Of course, the New Year is a time we traditionally think of “resolutions”. Personally, I prefer to set “goals” such as re-fresh, re-new, re-invent, re-purpose, re-commit. These much kinder objectives suggest a transformation, are more optimistic, and done right, less stressful for you and the environment.
This year, put your home at the top of the list for "refresh." We spend about 90% of our lives indoors, and half or more of that time in our homes. Certainly, recent years have taught us the importance of investing some effort to optimize the comfort, functionality, and beauty of our homes. Simple tweaks can enhance your home environment and increase happiness and comfort for you and your loved ones.
As you go from room to room making your lists of functional repairs that might be needed, think about the practice of Hygge (a Danish term that sounds to me a bit like “whoooo guh”). Hygge is "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders the feeling of contentment or well-being". Does your home look and feel comfortable and welcoming? To experience Hygge is to find "comfort, pleasure and warmth in simple, soothing things such as a cozy atmosphere or the feeling of friendship". Here are some suggestions to achieve Hygge-type goals in your home:
Invite your friends over. Friendship and time together is at the heart of Hygge. Offer tea, cocoa, a movie, or game; or cook a warming stew together, or organize a potluck. Work your way through that new cookbook (like “Julie and Julia”) and try out new dishes on your friends! And bake - it adds wonderful warming fragrance to the kitchen that friends will really appreciate
Bring nature in. There is no better way to refresh than to bring nature into our homes, especially when the weather may prevent you from being outdoors as much as you would like. Plants bring energy and they help clean the air and are simple and low-cost investments that last a long time with care. Inquire at your local nursery about the best types for your light levels. While you’re there, investigate bulbs; it’s a great time to force bulbs of all kinds. I love the look of forcing them in water and pebbles in a glass jar – easy, very pretty and clean-looking and fun to watch grow! It’s also citrus season, so consider a special bowl full of vivid lemons, clementines, limes, even pears and apples - a strikingly beautiful, edible, and “natural” arrangement too! Try foraging in your own garden for anything you can bring in. An assortment of evergreen branches in a natural stone or painted container reflects the season and its natural textures. One of my favorite arrangements is dried hydrangeas and other stems foraged, dried, or collected, shown here in an upcycled antique silver water pitcher from a great uncle, with a fine bone handle, dented, missing its lid and rarely polished! But what texture, and a lovely memento too of his Francophile tastes!
Bring light in. Throw open the curtains and shades and let the sun shine in! Turn on every light in the room to help dispel the gloom. Add candles everywhere. Placing small lamps adds glow in bookcases, cupboards, and shelves and is an easy way to establish a cozy mood throughout your home. One of my favorite hygge home lighting tips is to have a small light hanging over important pictures or paintings in your rooms to showcase their style. And of course, fairy lights are not just for Holidays – string them around windows to add a little bit of magic.
Create a cozy nook. Perfect for reading, napping or a BFF chat– either near the fireplace or a window. Add stacks of all those books on your bucket list, favorite magazines, and cookbooks to earmark. Don’t forget an outdoor fire pit for chats with friends, cocoa, and warm blankets. Position a chair and desk or a favorite reading chair in a sunny window. And for extra points, add pillows with natural themes like florals and botanicals. If you can, try to find one of the “great” iconic prints for your pillow like a Colefax and Fowler floral or Miss de Wolfe’s classic fern print.
Set up a hot drink station. Find a spot in the kitchen, use a pretty tray and your favorite mugs, herbal teas, cocoa, sticks of cinnamon and a jar of marshmallows. Help yourself often!
Learn a new craft, or focus time on a favorite hobby. Journaling, drawing, any form of needlework are good examples. Start a knitting circle. Play board and card games with family and friends. If you’re up for it, try some outdoor activities like skating or cross-country skiing, even hiking, to embrace the season.
Pillows to the rescue. Perhaps your pillows have lost some “oomph”. Pillows are the easiest low-investment way to add comfort, color, texture, beauty, and character to your home. Seek out pillows that are handmade or unique and one-of-a-kind stylish statements; use textiles and patterns that are often works of art in their own right. Stick to natural sustainable materials like cotton, linen, and raw silk. This is a good time to introduce some textures, pattern, and color for the tactile feel of warmth or a warmer color palette. Consider moody blues, deep reds, bohemian and global prints like Suzani, Batik, Kilim and so on. Don’t worry too much about what works together. The trend now is to layer pattern, which has the added benefit of looking warm and inviting. Be fearless! You can always unite the pillows with a common color, but vary the texture, pattern, and size.
As you think about a home refresh in the new year, be kind to yourself, your personal home environment, and the outside world. Keep the projects small, attainable, and focused on reflecting you, your needs, and the environment you want to create. This is a good time of year to embrace the Hygge principles of friendship and family, creating a welcoming atmosphere that is both visually and physically comfortable. Remember, this is a very personal exercise – be creative, try something new and have some fun with it. And of course, upcycle and repurpose everywhere you can! Happy New Year!