Hygge Your Home!
Turning Your Space into a Calming, Comfortable Sanctuary - theHumm May 2020

Hygge Your Home!
Turning Your Space into a Calming, Comfortable Sanctuary - theHumm May 2020

One morning a few weeks back I ordered a book from the wonderful indie bookstore two blocks from my home. I was feeling sad and scared, lonely and anxious. Books often calm my nerves. So I chose one I thought might bring me some comfort. By 5pm the book — The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking — was in my mailbox and it was beautiful just to look at, the cover art joyful and comforting. I plunked down on my couch and began reading, in short spurts.

Page after page I was charmed and delighted, and I fell in love with the book almost immediately.

Hygge is a Danish word, I discovered, and it’s difficult to define, but is often used by Danes to describe a quality of cosiness that makes them feel content and comfortable. It can also refer to cozy and comfortable surroundings — a cabin, for instance, or a home that invokes an inner sense of contentment and well-being.

What better time than now, I kept thinking, to explore this way of being? Our homes, big or small, fancy or modest, are where we’re spending a great deal of our time, especially now — and we will be for weeks, it sounds like, and maybe months. So, what better time to explore “the art of creating intimacy”? What better time to take “pleasure from the presence of soothing things”?

“The Danes are obsessed with cosiness,” Wiking writes. This made me laugh. Then I thought, well, so am I. So, too, are a lot of Canadians, I think — especially now, when feeling cozy and secure in our environments feels more important than ever before. So if you’d like to create an atmosphere of hygge in your home, where to start?

Well if you want to think like a Dane, you begin with candles. Not scented candles. Danes prefer natural and organic candles, and lots of them. They create caves of warm light in any room. Candlelight is elementally comforting, it would seem. Just be sure to air out any room after burning candles for a time; and make sure, of course, that the kids or the cats or dogs don’t knock them over.

Next you’ll want to focus on making a nook, or a hyggekrog, as the Danes call it. That comforting spot in a room where you plop down with a good book, a warm blanket, lots of cushions and a nice cup of tea. This will be your go-to space for self-soothing, to relax, to breathe. So candles are in order, of course, or a lamp with soft lighting. A stack or a shelf of good books is a must. Board games are good too. Anything vintage will give this space an added feeling of cosiness and simplicity, especially if it’s made of wood — timeworn crates or a nice old rocking chair, maybe a few wooden toys or candle holders or a bowl filled with fruit.

A crate of well-loved vinyl records would be a lovely touch, too, as might a wooden turntable or a vintage one from the ’70s, say. There is something so very comforting about the crackle and hiss you hear when a turntable’s needle sets down on a favourite vinyl record.

You’ll want plenty of cushions, big or small, to sink into, and a blanket to slide under or throw over your shoulders for comfort, even if you’re not particularly cold. Wool and fleece are warmer fabrics, cotton is normally light. Feel free to improvise. Vintage or earthy art would work really well in a nook, too. Art can make a space feel more soothing and mark it as uniquely your own.

The idea of the nook, after all, is to craft a small space where you feel safe, secure and tucked away; where everything is familiar, predictable, and yes, soothing. Your nook could be by a fireplace if you have one, or perhaps by a window. Just like wooden things make us feel close to nature, so too does looking out over green space or a garden.

If you don’t have a window overlooking green space, you can quite easily bring nature inside. Scatter pinecones and acorns or walnuts on your coffee table or bureau; place a plant or a simple vase of flowers on a bench or in a windowsill. Paint colours can also help — painting a room a light blue might remind you of a pleasant summer sky. Add in some earthy browns and forest greens, and you can conjure the feel of an outdoor space fairly easily.

Don’t forget ceramics. The Danes are big on ceramics. They love simple but nice teapots and favourite mugs — things that add charm and texture. They enjoy the way things feel — not just how they look — thus their preference for wooden surfaces over steel, plastic or glass. And whether it’s an old lamp, table or chair, vintage items (as in many Canadian cottages) invoke a sense of nostalgia and comfort.

The key is to allow yourself to relax, experience the simple pleasures, “knowing,” Wiking writes, “that everything is going to be OK.”

“Hygge is humble and slow,” he adds. “It is choosing rustic over new, simple over posh, and ambience over excitement.”

You don’t have to spend a whole lot of money to adapt an attitude of slow and simple living. Ultimately, it’s all about how your surroundings make you feel.

I love the “hygge emergency kit” suggested in this book. Its contents: candles, good-quality chocolate, your favourite tea, your favourite book or film, jam, a good pair of woollen socks, a selection of your favourite letters and photos, a notebook, paper and a pen, a nice blanket, and music — preferably vinyl records, but any music in a pinch.

