Hygge for the Holidays

December 25, 2023

Winter often means family gatherings, big meals, and fiercely competitive board games. If your family is like mine, Scrabble is on the list. Let me help you impress your family, legitimize your cozy comfort wear, and earn double-digit points with a few new words like “hygge.” While the Danish concept of hygge is only 13 points in Scrabble, its unique spelling will send friends googling its authenticity. To avoid embarrassment, back up your tile selection by mastering the pronunciation beforehand and a few fun facts.

Hygge is deceptively pronounced “hoo-ga”. It is a Danish philosophy of contentment and comfortable living. The styling is minimal by choice, simple rather than stripped down. Hygge interiors are dominated by linen, wool, and leather, with black accents to add drama. Bleached or natural pine, alder, and oak dominate the furniture and floors with limestone-washed fireplaces and layers of warm lighting. Hygge celebrates small joys and intimate community gatherings. Picture yourself thumbing through an Ikea catalog wrapped in a knit blanket, and you’ve got the vibe.

The clean lines of Scandinavian aesthetics have long been a core principle of modern design. Hygge reintroduces the authentic personal connection, organic materials, and warmth that was lost somewhere along the way. Many homes designed with cavernous open-concept spaces are now exploring how to soften the echo and weave in the cozy principles foundational to hygge. Here are some ways to add hygge to your home and win at Scrabble along the way.

Boucle (boo-clay) – 10 points
Boucle is a soft textured fabric crafted from looped yarns with a soft nubby texture. It makes the perfect upholstery choice for low-slung hygge furniture. Keep it light, even white. New technology with built-in stain resistance will help protect from pets and spills. Use woven throws as a backup plan.

Zellige tile (zil-eejsh) – 17 points
A perfect accent for the bath, kitchen, or accent wall, authentic Zellige tile is hand-crafted in Morocco but beautifully captures the hygge aesthetic. The tile is individually cut and sun-dried by artisans before being individually glazed. The thickness and color vary from tile to tile, so installation is tricky and slow. The time is worth it because the multi-toned glimmer is a conversation starter in any space. Very hygge.

Veneer (ven-nir) – 9 points
The clean look of slab cabinetry is back in vogue. It is easy to maintain, simple and streamlined, perfect for the easy living of hygge style. Modern styles often paint or coat these doors in high gloss finishes. Hygee style prefers to celebrate the organic character of the wood. Veneers are actual wood material peeled from the log rather than cut. This allows a flowing, continuous grain rather than a planked pattern. Using veneer rather than solid material is a more sustainable option for exotic or slow-growing species. It also has the added benefit of being more temperature stable, a perfect choice for climates with seasonal swings.

Quartzite (quart-site) – 27 points
Unlike quartz countertops, which blend stone and resin, quartzite is 100 percent the real thing. Stain-resistant, durable and stunning, this natural stone can be used for countertops, backsplashes, fireplace surrounds or shower walls. Quartzite has a beautiful luminosity and bold veining. Because each piece is unique, visit a local slab supplier to review inventory in person. Warm stone colors like the fashionable Taj Mahal will be very hygge.

So this winter, gather around the fireplace on a faux (foe – 12 points) sheepskin rug as winter settles in. Set up a smorgasbord (18 points) of Smørrebrød. I hear these open-faced Danish sandwiches are perfect for snacking. Cozy into a cup of hot chocolate and a new book, perhaps The Little Book of Hygge by Mike Wiking, who was among the first to share this comfortable philosophy with the rest of the world.

—By Anneke Huisman, cabinetry design and sales, Standale Home Studio

Photo credit: Standale Home Studio