Bonnie Rasmussen's profession and passion as a life coach is all about increasing her clients' "well-being, performance, resilience and resourcefulness." It's not surprising in the slightest, then that her UK home is a stunning space that increases the well-being of all that live in and visit it. Having grown up in Denmark (and an obvious expert at crafting soothing, stylish spaces), I asked Bonnie to share what the Danish word "hygge" means to her. Below, she reveals the ways in which she encourages hygge in her home and life all year — and especially during the holiday season.
As a child you simply soak up rich moments and enjoy feeling content and cozy. Those moments create strong and happy childhood memories. The ones that in adult life feel nostalgic and perhaps a bit magical. Magical because you cannot quite put your finger on why that particular Christmas Eve or summer's day stand out for you – there was just something that made it extra special. Extra hyggelig (adjective form of hygge). As an adult you realize there are certain things you can do to nudge "hygge" along. You cannot force it, but you can create frameworks that invite hygge to be present.
Create a physical framework
Creating that framework has played a big role in my home's design. My aim for each room is to evoke positive feelings, induce calmness, coziness and well-being. A lot of clients who come to my home often comment on how the space gives them a sense of ease, which is a great starting point in my line of work as a Life Coach. A number of years back we knocked down some walls to create a more communal space allowing us to be together as a family while still engaging in individual activities.
It immediately enhanced the atmosphere and I love that I can now cook dinner while watching a child curled up on a sofa, a book in hand and a sleepy dog by their side. Or when friends come over and food, drinks and conversation flows freely between the kitchen worktop and the dining table. It makes for a kind of casual, informal togetherness, which is what hygge is about for me.
Know your stuff style
Jumbled or cluttered homes can be super cozy. Too much "stuff" in my own home, however, leaves me feeling unsettled, whereas unadorned surfaces and plain walls allow me to relax and breathe more softly.
Get the light right
Another important aspect for me is light. My aim is to invite as much in as possible in the day time, and dim it right down in the evenings during the colder months. Candles and a fire are now lit and lights dimmed from about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, which may make the day feel shorter, but allows the evening to be much longer and cozier. Extra cushions and blankets have been scattered around the house to banish the chilly air that seems to be creeping in everywhere in Victorian houses.
Enjoy sweet treats
Not surprisingly, food is often considered an essential part of hygge. Danes love to come together around food and can spend hour after hour chatting and eating. In our daily life, I love when time allows me to either bake a cake or having mugs of hot chocolate ready when the children are back from school. Just spending a bit of time around that table talking about the day is a lovely thing to do.
Engage in whatever feels goods, be it a long, warm bath, an early night, chatting into the early hours or excessive lingering over your evening meal.
Make room for no-phones-allowed conversations
We eat dinner together most evenings and there is a strict no-phones-allowed policy! Candles on the table and if music is playing, it will be something fairly quiet and gentle. Although the children might object at first, they are asked to come along when I walk our dog. It is not out of a principle that they have to do it as a chore, but once we are out, we always have great chats and they often end up bouncing around, climbing the odd tree, or chasing after the dog.
Connect on the regular
When it comes to socializing, I have a great set-up with three different combinations of my favorite local friends. We have organised various regular monthly meet-ups where we come together for evenings of catching up, discussing current world events or chatting about immensely inconsequential house wife-y challenges such as matching different shades of black socks! These evenings are always "hyggelige" and enriching and having regular meet ups is a great way of ensuring quality times in great company finds a place in busy diaries.
Step it up for the holidays
During the holidays Danes often step it up and very deliberately create conditions to let hygge come to the front. A few years ago we created a tradition to fully dedicate the four advent Sundays to Christmas baking, crafting, games, theatre, concerts and of course a trip to the woods for our tree. The whole family is involved and often friends, too. There is most likely warming mulled wine, freshly baked æbleskiver (a Danish type of pancake in the shape of a small ball usually only eaten during December), hot chocolate and other homemade Christmas delicacies on the table and Christmas tunes playing in the background.
Our decorations come out around the 1st December and the smell of hyacinths, clementines and cloves will start to fill the air. Needless to say that my type of decoration is fairly subtle and is most likely white, silver and greys mingling with muted green or shades of blue.
If it makes you feel good, if it nourishes your soul, do more of it.
Go with the flow
If you are visiting Denmark in December and keen to experience authentic hygge, the first thing to do is make sure you pack for comfort and for cold conditions. Once snugly wrapped, head out to some of the lovely Christmas markets, take in the many fairy lights, sit back and relax frequently in cozy cafes and bars with a hot drink in your hands. Adopt an attitude of having an abundance of time and go with the flow. Engage in whatever feels goods, be it a long, warm bath, an early night, chatting into the early hours or excessive lingering over your evening meal. If it makes you feel good, if it nourishes your soul, do more of it.
See Bonnie's entire beautiful home:
Read more about what hygge means to Bonnie → Take it From a Dane: Hygge Can Be a Recipe for a Happy Life