do you find yourself pulling the blinds shut against all that blustery cold and darkness?
Love it or hate it, winter is here! And it’s going to be here every year, so wouldn’t it be great to enjoy what it has to offer?
Instead of working around the cold temperatures, long nights, and icy conditions, make those things work FOR you!
Scandinavians figured out the secret to winter contentment centuries ago. With a scant six hours of daylight and temperatures below freezing, these hardy northerners found creative – and cozy! – ways to survive and even love the season.
The term “hygge” originated in Norway to mean “well-being”, and Danes embraced and popularized it as a lifestyle. Now hygge has made its way to the United States where it’s an entire phenomenon unto itself.
Hygge (pronounces hoo-gah) is all about bringing warmth, light, coziness, and contentment together. It’s a “quality of happiness” that can be hard to explain, but once you see how it works, we bet you’ll find dozens of ways to incorporate the concept into your own lifestyle.
If you haven’t read our last blog about hygge, grab a comfy blanket and snuggle up for a good read! Then join us back here for even more ideas to turn a dark, cold space into one of light and beauty that you can enjoy all winter.
You don’t need to lock yourself inside to feel the warmth and glow of a winter evening. All you need is to start thinking about how you can turn a bland yard space into an outdoor room.
Start from the ground up. A beautiful paving stone, brick, or natural stone patio is an excellent foundation for building a cozy outdoor space. It will define the space and give you the base on which to lay the rest.
Once you have your “ground floor”, think in layers. Add an outdoor area rug to anchor your space and add warmth, comfort and beauty. Top that with furniture – a few arm chairs or sofa, tables, lamps, outdoor heaters and your favorite décor. Lay pillows and blankets where you want people to congregate.
And don’t forget to look up! A pergola, overhang or other roof structure can add warmth and coziness by keeping you sheltered from the elements. From beneath this outdoor ceiling, you can hang wispy curtains, string lights, globe lights, or other decorative elements that will make you feel at home in the outdoors.
Your outdoor room can have all the amenities you need to enjoy a contented stay – a fireplace, cooking area, music, water feature, or whatever you can imagine.
You can make this outdoor space as open or as enclosed as you feel comfortable, but keep in mind that we’re creating an outdoor room, not merely an enclosed porch or greenhouse-like extension. You should feel like you’re outdoors, but protected and safe from the rest of the world.
You can create shelter in other ways, too. A cozy gazebo, strung with lights and lightweight curtains can also bring a feeling of comfort and warmth. A pergola attached to the side of your house, a patio surrounded by a natural stone wall, a few chairs gathered around a fire pit and surrounded by lovely hardscapes and tall grasses – if it feels cozy, then it’s hygge!
The core concept of hygge is about creating a space where you can enjoy the quiet comfort of friends and family. Hygge isn’t about the rollicking pool party or a boisterous game night. There’s a place for those! But to create the right environment for cozier winter days and evenings, think about gathering loved ones close.
What better way to create a sense of togetherness than with the right seating? Seating should suit its function. Good seating for dining isn’t the same as good seating for lounging, or for sharing secrets around a fire.
It should be comfortable, though. And that means not just going for something that looks nice, but that suits its purpose and invites people to stay for awhile.
Think about how seating can help you enjoy the outdoors more – yes, even during winter! Cushioned chairs, overstuffed pillows, velvety blankets – all of these can be used indoors as well as out to create an environment that makes people want to spend time there.
For your summer pool parties, you may want to space loungers out across the patio so sunbathers can relax, but creating hygge during winter requires a different approach.
Hygge is for sharing a meal, a warm tea, and a conversation. Gather seating together around a central point like a table or fire pit to facilitate a feeling of togetherness.
And let’s face it – there are going to be some winter days when you’re just not going to step foot outdoors. Whether it’s frigidly cold or the icy rains are falling, you’re better off enjoying hygge right from your own cozy living room. But that doesn’t mean your outdoor space doesn’t matter.
Done right, you can enjoy the outdoors from the warmth and coziness of the indoors. That means planning your outdoor space so special features like your pond, waterfall, or favorite garden art are visible from your windows.
Gather indoor seating around this built-in view and you’ll create something special to enjoy through any season.
A Private Space
It’s hard to feel cozy and safe when the neighbors are peeking over the fence into your yard. And even if nobody is paying attention to you at all, a wide open space can still make you feel exposed, which is exactly the opposite of the effect we’re trying to achieve.
Create separation between you and the world with a strategic combination of hardscapes and plantings.
A natural wood fence or stone wall, freestanding trellis or tall planters, can all make you feel cozier in your own space, however large or small.
Evergreens, from pine to holly and bamboo, make excellent screens all year. Tall grasses, from the four-season Maiden Grass to the towering Miscanthus Giganteus will bring color, texture, motion, and of course privacy to your space season after season.
As an added bonus, elements like tall grasses, and even waterfalls and bubbling water features, can enhance auditory privacy. The sound of running water or the breeze rustling through grass creates a white noise that masks conversations. Imagine the world whispering around you as you share some warm together-time in your own private oasis with the ones you love.
Creating hygge – that warm, togetherness feeling – is easy once you understand it. All you have to do is imagine what makes you feel coziest, happiest, and most content and bring that into your space. There’s no need to avoid winter when it can be as charming and pleasant as you want it to be!
If you’d like to explore ideas to make your outdoor space more usable and enjoyable through the winter months – and all year – contact us for a consultation. We’ll work with you to design an outdoor space that suits your lifestyle and adds all the warmth and love you desire.