Cozy Up Danish Style This February

By: Karen Pfeiffer Bush, CEO

The Danish word “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-gah”), which has exploded in popularity around the world roughly translates to “coziness,” but it means so much more than that.   

According to the VisitDenmark website, “In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cozying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too.  

 Hygge didn’t originate in the Danish language but in old Norwegian, where it meant something like “well-being.” It first appeared in Danish writing around the end of the 18th Century and the Danes have embraced it ever since. One good thing about hygge is that you can apply it anywhere.” 

Here in Seattle, February can be chilly and dark. What better time than that to up the Hygge game around your home.  

Area rugs and layered fabrics are a great way to warm up your space. A warm woven blanket and some candles could be just the hygge recipe for Valentine’s Day this month.  

Softer, ambient lighting will add to the feeling of warmth in your home. Flip the switch from harsh overhead lighting and embrace the more gentle glow of lamplight.  

Display the things that you really love around your home. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, surrounding yourself with only things that you love and need will always provide a sense of well-being and contentment—a feeling of hygge.  

These days when many people are trying to avoid large groups, small gatherings at home are the trend. Be ready for small dinner parties or game nights with dining tables that can transform from Italian restaurant to Poker table in minutes. Speaking of games, try incorporating your game collections into your décor rather than stuffing them into overflowing closets.  

Whether you’re cozied up with a good book this February, entertaining friends or turning up the romance, keep the Danish in mind and how they embrace hygge. Afterall, they are, according to the VisitDenmark site, “the world’s happiest people. 

 

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Cozy & Bright in January

By: Karen Pfeiffer Bush, CEO

As much as I love the vibrant colors and decorations of the holidays, I adore the freshness of January. When I take down my Christmas decorations, I like keeping things more sparse and neutral. I still want coziness though as we’re very much in the depths of the coldest months. I love white and neutral bedding and throw blankets for staying comfy on movie nights. 

King Pickstitch Quilt & Shams  
Faux Fur Throw in Light Grey 

Bringing some nature indoors helps to fight those winter blues. I plant paperwhite bulbs in indoor pots just before Christmas time and often give them as gifts. They usually take about four weeks to grow and start blooming. They’ll add some fresh beauty to January and remind you that Spring is on the horizon.  If you don’t get to it at Christmas, they’ll bloom indoors into Spring. I order through White Flower Farm but you can usually find them at local home and garden stores.

Another way to stay cheery during the dark days of Winter is by amping up your lighting. If your lighting seems a little dull, try adding some more lamps around the house and definitely replace any burned out bulbs. Wiping down bulbs and cleaning globes can make a huge difference in the quality of light. Soft white bulbs are also a great way to brighten things up. If your overhead lighting is lacking, consider adding swag pendant lighting that can be plugged into an outlet.

Grammy Reader Lamp 

Henri 2.5” Swag Kit in Antiqued Brass –works with most shades

So, if the post-holiday blues are a struggle for you, try transforming your home into a Winter retreat that’s cozy, neutral and filled with light. Instead of fighting Winter, embrace it by setting up your home as a place to relax and rejuvenate after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. May your January be cozy and bright! 

Links in this blog go directly to our shop page, except for the flowers.

Reining In The Soft Light of Autumn

By: Karen Pfeiffer Bush, CEO

Fall is collection time. It’s when we evaluate the nest to determine its stores and condition before we settle in for Winter. We collect and compile the flashes of ideas and dreams sprouted during the invigorating summer. It’s time to gather supplies needed for the new school year and embark on new systems, new ventures, new roles. Board meetings start up again after a summer break. Sports teams and clubs distribute calendars and phone lists. Like busy squirrels collecting nuts to store for Winter, we scurry around collecting schedules, supplies, and hopefully our thoughts and goals.

For many it’s a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. It’s also a time to regain balance. Around the autumnal equinox, when the day and nighttime hours are equal, many people, consciously or not, assess and seek balance in their homes and lives.

Interior designers and professional organizers receive many calls from prospective new clients in the Fall. The chaos of Summer has passed and suddenly people look around their homes at the things they’ve avoided by remaining outside and on the go for much of the summer.

The Autumn light is softer and gentler but allows us to see a little better than in the bright hot light of Summer. I am a Summer girl, but I can definitely see more clearly in the Fall. I’ve never lost the student mind-set that Fall is an exciting time filled with new things: a time to regroup and “rein it all in.”

The above excerpt was adapted from The Imperfect Perfectionist, Seasonal Secrets for a Happy Balanced Life, by Michelle Babb, Wendy Lomme, Karen Pfeiffer Bush and Chieko Watanabe.

Some favorite things for Fall Nesting:

Apps and tools for organizing and displaying those summer photos:

I created a family photo wall in our stairwell using Mixtiles.

 

I love my Meural digital wall art. I curate it with a combination of revolving family photos and interesting artwork from Netgear’s huge collection.

Apps and tools for organizing and sharing family schedules:

When my kids were younger, Cozi.com was a great tool for organizing their busy schedules and sharing it with other family members and caregivers. Shared grocery lists and calendars make it easy to keep the family organized and in the loop.