Again, you can improvise. This is your environment. Your sanctuary. Your well-being. And these are your moments.

There is so much more to hygge, and its authentic and warm hominess — which is essentially the Canadian translation of hygge — is easy to create. It’s fun too, and pretty stress-free. I highly suggest buying this sweet little book, reading it in your most comfortable space, and giving the slow-and-simple life a go.

Hygge-ing Locally

To help out, we’ve compiled a short list of delightful businesses in the Ottawa Valley that sell a lot of the things mentioned in this column:

Riverguild Fine Crafts for art and crafts riverguild.com

Mariposa Design in Perth and Elizabeth Interiors in Smiths Falls for fun home décor facebook.com/mariposa.design.Perth , facebook.com/ElizabethInteriorsSmithsFalls

The Amish Store in Balderson for wooden furniture theamishstore.ca

That’s the Spirit in Almonte for candles, incense etc. facebook.com/ThatsTheSpiritAlmonte

The Floral Boutique in Carleton Place for fresh flowers thefloralboutique.ca

Whistlewood Custom Woodworking & Design for wooden candle holders and much more whistlewood.ca  

Mill Street Books in Almonte, The Book Nook in Perth, and Arlie’s Books in Smiths Falls for — you guessed it — books! millstreetbooks.com , thebooknookperth.com , facebook.com/ArliesBooks By John Pigeau


The Return of the Victory Garden: an Interview with Ed Lawrence - theHumm May 2020

theHumm is reaching out to members of our Ottawa Valley community to ask how they are finding ways to use their gifts in these challenging times. Today’s subject is Ed Lawrence, CBC Radio’s gardening guru. We emailed Ed to find out what he’s been up to, and what advice he has for novice gardeners who may want to try their hand at growing their own veggies this year.

theHumm: I imagine you have had fewer speaking engagements than usual this spring — what ha......


Poplar - theHumm May 2020

By Susie Osler

A Poplar round supports my weight. Its dying body lies here, sprawling in pieces around me. Rings of honey-coloured carbon circle in around dark, decaying heartwood that Woodpeckers have already begun to investigate in search of larvae. We sit here together, Poplar and I, on the tenuous, thin layer of unfolding life that is happening between our bodies and the eons of sand lying beneath us.

An accumulation of debris has fallen over decades — an offering to the Earth from the sanctuary of other Po......


The Great Veggie Grow-Off is a GO! - theHumm May 2020

The Great Veggie Grow-Off, a project of the Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardens, is an annual challenge between the nine communities of Lanark County and Smiths Falls to engage more citizens in growing healthy local food at home or in community garden beds — all with an eye to bolstering healthy food donations to our local food banks. This friendly challenge pits encourages communities to see which can grow the most food to donate, so the true winners each year are the food banks......


Calling All Novice Vegetable Gardeners - theHumm May 2020

By David Hinks

What is your reason for wanting to start a vegetable garden? You have found that grocery stores have lots of empty shelves? You fear that global supply chains are breaking down and trucks will not be able to cross the border? You’ve always wanted to try growing vegetables and now you have the time to try it? You’re desperately looking for a project to keep the kids busy?

The beauty of starting a vegetable garden is that there is no downside — even if there are no “dystopian-type” break......


Give Moms a (Coffee) Break! - theHumm May 2020

By Sarah Kerr

Well, to be honest, I didn’t think I had it in me. We recently moved back to the Valley from downtown Toronto, and while I saw all these amazing homeschool moms, and was often evangelized by them about how I should consider it, I always thought “bless your heart — but there’s no f-ing way I could do that without losing my mind!”

Six weeks into homeschooling, I have to say: I know myself well. My adrenaline is running out. I’ve tried ALL the coping mechanisms for my personality (Enneagram Type 7) ......


Playful May - theHumm May 2020

By Nicki Gallo

The first time I wrote a love letter to a stranger I felt giddy with secrecy and curiosity. “You are a unique and sparkly human. Thank you for shining your light.” I folded it up and left it on the back of the seat in front of me and got off at my stop. 

The love note wasn’t directed at anyone in particular and I will never know if someone discovered that little mystery letter on the back of a train seat. And that’s ok. It was an experiment in play. The experience left me feeling vulner......


Reflecting on Earth Day 2020 - theHumm May 2020

By Rob Riendeau

As I write this, it is the 50th annual Earth Day. And as with most things these days, the distorting lens of the current pandemic is making me examine the day from an entirely new perspective.

