Posts tagged home design
Same Yet Different: What Europe Can Teach North Americans About the Hygge Lifestyle

Part 2: Invest in Living, Not in Resale

Verdun Ivory Chunky Knit Throw Hygge Home

Last week we introduced part 1 of our 3-part blog series titled “Same yet different: What Europe can teach North Americans about the hygge lifestyle”. We focused on one of the key highLIGHTS we took away from the Ambiente trade show: Europeans care more about lighting than North Americans! We covered some of the trends we saw at the show, and talked about how you can change up some lighting in your home, and to make light fixtures an integrated part or style feature of your space.

This week we want to talk about something quite different. While still involving style and the hygge way of living, what we really want to focus on this week is the motivation behind how and why we decorate our homes. During our time in Europe, and conversations with friends and new aquaintances, we learned that Europeans view the home differently than most adult North Americans


1. The age old debate: own or rent?

The North American mentality on renting vs owning your home. Note that “fluffy” can’t be legally excluded from your home in many places!*

In Canada, roughly two thirds of properties are owner occupied**. (67.6%). Several European and Scandinavian countries like Norway (82.8%), Finland (72.7%), Belgium (71.3%) and Sweden (70.6%) sit comfortably above that percentage, while others, notably Austria (55%), Germany (51.9%) and Switzerland (43.4%) have a larger portion of the population renting their homes. In countries like Germany, it seems the pressure to own property is not as big of a priority, and many young adults and adults alike prefer to rent over purchase their property.


Comparatively, in North America, home ownership is treated as the pinnacle of adulthood - if you are not feverishly saving for a down payment on a home or already in possession of one, it’s almost like you haven’t quite made it yet. This is primarily because owning a home is less about having a home, and more about having your first real financial investment. Although the housing market goes up and down in cycles, owning a home is considered the ultimate goal of adulthood after one lands their first “real” job. Rent longer than you need to? “Why are you throwing your money away?” parents often ask. While this attitude persists, there is a changing trend in larger cities, where the rising housing market is pricing out the younger generations of homeowners.


2) North Americans get around - geographically


Despite higher rates of renting apartments and flats, it seems the commitment to geographic mobility isn’t as common among Europeans. In North America, those who live in apartments often do so knowing that they will not be there for long. This affects how one views this space as their home - if you live in a space knowing you will leave in 1 or 2 years, you’re far less likely to really settle in, decorate, and design the space to be exactly as you want it. Why paint a room if you aren’t sticking around? Why change out light fixtures (if you are even allowed to!)?


Work is a common reason for frequent moves in the North American workforce

Further, while North Americans typically sign up for leases a year at a time, in countries like Belgium, that is considered a “short term” lease, with most apartments offering 3 or even 9 year-long leases. Now that is commitment to an apartment! However, if you are agreeing to a space for 3 to 9 years, it may be easier to put the time and effort in to make it personalized and to your liking.


While concept of home ownership is so ingrained in North American culture, if you do own a home, it is also a financial investment. Many adults buy homes with the intent to eventually sell them - either to build equity and move up the housing chain (condo →  small home → large home), or because the likelihood of moving (either by your employer or to take a new opportunity) is high. Often, this leads homeowners to be less inclined to really decorate the home for themselves, but rather, keep everything clean and neutral for the next potential buyer; whenever that may be! So neutral walls, basic fixtures, and boring lighting is the standard. That is what often sells - a clean slate.


3) Committing to your home, any way you can

If neutral walls are a must, use your unique style to bring your personality to your home by hanging art and nostalgic items.

One of the core concepts of hygge is making your home a space that you feel at complete ease in. Using lighting, furniture, textiles, and personal items and artwork, you can create your space to meet your needs. So, do you really think you have committed to your living space, or are you ready to pick up and move at a moment’s (or a month’s) notice? Do you see yourself living there in 5 years? It doesn’t matter! You should put all the energy and efforts into your space as much as you are able to. Regardless of the temporal nature of your living situation it is YOUR HOME, and you should strive to be as happy with it as possible.


Invest in your home to LIVE in it, not to maximize its resale value!

Sources:

* Kamloops property for sale (Image only)

** Wikipedia: List of countries by home ownership rate

How to Light Your Home in Winter - 3 Tools to Make Your Space More Hygge

Although it is only early November, the days already seem to be shortening at a rapid pace. All across Canada, we are facing a gradual decrease in natural light, due to both shorter possible daylight hours and the gloomy, overcast weather that often comes with autumn. We always know it is coming, yet somehow always catches us off guard! This is why Canadians need to consider how to light their homes. Especially to create the ideal Hygge atmosphere, there are several tips and tricks for how you can fill your home with a warm glow during the dark months.


