Book Edit: How to Hygge – The Secrets of Nordic Living

By now I am well informed on all things ‘Hygge’ having read most books and blog articles on the topic as well as scrolling endlessly through cosy inspired Pinterest boards. Yet I was pleasantly surprised by Signe Johansen’s book How To Hygge – The Secrets of Nordic Living, an informative guide with décor tips, recipes and soothing photography all dedicated to the notion of Hygge from a Nordic perspective. If you have not come across Hygge (pronounced Hoo-gah) before it is a Danish concept for comfortable and wellness living, a back-to-basics mentality whereby we derive pleasure from the simple things in life. 

I have written all about Hygge on a previous blog here:

In Signe’s book she explores the ‘conviviality and togetherness’ of Hygge relating it back to our day to day lives. As the pace of our modern day picks up and we are flooded with data daily via technology. Signe suggests the idea of ‘digital detoxing’ removing these facets for a period and simply ‘being’. One of the ways to achieve this is to have a safe space where we can be free of distractions and instead focus on ourselves, our loved ones, and the environment around us. Signe identifies a key component of this – the connection with nature and outdoors.


According to Nordic inspired Hygge, there is a balance between being a homebody and enjoying the thrill of the outdoors. Nature is central to the identity of Hygge as well as our character and goes hand in hand with the notion of us wanting to ‘get away from it all’. Signe describes it as the ‘call of the wild’ and says there is tight link between a cosy feeling of Hygge indoors and outdoors.

Nature calms you and allows you to reflect on the very essence of what living is about

When it comes to interior design Signe suggests we bring nature inside through plant life, clutter free space, botanical inspired colour palettes and small décor touches such as freshly cut seasonal flowers. These details will increase our connection to the outdoors as well as guarantee a welcoming, snug space that fulfils our needs.


Another vital design element of Nordic Hygge is forming an aesthetically pleasing space through humble pared back styling. Minimalist but with lots of comfort, Hygge encourages keeping the essentials and reducing our consumerism. We can make do with a few meaningful items rather than a home full of lots of pieces that might not hold the same significance. Signe describes Hygge as being freed from the pressure of needing too much ‘stuff’ and states that eliminating these unnecessary purchases will transform our homes. 

Lack of pretension and focus on stylish but practical items

Signe outlines some central design decisions when it comes to producing a Hygge inspired home: 

  • Functional yet stylish
  • Contrast colours & textures harmoniously
  • Minimalist yet warmth
  • Use natural materials
  • Organic forms
  • Accessibly
  • Cosy
  • Hand-crafted
  • Mixture of old & new

You are looking for a space that gives you a sense of warmth and calm when you walk through it and lures you to a cosy spot to enjoy – you guessed it – that slice of cake basking in the soft glow of flickering candles

When it comes to designing your home, Signe says there are 3 main steps to decorate with Hygge at the heart of your home.

  1. Pay attention to how you want to feel in your space, when was it last decorated and what does it need?
  2. Focus on a massive de-clutter and spring clean.
  3. Identify which items you would like to bring back into the fold. Do your items complement one another, and do they give you a sense of pride or happiness? Which colours make you fell calm and content?

In How to Hygge – The Secrets of Nordic Living, Signe has some great advice and ideas for encouraging a Hygge mentality within our interior design. My favourite décor tips include: 

  • Retain any hard flooring and avoid carpets. It is easier and cosier to build layers of texture through rugs and sheepskins.
  • Lighting design is vital- build the ambience through varying lights including mood, task and general.
  • Bring in cosy scents with lots of candles.
  • Add some plant life to each room for that all important injection of nature.
  • Display your most beloved books.
  • Make sure to embrace plenty textures through cushions, throws, rugs and blankets.
  • Combining old and new furnishings generates a collected and considered style.
  • Go for high quality investment pieces rather than lots of budget friendly objects that you will have to replace often. 

a belief in the magic of everyday life, choosing hope and a can-do attitude over fear and despair and making time to be kind, both to yourself and others