How To Hygge Your Mountain Home

5 Tips from Hygge Life’s Alex Gove

If you’ve been anywhere in the last couple of years, you’ll have noticed that hygge is everywhere. The Danish concept, pronounced “hoo-ga” and denoting a warm and cozy lifestyle, has actually been a key part of Danish culture since the early 1800s. Though at first glance hygge might seem like an interior design style, it’s really a whole way of living centered around creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with people you care about.

“Hygge is owning things you truly love and choosing authenticity over practicality. It is about adding that extra sparkle to moments, big or small,” explains Alex Gove, co-owner of the Hygge Life store in Eagle-Vail. The Colorado native discovered hygge when she and her husband Koen, who met in Vail, moved to his hometown of Amsterdam.

The word hygge comes from a Norwegian word meaning “wellbeing,” but it doesn’t really have a direct translation in English; rather, it describes a way of life that pursues everyday happiness. Gove, who is also the author of the book Dwell, Gather, Be, describes hygge as “the euphoric feeling when you are completely content in the present moment, when you can’t help but smile and let out a happy sigh.”

  1. Hygge is not about decorating your home to perfection. Instead, it’s about finding things that speak to you, inspire you and remind you of wonderful moments that you can share with all the people you love in your life. A hygge home is about finding the home décor that speaks to you personally and creating a space that cultivates coziness.
  2. Make your home a hygge haven. Think about the moments you enjoy in your everyday life and design with those moments in mind, rather than pursuing a particular style or look. If you love to read and there is a spot in your home that gets the perfect evening glow, then set up a reading nook in that spot with a comfortable chair, reading light and a small table to set a glass of wine or cup of tea. If you love music, then dedicate a portion of your living room to your record player and display your favorite albums in a bookcase. If you and your family love connecting around the dinner table, then invest in a long wooden table and comfortable chairs that make the dinner table conversations linger even longer.
  3. Light candles any time of day. Yes, even with your morning coffee or tea. If you have a fireplace, light it often.
  4. Bring the outside in. In the summer, open the windows and let the fresh breeze into your space.
  5. Create a special haven where your children can slow down. If you have children, consider making a cozy fort in their room or in the family room with pillows, twinkle lights and a sheepskin throw.

Life in the Netherlands was my first encounter with the northern European way of slowing down, being present and genuinely enjoying everyday moments,” she recalls, adding, As you walk the narrow streets of Holland, the brown cafes are dimly lit, the decor is charming yet down to earth and the people are real. I was hooked.”

In 2013, Gove traveled to Copenhagen in search of Danish design and inspiration, which she discovered was a paradise for this cozy vibe she was falling in love with.

It was as if I had found my life match. There were candles everywhere — in windows, cafes and on every table; nooks with comfy pillows, timeless chairs, plenty of good food and wine and happy people,” says Gove.

A few years and a van trip around Europe later, life brought the couple back to the mountains, which Gove felt was the perfect backdrop for hygge, which also involves spending time in nature. In 2019, the pair opened Hygge Life on Highway 6 where valley locals and guests can browse handcrafted dinnerware, soft throws and scented candles that help hygge their home, or chat with a friend in the cafe over a delicious cup of coffee.

Gove is keen to explain that hygge is not a style of interior design, but about creating special moments out of daily routines and rituals, whether that means lighting a candle before you curl up in your reading nook, buying fresh flowers at the market, posting handwritten invitations for your backyard summer party or breaking out the good wine when your friends are over for dinner.

So, go ahead — grab a cozy blanket, light a candle and enjoy these tips from Gove for how to hygge your mountain home.