MINIMALISM AND HYGGE: HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOME COSY WITHOUT ADDING CLUTTER
Here are some ideas on minimalism and Hygge and how to embrace both whilst enjoying a simpler lifestyle. I’m sharing some tips on how to make your home cosy without adding clutter so you can enjoy feeling warm and safe at home and still stay clutter-free!
ENJOYING YOUR HOME IN AUTUMN
Autumn is my favourite season. I love the colours and textures, the changes that take place in nature and that I can snuggle under my blanket, light a candle and enjoy getting cosy even though the days are shorter and darker.
However, I also appreciate that, however lovely it is to add new colours and Autumn accessories into my home to echo the changes outside and make my home feel warm, relaxing and inviting, sometimes our homes can inadvertently feel more cluttered as a result.
In this article I’m sharing some tips on how to make your home cosy without adding clutter. We’ll also explore how you can embrace minimalism and simplicity as well as the Hygge lifestyle that’s become so popular in recent years.
MINIMALISM AND HYGGE
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll already be familiar with the concept of minimalism. We’ll explore it a little more in just a moment.
What you may not be so familiar with is the Danish concept of Hygge. Again, we’ll talk about it more later on but as a minimalist and lover of simplicity in so many ways, I was intrigued about Hygge when I first heard about it.
It didn’t really seem that I could make my home cosy, warm and inviting without adding in extra stuff. My home is pretty minimal and I liked it that way, but there are times when I love to snuggle in a blanket and create a bit more atmosphere by lighting a candle.
Could there be a way that minimalism and Hygge might work together, even compliment each other or are they mutually exclusive?
As it turns out, minimalism and Hygge have a lovely relationship and share many similarities which I’ll be exploring more in this article.
MINIMALISM AND THE MINIMALIST LIFESTYLE
Minimalism (or a simplified home and life if you don’t like the label ‘minimalist’) is about intentionally choosing less stuff to have more life. The stuff in our life, whether it’s in our home, schedule, bank statements or even in our mind, can take up space and demand our time and energy in so many ways. A minimalist lifestyle encourages us to remove this excess by consciously and intentionally considering whether that stuff adds value and meaning to our life, or whether it’s just empty padding.
Joshua Becker’s definition explains minimalism perfectly…
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
Far from being cold, empty or stark, a minimalist life is actually richer, fuller and more rewarding in so many ways. We give ourselves time and space to explore what we love, need, want and enjoy. Often, when we really think about it, these aren’t to do with just material possessions but they’re about creating memories, personal development, learning, laughter, focus on friends and family and experiences that we can hold in our hearts and minds.
Fast cars, a bigger wardrobe and the latest designer watch will all disappear in time but the important people and places we remember will stay with us for years.
Minimalism is often mistaken for the minimalist design aesthetic. Whilst both share a love of simplicity rather than clutter, the minimalist lifestyle doesn’t have to be stark, full of contrast, and straight lines.
A minimalist lifestyle can actually look and feel like whatever you’d like it to whilst following the general principles of staying mindful, intentional and choosy about what you do and have and why you do and have it! This is important so I’ll repeat it…
A simpler, minimalist lifestyle isn’t about not having things. It’s about why you have them and keep them.
Hygge (pronounced “hyoo·guh”) is a Danish concept about enjoying the simple pleasures and moments in life. It’s about slowing down, being present, mindful and finding peace and contentment in the here and now.
In recent years it’s becoming increasingly popular, perhaps as a reaction to the busy modern world where we get sucked into doing, being and having more.
The Hygge lifestyle encourages and reminds us to enjoy the simple moments and things in life. Some examples could include cuddling into that favourite blanket, enjoying your cup of tea or coffee, chatting with friends, lighting a candle. Simple pleasures that remind us to slow down, be mindful and present, and enjoy the precious company of those around us (and ourselves).
Whilst there isn’t a direct English translation of the Danish Hygge, the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “a Danish word for a quality of cosiness (= feeling warm, comfortable, and safe) that comes from doing simple things such as, for example, lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family.”
