Beyond Minimalism: Embracing Warmth and Comfort Through the Concept of Hygge

There are some things you can only find in Scandinavia. 

The long, cold winters here are brightened up by Aurora – the goddess of the dawn who lends her name to the breathtaking display of polar lights. Underneath these radiant skies breathes a lifestyle that is both distinctively modern and deeply traditional. 

Once you’re through the culture shock of having fish served for breakfast, and not having a Danish word meaning “thank you” to say in response, there’s still a lot left to discover about Denmark!  

The Concept of Hygge in Scandinavian Style

Long before minimalism emerged as a formal style of art in the early 1910s, the primary influences behind it were already a long-established way of life in Scandinavia – particularly Denmark.  

The Danish word hygge (pronounced: hue-gah) means to comfort or console, although it stands for much more than just that. Think of it as the Scandinavian equivalent of Zen. 

In terms of style, hygge reflects simplicity focused on coziness, friendliness, and satisfaction. Lighting up a bleak winter night with candles at the window and a glass of schnapps is hygge. So is inviting friends to share a slow, fireside dinner. More than style, hygge is an attitude! It’s ‘me-time’ with others; it’s also warmth and togetherness, indulgence without extravagance, and pleasure without plenty. 

Hygge is probably one of those things that consistently makes Denmark one of the happiest countries in the world. 

A Brief History of Hygge and Scandi Design

Hygge = warmth + shelter

The word hygge is derived from the Norwegian root word ‘hugga’, a distant cousin of the English ‘hug’, though there are no exact translations of it in English. Once the Danes incorporated this word into their lexicon in the late 18th Century, it took on a new world of meanings – like well-being, conviviality, and comfort. 

The original sense of hygge refers to the satisfaction of finding warmth, shelter, and a chance of pleasant company after a hard day outside in the bitter Nordic cold. However, it applies to all times and spaces, and different kinds of situations.   

Hygge had a pronounced impact on Scandinavian design, especially during its golden ages spanning from the 1930s to the 1970s. It went on to influence the resurgence of Scandi design beginning in the 1990s which continues to be in vogue today. 

The Characteristics of Scandi Style 

Scandinavian style embodies a sophisticated aesthetic rooted in simplicity. Its defining aspects are functionality, minimalism, and craftsmanship. This design philosophy is reflected in the clean lines and restrained opulence that is particular to this genre. 

The Role of Minimalism in Scandi Style

Scandinavian minimalism arose in counter to the unforgiving landscape of its lands. Endurance and utility were preconditions for survival here, but not without the comfort and coziness represented by the spirit of hygge. As a result, minimalism in Scandi style is neither austere nor terse, but rather generous and celebratory. 

Common Materials and Color Schemes Used in Scandi Style 

Nature is integral to Scandi style, not just in terms of the materials used but also in its touch, feel, and inspiration. Light and bright woods, natural textiles, and upholstery created from mohair, sheepskin, wool, and linen are the materials of choice. The typical Scandi color scheme favors neutral shades, earthy tones, and bright, floral hues that remind you of the warm summer sun. 

The Importance of Warmth and Comfort in Hygge

Hygge permeates life

Hygge permeates all aspects of Scandinavian life, but perhaps nowhere is it more conspicuous than in our style and design. The result is a broad aesthetic that plays on the ideas of bringing nature indoors, having clean, well-lit spaces, and using naturally warm and cozy textiles – all anchored in a fine balance of simplicity. 

Why Warmth and Comfort are Essential in Creating a Welcoming Dining Space

Sitting down for a meal when it’s sub-zero outside is a special experience. Warmth and comfort are as much nourishing in this backdrop as the food on your table. The heartwarming embrace of a cozy dining space is what Scandi design celebrates in its choice of inviting materials, colors, and textures. 

How to Add Warmth and Comfort to your Home Without Sacrificing Minimalism 

Adding hygge to your life doesn’t mean bringing in extra furniture or changing the drapes. Quite the contrary, in fact! Warmth and comfort are not so much in the objects inside your home, but in how you use them. A well-placed rug where you like to snuggle up, a cozy lounge near your favorite window, or airy spaces filled with light and endless possibilities – that’s what it means to be warm and comfortable the hygge way! 

Combining Minimalism with Warmth and Comfort

“Hygge is about having less, (but) enjoying more.” That’s how author Louisa Brits describes this unique approach to life in her ‘The Book of Hygge’. The blend of minimalism and warm comfort that represents hygge is also the essence of Scandinavian style. 

The Art of Layering in Scandinavian Homes

Think of layering as simplicity multiplied. It is the art of adding visual and textural complexity in a minimalist setting. In practice, layering could mean putting soft down cushions to a corner sofa to increase its comfort or adding a kilim rug to your wing chair by the fireside. 

How to Add Natural Materials to Add Warmth    

Leather, sheepskin, knitted cloths, and even jute and burlap are natural materials that Scandi style uses to add warmth to your interiors. These and similar elements are enough to create a cozy mix of textures that will warm you up on the inside and out.   

Using Texture and Pattern to Create Interest

Texture and pattern are design elements that Scandi style incorporates at ease and without adding visual clutter. The idea is to create contrasts that fit the atmosphere of a particular space, while also standing out and leading the eye to the various elements that come together in style.

The Importance of Lighting in Scandinavian Homes

Scandinavians share a unique relationship with light, mostly because of the long, dark winters and nightless summers peculiar to our lands. As a result, we are very particular about clean, well-lit spaces and having as much natural light inside our homes as possible.

How to Choose the Right Lighting Fixtures for a Warm and Comfortable Room

Work with a combination of ceiling lights, floor lamps, and table lamps in every room. The idea is to have them work in consonance, so you can control both the amount of light you need at a particular time as well as the particular point in the room where you need it. 

Examples of Right Lighting for Hygge and Scandi Design 

Warm glows, natural materials, and adaptive lighting are some of the hallmarks of hygge and Scandi design. So is using lights to create islands of calm and activity within the same room. You can also think of layering your lights so you have a combination of white light and amber hues that work well across different seasons and times of the day.

Make the Transition to Hygge and Scandi in Your Home 

Minimal, functional (if not multifunctional), cozy, and comfortable. These are the elements that bring alive the combination of hygge and Scandi in your living spaces. Incorporating them is a matter of style and attitude, of making do with less than more. The point is to maximize your enjoyment at every moment of life at home and outside. 

Smart Furniture is a company that lives to bring you just such moments! Our exquisite variety of designs, fabrics, fixtures, and furniture is crafted to light up every room and mood. We bring you Scandinavian designs perfected by the finest craftsman and steeped in the traditions of hygge. Meant for those who understand how designs tell their own stories!

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