Hygge might have been the décor buzz word of 2016, but there's new Scandinvaian philosophy set to change the way we decorate our homes and look after our health. Enter the Swedish concept of lagom, an embrace of moderation in everything from food to well-being.
Unlike hygge—the Danish idea of "coziness" that promotes warmth and comfort—lagom is an ethos and way of life. It translates to "enough, sufficient, adequate, just right," capturing the Swedish mentality that moderation and happiness are intertwined.
"Lagom is very much a part of everyday life, including the home," says Niki Brantmark, founder of the popular blog My Scandinavian Home and author of Modern Pastoral. "The Scandinavian home strikes the perfect balance between minimalism and over-cluttered, resulting in a clean, calm space that is also warm and inviting," she tells MyDomaine.
Studies suggest the Swedes might be onto something. A UCLA study found that women with more possessions have higher levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, while a Harvard professor found that money can buy happiness—only if it's spent on experiences, rather than things.
Learn from the Swedes, and follow these four steps to cleanse your home and boost your happiness.
Remove One Item From Each Room
It's rare to find a Scandinavian home that's full of clutter. Instead, they adhere to the "less is more" philosophy and invest in quality pieces. "People often make conscious buying decisions based on beautiful craftsmanship and timeless design, investing in furniture that will stand the test of time," Brantmark says. "Furniture is selected depending on how the room will be used and by how many—without unnecessary surplus."
Follow their lead and challenge yourself to remove one item from each room. "It takes a lot of restraint to stop adding items to a home," she says. "I've noticed that [Swedish] people are amazing at surrounding themselves with a few handpicked pieces they love, which serve a purpose too."
Find Joy in the Little Things
Lagom doesn't mean you can't buy items for your home. Quite the opposite—it encourages conscious shopping, the practice of purchasing furniture and accessories that bring real joy, rather than the momentary buzz from an impulse buy.
Brantmark recommends styling your favorite items solo, so you can truly appreciate them. "Interestingly, if a piece stands alone, you are more likely to see the beauty of it. Put it in among many of the same or in a cluttered space, and the beauty is obscured or even lost."
That doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on every item in your home. The Swedes recognize beauty in the small details, whether that be a scented candle, a fresh bunch of peonies, or a stack of lovingly read magazines you can't bring yourself to recycle.
Decorate With Calm Colors
The color of your home can have a profound impact on your mood and well-being. "Calm, soothing colors such as white and gray or earthy tones are great for forming the basis of a beautifully balanced room," Brantmark says. "Other colors do seep in from time to time, but there's rarely a riot of tone and pattern. It's very much about being simple and fuss-free."
Bring the Outdoors In
"Nature also has a strong influence on the Swedish home, with many opting for layer upon layer of natural textures such as linen, wool, and wood, which adds warmth," she says.
Natural light is abundant and greenery is very much a part of the home, whether that be via a sprawling plant propped by a floor-to-ceiling window, or a few carefully chosen sculptural leaves, freshly cut and displayed in an architectural vase.
Love Swedish style? Complete your home with these Scandinavian decorating tips.
Saxbe DE and Repetti R. No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate with Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(1): 71-81.
Dunn EW, Gilbert DT, Wilson TD. If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right. Journal of Consumer Psychology. 2011;21(2):115-125.
Elliot AJ. Color and Psychological Functioning: A Review of Theoretical and Empirical Work. Front Psychol. 2015;6.