My Hygge House

My Home Tours

11 Aug ’08

When my Carmel by the Sea home appeared in Apartment Therapy, San Francisco this spring, the interest in how I live from commenters/viewers was completely (and unexpectedly) overwhelming. Because I live pretty simply I hadn’t really thought it would be interesting. But apparently, there are others who share my style (!).

So I created a home set on Flickr to better detail some of my homes, way of living and the little things in them. The fantastic thing about Flickr is that I can tag photos to highlight items in them. You can ask questions there and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Also there is now a Home Tour Gallery on Hygge House, showcasing my last four homes along with (far too many) videos of my pets. I might do a video tour of my home soon, though, just to break up the fuzz! Enjoy!

Decor Ideas

Paint Colours

30 Jul ’08


One of my first flats “grown up” flats (in which I signed a lease and bought furniture) had the option of having any and every wall pained in any colour I wanted. And, being in Seattle WA at the time, I chose some bright but dark, cosy colours to offset the dark, cold outside. So I chose a bold mix from Ralph Lauren paint:

The gray was in my office, the khaki in the living room, the red in the bedroom and the orange in the music/creative room. And, for the area and the time, these colours really worked – especially since I really didn’t own anything and needed colour.

However, when I moved to Santa Monica, colour didn’t really seem appropriate for the beach side town. And my flat was so structurally charming that I felt it didn’t need anything – I was lighter, too, and didn’t feel as thought I needed something heavy on the walls to feel cosy. I wanted light and breezy so I just kept the white and ended up loving it.

When I purchased my home in Austin Texas, it had painted walls in dark beiges and bright, annoying yellows. I kept most of the colours since I knew it wouldn’t be a long term thing and worth the effort but that yellow in the office and bedroom had to go – it was too much. And so I chose a really soothing blue gray which worked really well in my office:

But then I moved back to Santa Monica, in the same building but just a bigger flat. And again the bright place with charming walls just did not call for colour. And by this time I was truly a smitten kitten for white. So I kept every wall bare and it worked with my furniture and accessories which tended to be on the more colourful side.

But lately, the pendulum has been swinging a back. It’s mostly due to Domino Magazine’s August 2008 issue featuring Katie Ukrop’s home. All her walls are all very light pale ice-cream colour shades. It’s almost too girly for me but a few of the Benjamin Moore colours she uses really caught my eye: Continue Reading…

Everyday Hygge

Double Take

29 Jul ’08

If you’ve ever taken on a second home, gone through a breakup/divorce after having lived with someone for years, or had your home destroyed in a disaster, you’re going to have to have to re-buy some basics and then some. And since I’ve been in this boat a few times I’ve learned what really was worth the money, what wasn’t, what lasts and what doesn’t and what I really love having around in my home.

And while I sometimes brand hop when re-purchasing (still looking for the perfect bed, bedding, towels) I have been loyal to a few brand items because they just work.

And those things are:

I’m sure there’s a few more I’m forgetting at the moment (and will add as I can think of them). What are some home things that you love so much you’d buy all over again if you had to?

Danish Life

Danes are the Happiest

24 Jul ’08

“Over the past 30 years, in survey after survey, this nation of five and a half million people, the land that produced Hans Christian Andersen, the people who consume herring by the ton, consistently beat the rest of the world in the happiness stakes.” Morley Safer in a Feb. 17 CBS News 60 Minutes story highlighting Denmark.

When I first heard that Danes were considered the happiest people in the world, I admit I was somewhat skeptical. That’s not the first word I, or most Danes, would think to use to describe themselves (in fact, I know far more grumpy Danes than Pollyanna ones!).

However, during the 60 Minutes interview, one of the Danes cleared up my confusion by saying that it’s not that they are the happiest, but they are, perhaps, the most content. All Danes have all their basic needs covered from birth to death (good wages, health care provided, free education including university, one year government paid maternity leave and some of the best elder-care in the world to name a few). A word that describes how Danes feel with this life is tryghed which simply means “tucked in” – like a snug child looked after.

With basic needs met one doesn’t have to struggle for the day to day things so much (how will I get into school, how do I pay for the doctor, where do I go when I’m old), so one’s energy can go into family, friends and job pursuits. This sets up Danes for that feeling of being content. Feeling content then frees them feed other desires/pursuits which fuels a lot of young people’s ambitions.

