A Very British Hygge by Simon Sinclair

tea and cookies

British Hygge and how to get itiI‘m writing this post surrounded by the most mess this house has seen since The Great Kitchen Reno of ’17.  In fact, it might even be worse than that, because at least back there, the mess was (mostly) confined to the ground floor, and right now it’s everywhere. It’s BAD, guys – and it’s not going to get better any time soon, so I guess it makes sense that I’ve spent some of my time this week barricaded in the bedroom (Which is the only room currently still intact), reading A Very British Hygge – A Guide to Life and Home Improvement – by Simon Sinclair.

Now, I’m sure the concept of hygge needs no introduction here, because it’s one of those things that has become a bit trendy lately – especially in the blogosphere – but, just in case you’ve somehow missed the memo, hygge is a Danish words which has no real English translation, but which is usually used, as this book says, to refer to “that feeling one gets when one finds warmth, safety and shelter from a storm.”

Now, as wonderful as all of that sounds, I’ve so far resisted jumping aboard the hygge bandwagon, because, from the little I’d read about it previously, I’d assumed it wasn’t really my kind of thing. I associated the word with winter, and darkness, and although I know it’s not very “lifestyle blogger” of me to admit it, I’m just not about that life. I’ve never really understood the British obsession with the word “cosy” – which, for me, conjures up feelings of clutter and claustrophobia – and have always preferred the Scandinavian way of using light, bright spaces to offset the long, dark days, so when I saw other bloggers associating hygge with things like log fires and being “bundled up” in winter woollens, it didn’t much appeal.

The first thing I learned from this book, though, is that hygge is not about log fires, and it’s not exclusively connected to winter. Actually, hygge is more of a state of mind, really, and when I read that it’s also been described as, “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things,” I thought, “Aha! NOW we’re talking!”

Mess and clutter are annoying to me. They are, indeed, emotionally overwhelming – as, indeed, are those dark, cluttered interiors I’d always associated with this particular concept. This book, however, talks about arranging your home to satisfy YOUR needs – so light, bright spaces are just as “hygge” as a dark, “cosy” ones, and de-cluttering, to reach a point where every object you own has value to you, and helps to tell your own, individual story, is actually pretty essential. So, it turns out I’m actually MUCH more into hygge than I knew: imagine!

Having talked about how the concept is defined and put into action, this book also provides lists of suggestions for “Hygge through the seasons,” all of which centre around the concept of enjoying the little moments, and being truly present for them – which is what hygge is all about, really.

This book is published by Everest Home Improvements, so you can expect a bit of product placement, emphasising the importance of keeping your home secure (Because it can’t be hygge if it doesn’t feel safe to you…), but it also contains a lot of bite-sized suggestions on how to apply this Danish concept to everyday British life, and it’s a nice, quick read, so if you’ve been curious about the idea of hygge, and want to know a bit more about it, the Everest website has some more information!

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7 Comments
  1. Cosy to me means a big sofa, soft cushions or a big bed with soft clean bed linen and I love lots of light too. I dread the long dark winter

    1. Clutter drives me bonkers! I have a big clutter banish every few months. It’s so liberating to get rid of stuff and there are plenty of good homes it can go to. Though sometimes months or years later I find I’ve gotten rid of something I want. Ironically, I wish I hadn’t taken my feng shui book to the Oxfam which I found helpful for decluttering.

  2. I’m with you on the light and bright surroundings and I cannot abide clutter or lots of ornaments.. I’d sooner offset white walls with a few medium-sized and colourful objects and some bright paintings. Unfortunately my other half LOVES little things that go on mantlepieces, but to me they just collect dust.

    This description of hygge sounds quite similar to the idea of feng shui where you arrange your home into a kind of grid so that the “energy flows”. When I first heard about it I thought it sounded a bit New Agey, but I tried it and there’s a lot of be said for it as it does help you organise your home.

  3. My mum is from Sweden, and they are also very obsessed with the idea of “cosiness” – it must just express itself differently there, because a lot of it is linked to light and space and comfort (and delicious pastry with coffee!).

  4. To me, hygge is what I desperately need right now! It would be a complete night’s sleep- – No waking in a panic to see if the puppy is OK. It would be CLEAN linens on MY bed (currently using couch). Someday…

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