It’s cold outside but you can make it cosy this winter. Use Scandinavian style, soft furnishings, and scent to create a winter retreat in your home
You know that lovely feeling you get when you’re snuggled up at home when the weather is awful? Well, the clever Swedes have a name for it, as Catharina Björkman, lifestyle expert at Swedish wood burning stove brand, Contura explains: ‘In Sweden, “mys’’ denotes the warm, fuzzy feeling derived from being indoors, in front of a roaring fire, preferably with a glass of wine or a hot chocolate, while the weather rages outside. Mys is about taking time to slow down, relax, enjoy good company, and eat delicious food. It means comfort and relaxation and taking time out from a stressful outside world to recalibrate.’
Sounds ideal, and of course you need a cosy winter retreat to achieve ‘mys’. Some classic Scandinavian-style tips to help Brits achieve that mys feeling include adding warm throws to snuggle up on the sofa, lighting candles, enjoying a warm drink or bath and wearing fluffy socks.
They even have something called Fredagsmys, which translates as ‘cosy Fridays’. In the Swedish collective consciousness, winter Friday evenings should be a time for cosy relaxation and enjoying a feast of uncomplicated comfort food. Sounds good to us!
To create the right atmosphere, use neutral tones, warm red-based shades, soft pinks and dusky greys. Choose natural materials, such as untreated wood, soft cotton and items that have been handcrafted, such as woven baskets, wicker chairs and embroidered cushions. Keep clutter to a minimum and introduce some mellow lighting.
Up the cosy factor with fluffy blankets, cushions and candles, and woven rugs on wooden floors. Frame and hang your favourite photos and use fragrant diffusers to spread a delicious scent throughout your home.
Adele Shotton-Pugh, interior designer at home furnishings retailer Terrys Fabrics, suggests layering fabrics to create a cosy feel: ‘Look for throws and cushions in varying fabrics, textures and colours to create the desired effect. Chunky knits and plush velvets are particularly popular, as are natural fibres such as fleece, wool and silk.’
Our sense of smell is the most evocative sense. Use candles, wax melts, room sprays and diffusers to surround yourself with comforting, seasonal scents in your cosy winter retreat. Abbi Langan at Berkhamsted’s number twenty says: ‘We’ve got a lovely range of winter scent candles and diffusers. My favourite so far is the True Grace Cedarwood or the St Eval Figgy Pudding and Orange with cinnamon.’
If you don’t have any scented candles or oils, you could bake some spiced bread, cakes or ginger cookies, or brew up a pot of coffee. Orange pomanders, made by studding oranges with cloves and leaving to dry, exude a heavenly scent as the fruit dries. Display in shallow decorative bowls or tie with ribbon and hang up. To get an even stronger scent, roll the orange in spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves and leave to infuse for a week or so.
Create a book nook
Interior designer Samantha Watkins McRae has been working with security company Ring on their report – ‘Home: A New Meaning’, which explores what the future of the home looks like for consumers across the UK, and has discovered that the UK public have a true love of books and reading: ‘As the nights start to draw in we cannot think of a more comforting way to spend an evening then indulging in a great read.
‘For those on a tighter budget or wanting to refresh an area of the home, dedicate an area to a chair that you can sink into surrounded by your book collection – many home retailers now carry some beautiful ranges of individual wall-mounted shelves. From modernist to vintage finds, with some having decorative brackets, there is no end to the creativity they offer to revamp a tired wall or corner.’
You may find other spaces to turn into a cosy reading nook. Take the door off a built-in cupboard, clear the junk from the space under the stairs, or build a window seat into a bay window. Add plenty of cosy cushions, a reading light and a comfy throw for snuggling under. Find book inspiration from local authors on page 22 or take a trip to Our Bookshop in Tring.