It’s not about what your home looks like or the stuff that contributes to what it looks like, it’s more about how your home and life feels and what you do to make it feel that way.
The Autumn Fall season seems a perfect time to bring Hygge into your home and life! It’s a season when many of us hunkering down for the colder months. A little like the Danes who created Hygge as a cosy invitation to feel warm, safe and happy in the cold winters in Denmark.
However, what does embracing Hygge mean for those who prefer a more minimalist and simpler home and life? How do the two contrast or compliment each other?
MINIMALISM AND HYGGE
On the surface, it may seem that minimalism and Hygge sound a little contradictory. The minimalist lifestyle can be about getting rid of stuff whilst Hygge is, again on the surface, about adding in those little comforting extras that make home feel more warm, safe, welcoming.
These little extras often come in the form of extra stuff such as candles, cushions, mugs, throws. They all contribute to that wonderful warm Hygge feeling, but they also add clutter.
So, whilst on the one hand, minimalism and Hygge seem to be polar opposites, one loathes clutter whilst the other embraces it, actually there’s more to it.
As I mentioned previously, minimalism isn’t just about your stuff and what your home looks like, it’s what it feels like too. You might even be keeping a few photos, ornaments or pieces of furniture because they’re special to you. You might love the look of them, they might bring back memories or you might find them useful. They serve a purpose in some way and you intentionally keep them because they add value to your life.
The items we use to make our home feel cosy, safe, welcoming, inviting, relaxing, charming and that make us feel equally warm, cosy and relaxed are not there just to add clutter. They are there to intentionally create a specific atmosphere that puts us at ease. Hygge doesn’t require stuff for the sake of stuff. It requires stuff to evoke a particular emotion and sense. Those cushions, throws and candles serve a purpose, not just a functional one but an emotional one, and you’re adding these to your home because they add value to your life.
2. The importance of home
Both the minimalist lifestyle and Hygge have a focus towards the home. Minimalism takes a practical stance in creating a home that functions well for the people who live in it without the excess stuff that takes up your time to manage. That being said, there are also the comfort benefits of minimalism and creating a home that’s a sanctuary for an overwhelmed brain and schedule. HSPs and introverts can relate I’m sure!
Hygge focuses on home but more in the way that home is where the heart is. Home is central to the feeling of safety and security but home could be wherever you are, with friends, camping with family in a tent, at your desk at work. You can Hygge your office, for example!
3. Slowing down
One of the main reasons I simplified my life and explored minimalism is that I wanted to slow down. I was fed up of feeling like a little hamster on one of those wheels. The faster I ran, the faster the wheel spun and the faster still I’d have to run.
Life shouldn’t be lived at full speed every day. We need to slow down, enjoy stillness and sample the delights of slow living, even in a busy world. It’s not always easy and sometimes we need to use strategies to help us slow down.
In minimalist terms, decluttering your schedule could be saying no to things you don’t need to do. It could be choosing blocks of free time instead of saying yes to every opportunity and invitation that comes your way.
Simplifying your home, and giving yourself less to do in terms of managing it, is another great reason to own less stuff for the sake of slowing down. Less to move, tidy, clean and put away.
In Hygge terms, slowing down is important too. We learn to pause, take a breath, enjoy being present. Spend time with family, play a board game, share cake and coffee with a friend, cuddle the dog, read with our kids, sit by the fire and eat marshmallows, listen to music snuggled under a blanket.
“Hygge is all about appreciating the little things in life and being thankful for them.” (Sofie Pedersen)
Minimalism is about intentionality. Deciding your priorities and asking yourself whether what you’re doing, buying, striving for, chasing to, is really what you want from life or whether you’ve just been swept along by the full force of the clutter in your life.
Hygge is about intentionality. It’s about deciding to do something different. Bigger, better, faster, bolder, louder, shinier – these aren’t what we’re chasing for today thank you. Today, we intentionally choose to stay close, warm, safe, comfortable, happy, secure.
