I recently had the pleasure of wandering over to Denmark for five days. My husband and I were celebrating our 10th anniversary (except it took a year to arrange for childcare, so actually our 11th anniversary). As we explored Copenhagen and clocked many miles of walking every day, it seemed that there was always an inviting place to rest. A cozy chair, a soft pillow, gentle lighting and a spot for a friend.
There is a Danish trust in hygge, the celebration of coziness and feeling at ease in your environment. People consider the hygge of a place, and how it can be made to feel better to inhabit. Many books have been written about it; I enjoyed The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking (thanks inter-library loan!).
More than any souvenir, we brought home this idea of cozy spaces. I tried to sit in every seating arrangement at our hotel, because unlike the awkward chair at the end of the hall in some American hotels, every bench, courtyard and lobby seating arrangement beckoned us closer and invited us to stay awhile.
I am looking at forgotten corners of our home — as well as central spaces — to see how I can make them more inviting. We spend a lot of time inside our home during winter, and the more we enjoy our time there, the less we will look to outside entertainment and shopping to meet our needs.
I have put a slim, comfortable chair in our kitchen (I moved out a kid’s table that hasn’t been used in months because it’s always filled up with kitchen debris) so I can sit and drink my coffee while looking out the window, or I can pause there to chat with my husband while he prepares dinner. After a few days, I added a plant on a low stool, which adds to the charm, and a crocheted denim rug that my sister made. Now I am thinking about adding a pillow or folded blanket to the chair — to make it a little warmer and more inviting.
The more I work on the coziness of our house, the more I feel we all relax into it; it’s the physical manifestation of mindfulness. And we relax into the dark nights and rough weather, too, because home feels good. Even if I have to get up and deal with that mess on the counter at some point, at least I can give myself this cozy moment to shed the stress and breathe deep.
Raheli Harper homesteads on 10 acres where she raises sheep, free-range chickens and children. See her handwork at raheli.com. This week’s Dirt Jr. is brought to you by Dirt magazine. Subscribe at dirt-mag.com.