Inspiration for a Winter Living Room: Hygge

Have you heard of Hygge yet? 

Whether the answer is yes or no, let's settle in for a nice cozy little chat about my new favorite thing.  Grab a hot drink and a thick, fluffy blanket and curl up in a chair.  Light a candle or 12 if that's more your style.  I'm so happy today to talk about Oxford Dictionary's 2016 word of the year finalist 'hygge'. 

If you're one of my winter people in the Northern Hemisphere, savoring every extra minute of daylight we get this time of year, but slowly depleting your vitamin D (and, with it, easy joy & energy) as you wait for spring, you're going to feel just plain good after you even imagine your life with touches of hygge in it.  Just please trust me on this.



Simply put, hygge is a mindset, a way of enjoying good things with good people. 

It's about creating a warm atmosphere.

British journalist Helen Russell wrote “The Year of Living Danishly”  and defines hygge as “taking pleasure in the presence of gentle, soothing things.”  Warm, fresh from the oven buns, hot homemade coffee and thick warm blankets.  

Louisa Thomsen Brits, the author of “The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection,” talks about hygge as “a practical way of creating sanctuary in the middle of very real life” and “a cure for SAD”— seasonal affective disorder. 

Wellness guide and cookbook, "How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life" written by Signe Johansen,  says hygge also has something to do with simple, hearty food and drinks.   Well if that doesn't sound like heaven in the middle of a very long, cold, dark season, I don't know what would.


Here's what some Danish folks have to say about this beautiful tradition that the rest of the world is slowly falling in love with.


Danish people are the happiest people in the world.  

They are on to something beautiful that gets them through what can easily sink anyone's happy-ship:  grey, endless winters.  I think it's a concept that could bring nothing but good, happy, comfortable feelings to your home and your life, so I've put together a list of 15 of basic elements you can add to your living room to get a little hygge feeling going. 


My Top 15 Hygge Basics for Your Living Room


1. Soft, natural throws and blankets.


2. Plush, oversized pillows in fabrics that are soft to the touch.


3. Warm, soft lighting.  Dimmers, warm-toned bulbs.  Twinkle fairy lights.


4. Candles.  And a few more candles.


5. A roaring fire.


6. A tray for an eclectic mug and small plate collection for treats and snacks.


7. A few more blankets. Why not?


8. Fabrics in natural fibres and colors.


9. Good quality, sturdy, natural elements - baskets, boxes, furniture.


10. Bring a bit of nature inside - a few pine boughs, branches with red berries, a small bowl of stones.


11. A stack of great books to immerse yourself in.


12. A small collection of puzzles, board games or cards.


13. Music.  Find something earthy and calming that makes you feel like you're in a chalet in the mountains.


14. Casual family photos of happy times.


15. A thick, plush rug.


I can't wait to see what kind of good vibes you can cultivate for yourself at home this winter!   The mission of hygge is simple:  relaxation, gratitude and indulgence in a beautiful intimate atmosphere.

7 Simple Steps for a Fresh Start at Home

There are times of the year that are like waking up from a really beautiful dream, times that are the quiet 'after' of something big and exciting and all-consuming in our lives.  Or maybe it's more like the ugly kind of waking up, startled from one of those dreams where you are being chased all night - you're relieved, sweaty and full of anxiety.  I don't judge.  On days like this you're turning a new page and waking up in the 'after'.

After summer holidays.

The quiet lull after Halloween.

Post Christmas abyss.

There is some kind of overwhelming hangover effect as you look around in the days after and realize that now that it's all over, all of this less-than-glittery stuff now needs to be cleaned up, organized, hauled to wherever it lives for most of the year.  It's all the physical and emotional weight of an event, without the excitement and happiness to float you along.  It can really drag a person down.  I hear you.

You crave a fresh start.

What you need to do is act swiftly to clean it up, pack it away and move on.  You need to give yourself a clean slate because a fresh start is where the magic happens.  It's where you can take a deep breath, feel light and unburdened and start to thoughtfully place some happiness in your daily life.


Here's a few simple ways to make that happen today.  

By tonight you could be curled up with a hot cup of tea, looking around your beautiful, clear space, just basking in that great fresh-start feeling!




Clear space for storage.  Wherever that might be, make sure it's ready to go.



