Similar to the classic Minnesota winter, November through February in Scandinavia is met with intense darkness and sub-freezing temperatures. Coming from this writer who is going on her third winter living in Northern Sweden, it is a very surreal experience seeing daylight for only a few brief hours every day. But while you may think that these harsh winters would evoke a bout of solemness and seasonal depression, in reality, something quite magical takes place in Nordic homes during this time of the year.
Last year, Denmark introduced the world to hygge (hooga); the Danish pursuit of all things cozy. But in Sweden, where the winters are longer, darker, and drearier, the concept is called mys (mees) – or the adjective mysigt. And although the terms are very similar, Swedish mys refers more deliberately to creating an ultra-cozy atmosphere in the home.
Swedish mys is the idea of creating joy and coziness in life’s everyday moments. The idea behind the concept is for someone to walk into your home and immediately get the “I love to live here” vibe. It’s a quality of comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.
In other words, Swedes design their homes in a way that contrasts their environment by accentuating light, promoting simplicity, and implementing designs that encourage comfortable living. To the people living in Sweden, “cozy” is a welcoming design, a fresh cup of coffee, fuzzy slippers, and gathering with loved ones. It’s a design that bleeds into a way of life, and as a result these homes are truly pleasant. Especially around the holidays!
From my time spent living in Sweden, I’ve noticed Swedish home design is mainly characterized by neutral color palettes, clean lines, innovative lighting, and lots of candles! My personal favorite design element emerges around the holiday season when every window becomes adorned with beautiful advent stars that light up each home as well as the streets outside.
With Minnesota bearing a similar Nordic landscape, in addition to having the highest Scandinavian population in the United States, Swedish mys might be the missing puzzle piece you’ve been looking for to complete your home design. And for some, mys might be the perfect way to get in touch with your ancestorial roots!
Swedish homes tend to use predominately white color palettes in their home design, but in order to achieve that coveted mysigt look and feel, many of the designs will include wood accents. These wood elements create warmth in a space, add texture, and give the design a slightly rustic feel which is a beautiful contrast to most home’s sleek and modern design style. You can implement wood into your kitchen design through your cabinetry, open shelving, or even a wood countertop on a center island.
Fun fact: 70% of Sweden’s land area is covered in forest and thus Swedes feel very in tune with and connected to nature. This is a contributing factor to why rustic wood features are such a staple of Swedish design.
With sunlight being scarce for many months out of the year, Scandinavians design their homes with large sun facing windows to let in as much natural light as possible. In many homes, you will see these windows installed in the kitchen as it is the room with the most traffic.
The streamlined design of a Swedish homes promotes simplicity and a modest way of life. You will notice how spaces like this never sacrifice beauty for the sake of functionality but have the perfect balance of both.
To create that perfect balance and harmonization, kitchen designs typically include simple cabinet doors, open shelving, and sleek hardware.
In Scandinavia, homes are designed to maximize light resulting in spaces that utilize neutral color palettes that include whites, soft grays, and warm beiges. While whites and greys have a tendency to be cool toned, these homes radiate warmth from floor to ceiling. Whether it’s used in wood accents, upholstered barstools, or accessories, beiges intermixed with whites do wonders in warming up a space’s color palette and creating an ultra-cozy atmosphere.
Like many of us, Swedes believe that clutter correlates with stress. That’s why people in Denmark and Sweden decorate minimally and utilize integrated storage in their kitchen design in order to diminish untidiness.
In the realm of integrated storage, a trend on the rise here in Sweden is integrated coffee bars. When you have a population with an affinity for caffeine, a designated, well-designed coffee station is a must!
Light fixtures and candles play a huge part of Scandinavian design and creating a cozy environment in your home. In these homes you will find lamps and overhead lights that emit a soft yellow glow, as well as candles on every table and in every corner.
Many kitchen designs include what they call “work” light and “mys” light. Work light is bright and allows you to illuminate your space to cook efficiently, while mys light is muted and subdued.
No Swedish kitchen is complete without the smell of warm baked goods in the oven. Similar to British afternoon tea, Swedes carve out a portion of their afternoons to enjoy “Fika” (fee – ka) which is a cozy time to sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry.
Daily fika means a lot of baking, making smart storage essential in every Swedish kitchen. Creative cabinetry and pantry storage allow baking items to remain out of sight but right on hand for frequent use.
Interested in trying some traditional Swedish Christmas buns? Check out these recipes below:
In my three years living in Sweden, I’ve acquired a deep admiration of Scandinavian people and their ability to thrive in such a tough climate. And while it’s common to create a cozy atmosphere in your home around the holidays, integrating Swedish mys in your home design allows you to create a warm and inviting space that you can enjoy year-round.
Hej då, och God Jul från mig och oss alla på Studio M Design Center.
Merry Christmas from me and all of us here at Studio M Design Center.