Up to now, the challenges of respecting the Earth by minimizing our impact on the planet and our co-habitant species of plants and animals seemed impossible. Ideas and innovations died as soon as they were uttered, faced with the impracticality of getting from here to there. Grand announcements of bo......


Hygge Your Home!
Turning Your Space into a Calming, Comfortable Sanctuary
- theHumm May 2020

One morning a few weeks back I ordered a book from the wonderful indie bookstore two blocks from my home. I was feeling sad and scared, lonely and anxious. Books often calm my nerves. So I chose one I thought might bring me some comfort. By 5pm the book — The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking — was in my mailbox and it was beautiful just to look at, the cover art joyful and comforting. I plunked down on my couch and began reading, in short spurts.

Page after page I was char......


The Best Gift - theHumm May 2020

By Glenda Jones

Ah, the allure of spring! The desire to drop everything and play hooky, leave all the “have-tos” and indulge in a “want to”, even if for only one afternoon when the sun is warm on your back, and all the winter wear is flapping on the clothes line. We’re supposed to feel guilty about doing this.

However, here we are in playing hooky mode, with days stretching out for who knows how long. Did we realize that we were being handed the gift of time without the necessity of guilt? For most......


Takeout, Take 1: Eataria Unlimited - theHumm May 2020

By Sebastian Weetabix

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By Sally Hansen

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This is great news. Growing research suggests that simply playing in the dirt may provide some of the same benefits as Prozac or other pharmaceutical antidepressants, without side effects or the danger of chemical dependency. Microbes naturally found in soil consistently demonstrate a positive link with mammalian he......


What a Time to be a Travel Advisor! - theHumm May 2020

By Emma Moxley

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We had heard about an outbreak in China, something we would soon become all too familiar with called COVID-19. But we were far removed fr......


The Community Centre without Walls - theHumm May 2020

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In the Wake of the Nova Scotia Murders
A Call to Address Violence Against Women and Girls
- theHumm May 2020

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This weekend br......


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Dealing with Ambiguous Losses
- theHumm May 2020

By Barbara Carroll

As we move through the COVID-19 pandemic we face multiple losses and experience the range of emotions of grief: anxiety, fear, sadness, despair, anger, loneliness, disappointment, hopelessness and regret. We each have our own losses, and we have all lost things such as peace of mind, freedom, independence, control over much of our lives, physical contact and a sense of safety. Well, we can say, COVID-19 is temporary and when it is over life will return to normal. That may be, but we are not there yet,......


Show MVFN What’s in Your Backyard this Spring! - theHumm May 2020

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists are launching a Lanark County backyard nature discovery project on iNaturalist. This will be a friendly challenge to see who can make the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people during the event. As an extra bonus, all the nature observation data that you post to iNaturalist contributes to the biodiversity record of Lanark County and citizen science in g......


CFUW 2020 Education Awards
Application Deadline Extended to May 31
- theHumm May 2020

By the CFUW Perth and District Education Awards Committee

The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Perth and District is now inviting applications for financial assistance from women in our community who are pursuing post-secondary education. Eligibility is subject to acceptance in a recognized post-secondary program of study and is based on financial need. Applicants must reside in the region of Perth and District, but the educational institution can be anywhere in Canada.

In the rapidly evolving situation regarding COVID-19, CFUW ......


An Inspirational Escape - theHumm May 2020

The Rideau Lakes Artists Association’s annual Art show “Paint the Summer” has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, so instead they will be hosting a virtual show/sale called “An Inspirational Escape”.

Starting in early May their talented and diverse artists will showcase their art on Facebook Facebook.com/RideauLakeartists and Instagram Instagram.com/rid......


Attention Students Interested in the Natural Environment - theHumm May 2020

The application deadline for the 2020 Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary Awards is Monday, June 1. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) are looking forward to awarding the annual Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary to the environmental leaders of tomorrow!

The MVFN is seeking graduating high school students who want to “make a difference” in meeting the environmental challenges of the future. The Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary is offered annually to assist students who will pursue ......


United by our Vulnerability - theHumm May 2020

By Helen Antebi

“Let this COVID-19 crisis be a lesson to us all in the power of collective vulnerability. We are witnessing and expressing large-scale humility, generosity and compassion most of us have not previously seen.”

This crisis of the virus has and should be a forever-lesson in vulnerability. If we have learned one thing we have in common in this time, it is that we all do not know. Our leaders do not know, parents, friends, siblings, peers do not know. We cannot answer definitively when this ......


On This Month’s Cover - theHumm May 2020

A veritable garden of art!

(clockwise from top left)

Claire Jacobs, clairejfineart.com

Sally Hansen, ...more