Gather the boxes, bags or totes where you're going to be working.  If you are putting away seasonal things, chances are you already have a system in place.  If not, that's ok, just gather what you think will work.  Don't overthink this, you don't need the perfect totes or specialty boxes.  Grab what you have or can get easily.  Momentum is key here, don't lose it.



Working swiftly, wrap things up and get them put away.  As you fill each box, take it to your storage area and move along.



Clear away anything that doesn't belong in the space.  This is a great time to fill a box or bag with things to donate.  Be liberal with getting rid of things that no longer serve you or that you don't love anymore.  Recycle or throw away anything that is garbage.



Once everything is cleared, do a quick clean.  This isn't the time to scrub baseboards and organize drawers.  Surface clean, dust and sweep or vacuum.  Fold and put away.  Give everything a quick wipe down.


By now you should be feeling pretty good.  A clean slate has that effect!



Next, it's time to tackle those maintenance items that tend to get brushed aside during daily life.  Common things I see are burnt out light bulbs, squeaky door hinges, and throw pillow covers that need a wash.  Anything that can be handled in a few minutes with what you have on hand.  If you can't get to it right away, make a little to-do list and deal with things as soon as you can over the next few days.  Again, this should be small stuff - we are not refinishing floors here.  Just handle the little jobs that you've been neglecting - we all have them!



The final thing to do is small but important:  add a couple of meaningful items.  You just need a thing or two for this to work - don't overwhelm your space with clutter.  The goal here is to give yourself some breathing room for a little while.  Enjoy the openness and clear space before moving onward in your decorating.  Find an item or two that give you a happy feeling - a stone from a river walk that your kids found, a beloved snapshot from a vacation,  a teacup from your grandma.  Place them wherever feels good, where you can see them daily.  This isn't permanent so don't overthink it.



I challenge you to leave your space in this open, clear state for a week or so. Enjoy the uncluttered, unburdened feeling.  This is what a fresh start is all about:  giving yourself time and space to reset. 

Take some time during this week to immerse yourself in inspiration.  Check out photos online, magazines, books and blogs- you'll soon see a pattern in the things you are drawn to.  It won't take long before you start to think of what would be good additions to the space, how it might function better, how it could be organized differently.  You'll probably start to think about things to do to your room, ways you could make it exactly how you want it to look and feel.  If you go forward thoughtfully, only adding things to your space that enhance it, you will have soaked up the full benefit of your fresh start.

Enjoy that fresh start feeling - you earned it!






12 Ideas to Decorate a Memorable Front Porch

A dozen quick ways to add instant style to your front porch

It really couldn’t be any easier to greet your guests and add curb appeal by decorating your front porch with a handful of new style-makers.   Sometimes a bright color and updated accessories are just the finishing touch needed to breathe new life into a space.  After a quick clean and removing any junk or clutter, try adding a pop of newness with one or two of these updated decor items – having a few new things to welcome you home every day is an investment you will be so happy you made!

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Quick and Simple Curb Appeal Basics– A Crash Course from an Interior Designer


The goal with curb appeal is to make your property appealing and memorable.  This applies whether you are getting ready to sell your home or you just want to have a front facade you are proud to have your family and friends pull up to.   As you work, keep those 2 words in mind:  appealing & memorable.  Let’s get started!

There are 3 main steps I think about when working with clients on their exterior facade and I’m going to walk you through them and explain a bit of theory as we go.  At the end, I have a checklist of tips for you to print and go through as you are getting things done.  For the most part, this is an afternoon project.  If you need to do some repair work or go shopping, it might add on some time, but far and away, most of my clients can get this done quickly with a little bit of physical labour and by using what they have around the house already.


1.       Prep:

This is the time to clean & clear as much as you can – give yourself a blank slate to work with. 

This step makes the most difference when you are preparing to sell your home.  You might be able to see past a lot of these things, but potential buyers normally can’t.  Where you see ‘I need to get out and rake those leaves this weekend’ your buyer sees ‘wow, there is way too much yardwork to keep up with here, no thanks’.  It’s so subconscious, and I’m sure they are very nice people but those little things add up very quickly to buyers, often without them even realizing it.  The more you can do to keep that subconscious to-do list short, the better! 

If you are just working on curb appeal for your own happiness, it is also important to start with this step.  Much like decluttering inside your home, it will be easier for you to enjoy your yard and be proud of your home without a bunch of little annoyances in sight.



