Winter Living Style is subtitled: Bring Hygge into your home with this inspirational guide to decorating for Winter. It sounds ideal, doesn’t it? It should be filled with references to hygge, to the creation of cosy spaces, to nooks for reading, sharing cake with friends, getting outside (so a chapter on decorating garden spaces for winter hygge wouldn’t go amiss) and on celebrating a hygge Christmas, family-centred, small parties, simple decorations and an emphasis on feeling safe, happy and secure with your tribe.
I really enjoyed this book, and it is a beautiful guide to decorating a home for winter but it is not a hygge book. In fact, I’m not sure that the word is mentioned anywhere else in the book apart from the subtitle. The reason for this becomes clear when you read that the book is actually a revised edition of her 2015 book Winter Living. I bought that book five years ago, and the only revisions I can really pick up are a change of front cover and a new subtitle. So, before I review this book there is a warning: Make sure you haven’t already got or read Winter Living by Selina Lake because this is that book, in a new coat.
That said, if you didn’t have Winter Living already, this is a good book and, yes, the decorating styles within are very likely to create spaces to enjoy hygge. But I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it again and again: Hygge is not about how your house is decorated or what style of house you live in, it’s the application of your home in combination with family, friends and mindset that creates a space of safety and cosiness to nest in.
The book opens with a chapter on winter inspirations, a sort of Pinterest chapter of inspirations, ideas, thoughts and actions that make winter such a good season. I love her lists, like the joy of Winter above, or her top ten things to do in Winter. We could all do with a few Winter pleasures lists, things to do or read, films to watch or simply lists of the reasons why we enjoy Winter, and truthfully reasons why we don’t with the actions we can do to improve our emotions.
The book is lavishly decorated throughout with beautiful sets and vignettes that will give you plenty of inspiration for your own home. Selina groups her settings into four distinct groups: Homespun Charm; Faded Grandeur; Rustic Retreat; and Winter Whites. Of these all, Winter Whites is possibly closest to the ‘traditional’ hygge environment of Danish or Swedish design, but since all have a strong emphasis on cosiness and comfort, they’re all hyggely themes.
And there’s a heavy stripe of using the outside in creating cosy interiors as well. Apart from the ubiquitous piles of logs next to log burners, there’s an emphasis on using natural, often recycled material in the interior. None of the design schemes in this book rely on mirrored dressing tables, impeccable grey walls and immaculate white doors. They all look like a pair of wellies left at the doormat and a few chips on the woodwork would only enhance the patina of a well-loved home.
I do love the use of found flower containers in the book… an interesting bottle, or a repurposed jar rather than a purpose-bought vase, and the berry boughs used for winter flower arranging are also beautiful. My home always has some berry-strewn branches on during the winter months. In the photo above you can also see how Selina Lake has used candles- that most infamous of hygge creators- in her display. Although there’s very few night time or late afternoon shots in the book, the interiors look ready for flickering candlelight rather than harsh overhead lights.
The final chapter is about Christmas, Festive Celebrations, and features several different rooms in different styles… vintage, country, natural. There are a few recipes or crafts in this section, like mulled wine and wallpaper baubles, but I’d really love to see Selina work with a lifestyle writer to do a proper Christmas book, with ideas for decor, tree decorating and food and crafts, as well as inspiration for carrying on the Christmas cheer into January. One day I’ll finish my Self-care Winter book… it’s half way there.
So, truthfully, the book isn’t about hygge itself. It’s obvious that the publishers and Selina have decided that five years is a good gap, and they can add hygge to the book and it will sell. If you’ve got or read Winter Living in the past, then this book is superfluous to your requirements. You’ve read or know what you need to already. If you haven’t already seen the first edition then, yes, I’d say there’s enough eye candy and content to keep you happily browsing through and finding little inspirations to take up. I’m placing my crochet blankets in a more conspicuous spot for the winter, for example, while I already have little jars to hold tealights in that will be moved to the fore, and my berry branches are already out doing double work as Autumn decor as well.
