It's more than an interiors trend, and difficult to define precisely, but hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish concept and it's taken Britain by storm this year.
'It's woven into the fabric of Danish society,' says Helen Russell, author of hygge book The Year of Living Danishly. 'There are candles flickering in every house, homemade cakes, freshly-brewed coffee.'
In its widest sense, hygge is all about living comfortably and being kind to yourself, in a home that's cosy, warm and softly lit.
Yet, there's a backlash growing. Aren't these things that we Brits have always been good at anyway? And how far has the movement been propelled by a strong consumer desire to purchase yet more cushions and candles, the very anti-thesis of its anti-commercial stance?
The time has come to decide what is truly 'hygge' and what's happily home-grown and here to stay.
We've been using candles to light our homes for centuries. Until recently, relying on candlelight was a sign of poverty - or a power-cut – the nemesis of hygge comfort and joy. However, with candles now available for every mood, scent, budget and personal taste, we're unlikely to fall out of love with them any time soon.
Into this category comes dimmer switches, fairy lights all-year-round, lanterns, and atmospheric garden beacons for those alfresco suppers, British weather permitting. We've been doing this subtle lighting thing for years now, and we've got our own celebrities such as Nigella Lawson to thank for bringing fairy lights into unusual places such as the kitchen.
Neatly-folded blankets on the back of a sofa or armchair have long been a staple of draughty English, and Scottish, country houses. The difference hygge has brought is that these blankets are now likely to be pure wool, subtly coloured or lightly checked, and have generally never been used to line a dog basket. Blankets will be here to stay, but in perhaps more of a refined form than British tradition has hitherto dictated.
Log burners and stoves
The focal point of any self-respecting hygge living room is a log burner or multi-fuel/wood burning stove. This trend has seduced us. The Stove Industry Alliance believes that more than one million British homes now has a wood-burning stove. But we'll see how long-term care and maintenance, plus the constant quest for decent cheap logs endured by all stove owners impacts on popularity.
Speaking of logs, have you noticed they are everywhere? Wallpaper prints, bathroom tiles and wall art…all featuring the log slice. Although the look brings to mind a Scandinavian cabin - or done badly, a 1970s sauna - we predict that pretty soon this particular hygge idea will be confined to feature walls only.
Cushions and pillows
When it comes to hygge, comfort is all. And this means many cushions and pillows. Adding to your collection is one of the cheapest ways of achieving hygge appeal, but after a while it becomes impossible to sit down and get comfortable, the polar opposite of hygge. Perhaps a little paring back won't hurt.
We're bombarded by hygge-tastic reindeers and herringbone patterns right now, but this is not a look that carries well into sunny days at the seaside or the beauty of an English summer garden. This is one to pack away with the Christmas decorations.
Faux fur throws and rugs
Shaggy faux fur throws and rugs bring essential texture to the hygge home, but how long will they remain in our bedrooms and on our bathroom floors? Whilst no-one could deny their appeal in a living room, their ubiquitous presence might be curtailed when the next vogue for chintzy florals comes along.
Why hygge is our history too...
When you think about it, we've been doing the best bits of hygge in Britain for years. We've embraced the dimmer switch, the throw and the rosy glow of a real fire if we can be bothered with the faff. It's here to stay, but then again, it never went away.
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