Copenhagen is not only one of the world’s style capitals, it’s home to the Happiness Research Institute. CEO, Meik Wiking, finds out and measures what happiness is and generates more of it.
We know him as the author of The Little Book of Hygge in which he shares the Danes’ love of cosy - winter fires, sheepskin throws, hand-knitted blankets... We embraced it, too, and brought hygge home, snuggling under the duvet for guilt-free afternoons of cinnamon buns.
His follow-up, The Little Book of Lykke, will have found its way into a fair few Christmas stockings this year. Lykke (pronounced luu-kah) is the Danish word for happiness – so what makes us happy at home?
Togetherness is a biggie - gathering around the dining table as often as possible. In France, it’s not just your five a day that the government promotes for health, it recommends eating with company. If your Christmas lunch was all the better for eating together then they have a point.
The new year is the ideal time to assess if your kitchen/dining habits can be made more sociable. Is your space clutter-free and inviting? Does the lighting induce relaxation and bonhomie? Even lighting a candle at the table can encourage more chat, more story-telling.
From the intimacy of the dining room, the idea of togetherness extends outwards into the built environment. Wiking promotes the idea of becoming visible to each other as neighbours. Create what they call “soft edges” at home – front gardens and porches that you use for relaxation. If you are tending a garden or reading in the sunshine you are adding to the general feeling of security and wellbeing of your neighbourhood. The sense of creating a village feel in a big city is why farmers markets have taken off.
Staying cosy and warm in winter is the essence of hygge and lykke, so we asked Jayson Branch, the creative director of the hip cast-iron radiator people Castrads, for his quick and easy tips to spread a little happiness in 2018.
Room to think
There’s an art to maximising space. Eliminate visual stress with clever storage solutions, such as under-bed rolling crates or floating shelves above door frames.
Be clever with colour
Think about where you use yellows (vibrancy and positivity), greens (soothing and natural), pinks (warmth and sensitivity) and blues (serenity and optimism). Be bold or use pastels in textiles, ornaments and furniture.
Not only is Denmark happy, it’s also energy efficient – saving on bills and reducing pollutants while keeping you toasty. Change all lighting to LEDs, and, when replacing your shower, choose a shower head that aerates water and reduces usage while retaining high pressure.
Having a room that’s the heart of the home encourages closeness between family and friends. In your kitchen and living areas add shelving, large houseplants or decorative screens to create separate areas without isolating them from the rest of the room.
Invest in statement items
Buying high-end items can provide pleasure and pride for years. A cast-iron radiator draws inspiration from our industrial past with un-adorned bare and aged metal finishes, romanticist Art Nouveau patterns or ornate Rococo scrolling (castrads.com)