You’ve heard of hygge, the Danish lifestyle trend of getting cozy? Hygge took the world by storm the last couple of years--it was even shortlisted as the word of the year for 2016 by Oxford Dictionaries--but there’s a new Danish concept that just might supersede the chillness of hygge and it’s called umage.
Umage, pronounced "oo-may", loosely translates to “effort”. It may seem like the opposite of hygge, which stresses coziness and making the least effort possible, but one can make the argument that the concepts are a whole lot more related than at first blush. After all, a whole lot of effort goes into making things cozy.
As Dorinda Medley of the "Real Housewives of New York" might say, “Make it nice.”
As I see it, umage is what allows hygge to exist. Umage is taking the time to make your home comfortable, inviting, and cozy, so you and your guests can practice the art of hygge. It’s past-you making an effort so that future-you can enjoy some cozy time on the sofa taking in the warmth from the fireplace.
Hygge can be seen as passive--sitting back and relaxing--while umage is proactive. It’s about taking charge and not waiting to take on those DIY or home improvement projects.
Here are a few ways to take control and make a bit of effort.
How-to Create Umage
- Keep up with housework and chores. Instead of leaving housework until the weekend when it becomes a daunting task, keep up with household chores during the week. That way, you can relax more on the weekend.
- Fix it. We all have those little things that need repairs around the home--that loose piece of trim or broken kitchen cabinet. Don’t put those things off; instead be proactive and keep your home in tip-top shape. Not only is your home a major investment that should be taken care of, but letting minor fix-it projects pile up could negatively affect how you feel about your home.
- Invest in signature items that can really make a room. Consider adding an eye-catching rug, a stunning chandelier, or striking. You don’t have to buy new either--invest in vintage or antique pieces that need a little love but will really add something a little extra to your room.
- Too often our home layout and decor come together over time and there’s no overall plan. Get thoughtful and reassess your furniture placement and decor elements. Think about the flow of your home, the feelings you want to impart and the uses of your rooms. Jettison items that don’t fit and that no longer bring your joy.
- Finally, one major way to make more effort is to get organized. Not only can it increase your efficiency (and potentially add more free time into your life), but an organized home can make you and your guests feel more comfortable and at ease.
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