No one knows cozy quite like the Danish. Case in point? They have their own term, hygge (pronounced “HOO-guh”), a craze that swept across the ocean, adopted by harried Americans looking to add a little of that slightly indefinable cozy-homey-contented atmosphere to their own homes.
Like the French je nais sais quoi, there’s something about the term that just doesn’t quite translate to English, but exploring the various elements of it helps us understand what exactly it means. Those who live in cooler climates certainly know the joy of getting a roaring fire going and curling up under a heavy blanket, with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and a favorite book in hand. That’s a good example of hygge, but the Danish take it even further—hygge happens when you invite friends over for a quiet chat over tea, too, as sharing the feeling is as important as creating it. (Already ready to adopt the lifestyle? “The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking is a go-to tome to get the basics down.)
And as it turns out, you don’t need to live in a cold climate, or be socked in by snow, to celebrate hygge. Adopting some of the hygge principles can help create welcoming spaces in your home, deck or yard, using your fireplace as a centerpiece. We turned to the pros at the Minneapolis-based Fiddlehead Design Group, Andrea Dixon Kurtz and Jen Ziemer, to school us on how to infuse outdoor spaces with hygge.
Select your site. Kurtz and Ziemer report that there are three settings outdoor fireplaces are making a big impact in the marketplace right now:
- As part of a transitional room, perhaps right off the kitchen on a patio or deck. Heat & Glo’s innovative indoor-outdoor see-through fireplaces can provide a two-for-one in connected spaces like this, providing the ambiance of a burning fire in two rooms at once.
- As a separate room, perhaps set off with a pergola in the backyard. In a stand-alone space, oversized outdoor fireplaces like our Castlewood can create a focal point around which to build your outdoor living room.
- As a relaxing poolside space, where the elements of fire and water blend to create an atmosphere of escape and tranquility. To build on zen-like feeling a water-side spot creates, homeowners gravitate towards modern linear shapes like our Longmire or Lanai.
Build from the floor up. Grounding your space is a must. Both Kurtz and Ziemer rave about the selection of indoor/outdoor rugs on the market, so finding one that’ll anchor your space and complement your fireplace is a solid second step after selecting your fireplace. When it comes to a poolside entertainment space, the ladies suggest embracing cement tile, which creates a grounding rug-like effect, adding warmth with beautiful patterning and is having a “huge moment” right now.
Mix-and-match. “Gone are the days of the iron patio set,” says Kurtz, which is good news for hygge lovers. Access to custom-styled mixed-and-matched sets, once solely the domain of interior designers, is now available at mainstream retailers in weatherproof materials. And some furniture can work just as easily inside and outside, making it ideal for a transitional space. These pieces tend to be more modular, too, which allows for a setup that facilitates conversation and connection—an important element of feeling contented and cared for.
Layer in lighting. Outdoor lighting, too, has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception. “It’s become really high fashion,” Ziemer says, jumping from twinkle lights to all kinds of strung lights, Edison–style bulbs, LED rope lights, chandeliers and more. Any of these can create an intimate, relaxed atmosphere, especially in concert with a fire.
Layers, layers, layers. “What’s fun about outdoor spaces is that you can have fun with layering, and get cozy at night with blankets—and layer patterns, which we really love to do,” Ziemer says. Blankets, floor cushions and throw pillows make for easy seating options and creates a nesting atmosphere, especially in front of the fire. “With that element of fire, it’s so cozy, that brings it all together,” Ziemer says.
Look up. Pergolas, another big trend in outdoor rooms, offer a shot at opulence in the backyard and help define the space clearly. Consider a great bluestone, pebble or rug flooring to anchor. Bring in outdoor draperies, hang a chandelier over the table, an ornate mirror over the fireplace and don’t be afraid to bring your good china outside for dinner party—but know that melamine has come a long way in its patterning and style, too. Sharing a meal while surrounded by comfortable furnishings, dimly (and flatteringly lit) with a chandelier and candles, and the surround of draperies creates a special, fashionable hideaway perfect for shared memories.
Add greenery. And don’t forget, even when you’re outside, that greenery can breathe life into a space and foster a connection to the environment. Not a green thumb? Succulents are still enjoying their moment and are incredibly low-maintenance.
There they are: All the elements of outdoor-space decorating. Go catch some rays and some hygge! And for more outdoor inspiration, check out our Outdoor Fireplace board on Pinterest.