Bring Contentment, Organization and Bright Color Into Your Home This New Year
The year 2022 is, thankfully, behind us. There seems to be a profound cultural malaise shared by just about everyone. When the familiar fades away and life seems to slip out of control, the new year is a perfect time to reflect, relax and create contentment where you spend most of your time: your home. Studies support the notion that an organized, well-designed, functional home impacts mental health. For example, the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen found that by increasing our quality of life, we may in fact increase longevity and productivity.
The Danes have a word for this lifestyle: hygge (hyu-ga). It’s a noun: Hygge creates joy and coziness in life’s everyday moments. It’s an adjective: This is a hygge piece of furniture. And it’s a verb: I spent the weekend hyggeing in my mountain house. I learned about hygge from Alexandra Gove and Koen van Renswoude, proprietors of Hygge Life, a showroom and cafe in the Vail Valley. They feature furniture and decor lines from renowned designers from Scandinavia and Europe that promote thoughtful home design. “We try to keep it as hyggely as possible,” says van Renswoude, a native of the Netherlands. All of the merchandise—from candles to couches—are legacy pieces, timeless in their beauty and simple in their functionality.
To practice hygge in your home, Gove has these suggestions:
- Light candles as a way to pause and mark a moment. “You’re not going anywhere until you blow them out, so allow yourself to slow down and disconnect,” she says.
- Intentionally place pieces in a room, such as where you get perfect sunlight or sunset views. Create that spot with the comfy chair you
want to curl up in and read a book or have coffee in the morning or tea in the afternoon.
- Bring nature into your home by filling a vase with branches you forage in the woods in winter or flowers any time of year. Bring
in the scent of freshly cut wood and stack it next to your fireplace. Display seasonal veggies and fruits on the kitchen counter.
- Place alpine sheepskin on chairs, even outside. “Sheepskin is an integral part of daily life in the Netherlands,” Gove says. They have long been used as a way to appreciate the comforts of life in the wild, a sought-after luxury. Plus, their natural fibers are more breathable and hold up in all kinds of weather, keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter.
I’ve long been a believer of the saying, “There’s a place for everything and everything in its place.” So, too, for Keli Jakel, professional organizer and owner of Organized by Keli & Co. “Outer order creates inner calm,” she says. To help her clients reach that inner calm, Jakel borrows the Montessori principle of a “prepared environment.” For example, in the kitchen, pots and pans used all the time should be readily accessible and placed in Zone 1. Items not used every day but still necessary go in Zone 2. And Zone 3 incorporates seasonal or sentimental things that you don’t want taking up space that would prevent you from getting into the state of flow.
Flow, as defined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who studied thousands of people, is a state of being when we are completely wrapped up in the present—such as when cooking or playing the piano—making us more creative, productive, happy and in control. Hence, Jakel creates environments that cultivate flow, room by room, zone by zone. Her method—OHIO (only handle it once)—is highly efficient, especially when decluttering and downsizing.
Speaking of decluttering—whether it’s a pantry, closet, garage, playroom or even a home office—having a system that is functional (as well as beautiful) is paramount. “If you don’t have the right foundation, your clutter can take over,” shares Closet Factory’s CEO, Doug Lestikow. “We create organizational elements that become the backbone of your personalized system so it’s easy to put everything in its place.”
As for the interior design aspect of organizational trends, Lestikow shares that wallpapering your closet or creating a display wall for shoes will make your space feel more sophisticated and contemporary. Add in lighting to create ambience and you’ve got yourself a luxurious room that you will certainly want to keep clean.
Color plays an important role in complementing your space. In August, paint brand Valspar revealed its new shades for 2023. Valspar’s experts matched each color to a human emotion, so they embody comfort, acceptance and joy—principles of hygge living. For example, Cozy White is a comfortable white with a yellow undertone that makes a space “like a soft blanket,” evoking comfort. Holmes Cream is a dependable classic tan with a yellow undertone with up-lifting qualities, leaning into joy. Southern Road is a muted clay with a brown undertone, embracing the life of contentment we seek in living with what we have (acceptance). Green Trellis taps into the calming tones of nature, bringing in both the calm and liveliness we seek from outdoors.
To see all 12 colors and their corresponding emotions—and request free paint chips—visit valspar.com or pop into any Lowe’s that carries the brand.
Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, explains why Danes are the happiest people in the world. In his Little Book of Hygge, he writes, “Hygge is about an atmosphere. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe.” Wiking shows how you can use color, light and space to create your happy place in his latest book, My Hygge Home.
41149 US Hwy. 6, Avon
ORGANIZED BY KELI & CO.
6362 S. Lakeview St. , Littleton
THE CLOSET FACTORY
8480 Upland Drive, Suite 200,
Denver native Claudia Carbone is an author and longtime contributor to Colorado Expression. She also writes for the London Sunday Telegraph, goworldtravel.com, realfoodtraveler.com, MTNTown Magazine, The Denver Post and other publications. Visit her travel blog, Sleepin Around, on GoWorldTravel.