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Create a Hygge Home for the Holidays with Sustainable Brands

Posted by Elizabeth Burton on

Create a Hygge Home for the Holidays with Sustainable Brands | Living Deep

Turn Your Home into a Hyggekrog with Sustainable Homeware from Skandinavisk, ECOS Paints and Ronel Jordaan Textiles

The winter holidays are usually a time of celebration, togetherness and thanksgiving. Recently, however, celebrating with piles of gifts ordered online has felt a bit hollow. Last year, we stressed over the presidential election, worried over a growing number of COVID-19 infections and stayed away from family and friends. Though infection rates are now falling as we head into the 2021 winter holiday season, we still feel its effects around the world. Climate change -- another struggle we face together as a global community -- compounds many artifacts of the pandemic. Unprecedented freezes, wildfires and hurricanes intensified by climate change not only ruined lives. They also shuttered power plants, crippled electrical grids, damaged critical infrastructure and destroyed equipment and supplies across industries. The fact we can still place orders and unbox merchandise after lightning fast two-day shipping is more than a bit unsettling. There is a reason why environmentalists and others with eco-anxiety refer to the winter holidays as “the world’s greatest annual environmental disaster.” In a 2019 article for Politico, reporter Eline Schaart noted the amount of waste produced in the U.S. and U.K. increases 25% and 30% respectively during the winter holidays. People around the world contribute more to landfills during Christmas than any other time of the year. While the UK and US top this list, Scandinavia is at the bottom. In this post, we consider the Scandinavian ethos of hygge, which prizes connection and contentment while rejecting artifice and over-consumption. Hygge meshes well with our approach to home and happiness at Living Deep. Through our marketplace, we hope to encourage conscious consumerism by which shoppers buy less often while purchasing only high-quality, sustainably sourced pieces. Read on to learn how you can create a hygge home for the holidays with sustainable brands Skandinavisk, ECOS and Ronel Jordaan Textiles. 

What is Hygge?

Between the global shipping crisis, COVID-19 and climate change, many of us are feeling anxious, stressed and unsettled as we enter the holiday season. To combat loneliness, fear and -- of course -- the cold, Danes embrace hygge during the winter holidays. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in “What do we mean by ‘hygge’?,” hygge is both “hard to pronounce and difficult to explain.” Pronounced “hooga,” the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes that hygge is “about taking time away from the daily rush to be together with people you care about - or even by yourself - to relax and enjoy life's quieter pleasures.” Dating to at least the beginning of the 19th century and more likely to the Middle Ages, hygge comes from a Norse word meaning “protected from the outside world.” In her article “The Year of Hygge, the Danish Obsession with Getting Cozy” for The New Yorker, Anna Altman offers an alternative translation. According to Altman, it is no coincidence this term is actually fairly close to the English word “hug.” Altman writes that the original Norse word might have meant “to comfort” or “to console.” 

The Ministry resource notes hygge is “often about informal time together with family or close friends [in which] there is no agenda.” When embracing hygge, one “celebrates the small joys of life” as he or she takes “an opportunity to unwind and take things slow.” As one can imagine, this “slow” approach to the winter season does not mesh well with fast fashion or over consumption. Rather, notes Lyndsey Matthews in her article “What Is Hygge? Everything You Need To Know About The Danish Lifestyle Trend” for Country Living, “hygge is all about keeping things simple” and meaningful.

Hygge and the Happiness Index

Quoting Meik Wiking of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Matthews also notes that the hygge-practicing Scandinavian nations rank “happiest” in the world. Jan-Emmanuel De Névé at the University of Oxford and Christian Krekel at the London School of Economics acknowledge this in their 2020 Cities and Happiness: A Global Ranking and Analysis from the World Happiness Report. The report’s top ten list is “clearly dominated by Scandinavian cities: Helsinki (Finland) and Aarhus (Denmark) rank first and second, Copenhagen (Denmark), Bergen (Norway), and Oslo (Norway) fifth, sixth, and seventh.” Whether they practice hygge or the very similar lagom, “more than half of the top ten cities worldwide according to how positively their inhabitants currently evaluate their lives are located in Scandinavia.”