It’s a shame that many of these books don’t have a more human aspect. I suppose the idea is that you look at the interiors and place yourself into them, but especially in a book like this one which was (supposedly) about being cosy, living hyggely, I would have liked to see and hear from people who’ve managed that. How does a farmer get cosy after a day on the hills? Or does a mother home from the schoolrun find cosiness in a different way from a Grandma who has been in all day watching the world from her window, and faces a long evening alone? Perhaps I just need to write more, get more people’s ideas, and get that Winter Cosiness book out.
If you’d like to support me….
I don’t monetise my blog. I don’t run adverts, take sponsorship for writing posts or use affiliate links. I want everything I do on this blog and in my hygge life outside to be truthful. If I promote a book it’s because I’ve read it and like it, if I point out an item it’s because it’s impressed me on its own merits and not because the publicist has talked me into it. It does mean I don’t run giveaways and I’m not chasing followers, but the drawback is that I need to find a way to support myself.
That’s why I write books. My thoughts are that if I ask you to buy a book not only does it support me, and let me keep writing as an independent writer, but you get something back for your bucks. I’ve written several books, some on Hygge, some on Christmas. If you like what you read here, or in the Hygge Nook, and you’d like to support a struggling writer, would you please consider buying a book? E-books give you the best value, since for 2 or 3 pounds you get the whole content of the book without paying the extra for paper production, but I’d be a pretty poor writer if I didn’t appreciate the beauty of a real book in the hand. If you buy even just one book, it all adds up in the end to support me, and I’d be so grateful.
My latest book, Celebrating a Contagious Christmas, is available on Amazon now as an ebook and, by popular demand, a paperback. It’s about the adjustments we’ll have to make to our usual Christmas celebrations if we’re in Lockdown come December, how illness or employment may make a difference and how we have to spread hope, not germs, in an attempt to keep the world on an even keel.
Cosy Happy Hygge is available as an ebook or a paperback on Amazon now. It’s about using rhythm and ritual to make your life a gentler, kinder place. Writing it has been an important part of my mental health recovery.
My first three books are hygge related, 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way was my first book, and is available in Paperback and Kindle version. It’s a simple look at ways to feel more hyggely in life and at home even though we’re not Danish and don’t have it in our DNA. Although it was inspired by the blog, it’s completely original work and not collected blogposts. It will probably be updated and an improved second edition coming in Spring 2021.
Happier is my fourth book. It’s about how I boost my own happiness levels. It’s full of hints, tips and ideas for you to use and adapt to suit your own situation. It is available in ebook and paperback version from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
I have three Christmas books,
Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas was released in September 2017 and is available again in paperback and ebook version. It looks at keeping the Christmas season warm and cosy, with ideas for activities and routines to keep Christmas happy.
A (Hygge) Christmas Carol is my look at Dickens’ immortal classic and the many lessons we still learn from it today. It contains the full text of the book as well as hyggely thoughts on the story.
Enjoying a Self Care Christmas is only available in e-book version. It’s about keeping Christmas simple enough and healthy enough to keep you sane in the process. I’m hoping to do a series of Self Care through the year books.
If you already have my books, or just want to support me as an independent writer, you can always just send me the price of a cup of coffee as a friend, to paypal.me/HyggeJem . I tend to use a lot (all) of my spare cash on books that I review for the website, so every penny donated goes towards building my happy hygge life.
If you buy any of the books or some of the items through the links on this page, I get a couple of extra pence per copy, as an Amazon Affiliate, in Amazon vouchers which go towards buying more books to review for the blog. I’d really love it if you’d support me monetarily, but I quite understand that cash is tight for many people, and I just love having your support via reading and commenting as well.
Truthfully, I’ll probably never make a living as a writer, but I do make a little extra income that gets ploughed back into books and magazines. One obsession feeds the other.