The secret to a cozy home
With daylight dwindling and colder weather on the way—along with pandemic restrictions, of course—this winter will likely feel like a long one. But if you’re dreading the thought of spending the next few months staring at the same four walls, it’s time to upgrade your surroundings with a few inspired touches. We turned to the experts of hygge—a.k.a. the Danish art of creating a comforting atmosphere—for their best tips on making the most of your time at home this winter.
Light a candle (or three)
Why hygge? According to Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of The Little Book of Hygge, Danes use hygge as a “survival strategy” for the dark and cold days of winter. “It can help us boost our sense of wellbeing under the current circumstances because it’s a way to make the best of the situation you’re in,” he says.
For instant hygge, it’s as easy as lighting a candle. The soft, flickering glow adds a warmth that immediately transforms a cold, stale room. Upgrade the experience with a seasonal scent and a wood wick that crackles as it burns like a mini-fireplace, as seen in Vancouver-based Mala the Brand’s hand-poured candles.
Create a soothing interior
“It’s now, more than ever, important to embrace our surroundings with soothing interiors that comforts and elevates our spirits,” says Dorothea Gundtoft, author of Real Nordic Living. For example, if your pre-sleeping ritual includes reading in bed, make the activity extra calming by changing up your décor. This elegant wood sconce from Vancouver’s East Van Light saves table space and it’s dimmable so you can adjust for the ideal brightness.
Go for a fresh coat of paint
If you’re searching for a home renovation project to undertake this season, why not reinvigorate your space with a new colour on your walls? Try a cheerful shade of yellow for an instant mood boost. (Before you get started, don’t miss these painting tips from professionals.)
Block out interruptions with a sleep mask
An important aspect of hygge is taking care of yourself, says Wiking, and we all know how important sleep is for managing stress and strengthening the immune system. If you’re struggling to get a good night’s rest, wear a sleep mask to block out any potentially distracting light. This 100 percent pure silk eye mask from Toronto’s The Silk Labs also promises to be a cooling treat for the delicate eye area. (Here are the things you should do all night long for better sleep.)
The key to the coziest bedroom
Sink into your deepest slumber yet with this linen duvet set from Toronto-based, Portugal-made linen company Envello. The super soft and breathable combed cotton fabric will keep the coldest sleeper toasty even when the mercury plummets. (Check 0ut our ultimate guide to the best sleep ever.)
Snuggle up with a luxurious blanket
“On top of daily tasks, the fact that we have a global pandemic—no wonder we’re all stressed out,” says Gundtoft. The silver lining of this, however, is that this pressure-cooker environment has prompted many of us to think more critically about our routines and self-care. It might be incorporating a walk around the block into our schedule, or putting an ultra-soft blanket in every room, at the ready for spontaneous naps or to be worn as a cozy cape. This washable merino wool throw blanket from Montreal brand Volprivé is great for snuggling on cold nights.
Or try a weighted one
If you prefer something heavier, lull your body into deeper sleep with a weighted blanket that’s designed to feel like a snug hug. This 15-pound version from Canadian mattress company Endy features a reversible, machine washable cover and a weighted inner layer filled with rounded glass beads and polyester fibres. The blanket evenly distributes the weight across your body to help calm, relax and relieve stress. Tip: When you’re looking for a weighted blanket, it should be no heavier than 8-12 percent of your body weight. (Here’s how to fix the most common sleep problems, according to the experts.)
Elevate your daily routines
“Hygge has oftentimes been referred to as ‘the perfect night in,’” says Wiking. With that in mind, you don’t need a big budget to create a cozy home. Start by thinking about the activities you do throughout the day and how it can be made more comfortable. Invest in that one piece that can make a big impact on your everyday. If you’re used to stepping onto ice-cold floors first thing in the morning, a textured, plush rug at your bedside could be all you need for a happier start to the day.
Step into comfort
One of the upsides to spending more time at home is being able to dress comfortably all the time. For most people that means two things—sweatpants and slippers. The shearling lining of these slippers makes them some of the softest on the market, and the sturdy sole means they’re durable for indoor and outdoor wear. (We won’t judge.)
