Danish Hygge continues to gain popularity every year, with interiors across the world taking much of their inspiration from this Scandinavian phenomenon. Danish Life Designer Lena Bensten shares her expert advice with The LuxPad below on how to make space for Hygge in your home this summer…
Danish Hygge is a mood and appears in the perfect moment of peacefulness and well-being while enjoying life. In Denmark, summer is very short. In midsummer, it never gets completely dark and with so much light it can be difficult to say goodnight. What could be more fitting than outdoor hygge with friends on a pleasant and warm evening?
To hygge with friends in the summertime is always done in a very casual way. In Denmark, friends meet in private homes. It is very seldom that dinner is shared at a restaurant. That’s why taking care of our homes is important to us. Our homes are an extension of ourselves.
Our homes radiate care. We nurse our homes, because they are a part of our personality. It is a place to find peace, to relax and recover. Our home is a nest, a safe cave and a personal frame surrounding our lives. When we invite guests, we are opening our private property. It deserves respect from both hosts and guests. Hygge claims mutual respect, to be a good host, and to be a good guest. Everybody must feel good.
The dining table is the center for Danish hygge. We spend hours and hours around this very important piece of furniture, therefore the food and the table settings are the kick-starters of the hygge mood.
How to create space for summer hygge OUTSIDE
When we move the dining area outside in summer, we must create this new space for hygge. A lot of the main principles are exactly the same as for everywhere else in the house where you want to create space for hygge.
The main principles are as follows:
Care, care, and care
In fact, it is very simple. If you want to create space for hygge, you just have to open your eyes and really look at your surroundings and ask yourself if it is supporting you or not, and then take action and give it the care you decide it deserves in order to serve you.
Clutter kills hygge. If you want to create space for hygge then clean up. By cleaning up, you take care of your surroundings and yourself.
Set the background
Use plants on a porch to catch the eye and also to cover what the eyes are not meant to see.
Never ‘over do’ but think ‘casual’
Overdoing is bragging, and bragging is not a part of hygge. Being casual is to meet your guests with your own style.
Use materials from nature for decoration
Find some nice stones to keep the napkins next to the plates or just to dress the table, or some wood, flowers or whatever else you can use from nature.
Add some flowers to the table setting. A few flowers from the garden in a small vase are much better than some you have paid a fortune for.
Always use candles. Tea lights can be put in small glasses to protect them from the wind. Tall candles will only damage the tablecloth.
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Cover the table
Use either a tablecloth or placemats. A tablecloth is preferable because there is less chance of it being blown away by the wind.
Keep it simple with one plate and two glasses, one for wine and one for water.
You have not invited guests to listen to music, but to hygge with them. Besides, maybe your neighbor does not share your taste of music. Be polite.
During the evening guests may need a throw to keep the chill away from their legs or shoulders. If you have some – be prepared.
We have now created the space for hygge. Now it’s time to hygge with friends, but how do the Danes do this?
When the weather is suddenly behaving well, nothing should stop you from calling some friends and saying: “If you do not have any other plans for tonight, please come to our place and enjoy the evening with us.” The invitation is very spontaneous and because it is such, no one will expect a royal dinner. As a good guest, you will ask if you may bring something with you, for example, some dessert.
The plan for the evening
Guests usually arrive at 18.30; the meal begins around 19.00 and guests leave around 23.00 when there is work the following day. The evening should be relaxed and enjoyable. The socialising is very important to Danes and the dinner usually goes on all evening because of this, around four hours or so spent at the table.
Start with some refreshments such as a beer, an aperitif or a soft drink and enjoy some small talk. Go for a walk in the garden or as a guest, offer a helping hand with the dinner. For hygge everything does not have to be prepared up front. Hygge is as much about cooking and finishing the food during the evening.
Just serve a light dish for the starter. Remember, you will be seated at the table the entire evening enjoying the good company. For the main course, again, don’t serve too much to eat. One idea is some barbecue with a nice side salad. Dessert and coffee comes afterwards. In summertime, fresh strawberries with ice cream are a hit, or whatever is in season.
Hygge is what happens between friends when enjoying life together
Lena Bentsen is a Danish Life Designer with expert skills to create space for Danish Hygge. Her first English book, ‘Goodbye Clutter, Hello Freedom: How to create space for Danish Hygge and Lifestyle by cleaning up, organising, and decorating with care’ will soon be available on Amazon. For more information, visit www.lenabentsen.com.