For the past two years – and we’re not evening mentioning the P-word – many of us clocked a lot of hours in our homes; this year, thankfully, we have options. However, it’s a natural fact that as temps begin to drop, mild hibernation will resume, so let’s embrace this truth and set the stage for a season of cozy.
A handful of years ago, the word “hygge” made its way onto the American scene. Pronounced hoo-gah, it’s a Danish concept derived from Old Norwegian meaning well-being and it describes creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life. There are even related words, like “hyggebukser” which are lounge pants you wouldn’t want to be seen in at the store, or “hyggekrog” which translates to a favorite small spot to nest or that corner on the couch where you most like to curl up. I suggest we add "hyggerhody" to the lexicon – enjoying living in the smallest state.
Definition of hyggerhody
: enjoyment of living in the smallest state
Seasoned Rhode Islanders know all too well that just because the calendar says Autumn Equinox, there are still many warm days ahead. Halloween can mean shorts or a snow jacket, and just like our wardrobes, transitional layers in our living spaces are what it’s all about. Early fall is when most of us haven’t quite put away those lightweight cotton Ts, but the plaid flannel shirts start moving their way forward in the closet. Those flip-flops are now toe-to-toe with shoes and boots, and even – gasp – socks return to the laundry basket. The same applies to home interiors. Suddenly that watermelon candle is replaced with pumpkin spice, mums are the new hydrangeas, and heavy mugs get more use than iced tea glasses. Taking a note from the season and our personal styles, there are many ways to make home ready for seasonal changes along with ideas for imbuing a constant cozy vibe all year long, no matter the forecast.
Is there anything more glorious than the changing leaves of autumn? Keeping curtains open whenever possible to take advantage of the view fills even the smallest room with burnished tones. Be inspired by natural pairings of brown and orange with pops of fiery reds and yellows, or a range of greens – from leaves still hanging to pine needles. Visit a farm stand and look closely at the produce: a cartful of gourds is full of color combos from green-on-green to coral and mint, and faded orange with the palest straw brown. Note favorites when thinking of ways to bring color into living spaces.
Yards once dotted with small flowers are now layered in foliage: large leaves, clusters of needles, and pinecones of various shapes and sizes. Larger motifs begin to emerge in textiles as well – damask over ditsy florals, buffalo check instead of gingham, and of course, the lure of all things plaid! Textiles are among the simplest and quickest ways to outfit a home for fall and winter. In the bedroom, flannel sheets rule the day (and night), along with an extra quilt or two. In the living room, nothing makes things cat-nap ready like a chunky throw and soft pillows. Add unexpected luxe with velvet or something sequined! “Pillows are like jewels in a room and because you don’t need a lot of fabric, you can use high-end luxurious fabric to elevate the luxe in the room,” says Providence-based interior designer Michelle Cortizo.
Changing window treatments to heavier materials can also mean keeping drafts at bay, and small area rugs can help with the shock of cold floors in the morning. Beyond fabric, Nicole Martel of Three Sparrows Interior Design in Warren offers, “My favorite way to add coziness and warmth to any room is through texture: brass metal finishes, warm wood accessories, and amber-colored glass.”
“Cozy cottage living is my mantra,” says interior designer and Blanc + Bleu co-founder Jenna Kinghorn of Riverside. “It’s about creating a space that feels comfortable, inviting, warm, and not too fussy. Pretty yet practical: a place where you can pick any spot in your home and curl up with a good book and a cup of Earl Grey tea and just chill.” Camping out on the couch? Keep items within reach on the coffee table as active accessories: stacks of books to read or enjoy leafing through, a basket of crafting essentials (knitting, beads, etc.), puzzles, paint-by-number kits and coloring books, and copies of Hey Rhody!
Emerge from the cocoon to explore your surroundings and find objects to bring back inside. Take a nature walk on a trail and when you return with your bounty, fill a vase with tall sticks, or a deep dish with pinecones. Iron leaves between sheets of wax paper, just like in elementary school. Three Sparrows’ Martel advises employing greenery when decorating for any season. “Fresh or dried flowers add the finishing touches that make a space look put together and lived in. Spring and summer may mean using florals while fall/winter leans toward dried silver dollar eucalyptus.”
Whether you want to go all-out with hay bales and stalks, or a simple swag of bundled native corn posted to the door, it’s fun to signal the season. Pumpkins and gourds are readily available at farm stands statewide, as are pots of mums. For extra hygge points, treat yourself to a baked good while you’re at a farm stand and enjoy every bite. Tiverton food and reno-enthusiast Caitlin Durand concurs, “Pumpkin pie with friends on a cool Sunday afternoon and being wrapped in a mega cable knit throw blanket on my couch watching Harry Potter movies defines hygge for me!”
Embrace longer nights by creating a bit of magic indoors and out. Candles are a favorite for adding flicker and scent, but strands of indoor lights along a shelf, draped from a hook, or framing a mirror make any night feel festive. Battery-operated votive candles placed in jars are a safe option if young children are around. Solar lights outside may not stay on very late, but seeing them from the inside adds ambiance. And of course, if you have a fireplace, you’re golden; if not, there’s a fireplace channel on YouTube complete with crackling sounds!
“Lighting is the mother of enhancers; no matter what house I’m in or the style I’m emphasizing, every light is on a dimmer,” says Cortizo. “From living spaces to bookcase interiors and bathrooms – dimmers! I also burn candles every day because why not? Flowers bring added life, music brings depth to the air, and I use everything. I don’t wait for special occasions because you can never be sure if there will be another one. Every day is special, so why not celebrate daily?”