5 Ways Sweden’s Lagom Design Philosophy Brings Balance to Your Life and Home

5 Ways Sweden's Lagom Design Philosophy Brings Balance to Your Life and Home
iStock/RossHelen

Most of us have heard of hygge by now–you know, the buzzword from a couple years back that we adopted from Denmark basically describing a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, as being comforting, warm, and/or cozy. And while that’s still definitely a big part of our #lifegoals, there’s a trending, beneficial concept emerging from its northern neighbors in Sweden referred to as lagom, and we think it’s totally on-point.

Lagom translates to “just the right amount,” or “everything in moderation,” and means for its adoptees a more mindful, sustainable, uncomplicated, and less stressful way of living. Niki Brantmark, a Scandinavian design blogger, Swedish transplant, and author of “Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life,” is a leading expert on the subject. Her recent book, released last October, is a comprehensive guide for anyone hoping to transition and immerse oneself in the lagom lifestyle.

Inspired by her Swedish friends and husband, Brantmark not only jumped at the opportunity to move to Sweden from London, but immediately fell in love with the country’s lagom approach to life some fourteen years earlier. She describes her time spent with the company in a way that almost sounds like a scene from a picturesque movie.

“The long hours of daylight were spent eating home-baked waffles with strawberry jam, swimming in the sea and soaking up the sun on Sweden’s West Coast,” Brantmark reminisced. “The days were carefree and uncomplicated. We had no schedule to keep, no fancy meals to prepare and work couldn’t have been further from our minds.”

Niki Brantmark's Book

In her book, Brantmark translates the untranslatable eloquently and to the point: “By deliberately seeking a more manageable, comfortable, balanced way of doing things (and finding perfection in imperfection), you’re not just taking the pressure off yourself – you’re taking the pressure off others, too. And you’re gaining more of today’s most precious resource: time.”

Within her book, you’ll find ways to live like this, too, through simplifying (and truly enjoying) everything, from your home life and recycling routine, to stress-free holiday gatherings and more manageable child rearing. Until then, here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Declutter

Storage Bench

Look around your home and identify the things you no longer use, don’t actually need, and the items that aren’t really bringing you joy. With furniture that serves a purpose, but also blends with the lagom design appeal (white or gray walls with a balanced, uncluttered aesthetic), the items you choose to surround yourself with would ideally be as functional as they are attractively simple, like this multipurpose storage bench.

2. Take Breaks

Mug with Lid/Coaster

Part of living lagom is also about seizing the opportunity to balance your time spent working. Here in the U.S. it may seem indulgent, but that’s sort of the idea. By not depriving themselves, Swedes have mostly mastered the work-life balance through Fika, or coffee and optional treat breaks during the workday, which honestly wouldn’t be complete without the perfect Scandinavian mug complete with useful design features.

3. Capsulize Your Closet

Neutral Fashion

Adopt the Scandi girl look by keeping only the essentials, or simply investing in core basics that can be mixed and matched to create several, chic monochrome looks centered around mostly neutral hues. Check out Meijong Park for affordable separates that are perfect for creating endless wardrobe combinations, like this top, these pants, or this skirt.

4. Sleep Better

Simple Comforters

By adopting a few new bedtime habits, you may be sleeping more lagomly by tonight. Skip the pajamas and snooze in the nude to regulate body temperature more precisely, thus providing a better night’s sleep. Double up on the comforters in smaller sizes, rather than fight your partner over a single large one. Follow the previously mentioned design principles and make your room a soothing, decluttered retreat.

5. Reduce Waste

Lunch Box

When it comes to waste, both tangible and energy-related, lagom is all about getting sustainability just right. IKEA promotes lagom living by suggesting simple changes that include things like turning off the lights, proper food storage, bringing leftovers for lunch, turning off the tap while brushing, home grown foods, switching to LED bulbs, and more.

“In a world where we’re connected 24/7 and have so much on our plates,” Brantmark proposes, “wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all slow down a little and lead a life with less stress and more time for the things we love?” And to that, we reply with a resounding “Yes!”

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Jamie Duncan
Jamie Duncan

After starting out in public relations, Jamie finished college with a BFA in sustainable interior design. This combination of writing and design knowledge, coupled with her fashion and lifestyle expertise, has paved the way for an exciting freelance career. Her work has been published in magazines and online, and she's been the lead copywriter for several well-known fashion, health, and home brands. Jamie’s a vegetarian and cruelty-free product fanatic. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and check out her website to learn more.