Saturday, January 10, 2015

Hygge and Wabi-Sabi

No, it's not a poem from Alice in Wonderland...

An article from Mother Nature Network brought the concepts of hygge and wabi-sabi to mind as useful elements for a homeowner to put together. They may help decision making during the planning stages of custom building or renovation, as well as in the finishing stages of decorating and furnishing a new space.

I was introduced to the Japanese term wabi-sabi while working with Melani on a newsletter for Harmon Builders. She sent me some content referencing the idea, which applies wonderfully to salvaged goods used in construction. If you missed that newsletter, wabi-sabi means finding beauty in imperfections. It represents an antithesis to mass produced goods. Think of the appeal of antiques, items that have worn into uniqueness or been enriched by the patina they acquire over time.

The Danish concept of hygge is something that can help make these cold, short days more tolerable. Although I didn't know the word for it before today, hygge has certainly guided a lot of my home decorating decisions, furniture layouts and lighting choices. I was lucky enough to tag along on my husband's business trip to several cities in Denmark one November a few years back. Danish people and design made a strong impression on me. The places we stayed and the locals who welcomed us had distinctly cozy spaces, and they explained that it is part of a cultural desire for togetherness and hospitality. Our hosts said, "Nobody wants to hang around outdoors for long when the weather is lousy, so it is important to make the indoors inviting."

Furniture is arranged for gathering together. Hygge is emphasized particularly as a way of avoiding social isolation as the cold and dark months wear on. Keeping warm with hot drinks, a roaring fire, and creating an ambience with soft lighting all play a part. Many homes and hotels have iconic modern Louis Poulson lamps, particularly the iconic PH 5  (so named for its designer Poul Henningsen and size 5 decimeters/50 centimeters across). The lamps are hung low over coffee tables with chairs gathered close around for conversation.

I have found it fun to play with integrating these concepts together to blend modern and antique elements and create inviting spaces. Perhaps thinking about them offers some clarity on ways to make a warm, unique and happy home.

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