Let’s clear things up quickly shall we? It’s pronounced HOO-gah like cougar (sort of), not hygge like jiggy. Good. Glad we are all reading comfortably from the same page.
The Danish concept of hygge is flying brilliantly well with weather-obsessed Britons. The seasonal change and the prospect of a bitter winter ahead encourages us to look at those who weather it better, to give us inspiration in mental survival until spring.
But what is hygge?
Hygge is essentially a mindset. It’s an appreciation of the small things, the daily pleasures, and going out of your way to make things appealing, inviting and above all cosy and warming. Being with friends and family is hygge, as is creating an inviting space for people to be in. It’s about having that balance with yourself, about enjoying the present as well as your surroundings, and making things as enjoyable as they can be (without over indulging, that would be very British!).
When you think about hygge places, I imagine the last place you’d think to find hygge is in a centuries-old stone house, with large rooms and enormously high ceilings – the antithesis of our new friend hygge. But can you create hygge in a large, old home? What key ingredients should there be to create and encourage hygge in such old houses? And is it already in place in our houses?
Let’s explore this further…
A hygge check list
Danes burn more candles than any other country in Europe, which is a clear indication to how important lighting is to create a hygge atmosphere. Moments can be made more special with candlelight, so you should never miss an opportunity to literally light up. Iscoyd Park has a reputation for smelling utterly magical. If houses were awarded hygge points, Iscoyd would be up near the top. It has Neom organic candles throughout the house and in every room. As a guest there, you can certainly create your own hygge moment for yourself. Despite what owner Phil says, his wife Susie wouldn’t have it any other way!
Life’s daily pleasures
Enjoying a bath is one thing, adding some bubbles, dimming the lights and making it an even more enjoyable occasion is very hygge. Wallow in the deep copper bath at 750 year old Elmore Court and put on a soothing radio programme and you too will be collecting your hygge bonus points.
Being with friends
The idea of hygge is to relax and feel at home, so naturally moments with friends are always going to have a hygge feel to them. Enjoy those times together. Have cake and tea around the kitchen table like at Dewsall Court whilst you catch up, head out together exploring, or instead take an hour to yourself, draw the curtains and find a quiet spot on the big comfy sofa next to the roaring fire to read a book.
Being enveloped and warm in your environment is very hygge. It’s that sense of visual cosiness that you’ll find in many of the rooms at Wasing Park, especially in the Dovecote. It’s round shape makes it feel cosy, and the copper bath on the ground floor, lights in each of the dove nooks as you go up the stairs and the wonderfully comfortable bed under the eaves add to that feeling of warmth, making it the perfect place to escape to.
The simple things
Hygge is not just for winter. The mindset carries on into summer too when hygge fans show an appreciation of nature, being outside, going on long walks, a sunset or sitting out around the firepit for sunset watching the sky changes a thousand shades. The tipis available at Pennard House can be intrinsic in creating these moments. Their real beds, cosy blankets and warm candlelight to throw shapes onto the canvas before you sleep, can be just the basis for great experiences.
So does hygge already exist in a Canvas and Stone house?
In the UK, we may not make hygge a priority like the Danes, but it certainly does exist. And I think each of our house teams are natural hygge creators so guests don’t ever have to even think about creating those moments, they happen for them instead. From midnight hampers for guests, chocolates on your bed, soothing music, or newspapers and magazines delivered to your room, every moment is designed to be a special one from the moment you arrive, to when you leave. Now, everyone say ‘aaaaah’!
If you are looking for a place to call your own, to nestle down by the warmth of the fire, host a retreat, bring your friends, colleagues or family together to make memories and enjoy time together, why not get in touch? Our five beautiful houses await!
Main photo credit @ Nikki Cooper