Hygge – what is it and how do you say it?

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day things more meaningful, beautiful or special. Whether it’s making coffee a verb by creating a ritual of making it then lingering over a cup to a cosy evening in with friends to the simple act of lighting a candle with every meal. Hygge is being aware of a good moment whether it’s simple or special.

Some refer to hygge as an “art of creating intimacy” (either with yourself, friends and your home). While there’s no one English word to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as cosiness, charm, happiness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.

Technology and modern day busy-ness has removed so many of us from ourselves, our homes and ordinary tasks, making them feel as though these things are chores, have no meaning/importance or are too time-consuming so they’re skipped or not enjoyed. It’s stopped us from being authentic and conscious of how we live and interact. Hygge is about celebrating reality and being present and transforming the ordinary into a moment to recognise instead.

Danes are often cited as the happiest nation in the world and for good reason – they make enjoyment a priority and take the time to celebrate/acknowledge simple, wonderful moments (like meals, visiting, being active or even just sitting by the beach) that nourish the soul. They find ways to incorporate hygge into their daily life so it becomes a natural extension rather than a forced and stressful event. With so many cold, dark, days, the simple act of a candle glowing with a cup of coffee in the morning or an evening meal can make a huge difference to one’s spirit. It’s an act that’s also enjoyed – and perhaps that’s what hygge really is. Acknowledging the moment instead of drudging through it.

By creating simple rituals without effort {such as brewing real tea with a little china cup every evening to stopping at the flower shop every week} the Danes see both the domestic and personal life as an art form and not every drudgery to get away from. Hygge is about being present and recognizing (and enjoying) the moment.

Think of it as what “joie de vivre” is to the French; a lifestyle that can explain a table top to a dinner party to a charming house or a personal way of being. Basic, uncomplicated, un-exaggerated – Hygge!

About Hygge House

Hygge House was created by Alex Beauchamp, an Aquarius who doesn’t believe in astrology. Her bike is her preferred mode of transportation, as is good linens over jewellery and baking to cooking. She gardens for the cut flowers (peonies, tuberose, sweet peas), shops only when necessary (malls give her vertigo), and dreams about sleeping for more than four hours at a time. She adores Thursdays, dresses, tea, hats and the great outdoors.

She grew up on a farm in a small town to a Danish mother and French father who were as creative as they were practical. Her clothes were hand made, toys were built out of wood, vegetables were grown in the yard not because it was hip but because that’s just what one did (or could afford). She was a tomboy who loved pretty things too. This meant she fished in dresses, played sports in skirts, built forts then decorated with linens and helped her parents renovate houses by choosing paint colours and carpet. As a grown-up she now creates award-winning content and social media strategies for top companies like Anthropologie, Apple, Airbnb and Disney whilst maintaining her personal project side hustle of lifestyle and travel photography and writing.

A true vagabond, Alex left home at 18 to travel the world and has since lived all over it. She immigrated to America in 1999 and currently lives in a 1925 hunting cottage between Malibu and Santa Monica in Topanga Canyon, California. She lives with her little terrier-mix mutt rescue dog, Scout.

Hygge House was created in 2004 as a way for Alex to connect back to her Danish roots because truthfully, she considered herself more French in style, culture and decor. Returning back to Denmark as an adult, she realised that ‘hygge’ was a concept she could connect to and wanted to bring it back not only into her life, but into any one else that felt they needed it. Hygge House tries me make the ordinary day, extraordinary through recognizing simple moments and trying to have slow life lifestyle in a busy world.

Hygge House General Policies

What’s your policy on advertising and affiliate linking?

Hygge House is not a job for me – it’s a personal project that I do because I enjoy it. I began blogging long before you could make money and get free stuff so that’s never been my motivation. I also am not paid to write posts or talk about products. This has always been an ad free blog so if I share something I like, you can trust that I really do.

I do, however, sometimes use an Amazon affiliate links in my posts. Meaning, if you click on it and purchase something, I can get a credit for that. But I don’t write posts based on those link and are added only after a post has been written and make sense for that post.

Can I use your photos on my blog?

Yes but please use only the photo(s) and not the entire entry. And please make sure to credit the photos clearly with “Photo by Alex Beauchamp” or “Photo from Hygge House” and link back directly to the specific post (permalink) you took them from.

Will you blog about my product?

No. I’m not a product review site and I don’t do sponsored posts.