New Yorker writer Anna Altman wonders if Scandinavian citizens like the Danes are “better able to appreciate the small, hygge things in life because they already have all the big ones nailed down.” Danes and other Scandinavian citizens have “free university education, social security and universal health care." They also have "efficient infrastructure, paid family leave, and at least a month of vacation a year.” Also quoting Meik Wiking, Altman writes that “with those necessities secured... Danes are free to become ‘aware of the decoupling between wealth and wellbeing.’” Wiking notes that after the basic needs of Danes are met “‘more money doesn’t lead to more happiness...instead, Danes are good at focusing on what brings them a better quality of life.’” With all the sadness and stressors the last two years have brought us, it makes sense that Americans would like to slow down, simplify and enjoy the holidays in a more sincere way -- just like the Danes.

Hallmarks of Hygge

According to Meik Wiking and other experts, there are functional, aesthetic and emotional hallmarks of hygge. In her September 2018 article “I Practiced Hygge and It's Kind of the Best Thing Ever” for Self, Anne Roderique-Jones writes that “you know hygge when you feel it, but that some of the key ingredients are togetherness, relaxation, indulgence, presence, and comfort.” Put simply, the “​​true essence of hygge is the pursuit of everyday happiness and it’s basically like a hug, just without the physical touch.” 

At home, this means hearty meals, gentle lighting, soft textures and cozy spaces perfect for relaxing. While one can personalize the aesthetics of hygge to the specific taste of each person, there are a few throughlines. In general, hygge spaces should have a serene atmosphere and be subtly decorated. Find five ways to capture hygge at home this holiday season below.

Three Sustainable Ways to Capture Hygge at Home

#1 Create a Cozy Nook

While your kitchen might be crowded with Thanksgiving groceries and your bedroom covered in scraps of wrapping paper, everyone needs a space in which to unwind and recharge during the holidays. Creating a cozy nook called a “hyggekrog” is one way to embrace the Danish concept of hygge without transforming your home’s entire interior. The Dwell post “Show Me How to Hygge” describes a hyggekrog as “a cozy nook where you can curl up in a chair with a warm beverage and enjoy the natural view outside your window.” Your hyggekrog should be a space in which you can “celebrate the small things that lift spirits like enjoying a cup of tea in the natural sunlight, a fire in the fireplace or soft plush blankets.” 

Because the Dwell editors believe “hygge is best enjoyed with friends,” homeowners should try to “focus on creating spaces that are conducive to group gatherings” when creating their hyggekrog. This could mean adding “a cozy sectional couch” to your living room or setting up a “long dining table that encourages sharing and simplicity.” If your home’s interior is already a bit too cramped, consider your backyard or front porch as “outdoor areas can be hygge too.” 

Crafting Your Hyggekrog with Ronel Jordaan Textiles 

To blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces while creating the coziest hyggekrog, we recommend cushions, carpets and throws from Ronel Jordaan Textiles. Each piece is sustainably crafted by female artisans in Cape Town, South Africa with organic, biodegradable materials. Created by award-winning textile designer Ronel Jordaan, these pieces demonstrate her incredible talent. They also demonstrate Jordaan’s commitment to the environment and to ethical labor practices. For a hyggekrog, we particularly love the Ronel Jordaan Textiles Leaf Edge Dip Dyed Throw, Pebble Carpet and Ndebele Pouf. Available in neutral color palettes, each piece is ideal for a soothing and serene holiday hyggekrog. 

If you choose a single piece, the Pebble Carpet is perhaps most appropriate. With hand-felted pebbles that magically replicate a riverbed, this Ronel Jordaan carpet is unique, tactile and aesthetically impactful. Best of all, each iteration of this 100% South African non-carbonized wool and recycled polyester rug is custom-made to order. Shop all Ronel Jordaan Textiles here through Living Deep.

#2 Choose a Calming Color Palette

A miscellany of materials, pot-pourri of patterns and variety of textures are all necessary for creating a transportative hyggekrog. However, contrasting colors do not fit. In her article “12 Ways To Create The Danish Hygge Look At HomeCulture Trip Architecture and Design editor Charlotte Luxford explains why neutral color palettes best suit hygge spaces. According to Luxford, “the Dane’s aren’t ones for embellishment or ‘loud’ colour schemes – the idea is to create a calm, serene space that is peaceful and free of clutter.” As such, color schemes in hyggekrogs are “often purely monochrome, or a subtle mix of harmonious tonal shades.” 

