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Style / Cozying up to hygge, lagom, and cosagach

Pantone features two great reds in its palette for the upcoming season

Glassed-in Gervasoni patio

Photos provided by vendors


What I love most about interior design forecasting is that the scolding is so casual, as if updating a house were as simple as buying a new sports bra. Are the countertops in your kitchen too thick? Well, too bad because thin, thin, thin is what’s in for this spring. Are your appliances—gasp—stainless? Call in a dumpster because black is the new steely gray—sink, disposal, everything. Anything metal-based has been shifted over to wallpaper: metallic infused wallpaper imprinted with graphics from the 1920s and the seventies, in artisanal mustard-yellow. What else must go? Get rid of that slightly distressed, imperfect-on-purpose Turkish rug you got after nerve-wracking negotiations during a trip to Turkey. Lay down instead a speckled terrazzo, the fruit cake of tile design, which will trigger flashbacks for anyone who spent time on a kindergarten floor in the 1960s. More interior “ins” include house plants, toilets in violet or burgundy, and upholstery fabrics of suede, velvet, or velour. All this—according to the prestigious Milan Furniture Fair—is what every best-dressed house  should already be wearing. I think it’s adorable that house plants are trending. Less adorable is the thought of all those poor plants freezing to death on the curb once we get word that that their trending spotlight is so over.


Stainless steel vessels by Ilsa Crawford; gray dresser by Asplund


Home style is not easy. We build our interiors around budgets and interests, practicalities and dreams. “Success” is not a big enough word for an interior project done well. It has to be a victory or a triumph.  It follows that failures can break your heart and your spirit. After visiting a family whose house was full of cozy overstuffed armchairs and toe-to-ceiling plush carpeting, our youngest walked across our wooden-floored foyer, pounded her palm into a wooden staircase step, and asked, “Why does our house have to be so hard?” She was only five, and making a sincere demand for comfort, but not the kind of comfort that comes from knowing that your furniture is likely to appreciate in value. I took a mental inventory and decided that our most comfortable piece of house couture was the dog’s bed. So we invested in fluffy down comforters and a deep, oversized couch. It was a start. Ever since then, we work with these principles: décor choices should prompt a smile, encourage exploration, and generate a longing to stay and play. It may be a strained analogy, but you know how some hair is so amazingly healthy or cool looking and styled so true to its owner’s personality that—no matter what—it always falls back perfectly into place or ends up even better than before? Seriously, that is the end game with interior design. Some rooms can turn out just like that. In my life, I had to stop standing on the edge of a room and saying, “There. It belongs there.” Instead, I needed to step into the middle and begin thinking like this: “Here. It belongs here, right at my fingertips and amidst the charming chaos that is our life.”



Armchairs and sofa by Chris Martin


The Danish have a word for blending cozy into your style: hygge. Think “hug.” The Swedish version is labeled lagom, “for moderation and balance.” Cosagach, the Scots tell us, is all about snuggling (although the Gaelic word literally translates to “wet moss”). Whatever word your family uses from whatever part of the world, it is nice to know that, as complicated as it is to stay on top of design currents, incorporating elements of cozy into your life is child’s play.   


Catherine Berlin is Spree’s longtime style columnist. Want more? Read this month's "Worthy of Consideration." 


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