Technical, Blog & Design

Who designed the HyggeHouse.com blog?

I did! Well, technically I customized a WordPress theme from Themeforest. I’m a huge believer in both WordPress (have used since 2002) and Themes (have used since 2012). Currently, I’m using Florence by Solopine. I love Solopine’s themes the most.

I host my wordpress blog on Dreamhost. I’ve been a loyal customer since 1999 and run all my blogs with them. They’re inexpensive, they offer a lot of great services and their support has saved me (and the blogs) more than once. If you sign up and use the promo code ‘hygge’ you’ll save 19% on a year’s worth of hosting. Trust me, they make it very easy to do.

Will you design/help me with my blog?

No.

What kind of camera do you use?
  1. Before 2015, I used the Canon Rebel T3  with the 35mm f/2 wide angle lens, 17-40 f/4 Ultra Wide Angle Zoom lens and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Telephoto Lens.
  2. In December 2014 I bought the Sony 6000 to have something lighter and easier to carry whilst travelling and I love it! Also, I wanted to start shooting more video and a lot of vloggers use this for that purpose.
  3. I sometimes use presets from Set I from Rebecca Lilly or VSCO.

Home & Personal

What paint colors did you use in your house(s)?

I am a huge lover of Benjamin Moore’s “White Dove” paint. If you see a white room, that’s the colour. If you see a blue/grey paint, it’s Benjamin Moore’s “Paper White” which is another favourite.

Where do you live?

As of April 2016, Topanga, California. It’s half-way between Malibu and Santa Monica. After 10 years of city life, I finally got my dream of moving back into nature surrounded by the canyon, trees, and not much else. It’s heaven.

I have lived in: Denmark, England, France (Chinon), Canada (Lake Louise, Banff, Vancouver), New Zealand (Wellington, Dunedin, Queenstown), America (Seattle WA, Kirkland WA, Bowling Green KY, Franklin TN, Santa Monica CA, San Diego CA, Santa Barbara CA, Carmel by the Sea CA, San Francisco CA, Philadelphia PA, Austin TX).

I’ve chronicled some of Hygge House Homes.

Why do you move so much?

Good question! Since I was 18 I’ve lived in over 50 homes and since 2005 I’ve lived in 16. When I was younger I just wanted to travel and worked seasonally around the world. As I’ve become older I get recruited by companies to lead their content and social media teams so I’ve been moving since 2004 for work.

What kind of dog is Scout St Charming and how did you get her?

Scout St CharmingScout is some kind of Jack Russel Terrier Mix. She was born in 2012 and was seen living on the streets for the first two months of her life. Because she was so small and fast, no one could catch her. But luckily a DAWG caught her. I went into the shelter looking for a large, male, older dog and I randomly saw this two month old, 4lb female that they had just brought in. It was literally love and first sight and I brought her home the next day. I never thought I’d love a little dog but she’s the perfect companion for me and goes pretty much wherever I go.

Hair: let’s talk about it.

I have naturally curly/wavy medium blonde hair that’s fine but there’s lots of it. I’m a disaster with styling it which is why I tend to keep it long and the same. I can’t even plait it despite an obsession of YouTube plaiting videos circa 2014! So since 2005 I’ve seen the amazing Tracey Cunningham in Los Angeles about every 4-5 months for colour which is generally a few highlights around the front (mostly for volume since I like my hair on the natural/darker side). For cuts, there’s no one better than Cole Hererra– he keeps long hair long and knows how to deal with us curly girls.

Makeup and skincare favourites

I’m always surprised that I get asked this one! I have pretty minimalistic routines for both but tend to favourite more money/time/effort on skincare than on makeup. I also try to go as natural or as organic as I can. I have dry, dehydrated and sensitive skin that likes to break out once in awhile (then leave a red mark forever) so gentle and natural just tend to work best for me – and I think I’ve found some true winners that I highly recommend.

What are your favourite shops and sites?

See my favourite here.

Travel: can you recommend a hotel in…?

I travel a lot – both for business and pleasure. And I’m picky about where I stay whether it’s a luxury hotel, a little in or a home rental. So I’ve listed my favourite places to stay on a Pinterest Board and I often update my favourite travels on my site, Anywhere Everywhere.

Denmark: what are your favourite things to do there?

I’m slowly getting around to writing all of this but you can see my favourite things to do in Copenhagen here.