To alter the color scheme of your hyggekrog without purchasing new pieces, consider repainting the walls or updating an old piece of furniture. Katherine Owen identifies several hygge tones in her article “The Best Warm Paint Colors for a Cozy Home” for Southern Living. Owen writes that paint “can make a room seem completely redecorated, even if the wall color is the only thing that changed.” This type of transformation is perfect for the conscious consumer who wants to change their home’s interior without creating waste. According to Owen, paint colors that work especially well in hygge spaces are gray-beige, pale gray, deep blues, earthy greens and creamy, golden yellows. 

Updating Your Home for the Holidays with ECOS Paints


When painting the walls of your new hyggekrog, we recommend opting for ECOS paints which are odorless, water-based and free of harsh chemicals. Not only are there thousands of color variations to choose from, but ECOS paints also offer exceptional coverage without releasing any volatile organic compounds or offensive odors in your home. This means you can paint the walls of your hyggekrog -- whether it be in the dining room, breakfast nook or den -- days before holiday gatherings without worrying about safety or smells. A Living Deep marketplace brand, ECOS Paints is "Declare Certified" by the International Living Future Institute. 

Drawing on Southern Living writer Katherine Owen’s suggestions, we have compiled a list of VOC-free ECOS paints that are absolutely perfect for hygge homes. First, for a “gray-beige that is a sure bet for a soothingly neutral palette,” we suggest Whale Bone or Bonaire. Next, for a “deep blue that is so rich and deep it’s cozy and enveloping,” we recommend Frozen Stream or Queen of the Night. Third, to “set a neutral backdrop for statement features to take center stage,” we recommend the pale gray shades Diamond Stud and Nomadic Travels. Fourth, for an “earthy inviting green” with sage undertones, we love Old School and Aloe Leaf. Lastly, for a “yellow that warms up any room without looking dated or cheesy,” we love Lemon Appeal and Kettle Corn. Find them all through the Living Deep marketplace!

#3 Dim the Lights with Flickering Candles

Last on our list of three tips to creating the perfect hyggekrog this holiday season is to fill your home with diffuse, natural light. As the Danes know, this type of gently flickering light is best achieved with candles. According to Architecture and Design editor Charlotte Luxford in her article “12 Ways To Create The Danish Hygge Look At HomeCulture Trip, “the Danes light more candles per head than anywhere else in Europe and it’s not hard to see why.” It is impossible to replicate “the warm glow of a candle” with artificial light sources. Because hygge is all “about creating an inviting atmosphere,” choosing candles that give off a “soft, kinder form of light that’s perfect for relaxing and socializing” just makes sense. Plus, candlelight is incredibly flattering, which one’s guests will surely appreciate while sipping cider and chatting through the night. 

Light Up the Wintry Night with Skandinavisk 

Designed to leave a “lighter footprint,” Danish brand Skandinavisk crafts organic, vegan and cruelty-free candles, fragrances and other homeware products for conscious consumers. For a space that requires gentle light and soft scents, we recommend Skandinavisk’s FJÄLLFJORD and -- of course -- their HYGGE scented candles. According to Skandinavisk, FJÄLL is Swedish for “highland.” They chose the name of this herbal scented candle to recall the unspoiled natural landscapes of northern Sweden. This candle features notes of heather, thyme, ground berries and leaf sap. FJORD recalls the “spectacular rock faces, crashing waterfalls, cascading forests and abundant orchards of West Norwegian fjords. As such, this candle smells of apple and pear blossoms, orchard fruits and redcurrants. Lastly, HYGGE seeks to capture the “intimacy, fellowship and cosiness” of the Danish approach to hunkering down for the holidays. HYGGE features nots of black tea and mint leaves, dried apples and baked cinnamon. Shop each candle through the Living Deep marketplace.

Stay Tuned for More Ways to Celebrate the Holidays Sustainably

Throughout the 2021 holiday season, we will continue to post about how conscious consumers can protect the planet, combat eco-anxiety and enjoy the holidays in an environmentally friendly way this season. In this series, we will also introduce a few Living Deep brands, all of which honor our mission to celebrate craftsmen, support the environment and only buy things worth keeping. Subscribe here to our email newsletter for updates about new pieces and upcoming posts.

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