There’s a Danish word, hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”), that has no equivalent translation in English. “Cozy,” “comfortable,” and “content” may come close. To try and explain it, hygge is the euphoric feeling you get when you are completely content in the present moment.
Instances when you can feel this may include happy moments spent with loved ones, really good food, and celebratory drinks, dinner by candlelight, and deep, meaningful conversations.
The culture of Denmark champions the art of creating memorable moments out of daily routines and rituals, whether it’s lighting a candle during breakfast, filling your home with fresh flowers weekly, writing handwritten notes to a lover, or popping a bottle of good wine when your friends are over for a casual dinner.
In other words, it’s the practice of surrounding yourself with things you genuinely love and choosing authenticity over practicality. It is about realizing the freedom each of us has to make the mundane aspects of our lives amazing; to willingly add a little extra sparkle to moments, big or small. The concept has become so popular there are actually discussions about hygge available online!
Hygge is also the art of building a sanctuary and a haven in your home. It has hit the design industry with force and people aren’t afraid to take their hygge outdoors! As one of the dominant backyard trends of the year, here are seven ideas to elevate your backyard from ho-hum to hygge heaven.
Most obviously, to hygge is to get cozy. Whether or not you have a fireplace inside your home, you can wrap yourself up in blankets and cozy up around the fireside – outside. To be honest, it can be a real treat to bring an open fire into your garden, and it is so much easier out there. All it takes is a fire pit or fire bowl!
Throw some logs or charcoal into the mix, and have sticks, marshmallows, biscuits, and chocolates to make s’mores readily available. Invite your best friends over, and you are well on your way to a perfect hygge moment.
Embrace Winter Scents
One of the best ways to introduce hygge to your garden is through smells — winter smells to be specific. Winter-flowering honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) is a beautiful option as it will grow to climb over fences or around doorways. Alternatively, wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) is a deciduous shrub with fantastic winter-scented flowers.
Everyone loves a breathtaking scent, not to mention flowers and greenery can also add privacy. If you are interested in genuinely embracing winter scents, reach out to some of the best landscape contractors and enlist their help.
Light Some Candles or Fairy Lights
Nothing suggests cozy winter memories more than candles, but if you aren’t able to have a selection of them outside especially when it is windy, warm, white outdoor fairy lights can recreate that same candle magic. Plus they are a lot easier to light and maintain.
Opt to string them overhead for a starlight effect, or thread them through the planting to make the whole place hum with contentment.
Take Advantage of Winter Sun
Just because it is winter doesn’t mean the sun doesn’t occasionally come out to say hello. Although depending on where you live, it may be more or less of a frequent experience. Take note of where and when the winter sun hits your garden and then place a seat in that location to catch it.
Imagine how much tastier your morning coffee will be when it is served with a side of winter light. And don’t forget a seat in the sun is a beautiful thing to look at even if you never sit in it; just the possibility of sitting there will lift your spirits.
Don’t Overlook the Small Details
Even though it can take a bit of extra effort, hygge is all about the small details. In your backyard that may mean a terracotta pot planted with violas or pansies, or a meaningful sculpture placed amongst the plants. Only you can know what will bring you contentment, and while it may take a little trial and error to figure it out, eventually it will be worth it for your everyday pleasure.
Additionally, from throw pillows to cushions and even light and heavy blankets, bringing soft textiles into your backyard will promptly add the right amount of coziness to your patio. Spend a little extra on the throw blanket or velvet cushion that is so soft it makes you swoon!
Welcome the Outdoors
During those cold yet bright winter mornings or nights that your locale is blessed with, round up the family and take out blankets to watch the sunrise or the stars. If necessary, provide hot water bottles and mugs of tea for extra warmth. No matter who you are with, whether you are with kids or adults, it will be a unique memory.
If you are serious about experiencing hygge the way the Danish do, go one step further and install a hot tub and sauna for the full Scandic experience. If your winter happens to be a warm one, speak to swimming pool contractors to brainstorm ways to hygge around the pool!
Bring the Outdoors Inside
The Danish love to incorporate natural elements into their homes and during the winter, this is a great way to make your home a little more hygge. On a pleasant day, go for a walk — either with your housemates or solo — and find a few pinecones, snip some branches off a tree in your backyard, or just purchase a bouquet of fresh flowers at the grocery store. Greenery has a way of breathing a new life into any space, and it can make your entire home feel a little bit homier.
Hygge is all about the spirit — it’s a psychological battle plan to decide to enjoy the winter months consciously. What’s more, it gives you an excellent pathway to attain that with its practical focus on the smallest parts of your world. Look into those areas with joy, and winter will always be something to look forward to.
So, how do you hygge?
Rachel Hennessey manages the Pools and Landscaping Division of Hennessey LLC. She also works on Tender and Pre-Qualification and brings in new business to the company’s Construction, Interiors and Civils Division.