For those who haven’t heard of hygge (pronounced “hoogah”), it will feel familiar when you first see it — and that’s the point. Danish in origin, hygge encompasses the coziness and warmth found in familiarity. To embrace the aesthetic of a hygge lifestyle would be to watch a crackling fire as you’re bundled up in your fleece pajamas. You could be enjoying a candlelit meal in the company of family and close friends. Along with a snuggle under a warm wool blanket on a quiet winter day.
The hygge lifestyle trend began in Denmark in the 18th-century and quickly spread throughout the Scandinavian region as it grew in popularity. Its focus on nurturing a grounded and serene environment resonated with a population devoid of a stable and homogeneous culture. Although the lifestyle’s aesthetic is now often defined by the use of subtle tonal shades and soft candle lighting, its early years in Denmark were much more conceptual. The focus with a reliance on sentimentality and bringing nature indoors.
The original meaning of hygge is best captured in an excerpt from “On the Heights” by Scandinavian playwright and poet, Henrik Ibsen: “In the lonely mountain farm, / My abundant catch I take. / There is a hearth, and table, / And friluftsliv for my thoughts.” Hygge satisfies an individual’s yearning to escape the rush of everyday life by providing solace in nature and familiar company.
In the 19th-century, hygge began its transition from a popular lifestyle trend to an integral part of Danish culture. The country’s architecture saw an adoption of rustic wood flooring and reclaimed wood features. Interior design began utilizing rustic earthenware and nostalgic mementos. Danish culture in general began to homogenize behind the lifestyle.
In 2016, the lifestyle trend finally reached the mainstream in the U.S. It took the design world by storm. Now, you can’t go anywhere without hearing a mention of the word and its importance in the design community.
Reclaimed Wood & Hygge
Hygge stands apart from other design trends because it embraces the old and familiar, not the new and exotic. Nostalgia and comfort underpin the hygge lifestyle. In the design world, this translates to minimalistic simplicity by bringing the beauty of the outdoors inside. (It’s no wonder that this lifestyle began in Denmark — the second happiest country in the world). Salvaged wood fits into this style perfectly, which explains why re-purposed wood and hygge are so closely intertwined.
The intersection of reclaimed wood and hygge is an important one, especially in the context of today. With a growing emphasis on sustainability and environmentally friendly practices in the worlds of architecture and design, hygge and wood recycling couldn’t have become popular at a better time.
Reclaimed and renewed lumber is a key element of hygge. It provides you with a link to nature and a familiarity that can’t be found in something shiny and new. Whether it’s used decoratively, in flooring or even in simple accents, reclaimed wood is the first place one must look to begin embracing hygge in their home.