Hygge is a Danish concept popularised by Scandinavian homeowners. The minimalist design style dates back to the early 1800s in Denmark, and has slowly permeated into mainstream consciousness over time. From 2016 to 2017 alone, over thirty books were published on the subject, proving hygge to be a fast-growing craze, and it has only grown since. Now a worldwide trend, the concept refers to cosy living and finding comfort and warmth in soothing things.
Hygge arose from a need of those living in Nordic countries during long, dark winters to create a gentle, warming atmosphere to get them through the season. At the core of the concept is its mood-improving qualities, which help provide a dose of serotonin. Hygge can be anywhere and anything — it’s what you believe it to be. Your idea of it might be snuggling under a thick blanket, enjoying a warming cup of hot chocolate after a winter walk, or even reading a book by a crackling fire.
For some, hygge is linked to food, while for others, home furnishings embody this feeling. Indeed, many homeowners adopt hygge principles into their homes, particularly their living rooms and bedrooms. Yet, even though one may not think it’s possible to include cosy elements in a kitchen too, that’s where you’d be wrong.
Here are a few ways to bring hygge into your kitchen for a fulfilling sense of wellbeing and happiness.
INCORPORATE NEUTRAL COLOURS
Scandinavian kitchen design focuses on simplicity, and features sparse amounts of colour. One way to enhance the feeling of hygge is to repaint it in varying tones of white and grey, which keeps your kitchen light and airy, and produces a clean and calming feeling. This doesn’t mean completely forgoing colour though — just consider neutrals as your starting point. Although white often appears clinical, a beautiful layered look is created when multiple shades are used. Off-white is very popular for hygge kitchen designs due to its freshness and ability to act as a calming backdrop. It also provides a blank canvas for you to add more soothing elements, such as natural materials and soft furnishings. We recommend pairing off-white units with cream cabinets for a gentle appearance.
Gentle pops of colour will enhance the comforting feel. Creamy pastels are great for this — think muted shades of pink, purple and blue that are soft, snug and hygge-inducing. Take our beautiful two-tone Arbor kitchen, for example, where the cabinets are hand-painted in a soft green hue. Natural colours are perfect for a hygge kitchen as they bring the sense of outdoors in.
Using colour strategically is key to ensuring your kitchen is a cosy abode. Pale blue-greens and greys are suitable neutral shades, especially for farmhouses and cottages. You could paint your kitchen island in one of these matte tones, or incorporate colour in your furnishings, like your rug or table runner for a small homely touch.
Soft lighting helps to create a refreshing ambient setup, which is what hygge is all about. Lighting is a vital element of interior design, allowing you to evoke a specific mood, something that’s especially important for this Danish concept. Some of the cosiest restaurants you’ve dined in make use of low lighting rather than bright, in-your-face bulbs, as this creates intimacy and comfort. It is also one of the easiest ways to bring hygge into your kitchen.
Swap any cool-toned light bulbs (such as LEDs) you currently have for warmer alternatives. This helps make your kitchen feel cosy and welcoming. You’ll still need to keep your cooking area bright though, so don’t switch every bulb or you’ll be squinting your eyes when chopping vegetables. You can also opt for adjustable smart lighting systems, as these can accommodate different scenarios, from cooking and prep time to ambient gatherings.
The general rule is: the lower the temperature of the light, the more hygge. Floor lamps and table lamps are great options, providing the right amount of light in different areas. Candles and fairy lights are must-have elements in this style of kitchen, as they add a warm glow and sense of tranquillity. Nothing says hygge quite like these types of lights.
Minimalist decor is often featured in Scandinavian kitchen design, with the hygge feel created through a clean, bright appearance that isn’t fussy, messy or extravagant. This isn’t about having a kitchen with nothing in it, because that wouldn’t be cosy at all. Instead, focus on simplicity and having items that bring value and joy to your kitchen. A space that is cluttered is not functional, so a minimalist approach will allow you to furnish the room accordingly and create your own sense of hygge. Take a look at our range of Linear and Shaker kitchens for inspiration — these are minimalist and designed with clean lines and simplicity in mind.
Hygge your kitchen by decluttering the room and ensuring everything has a space. Clever storage options are incredibly useful for this, enabling you to hide away your bulky appliances without interrupting the gentle flow of your kitchen. When every piece of equipment has a designated home, the minimalist look will appear effortlessly. Our bespoke kitchens benefit from a variety of storage solutions, including drawer inserts, integrated bin cupboards and pantry larders — all of which smartly tuck away your everyday tools.
THINK NATURAL FEATURES
Hygge kitchens highlight natural components such as wood and plants to create an authentic warm feeling. Traditional stainless steel and dark metals are too sharp and cold for Scandinavian interiors, so natural touches are a must. For instance, rustic wood can be incorporated in your furniture for a comforting atmosphere. Wooden cabinets are one example of a warming feature for a hygge farmhouse kitchen, which you can pair with a light worktop and pale flooring, like concrete, to create texture. Be sure to choose wooden accessories too, such as chopping boards and utensils, for more hygge-inspired details.
Bringing in the outdoors also helps to make the space feel relaxed. The kitchen is one of the simplest spots to do this as natural elements can easily be blended into your accessories, utensils and furniture. Reclaimed, vintage, or brand-new wooden furniture, for example, add practicality and warmth to the design. Oak, maple and walnut are top choices as these are stained naturally to emphasise their natural colour. Your kitchen cabinets, shelves and countertops can be built with wood too, and when combined with a neutral colour palette, these truly bring together everything hygge stands for. Plants are also key, as they can make us feel happy and comforted — which is exactly what hygge demands. Place thriving greenery on wooden shelves to add to the soft, gentle atmosphere.
DON’T SKIMP ON TEXTURE
A variety of textures in your kitchen, rather than a room full of smooth surfaces, will enhance the concept. Texture plays a big part in Scandinavian design, despite its minimalist appearance. Natural stone worktops, for instance, incorporate this into your kitchen, while tiled splashbacks are another texture-based touch. Aim to mix soft and traditionally rough elements — like grey concrete flooring with a vintage rug — to create an inviting, cosy space. The idea is to have a perfect imperfect finish that looks well put together.
Harvey Jones Kitchens
20 – 22 The Exchange
T: 0115 924 3600