Hygge, a Danish word for a feeling, an aesthetic, a moment in time. It’s the cosiest of words, one many have spent years trying to define. Meik Wiking, international best-selling author and leading happiness researcher, has long written about “Hygge” and its ability to influence our lives for the better. His latest book, My Hygge Home, is a stunning guide to the Danish art of creating a cosy, happy home.
We were lucky enough to speak to Meik about creating a Hygge home, his advice for designing a living space to better your wellbeing, the importance of lighting, and what really makes a house a home.
We’ve partnered with Penguin for ten winners to receive one of our Hygge bundles each, featuring Meik’s latest book, our Hillesley candle, a set of Holwell Mugs, and the Ink Framlingham Throw.
You’ve talked about the impact good design has on your health & wellbeing, can you tell us a bit more?
We shape our buildings and then they shape us. The way we design our homes impacts how we feel and how we act. The idea for this book first came a few years ago, when one of my readers told me that their family dinners had begun to last 20 minutes longer because they had started using candles for dinner. In My Hygge Home, I go into how we can stack the deck in our favour when it comes to designing our homes for happiness.
Can you give us an overview of Hygge in a nutshell?
Hygge is living the good life on a low budget – it is about finding happiness in your everyday.
What are the main benefits to creating a Hygge home particularly with Winter approaching.
Hygge is feeling sheltered in a turbulent world. It is stocking up and being prepared for winter. In the book I go into the importance of meal planning and provisioning.
If you could summarise how we could create a Hygge Home what would your top 5 tips for creating a Hygge space in your home?
I am going to focus on the kitchen for this part, but the book explores your entire home.
1 Hygge is what turns a house into a home. It is about connecting with loved ones. Interestingly, when you ask people in the UK what turns a house into a home, they mention laughter, the smell of food cooking, dinners, love, belonging and happiness – not things. So invite friends and family over for dinner.
2. Go with artichokes. They are super easy and quick to prepare. Boil water, add salt and half a lemon and let the artichokes cook for around 40 minutes. It is short prep time but long eating time – because you have to peel off each leaf when you eat it. In my home, our family dinners last 12 minutes longer when we have them.
3. There is nothing hygge about wasting food. Unfortunately, the average UK household throws out £700 worth of food each year. One design hack I talk about in the book to overcome this is to have a retirement shelf in your fridge. The most visible shelf is where you put the food you need to eat in the next day or two.
4. Keep a list on your phone of what is in your freezer. It makes it a whole lot easier – and cheaper – when you are standing in the supermarket wondering what you to have for dinner.
5. Add more candles…
Lighting seems to play an important part in creating a Hygge home, why is that?
Lighting is incredibly important because hygge is the art of creating a nice atmosphere and your lighting has a big influence on that.
If you could choose one thing that has the biggest impact in creating a happy home what would it be?
Home cooked meals and family dinners. Teenagers in families that often have family dinners have better grades, better communication skills, fewer symptoms of depression, and a stronger sense of belonging. Around 50 percent of people in Britain also say they wish they had more family dinners and see them as the best way to spend quality time.
Meik Wiking, author of My Hygge Home: How to Make Home Your Happy Place published by Penguin Life
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Looking for more inspiration for creating that "hygge" feel in your home? Check out our handy Guide to Keeping Cosy this Autumn for perfect ways to feel snug in your home this season.