Here’s Absolutely Everything You Need to Bring Some Hygge to Your Apartment

updated Dec 20, 2022
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(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Hygge is an international design movement that shows no sign of losing its popularity anytime soon. So if you aren’t already hip to hygge, now’s the time to brush up on your know-how. We broke down everything you need to know about the Scandi-inspired trend that’s taking the world by storm, from how to use it in decorating to how to pronounce it correctly. (Spoiler: Most of us aren’t saying it right.) 

What is Hygge?

While there is no universal translation for the concept of “hygge,” the Scandinavian term (pronounced like hoo-gah or hue-gah) is used to convey sentimental feelings of happiness, comfort, and coziness that are otherwise hard to describe.

 Similar to the idea of getting in the holiday spirit, hygge is best understood as the jovial attitude we strive to achieve during the cold weather season. That’s why feel-good rituals like fireside chats with friends and dinner parties are often used to describe feelings of “hygge.”

Is Hygge a Noun?

Hygge is a state of mind, which makes it a noun, even though it might seem like a verb in conversation. Described in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as a “quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being,” it wasn’t until 2017 that hygge was officially added to the OED.

(Image credit: Winkie Visser)

Where Did Hygge Originate?

A Norwegian term, the concept of hygge originated in Denmark centuries ago in response to the harsh winters. Danish winters are marked by long periods of darkness, with the sun setting around 3 p.m. which means it’s dark more often than not this time of year. 

Instead of letting the winter blues get the best of them, the Danes invented hygge—and all of the heartwarming activities that go along with it—to combat the icky feelings that come from getting less sunlight and warmth during the day. It’s no surprise then that the holidays are considered the high times of hygge!

What is Hygge Decor?

Since hygge is all about creating feelings of coziness and warmth, hygge decor refers to design items and elements that help foster an uplifting ambience inside our homes. This could mean forging a warm, welcoming glow in your apartment with candles, adding a plush throw pillow or blanket to your bed, or simply brightening up a dark corner of your living room with a houseplant. Essentially, any decorative item or design scheme that evokes a sense of comfort could be considered hygge decor.

Hygge Decor Ideas

We asked Noelle Isbell, founder and principal of Noelle Interiors in Manhattan Beach, California, about all things hygge and interior design. Here are a few of her tips for achieving the look with ease in your apartment, no matter your personal design style. We especially love her coastal-inspired take on the concept.

Add comfort with warm lighting.

“Harsh and bright lights make it difficult to relax, so create a comfortable atmosphere by adding warm lighting.”

Choose a cozy, conversation-friendly-space. .

“When considering the layout of the room, designate spaces that feel cozy and facilitate conversation. Build the room around centerpieces like sofas or lounge chairs with rounded corners and plush seats, and add some comfortable linen or polyester chenille to the main pieces of furniture. These accents look great with natural woods, tropical wicker, leather basket weaving, or rattan inlay.”

Use a simple color palette.

One of our favorite sources of hygge design inspiration comes from Norwegian designer Isa Olsen. Here, we love how she keeps the color palette simple while playing up textures and shapes to create visual interest. The room still feels cozy yet plenty interesting. 

What is Hygge Food?

Similar to hygge decor, hygge food refers to recipes and meals that make people feel good. Kind of like the American concept of comfort food, but slightly healthier, traditional Scandinavian comfort food employs fresh, organic ingredients that are thoughtful, nourishing, and comforting—think: mulled wine (a.k.a. glögg) and Swedish meatballs.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

What is a Hygge Party?

If hygge decor and food are all about comfort, then a hygge party should make everyone feel comfortable, too. A proper hygge party should bring loved ones together to celebrate life and friendship, sans any frills or fuss. So forget the fancy cocktails and outfits, a good party will make your guests feel cozy, relaxed, warm, and of course, full of good food. Throw your own hygge-inspired soiree with nothing more than good company, hearty food, and a soothing playlist.

How Do I Get More Hygge in My Life?

Simply put, fill your personal world with things that bring you joy and comfort. Whether it’s snuggling up in your favorite chunky blanket or inviting your friends over for a glass of glögg, hygge is about embracing the things that make you feel good inside and out. Take solace in activities and rituals that conjure feelings of warmth and comfort and the hygge vibes will come naturally.