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Howdy hygge: 11 midcentury modest home features that deliver hygge galore

I recently read about “hygge”, a very au courant decorating trend, and realized: Howdy hudee, midcentury modest and granny ranches deliver the hygge galore. “Hygge” — pronounced hoo-gah — is the Danish word for cozy. I quickly counted 11 things in my own house that wrap me in a warm fuzzy blanket — errr, afghan — of hygge. Can you help me to identify more?

Hygge features and decor in midcentury modest and granny ranch houses:

My list for midcentury houses — including from a few categories:

      1. Braided rugs — Any woven textiles are hygge, I think. Braided rugs are so old school. They are super durable. And get them in medium-dark-natural colors and they hide dirt and stains like nobody’s business. Here’s a source for braided rugs made in the USA.
      2. Pinch pleat curtains and sheers, too — To be cozy you must be warm. Cover up those windows to cut down on drafts! Cover them up with pinch pleat draperies on traverse rods and open and close the drapes every morning and night. Such a lovely ritual. We do it every day! Welcome, morning! Goodnight, moon!
      3. Wallpaper — Wrap yourself in comforting pattern. I will suggest: The renewed popularity of wallpaper in mainstream decorating today is a hygge thing. Our wallpaper category is full of ideas and resources, vintage and new.
      4. Low ceilings — The high ceilings so in demand in contemporary houses are, to my taste, overrated. Low ceilings are cozy. They make you feel protected. I speculate that the feeling is built into our DNA. In cave man days, high ceilings would be skary. Ya know what’s up there: Dirty, disease-ridden rats! Give me low ceilings most any time! 
      5. Natural wood including the EPITOME of hygge, knotty pine — The wood wainscoting, trim and cabinetry in my living room dining room was always painted. Now, I am faux-bois painting it. That is: Painting it to look like wood. The transformation has been amazing. My husband loves it. He immediately could feel the rooms were much richer, yes: much more cozy and inviting to sit in. If you have natural wood trim and/or cabinetry, please think twice before repainting it. 
      6. Wood-burning fireplaces — We put in a gas fireplace downstairs, because we really needed to add a heat source to your basement family room that could be flipped on and off with a switch. But upstairs, we have a wood fireplace. There is nothing to compare with the smell and crackling and you-*must*-sit-in-front-of-it-til-it’s-burned-out-or-you-might-burn-down-your-house loveliness of a wood-burning fireplace. Warming drinks and snacks and board games may also become involved, and these home-based activities that force you to slow down and laugh and play and talk with friends and family are very hygge, too.
      7. Pastel-colored bathrooms — Soft enveloping color is cozy. (Large expanses of white tile are cold, and who wants a bathroom to be cold?)  18 places to find pastel-colored bathroom tiles.
      8. Percolators — Slowing down and savoring is hygge, I’d bet. 
      9. Afghans — My #1 favorite hygge item: Afghans. The granny square above was made by my grandmother for me when I was about 10. It’s beloved, and I sleep with it every night, summers included. Over the years I’ve also collected a number of afghans from estate sales. The creativity! It’s even better when you get a tag that says who made it.
      10. Pretty much anything handed down from parents or grandparents — Beloved family treasures keep us connected to the past and remind us to take care of what we have.
      11. Patina: Lots of things that may have lasted from your original midcentury house — Old stuff is hygge. *BUT environmental and safety hazards are not hygge: so be sure to Be Safe/Renovate Safe, of course*

Read more:

That’s my list…
What else is hygge in our old homes, dear readers?

  1. kddomingue says:

    Oh! The sound of the percolator making it’s cheerful bubbling noise alongside of early birds chirping their good mornings to the world is one of my earliest memories. Snuggled under one of Grandmama’s quilts, all snug and cozy, listening to the morning sounds of the house as Grandmama moved about the kitchen starting the coffee and the bacon and the biscuits. What wonderful memories!

  2. kddomingue says:

    Chenille bedspreads and Candlewick bedspreads (I think some people called them Martha Washington bedspreads?)! Plaids and gingham checks and dotted Swiss fabric!

  3. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Regarding the Martha Washington bedspread, I thought I remembered that it wasn’t a generic chenille spread but a specific pattern made in the US. So I looked it up. It was a pattern made by Bates Mills in Maine that George Washington chose for his wife. The pattern, originally woven by hand, was reworked for machine weaving and is still reproduced today. See https://www.batesmillstore.com/products/martha-washingtons-choice-bedspread?variant=15193921863

  4. kddomingue says:

    Yes! That’s what they looked like. Not that particular pattern perhaps but that weave/technique. The Martha Washington style puts me in mind of candlewicking while chenille puts me in mind of crewel embroidery. I can remember taking naps on my Grandmama’s and waking up with a constellation of tiny indents on one cheek from the knots of the bedspread, lol! Although I like the Martha Washington style, my​ heart belongs to chenille bedspreads.

  5. AnnF says:

    I know someone who only burned hardwood and had their chimney cleaned regularly (they were very careful), and they still had a chimney fire from the creosote. It seems weird that gas fires would trigger your asthma. Maybe you are all more susceptible to spores and dust that thrive in a super dry environment — the opposite of my living conditions. One of the big triggers of my asthma is definitely fireplace and fire pit smoke. I admit, fires seem cozy, but I can’t stand them.

    As far as I know, hard coal burns cleaner than wood, but I would advise anyone to do research before changing over. The coal companies have a ton of “info” out there, so it is difficult to find real comparisons.

  6. AnnF says:

    I was just thinking about smells, and though I enjoy essential oils and potpourri as much as anyone, I love the “real” smells of coffee brewing, spring and summer flowers, peppers & onions frying, hamburgers frying, fresh fruit, etc. much better. I think Hygge brings us back to our childhood.

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