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The Art of Hygge Lighting

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Photo from Hyttekroken

A few years ago Andre and I decided to take stock of what was adding hygge and cosiness to our home and what wasn't. After a tour of the house and lots of discussions, we decided that the one single thing was lighting. We had far too much hard overhead lighting and far too little ambient warm lighting. Ambient lighting is the kind of soft, warm gentle lighting that calms you down and makes you feel at ease.

In fact, research has shown that that low level lighting makes you calmer and quieter. So much so that hotels use low level lighting in corridors because the low light naturally makes guests calm and speak in lower voices. Just the thing you need outside hotel bedrooms in the middle of the night and I speak from plenty of experience!!

So back to our own small scale studies. We took stock of our own lighting and realised that we needed a lot more ambient lighting than overhead lighting to make things more cosy and create that feeling of hygge within our home. We feel this most acutely in the autumn and winter when the evenings are longer and we are spending so much more time inside. We want something soft and welcoming that creates a cosy cocoon.

Ambient lighting is table lamps, floors lamps, candles and dimmers. The sort of lighting that flickers, fluctuates and slows your heart rate a little, lowers your blood pressure and makes you want to sit for while. If it's bright, light and stark it most definitely is NOT ambient.

So how do we add hygge, koselig lighting on our own homes?

I have a few suggestions to get you started...

Candles on windowsill
Candles are versatile and easy way to add ambient lighting

The quickest, most simple and cheapest option is to add some candles

They don't have to be anything fancy. My favourite candles are the cheapest and smallest options, the tealight. They have a wonderful fairytale flicker and they can be put almost anywhere. You can place them outside on a step, on a saucer, in a cup. The only limit is your imagination, just remember to place them on a surface that's not flammable and remember that glass can break with heat! (I speak from experience).

Table lamps in cabin
Tables lamps give warm soft lighting that can be moved around

Use table lamps

Even one table lamp can make a huge difference to lighting. Overhead lighting can be harsh and white, but table lamps create a warm glow that is calming and comforting. Turn off overhead lights and try a table lamp instead.

Dimmer switch on wall
Dimmer switches give you control over the level of light

Replace your switches with dimmers.

This might not be an option of you are on a budget but it puts you in control of the level of light in the room. I turn down the dimmer switch in our mudroom just before my older kids come home from school. It creates a welcoming cosy feel and it puts them in a calm mood as they come into the house.

Fairy lights around a window
Fairy lights are not just for Christmas! Photo from Cdon

Use fairylights

No, they are not for just Christmas, but I think you knew that already. You might find that fairylights are only for sale at Christmas but who said that they are only to be used then?? I have a set of fairylights that I have been using constantly since Christmas 2020 and no-one is going to tell me to take them down! Go for the best you can afford and do a little research into a good brand. You'll be surprised how long a good brand will last and the pleasing effect a pretty light will give all year around.

Splash out on some solar lights in the garden or terrace

Even a small space in the garden will benefit from a few solar lights to brighten up those darker areas and provide a welcoming light in the evening. The wonderful thing about solar lights is that you don't need to do anything except decide where to place them and then let them get on with it. Do choose a spot that gets a little daytime sun though or they won't have time to charge up.

As you can see it can be easy to add a little "hygge" to your lighting with a few simple tweaks. It doesn't need to be extravagant or a huge redecoration project. Have a wander around your home and look at what you have already. Often you'll find you already have the right lighting but in the wrong place and moving it can make each room feel like something new.

With the autumn approaching it's worth having a look around now before you really feel like you need to make a change and get your home cosy for the cooler months.

Why not join us in the Living a Nordic Life Facebook group. We are 7ooo strong and growing and we love to talk about all things Nordic living. See you there!

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