Refresh the air
Hygge is all about creating a calm environment and recharging your batteries—something we could all use a lot more of in this time. Whether you’re gearing up for a long day in the home office or settling in for a Netflix marathon, keep your home refreshed with a bit of aromatherapy from this uplifting diffuser blend collection. In addition to smelling divine, the different fragrances are designed to help you feel energized or relaxed.
Unwind with a made-to-order bathtub tray
Can you think of anything more peaceful than a long, luxurious soak in the tub? How about adding a glass of wine and a thrilling mystery novel? Keep your bath time essentials dry and float the day’s worries away with this custom, reclaimed wood tray that’s made-to-order to fit any bathtub. Sherbrooke, Quebec-based woodworker Sharon Muravsky hand-makes the trays using recycled Eastern Hemlock wood for a truly unique touch.
Take a breather with a puzzle
Decompress with this quirky limited-edition puzzle by Toronto-based artist Stephanie Cheng, commemorating the greatest baseball moustaches of all time. Once you’re done assembling all 1,000 pieces, all that’s left to do is find a spot on the wall for your new art piece. (Don’t miss these 30+ stress management tips from the experts.)
Reflect in a journal
“Take the time to reflect on all you’re fortunate for: love, connection, shelter,” says Wiking. “The times may be challenging, but there’s always something to feel grateful for—focus on that.” If you’re have trouble putting your feelings into words, try The Human Being Journal from Canadian lifestyle and wellness brand Mahara. The guided format offers prompts and questions to help inspire mindfulness and a deeper dive into your life’s goals.
Fill your home with your favourite tunes
“Hygge can be understood as ‘the art of creating a nice atmosphere,’ so perhaps start with reflecting on what that means to you,” says Wiking. If it’s the sound of music that gets you going, set this charming record player spinning for an impromptu sing-a-long or a living room dance party. No vinyl? No problem. The Bluetooth connection allows you to stream digital music through the built-in speakers.
There’s no better time than a lockdown to master a craft. Get started with this thoughtfully put together embroidery kit from Ketch Harbour, Nova Scotia-based Hook, Line and Tinker studio. It includes all the materials needed to stitch an adorable Scandinavian design-inspired holiday reindeer. All that’s left for you to do is to focus on the task at hand.
Play a board game
Unplug for the evening and star in your own version of The Queen’s Gambit with this travel-friendly roll-up chess and checkers set. The board features one of Pendleton’s signature geometric prints and comes with two-in-one wooden pieces.
Treat yourself to a hot drink
While a snowstorm rages outside, partake in a steaming cup of hot chocolate that’s sure to warm you up from the inside out. Satisfy this seasonal craving with a trio set of gourmet hot cocoa mix. The festive tins and delectable flavours—choose from milk, dark and peppermint chocolate–will make you want to savour the moment for as long as possible. (Don’t miss our round-up of the best hot chocolate recipes to try this winter!)
Add a new mug to your collection
Take your hot chocolate—or whatever cold weather beverage you prefer—to the next level with this fun asymmetrical mug. Handmade by ceramic artist Karla Strickland for Tofino, British Columbia-based lifestyle shop Merge, its perfectly imperfect handmade shape and natural raw clay finish will be a homey addition to any cupboard.
Send snail mail
Spread the cheer near and far by sending the special people in your life some snail mail. In a time where we won’t be able to gather together with those closest to us, a heartfelt message will go a long way. Let them know you’re thinking of them and make your wishes extra joyous with this adorable card made by Vancouver-based letterpress printing and design studio Porchlight Press.
Spend quality time with loved ones (virtually)
“Spend quality time with loved ones,” says Wiking. “Engage, listen, and be present.” Although we might not be able to be in the same room with family and friends for the time being, it’s easy to stay connected with video chats that makes it feel as though you’re together. Make face-to-face time a regular part of your routine by scheduling calls and doing activities together, like baking cookies or playing games. (Don’t miss the Reader’s Digest home tech buying guide.)
A DIY ambiance
As you make your home cozy this winter, keep in mind the key elements of hygge—presence, pleasure, gratitude, comfort and togetherness. “Hygge is about the now,” says Wiking. “How to enjoy the moment and make the best of it.” This can be as simple as lounging in your favourite chair with a mug of eggnog and the fireplace channel roaring on YouTube.