But what also needs to be added to this equation is that Danes generally have very low expectations of life. This is not to say they are pessimists or Eeyore about everything, it’s just that they don’t expect that they will all grow up rich and famous, have a big mansion, drive the BMW, and wear more bling than their next-door’s mama and all by age 25.

If that or something else fabulous happens – great! Wonderful! Celebrate! But they just don’t go around with the expectation of extraordinary events occurring all the time; they are content with where they are and might stay at that place without a feeling of missing something. If they’re in a small home, they don’t feel shamed by this because that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not ambitious or successful or happy – it simply means they want a small home.

In Denmark, one can enjoy being a homemaker, working in a grocery store, growing old with wrinkles, sitting for hours drinking coffee instead of jet-setting, because they’re not stressing out about providing the basics that aren’t really basics or about becoming rich/famous/skinny just because they could be (or as we sometimes tell each other in America, should be). Danish society supports everyone in making sure they live well yet, aside from the basics mentioned earlier, doesn’t dictate what that is. Each Dane gets to decide what it is that makes them content.

And thus, we call them happy because, well, doesn’t that sound happy? It certainly does to me.



23 Jul ’08

Given a shovel, Americans Dig Deeper into Debt
An interesting light on how the majority seem to be getting more into debt. Luckily, there’s a great site, Get Rich Slowly offers solid advice on how to get out of it. (via).

Font video
If you’re a graphic designer and love fonts, you just might appreciate the humour.

Pino’s Aprons
You got to hand it to a donkey that can cultivate a following of pie bakers and apron makers. And the money goes to one of my favourite people and favourite causes.

Pioneer Woman
Love her photography/Photoshop tips. I especially love the post about who your twenty-year younger self thought she’d grow up to be. I was doing a school sponsored twice weekly work/study at my local airport as an Air Traffic Controller and thought maybe I’d do that or perhaps own a flower shop or just maybe be a writer/photographer who travelled the world. I wouldn’t have thought the last one, which seemed the most impossible, would really be the only possible thing to come happen!

Walkable cities
I’ve blogged about this before and how, living in Santa Monica CA I have access to amazing things within walking distance. Staying with my BFF in her Hollywood home it’s the same thing which goes against the notion that LA is only accessible by car. It isn’t – it’s just that most people choose to drive for status, conveinence or Air Conditioning!

French Life

le 14 juillet (or Bastille Day)

14 Jul ’08

Clotilde has a great little explanation of le 14 juillet so I would direct you there to find out more. My experience with this day is very similar to hers – no food celebrations but fireworks, fun, and a lot of reminiscing of the past (both of the country and our own).

As for me this year, it’s a quiet celebration. I was hoping to have gone to Santa Barbara to celebrate but couldn’t make it – next year perhaps. Instead I’ll crack a Crème Brûlée, watch Marie Antoinette and spend the entire day speaking French.

But should you wish to celebrate, here are some ideas:

Everyday Hygge

Cleaning Lady?

13 Jul ’08


Every time my mother comes to visit me, she tells me I should get a cleaning lady. “Organization is your forte. Cleaning isn’t.” she’ll say. And she’s right.

My current flat is about 900 square feet, surrounded by gardens and the beach which means lots of dust, dirt and bugs – especially with dogs, cats and guests coming in and out. I’m also busy and just don’t have the time to keep up even though I feel I should be able to. And even before this flat I have, for years, debated about hiring someone to come in every three weeks to just give the place a good scrub down. But the guilt of not doing this myself, well, it’s stopped me.

But years ago I had a conversation with my friend Alicia who has a cleaning lady and she said to think of it hiring someone to clean not only helps you do what you do best, but helps someone else make a living. You contribute to someone else’s financial success so you have more time to concentrate on yours. I loved this way of thinking about it. Yet I still hesitated until last fall when I moved out of a very large flat and was stressed with all I had going on. I hired a couple to clean the place for the move out – the floors, the tiles, the oven, windows – everything. In two hours the made the place immaculate. Something I couldn’t have done and honestly, after moving 11 times in 7 years, I didn’t want to.

But I was convinced. They saved me so much time and energy and I helped their business. It was a win-win.

So now I’ll be looking into hiring someone to mostly scrub floors, washroom and kitchen once a month. The only thing is, I have no idea how to go about it (getting someone to clean an empty flat – easy peasy). I get nervous about someone having my key but then nervous about being home and in the way. Do I go through an agency, hire direct?

Who else has hired someone and what’s your advice?