Happy December friends! It’s the most wonderful time of the year and I’ve been dreaming of this month all year long for multiple reasons… maybe it’s because it will be my youngest’s first Christmas and it is just that much more magical with little ones (especially 2!)... and second, maybe it’s because I get to bring out all my favorite Scandinavian Christmas decor and get to add a little more hygge in my life… to cozy up, slow down, and enjoy all the pleasures of staying at home. As someone who loves homemaking, I have loved exploring other cultures and their lifestyles (specifically European cultures considering my Czech and English background). In this blog, we are going to take a trip up North, like way up North all the way to Scandinavia where the concept of hygge is a daily practice, whether intentionally or subconsciously. Scandinavia, or the Nordic countries, is made up of the Northern European countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden and sometimes Finland. It is a place where the people tend to master the art of enjoying life in the small daily things that make up life as a whole. As I’ve been diving into what hygge means in my own life lately, I couldn't think of anyone else better to introduce this international and sacred topic except my dear friend Josefine Appadoo; a born and raised Swede who maintains her Nordic roots in her heart and her home wherever she goes. She became one of my first friends that I met on Instagram a couple years after continuous back and forth encouragement and engagement over our design accounts, and then found out she was going through a ministry school at a church in Redding, CA that I felt very connected to and visited occasionally. We then decided to connect in person, had exchanged some good laughter and design-talk over lunch, and our friendship has evolved ever since! She is the perfect person to gleam from in her unique and international perspective on life, her passion for functional design, and whole-hearted approach to purposeful living. Let’s dive in and see what hygge means to her and how you can enjoy all that it has to offer too!
Introduce yourself! Who are you, what is your background and what do you do?
My name is Josefine. I was born and raised in the countryside of Sweden, but have spent the majority of my adult life living abroad in multiple countries (so at this point I should probably say I’m a global citizen with Scandinavian roots). I’m 35, and married to the most incredible man, Kewyn. He is Mauritian and Australian, so together, we have a lot of places in the world that we get to call home.
Professionally, I’ve always had two different tracks in my life; helping hurting people in various capacities, or working creatively as a freelance photographer and social media manager among other things. I’ve gone back and forth between these two tracks in different seasons of life. One of the things I currently do is run an instagram and blog specifically about Scandinavian Interior Design for the last 4 years, and I am studying to become an interior stylist and home staging consultant to take my love for interior design to the next level.
How did your interest in design start?
I’ve always enjoyed finding the beauty around me, and being in places that create a sense of peace and tranquility. In Sweden you kind of grow up being surrounded by great design but it’s something I took for granted. Until I started moving abroad. One of the things I noticed when I moved back to California about 5 years ago was how much I actually missed Scandinavian Design. So I started an Instagram account collecting and posting photos of the styles and designs I liked, as an online vision board for our future home one day. That was a lot of fun so I ended up adding a blog to it as well! That was the start of my brand Scandinavian Style House.
What does hygge mean to you and how do you create a hygge lifestyle? How is it important to you?
Hygge is a Danish word that is a concept of living that refers to finding comfort, pleasure, and warmth in simple soothing things such as a cozy atmosphere or the feeling of friendship. Although I didn't grow up using this specific word myself, the concept for which it stands is a very typical Scandinavian way of living that is a deep core value in me. Our culture puts a high value on the balance between work and play and recognizes the importance of having time off to recharge. Most Scandinavian families have a summer house that is oftentimes quite simple and located out in the countryside somewhere. It’s quite common that we spend our summers and school holidays going there, spending our days mostly outside, connecting with nature and the joys of a simpler life together with family and friends. I would say this is a cultural value that is deeply rooted in Scandinavians, and even when we’re not at our summer house, or if we don’t have one, we often try to recreate the same atmosphere. At the core I believe it’s really about making intentional time with the people you love. Style-wise, Scandinavians are all about minimalism, materials and textures closely connected to nature ( think raw wood, wool, linen, stone, etc), so if you have that as your backdrop - think how can you make that as cozy and inviting as possible? Our winters are very long and dark, and during those months we’re all about lighting candles, wrapping ourselves in a nice warm blanket while we sip on a cup of coffee with a homemade treat. In fact, culturally, we have people over for a home cooked meal more often than we go out to meet at a restaurant. I think that in itself often sets a more intimate tone to our gatherings, where you don't have to rush from the table after your meal is done, and you can linger long into the evening with a glass of wine on the couch just talking and laughing and sharing life together. To me, that’s as cozy or hygge as it gets.
How would you describe your style?
