Meik Wiking has helped bring the Danish idea of “hygge” (or “HEW-guh”) to the rest of the world with his Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and his book “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living.” As he defines it, hygge is “the art of creating a nice atmosphere … the pursuit of everyday happiness.”
How hygge has been generally translated to the home, however, is in cozy winter fires, hot chocolate, sheepskin blankets and candles. We wanted to know: How can we achieve this cozy ideal during the spring and summer months while we’re all at home … and it’s hot outside?
Wiking said we can achieve the key elements of hygge – “atmosphere, presence, pleasure, gratitude and togetherness” – as easily during the summer as we can during the winter. He recommends picnics, games, bike rides and reading books outside in the shade. We also talked to interior designers and a cookbook author about ideas for creating this cozy feeling inside the home.
Trade out textiles
When you choose lighter bedding, “everything feels soft and cozy … light and airy at the same time,” said Shelly Lynch-Sparks, founder and principal of Hyphen & Co. design firm in New York City. She recommends linen sheets or, even lighter, 100% organic cotton sheets. Matteo is her favorite brand for high-end sheets; she also likes cotton sheets from CB2. The Citizenry is where she goes for linen quilts.
Textile accessories deserve a swap, too. “In the winter, it’s alpaca wools and sheepskins … 100% wool blankets. Whereas in the summer, we transition to Turkish towels, softer linens that are lighter, colder,” she said, recommending Turkish towels from Serena & Lily and Parachute. “Even if it’s 100 degrees out, if you have the air conditioning on, you still feel like you can cozy up with a blanket.”
Alison Giese of Alison Giese Interiors in San Antonio also likes to add linen curtains; she recommends Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn.
Highlight special objects
Giese said she likes to help clients create homes with soul. Practically, that can be as easy as shopping your home. “For me personally, it has to do with the home telling the story. … (It can be) art that we’ve collected from places we’ve traveled. … It can be a bowl that we picked up from an artisan market.”
Bring out prints or postcards from places you’ve been and get them framed. She recommends sending extra-special objects – “say you’ve got those kids’ lovies that are now rags” – to commercial photographer Shana Novak of the Heirloomist, which specializes in turning heirlooms into fine printed art.
Bring furniture back to life
If you have inherited furniture that you love and have always wanted to refinish, now is a great time to do that, Giese said. “It tells a story; it doesn’t mean that you’re dishonoring your loved ones by changing the fabric. … You’re just making it ‘you.’ ” Reupholster a chair or sofa or paint an old cabinet. These are decisions that can help you feel more at home.
Clear out the clutter
The lines down the street at Goodwill donation drop-offs indicate that many of us are already doing this, but just as we like to pare down to shorts and sandals in the summer, it’s also a good time to clear out the home of things we don’t need or want.
“Everything feels so weighty on the brain that if there’s something we can do to declutter, visually organize,” it helps, Giese said. Even rolling up blankets that are normally out and putting them in baskets helps lighten the look of a room.
Move nature inside
“Everybody has adapted to this whole neutral-(colored) environment, which we stand by,” Lynch-Sparks said, “but color in the home in the summer brings the outside in.” Pick up a fresh bouquet of flowers, change the throw pillows to ones with light and bright colors and patterns, or move a bowl of fresh fruit front and center on a kitchen counter or dining table.
Create cozy outdoor stations
Sarah Copeland, author of the cookbook “Every Day Is Saturday,” has two kids underfoot this summer in her New York home, and the kids’ summer activities have been canceled. To make their home feel more spacious, she set up stations outdoors. One is a patio with a couch. “This year, I’ve invested a lot more energy into it,” she said. “I added a solar pendant light, I put pillows out, I put out a lot more potted plants. Saturdays and Sundays we have brunch there.”
She also put up a hammock on an old crabapple tree and added pillows, even putting a rug underneath it. “That’s where we could have lunch in the shade or read together,” she said. At night, they might light a fire in their firepit for s’mores – or even use it to cook dinner.
Copeland also bought an 8-foot stock tank from Tractor Supply and set it in on a large circle of crushed marble (so the kids don’t slip getting in and out). To keep it clean, she uses chlorine tablets in a dispenser and removes the dispenser before anyone gets in. She’ll let the kids play while she works nearby or hop in with them after a workout or yoga session.
At night, she and her husband enjoy it under string lights. Note: Farm supply stores are selling out of stock tanks everywhere. Call around to your local stores and get on their waiting lists.
For a less-permanent option, try an inflatable pool. Minnidip’s 5½-foot-diameter Luxe Inflatable Pool has been all over Instagram this summer – so much so that it’s sold out. The company says it will be restocking.
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