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Hygge: How to Say it, What it Means, and How to Do it

Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is the Danish art of staying snug throughout winter’s short, dismal days and cold, bleak nights. In a nutshell, it’s about togetherness, downtime, and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Thankfully, this season, hygge has travelled to the UK.

The phrase roughly translates into English as “cosiness” and it begins in the home. Manuals have been written for those in pursuit of hygge perfection and we have (almost) read them all. Here’s what we’ve learnt …

Photography by Ola O Smit | Styling by Rachel Vere | Words by Nell Card

Cosy Scene by the Fire

Fire

The Danes are masters of atmospheric lighting. If you have an open fire, the first rule of hygge is: light it. If not, a single flame will suffice. The trick here is to light a candle the moment you wake up and keep it alight throughout the day: a humble bowl of porridge or soup is transformed by the flicker of an open flame. If your candle smells of moss, woodsmoke or cinnamon, so much the better.

Above left: Vintage club chair, upholstered in Bert & May’s distressed navy plain fabric; Nigella plain blue cotton and linen cushion; Amaryllis Red Gradient jacquard throw and Amaryllis Red Blake Border jacquard throw.

Fika

If you’re taking hygge seriously, your fingers should not be more than two feet from a warm mug or bowl at any point during the day.

Above right: Mud porridge bowl, handmade by Kana London exclusively for Bert & May; Spilt Shift One tiles created in collaboration with Darkroom London.

Signe Johansen is the master of edible hygge. Her latest book, How to Hygge, shares recipes for fika – the Nordic tradition of hanging out over cinnamon buns and coffee, a tradition we should all instantly embrace.

Rocking Chair with Warm Throw

Above left: Nevis side plate and May’s mug, handmade by Kana London exclusively for Bert & May; silk-screen printed Blake Border napkin; reclaimed patchwork hexagonal tiles, available to order at Bert & May.

Layering

A hygge home is strokeable and soft. Natural, raw materials such as jute, wood and sheepskin should dominate a hygge-d home. Layering is key. This applies to your person as well as your interiors. Follow this simple list: Cashmere bed socks? Check. Chunky cardigan over fine knit? Check. Luxurious throw casually (permanently) draped over shoulders/knees? Check. Now you’re hygge-ing.

Above right: Amaryllis Red Darkroom jacquard throw.

Down Time

Hygge does not encourage multitasking – unless your idea of multitasking is eating breakfast whilst lying in bed. This is perhaps the highest state of hygge.

Snug Throws on Bed

Above: Monochrome Gradient jacquard cushion; Darkroom Monochrome jacquard cushion; Black Gradient jacquard throw and Black Blake Border jacquard throw; Mud porridge bowl, handmade by Kana London exclusively for Bert & May.

Like our take on how to hygge? For more seasonal inspiration for your home, follow Bert & May on Pinterest.

To get the look, check out the selection of featured products below – or head for our new London store on Lamb’s Conduit Street.

Featured products

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