My style is very very Scandinavian. The basic concept is very minimalistic and intentional, with designs that are sleek and beautifully designed while still having a big focus on function. As far as materials I love mixing and matching neutral textures and materials, and the more true to their natural form or color, the better. When I styled my first apartment in Stockholm, Sweden, I had this internal dialogue with myself before I bought anything. I asked myself two questions - does this item have a purpose or a function that I really need, and do I actually love how it looks or the design of it? If it didn't match that criteria, I didn't buy it and continued my search until I found an item that was a loud YES on both of those questions.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Ultimately I’m inspired by nature. I love watching how the light hits differently throughout the day and the different seasons, and the range of colors and nuances that can be found in nature. But I’m also very inspired by all kinds of culture, art, and other designs and crafts. I think you can find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes it’s just a matter of slowing down enough to notice it as we go about our busy days.
If someone were to add more “hygge” in their lifestyle, what advice would you give them?
My first advice would be to take a moment to slow down, turn off the TV along with all electronics and think about what creates that cozy atmosphere for you. Think about who the people are in your life that you truly love spending time with, and then make space and time in your calendar to visit with them. Maybe that means you have to cancel something that’s less life-giving to you.... maybe it means you make time to create a dish or a dessert together that takes the whole night preparing instead of getting it at the supermarket.... or maybe it means you just have to do some decluttering in your home first, so that you can truly relax and enjoy your home. Maybe it looks like getting that cozy blanket that you’ve been eyeing but didn't get yet... or maybe it looks like taking up a new meditative craft like knitting. Hygge isn't so much about the outcome as it is the process of slowing down and actually enjoying the little things in life and the people you love. Only you know what that looks like for you, but whatever it is, don't think it has to look a specific way, but rather find your own way and be intentional and consistent with it.
What is one favorite quote and why?
“Let there be light”. It’s from the creation story in Genesis 1:3 and it’s one of the most simple, yet impactful verses that I’ve kept coming back to in life for years.
On a design level - if I’m doing a photoshoot - my main concern is finding the right light to capture whatever I’m photographing in the best way possible. And if you’re decorating a space - making sure the lighting is done well will have a huge impact on the overall look. The right kind of light will impact how the color of the walls are perceived, and bring out the beauty in a textured plaid or artwork for example. Not to mention the impact on your self image if you look at yourself in the mirror in a bathroom light in a color temperature that's soft and flattering vs. fluorescent lights. It’s all about the light.
A slightly deeper answer to why I love this quote is because I believe we are put on this earth to bring light into the places, spaces, and people we get to be around. We ought to leave this earth better than we found it, and I often find myself asking - how can I bring more light, peace, and beauty to this situation? It’s a deep core value for me on so many levels.
What are you dreaming of for the future?
As I’m writing this, my husband and I have just started the process of buying our very first house! Both me and my husband have moved around a lot and spent more time living out of our suitcases and in old apartments filled with hand me downs. We couldn't be more excited to finally have a house that we get to make our own and invest more in the long term. This is a dream come true that’s been building and growing for at least a decade, and I can’t wait til we’ve closed on it so I can get to work styling it to put our own personal touch on it. After that, I dream of getting my own little Swedish summer house in Sweden where I can visit from time to time.
What are your 3 favorite Instagram accounts and why?
As I was thinking about what accounts to mention here, all the ones that came to mind are all creatives I’ve featured on my blog and interacted somewhat with in person, either through a live interview or at least via messages. I had realized that it’s actually really important to me to know who the person behind the account is, and to me, these three are all just as sweet to interact with as they are extremely creative and inspiring.
Hilde is an absolutely fantastic photographer that captures images that to me speaks straight to my soul. Hilde is Norwegian and I think she captures the essence of Scandinavian slow living and details in her little cottage studio in the woods outside of Oslo like nobody else.
Jenny is another very talented Scandinavian photographer that inspires me so much. She has nailed the moody style and shares lifestyle images of everything from the nordic treats she’s baking, her latest knitting projects, or just a simple snapshot from her life in Finland.
Rebecca is a designer and content creator based in Munich, Germany. She not only takes gorgeous interior, lifestyle and fashion photos for the brands she works with but I also love her focus on featuring brands with a high ethical standard for production. She’s quality over quantity and you can see that in everything she does. In recent years she also released some of her own designs of stunning marble tables that it would be a dream to own one day.
Where can people find you?
You can find me on Instagram @scandinavianstylehouse.
You can find my blog here
If you want to see what we are pinning on Pinterest, check us out here
I hope you enjoyed hearing from Josefine on what hygge means to her and that you were able to feel inspired on how you can incorporate it too! Even though we don't have an English word for "hygge" specifically, we can capture its essence in what it means to build the mindful quality life in the daily little moments, to surround ourselves with atmospheres and people that feed our soul, and at most, enrich our very being. It's about enjoying what's right in front of us and stopping to recognize that it is life-giving. We can go about doing the laundry, the dishes, or even cook a meal simply because it needs to be done, but what would our life look like if we used those as times to connect with loved ones or even with ourselves? It's about finding that spark and glimmer in every season... no matter where you live or how much you make. So let's make the most of it as I invite you to join me, we embark on a journey of creating a home+life that is filled with a little more hygge together.