2.       Create the feeling of an appealing lifestyle:

So much of the power of curb appeal lies in helping people see the lovely parts of the life that you have in your home.  This is the good feeling people have when walking up to your front door.  It’s a feeling that makes your visitors want to sit with you on the porch and put their feet up.  It makes potential buyers want to have coffee in the morning looking out on that yard.  You need to create a vignette, make a case or create a good vibe, whatever you want to call it. 

The appeal almost universally lies in conveying a relaxed, orderly, safe, calm lifestyle.  This is achieved by creating an outdoor seating area (even a small stool suggests this), having flowers or foliage around the front door, having a great door mat and clear house numbers and even things like thoughtful lighting.  You want people to walk up to your front door and exhale ‘ahhhh, this is so nice.’

If you are selling your home, you can also add some staging to the front area.  What is the lifestyle appeal of your home or area and is there anything that gives a subtle nod to it?  If you live near a lake, a fishing rod leaning in the corner is great.  If a park is within walking distance for kids, a nice basket with some outdoor balls in it or a baseball bat & mitts does the trick.   If you have a nice porch that is great for having morning coffee on, leave a book and clean coffee mug on the side table of your porch seating area.  These are all small touches but they can be very powerful subconscious messages to potential buyers about the appealing lifestyle you have in that home.


3.       Make your home memorable:

Here is where you add the icing on the cake.  This last step is a powerhouse if you are preparing to sell your home, but it’s also that next level up if you just want to love pulling up to your own home that little extra bit.

Why is this important?  Buyers aren’t just looking at one house, they are scanning online listings, looking at flyers, and generally absorbing a barrage of details about a lot of homes.  They are doing this for weeks or months sometimes.  After awhile those houses can start to melt into one another.  It’s a funny thing, but the smallest detail about your home that sticks in someone’s mind means that your home is at the top of the list in their brain, along with all the relevant details about your home.  Familiarity is comforting and when someone is faced with a huge life change like moving, the more they think about your house, the more comfortable they feel with it and the more comfortable they feel with it, the more they are going to gravitate toward living in it.  This is great news when you want to sell it, right?

If you’re not selling, this same factor is what helps your friends and family feel comfortable in your home.  It also means that because you are putting that extra bit of your own personality into your space, you are going to be extra happy there as well.  There is no downside to this!

What makes a home memorable?  Mainly, it comes down to this:  one or two things that are bigger, bolder and more colorful than their surroundings.  You need a statement.  Something unique.  Something in a bright color or interesting material.   Something that makes people say ‘oh, the house with the _____?!  I know that house!’

Does it need to be a purple cow statue on the front lawn or a toilet bowl planter full of foliage?  Um, no.   Those might be conversation starters, but I’m not sure that’s the vibe you want your home to be giving off (or maybe it is, I don’t judge.)  There are lots of great ideas that will also enhance the style of your home.  Consider a few nice planters overflowing with bright flowers near the door, a unique color painted on the front door, house numbers painted a bold color, a door mat with some style, a really great light fixture at the door, or maybe just one bold colored accessory on the porch.


A checklist for my people hyperventilating prepping to list their house:

I know how overwhelmed and busy you can feel if you are getting ready to sell your home, so I’ve created a checklist for you to print off and work through.  It can really help to calm that mental chaos if you can just work through something step by step.  It's ready and waiting for instant download in my free Design Resource Library -  check out that link below if you don't already have access!


My advice for getting this done? 

1. Print the checklist. 

2. Do a 15 minute walk around and see if you need to buy anything (cleaning supplies, paint, whatever) and make a list. 

3. Gather what you need and get it in one spot (hoses, ladder, etc). 

4. Set aside 2 -3 hours to improve your curb appeal.  Do what you can and move along.  

5. If you have more time later, keep working on things you didn’t get to, but any improvement is good and nothing is ever going to be perfect!  You can do this!

Ps - Not all of the tips will apply to every home, so just cross off any that don’t apply to you – doesn’t that feel great? 

Click the image below to access my free Design Resource Library for this checklist and other great printables!

Lately I've been

...loving the fog, dusting off this sweet dog, drinking jars of cold tea, staying warm inside on that one day it snowed, seeing I need to sweep the porch more often, scaring my kids on movie night, feeling grateful for this kind of sunrise, making lemon tarts, figuring out why I had a flat tire, going for long runs with this weird farm cat.

...working to this soundtrack.

...wondering 'but, what is it for??'