Creating Comfort And Balance Through Hygge And Feng Shui
The Danish tradition of hygge, pronounced “hoo-gah,” refers to a spirit of cozy contentment best symbolized by things that would make a hobbit happy — a crackling fire, a comfy chair complete with an afghan for napping, a stack of books and tasty food and drink. Feng shui, which translates as “wind water,” originated in ancient China as a practice to organize one’s environment to encourage the flow of positive energy in connection with the five elements: earth, fire, water, metal and wind.
Although the terms originate in vastly different areas of the world, people everywhere appreciate the comfort of a serene, beautiful environment. This can be created by blending elements of both traditions into your interior design to enhance the beauty of your indoor living space.
Feng Shui Element Balance
In addition to the five elements, feng shui refers to yin and yang energies, with yang representing action and change, and yin inspiring relaxation and reflection. A goal of feng shui is to balance yin and yang energies, as well as the apporpriate elemental influences in any indoor or outdoor space.
For example, flowing water represents active yang-heavy “chi” or life energy. Keep items like fountains out of bedrooms where the “get up and go” potential could leave you tossing and turning all night. On the other hand, consider adding a fountain to your living room — a yang energy space — and turn chairs to face doorways instead of placing their backs to them, inviting people to come inside and live in the space.
The ancient Chinese use a chart called a bagua to balance yin and yang energies within a room or entire home. It identifies eight life areas, including health, children, wealth, fame, love, knowledge, career, and helpful people, each associated with a specific color, and creates a floor plan of those areas in your space. Once you locate each specific area, you can activate it to attract more of that quality into your life by balancing the elements. Do you fail at every attempt to earn extra cash? Take a look at your money corner; if it’s cluttered with a ceiling-high stack of dirty laundry, you could be blocking your income stream with mountains of sweaty socks.
Balancing elements in your space might also be achieved by:
- Add a living, green plant.
- Add an object corresponding to the element for that space.
- Add something in that area’s color.
- Rearrange the furniture in that area to improve energy flow.
Hygge developed as a tradition of simple pleasures to create coziness and help people survive long winters where multiple layers are required, as well as patience in waiting for snow to melt and fresh goods to arrive. What are some ways you can invite the spirit of hygge into your living space?
- Go soft: Pillows and blankets lined with cozy Sherpa fleece invite cat naps and long, quiet evenings with a good novel.
- Dim the lights: Harsh overhead fluorescents don’t induce calm. Instead, use LEDs to set the mood, getting creative with dimmers and even different bulb hues. Flickering candles add ambiance, and you can opt for electric models if you fear fire or soot.
- Tell a story: Every object in your hygge-inspired home should spark joy, to use Marie Kondo’s term. Fill your space with personalized items like shadow boxes of scavenged seashells from your last beach vacation.
- Keep it tidy: Cozy doesn’t mean cluttered — it’s often quite the opposite.
Hygge spirit includes finding joy in sustainable practices like recycling to make the most of what you have. Minimalism is inherently sustainable, exchanging conspicuous consumption for the mindful replacement of essential items and adding only those that bring value and meaning to daily life. When you buy less, you throw less away.
If you’re more practical-minded, think of minimalism in these terms — everything you own is also an encumbrance. It requires routine maintenance to stay in working order, or at least an occasional dusting to preserve its luster. Why would you keep stuff around that doesn’t add joy or meaning to your life? You become a servant to your belongings, spending every free minute with a rag in hand. Such a lifestyle isn’t compatible with hygge.
Both hygge and feng shui share the characteristics of minimalism and sustainability, including clearing clutter to surround yourself only with those objects that have meaning to you. They also both encourage the indulgence of all your senses, using color, texture, sound and aroma to create the most pleasing and positive energy flow in every room of your home. Integrating elements of both design school into your décor will help you enhance your living space and feel good about being home.
Rose Morrison is the managing editor of Renovated, and has been writing in the home living industry for over five years. Her work has been featured on The National Association of Realtors, the American Society of Home Inspectors and other reputable publications.