Even in this digital world, some people prefer a tactile calendar. It can be a fun tool for family discussions around upcoming schedules and responsibilities.

Check out this great calendar from Wayfair!

Create storage and catch-all spaces that are fun AND functional.

Check out this in our curated collection!

 

Here are some fun storage solutions for storing your winter blankets for cozy winter nights with loved ones.

Baskets are always an easy solution that look great in any room and can fit just about anywhere!

If you have a tight room, but have a bit of wall space you can utilize, go vertical with a unique decorative ladder that you can drape your blankets on. Bonus, it also acts as an art piece!

Camping: A Lesson in The Beauty of Minimalism

By: Karen Pfeiffer Bush, CEO of Housewarming

My family and I love to take off in our little 16-foot camper and find new and exciting destinations throughout Washington State. There are so many beautiful places and amazing campgrounds in our beautiful corner of the country.

We crossed almost all of the main Washington mountain passes over the past year as we took to the great outdoors in lieu of airline travel due to….well, you know. After each trip, we took stock of which items we used that were packed into our little camper and those that we just never removed from the valuable storage spaces. After each adventure, we removed a few items from the camper. It is so nice to be dialed in so that we only have to pack our food and clothes for each of us and we’re ready to roll. Having only the items that we use in the camper makes set up and clean up super easy too.

Everyone’s got a beach towel and a shower towel, bedding and basic toiletries clean and stocked in the camper at all times. We’ve downsized our pots and pans to have only just what we regularly use for food prep and serving. We’ve got a hot cup, a cold cup and water bottle for each one of us and one extra of each in case we bring a guest along. We’ve got just the right amount of plates and silverware so we’re forced to fully wash and put everything away after each meal.  It’s a tight operation!

Over the many years of helping people downsize and prepare themselves for a move and/or for selling their homes, I have preached the message over and over again: Only keep what you use, love and need! I admit that my home does not fully reflect this philosophy but I remind myself to think that way when I’m organizing spaces and evaluating what we’ve got and how to keep it orderly.

If you’d like your home to be a “tight operation” where you’ve got what you use, love and need and you know just where to go to find it: think like you’re camping. Whether it be display spaces, storage areas or floor space, each piece of your home is valuable real estate. Focus on having only those things that you use and things that make you feel happy when you see them, and you will have a peaceful and visually pleasing home.

For more inspiration for downsizing and organizing, please see these past blog posts:

Aging in Style | Sorting Out Our Stuff
Ten Tips to Cut the Clutter and Calm the Chaos This Fall

 

Shaking the House and Burning the Devil; Simplifying Spring Cleaning

By: Karen Pfeiffer Bush, CEO

Spring cleaning is an age-old tradition worldwide. Modern Americans are not unique in the practice of airing out their homes and scouring and scrubbing the nooks and crannies neglected over Winter. Our Spring-cleaning is typically a practical effort rather than the ritual and spiritual tradition celebrated in many cultures.

Many Chinese people mark the New Year—the symbolic end of Winter with a cleaning ritual. Their homes are refreshed with a deep clean prior to the first day of the Lunar New Year. Not only is it an exercise in cleaning the physical environment but it’s also a symbolic and spiritual practice to eliminate the old and tired to make room for the new and fresh. It has as much to do with clearing as it does with cleaning.

In Iranian culture, there’s a tradition called khaneh takani, translated as “shaking the house.” For two weeks, the entire family works together to clean and clear the home in preparation for the emergence of Spring, a time of regeneration.

Some Guatemalans partake in a tradition which has much in common with our Spring cleaning, with an interesting twist. It’s called quama del diablo, “burning the devil.” They believe the devil resides in the dust and dirt, in corners and in closets. He is energized by garbage, junk and unused household items. Garbage is swept outside into a huge pile, sometimes shared by an entire town. A papier-mache Satan is placed on top of the heap. In grand form, the pile is set ablaze, burning the devil in effigy. While the environmental ramifications of this practice are suspect, the clearing of dirt and debris from the home is believed to purify the space, soul and spirit.

 

 

 

The above excerpt was taken from The Imperfect Perfectionist, Seasonal Secrets for a Happy Balanced Life by Michelle Babb, Wendy Lomme, Karen Pfeiffer Bush and Chieko Watanabe.

 

 

 

So, how do we clean and clear our homes in Spring without having to convince family to shake the house for two straight weeks or rally neighbors to torch our unused household items? The key is to work geographically and not try to tackle our entire home in one work session. Block out time over the course of a month—maybe three or four work sessions around two or three hours each. Start in a space that will have the greatest impact—maybe your kitchen or your bedroom. When your efforts make a difference in a high impact space, you will be motivated to keep going. Tackle each space by working geographically throughout it. Pick a corner, sorting, clearing and cleaning—shelf by shelf—drawer by drawer– until you gradually make your way through the whole room. Don’t move on to other areas until each section of a room and eventually the entire room is complete. Celebrate as you make your way through each room by allowing yourself to feel the peace that can come in a clear, clean, rejuvenated space. Happy Spring!