My family and I are living the opposite life of ‘Hygge’

by Denise Dykstra

I was introduced to the word “Hygge” (which I am never sure I am pronouncing correctly or not) by one of my dear friends. She currently lives in a log cabin in the midst of a pine forest. She loves winter and snow and I have a countdown for spring.

My friend Naomi insists I already live a Hygge life. She tells me regularly how Hygee our home is. This feels like such a lovely compliment, even if I can never properly pronounce the word. (I say it “who-gu”).

According to Wikipedia, Hygge is “…a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.”

Not this week. I am for sure not living the Hygge life. Whatever is the opposite of Hygee is what we are living.

Once Christmas has wrapped up and the colorful Rose Parade has ended, I usually have this overwhelming urge not only to deep clean my house, but also totally rearrange it. I wash walls and windows and rethink where to place items in our home to make it all cozy for winter.

My mom is the Queen of Rearranging Furniture. She says to properly clean a room, you must take everything out of it and put it back together in a different way. I may have inherited just a bit of this trait from her. But no one has inherited this trait from her more than our youngest son.

The challenge is to only use what we have. We move items to different rooms to give them a whole new feel.

I shared before how my friend Wendee inspired us to swap our dining room with our living room. That story should give you an indication of how dedicated we are to redecorating. Ask the boys how we moved the couch…it’s an epic story of standing a couch end to end and shoving it through a doorway in a no turning back approach.

This year, everything seems wonky around here. I know we are in the second week of January, but I still cannot keep track of the proper day. This adds to the story I am about to admit. While I normally begin my “deep winter clean” after Christmas, this year I began rearranging furniture before. It meant we moved a Christmas tree more times than I care to admit.

I had a lot of the boys’ friends over during Christmas break, and there is no one better to move things for you than a bunch of young adult/teen boys. My excuse is that I had to take advantage of their visits. They don’t even ask why they are moving the piece of furniture for me. They just pick up my ancient old and incredibly heavy corner cabinet and move it from one corner to another.

One day, when I am old and gray, they will tell stories of me and sagas of moving furniture is sure to come up.

Who am I kidding? They probably already are telling these stories.

After moving the dining room furniture and the innumerable moves of the Christmas tree, I thought maybe I could settle into our home and move on to other cozy Hygge winter activities. I have totes of knitting to get to, after all, and there is nothing more lovely than knitting in front of crackling fire in our downstairs den.

Except that the dining room just ended up spurring even more furniture moving. Last week, my youngest son had a snow day. Here is what I have learned: It is not good to leave two people who love to rearrange rooms together in a snowed-in home.

Our downfall was when he said to me, “Hear me out, Mom.”

As I type this, not one room in this entire house is in order. I have begun to have a nervous twitch to my left eye. Our home is as far from Hygge as it can be and more like a chaotic furniture maze.

We keep saying uplifting phrases to each other such as, “Just think how great this will be when we are done!” But we also are saying, “Whose idea was this anyhow?”

Adding to the chaos, I have a husband who likes to encourage me with words such as “You did this to yourself” and “This whole house was just fine when we moved in.”

My husband would have left the Garfield orange curtains and mold green carpet in our old home. He would have been content with the wall-to-wall white carpet that was in our current home when we moved in here.

Let me remind readers that when we moved in here six years ago, we had four boys and wall-to-wall white carpet in this house. It’s a good thing we did change a few things, such as rolling up the white carpet to see hardwood floors. The hours I spent pulling up staples from the floor were well worth it.

But I digress. I fully intended to write an inspirational piece of how great it is when your house is in order and you can cuddle in and be cozy during the winter. I was going to suggest you all re-look at your rooms and figure out how to make them work better for your family.

I planned to remind you that summer will be here before you know it and then we will live outside. So now is the time to tackle those indoor projects.

Instead, before I could sit down in a chair by the fireplace (because I cannot see the top of my desk), I very literally had to clear off a bag of Mountain Dew cans from my youngest son who somehow bribed his friends to spend the whole weekend here to help us move furniture from one room to another – sometimes numerous moves of the same piece of furniture – while we tried to make a room “work.”

My husband spent the entire weekend in the unheated pole barn doing very pressing vehicle maintenance. Our son who tends to also lean toward “leave well enough alone,” hid in his room and had a very relaxing weekend. I spent the weekend taking the max amount of Aleve and trying not to sit in the middle of a messy room and cry.

I really am my own worst enemy. Last night I was thinking of what new paint colors our home could use… once the rearranging was done, of course.

Perhaps next week I will have a column in which I let you know how great the Great Home Redecorating has turned out. But right now, we are in the middle of the mess. And good gracious, is it a big mess!

Please tell me I am not alone in this. Are there others out there who also like to rearrange their home to make it cozy for winter? Tell me your stories of home inspiration!

I need to hear these stories so I can share them with my husband to prove I am not crazy.


  • I loved reading your story. Hi used to rearrange my furniture a lot more than I do now. I am 69 years old and still move things around by myself. I can put a wing chair on a rug and slide it across the hardwood floors. But right now my house is set up exactly the way I love it. So now I may exchange out a need a new piece now and then or bring something up from the storage to move things around and change things up. I pack stuff up and store it and bring it back when I’m in the mood for change. I love that you and your son have this experience of creativity and a sense of wellness after the project is finished. Enjoy your happy house. I’ve learned a new word HYGGE. LOVE IT.

    • Even moving around some items gives a room a new feel. I am today working on our living room and while there isn’t a way to move the furniture around much, I am still playing around with the times in the room. Hoping to have it done in time to cuddle up tonight and watch a movie. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Hygge greetings to you!

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