5. Productivity and being present
Being fully present is one of the gifts that the modern world doesn’t give out so readily. We have to make it happen by slowing down, being intentional and finding ways to simplify our complex lives. This is how we give the best of ourselves, our time, focus and attention, to our loved ones (including our own self) instead of what’s left over after our busy day has finished with us.
Minimalism has given me time, space and freedom to be present. Whether that’s for playing with my kids, reading a book and remembering what I’ve read from one page to the next, to enjoying a day out without worrying about what I’ve got left to do at home, or taking a nap mid-afternoon just because I could. A simpler home, schedule and life allowed me to be more present and fully engaged in what I’m doing at any one time (even if that’s not doing much at all!). I should also point out that simplifying my life has also meant I’ve used a lot of productivity hacks to make the most of my time. Whereas there maybe a focus in the minimalist lifestyle towards productivity, Hygge is more about presence.
Hygge encourages us to be fully present with body and mind. We focus on how we’re feeling right here and now and what can help us stay in the moment – the feeling of warmth, safety, happiness, contentment, joy, connectivity. After all, it’s difficult to feel these things when your mind is forward-planning what’s for dinner tonight, or whether you’ve double-booked your meetings for tomorrow.
6. Belonging and authenticity
When we feel comfortable in our environment and with those around us, including ourselves, we can begin to feel a sense of belonging, community, connection and contentment. There’s no need to rush, chase, compare or compete. We can all share our love, compassion, values, wisdom, honesty, inspiration for the betterment of everyone. This is the true value of a simpler life but something that I think Hygge can teach us more of. It’s something that I’m looking forward to exploring more about!
“Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.” (Meik Wiking)
Minimalism and Hygge aren’t really so different after all. Forget about the focus on stuff and see beyond that. Both encourage us to slow down, embrace the moment, be present and intentional about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. They both invite us to relish simplicity in all its shapes and forms.
“Hygge is humble and slow. It is choosing rustic over new, simple over posh and ambience over excitement. In many ways, Hygge might be the Danish cousin to slow and simple living.”(Meik Wiking)
Minimalism and Hygge make wonderful companions and it’s perfectly possible to introduce a little cosy Hygge into your minimalist and simplified home and life. You’ll probably find they make a great pair.
HOW TO HAVE A COSY HOME WITHOUT CLUTTER
Here are some ways to embrace minimalism and Hygge including having a cosy home without clutter:
- Spend time with your family playing games, chatting over dinner or cooking together
- Enjoy an evening movie night with your partner with a lovely meal, treats, cup of tea or wine
- Light a scented candle and take time to run a warm bath
- Read a good book snuggled up in your favourite chair with a blanket and warm drink
- Take a nap wrapped up warm in bed or have a lie in at the weekend
- Eat chocolate cake slowly and mindfully. Savour each delicious mouthful
- Create a cosy corner in your home for reading, relaxing or just sitting whilst watching the kids play
FURTHER RESOURCES ON CLUTTER-FREE SPACES
Here are some more articles and resources on how to keep a clutter-free home but that still feels calm, inviting and relaxing for everyone who lives or visits:
- 15 ways to simplify your space
- How to create a calm home for more peace and less stress
- How to create a minimalist family home
- How to reset your home so it stays tidy and clutter-free
- 20 amazing benefits of a clutter-free home
SIMPLIFY YOUR HOME
If you’d like to learn more about decluttering your home and how to decorate and organise your space without adding to the clutter then you might like Simplify Your Home.
Simplify Your Home is my decluttering guide and workbook where we tackle the clutter in YOUR home, step-by-step. I offer you plenty of tips, advice and inspiration on how to create a clutter-free space that works for you. There are some really handy checklists you can print out, adapt if you wish and tick off too to track your progress and stay motivated.
DON’T MISS OUT!
I’m Antonia and on this blog I share practical inspiration to simplify your home, time and life. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest! You can also subscribe to Balance Through Simplicity and receive regular simplicity tips straight to your inbox for free. Make sure you never miss an article plus you’ll get a copy of my free Declutter Starter Kit as a welcome gift!