The shortest day of the year is the Winter Solstice, on December 21. However, most of us are already feeling the effects of the loss of light. This means it will only get worse as we get closer and closer to the Solstice. For most Canadian cities, there is under 9 hours between sunrise and sunset - this is the equivalent of the sun rising at 8 and setting at 6. In our Northern cities, this can drop drastically. Iqaluit experiences only 4 hours and 20 minutes between sunrise and sunset on this day! This combined with the colder weather will drive most of us into the comfort of our homes. Strategic lighting in your home can help you create a comforting, cozy, and warm atmosphere for our partial winter hibernation.


Lighting and candles can also be decorative elements, and placed to help frame things - like books! But not too close to the candles, of course.

Light is something we take for granted in the developed world. It is one of those things we don’t think about much, until we don’t have access to it. The ability to flip a switch and illuminate the immediate space around you has had some interesting effects on the world. A recent podcast by Planet Money (titled “The History of Light”)  brilliantly discussed the economics of light, and how the gradual discovery of cheap light has changed the world. Today, we have the ability not just to have easy, cheap access to light, but we have choices as to how we light a room. As mentioned in “The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking, light can be used to create the Hygge atmosphere most of us crave for providing comfort during the winter months.

There are three main components to Hygge-lich lighting:

  1. Warm light bulbs

  2. Light-diffusing lamps

  3. Fire


In your home, lighting can create the feeling in a room, and there are two sources of light: electric and fire-based. Electric lighting is surrounding us, in all of our rooms. The warmth of a lightbulb can greatly affect how a room feels, as well as the location of the light source. Having multiple, smaller sources of light help create a more subdued, glow-like effect that can be very calming.

The 3 types of lightbulbs we can buy: incandescent, fluorescent, and LED. Light bulb temperature is measured by Kelvins (K). The lower the K value, the warmer the light, with fluorescent bulbs can be up to 5000K, and a flame producing closer to 1500K.

Softer yellow light is often far more calming than the harsh blue light from fluorescent bulbs. Thankfully, the advances in light bulb technology has produced LED lights that can create this soft glow, while also consuming less energy. For those who are energy conscious, this is a wonderful change from the compact fluorescents that were commonly used in the last 15 years, replacing incandescent light bulbs. Using coloured pendants and tinted ceiling light covers can help soften your lightbulb light, and disperse the light in the room. Stringed lights are great to create a dispersed light source, and also now come in energy-saving LED varieties. Lastly, the use of lamps with warm lamp shades can help create the mood of a room, with light coming from a specific direction in the room, rather than shining overhead. The use and strategic placement of lamps are important for those who live in older houses, where overhead lights are not wired into the home.

Our small lamp on top of the records shelf helps reflect light against the ceiling, creating a glow in the room. The use of a yellow-tinted shade helps diffuse warmer light into the room. And lights up a super cool picture of my Dad during his wedding day in the 80’s! That perm!

Our small lamp on top of the records shelf helps reflect light against the ceiling, creating a glow in the room. The use of a yellow-tinted shade helps diffuse warmer light into the room. And lights up a super cool picture of my Dad during his wedding day in the 80’s! That perm!

Verdun candle votives generate a beautiful, starry pattern when lit from inside, but are also a stylish, gold accent for every day.

Lastly, we can enjoy the glow that comes from fire, in the form of candles, and a fireplace if your home has it, and it’s cold enough to justify it. Candles have the added benefit of creating a sense of calm and comfort, and votives can add an accent colour and create mesmerizing shapes of light. There is something about fire that intrinsically draws humans to it, perhaps because it remains such an important tool in our world. While scented candles may be all the rage at the moment, use plain, unscented candles when you want to have more than 1 candle at a time. If you love scented candles, supplement your collection with unscented ones, and pick 1 scented candle to burn at a time - this prevents an overwhelming and confusing scent in your room while maintaining that calming glow from multiple spots.


Light is so important to us, now that many of us work indoors, and with the seasonally shorter days. Play around with where you place lamps and candles to achieve the best light dispersion in your space. And when you feel like you haven’t seen the sun in weeks, don’t let it get you down, just cozy up at home, and create your glowy, Hygge-filled, happy space.



At the end of the day, there’s really nothing like a lit fireplace on a cold night.