ARCHITECTURAL VERNACULAR: Translating A House Into A Home
A Danish concept encapsulates JLF Architects’ notion of homemaking.
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Language matters to us: We consider ourselves in the business of building houses—structures our clients then infuse with the meaning of home. “We create the palette and the canvas for our clients to make their homes,” says Paul Bertelli.
This careful distinction can be contextualized in a concept imported from Denmark. Expanding our vocabulary, we now understand this transition from house to home as the presence of hygge (hoo-gah), “the Danish art of Contentment, Comfort and Connection” as defined by the subtitle of a new petite text, aptly titled “The Book of Hygge” (our favorite of the recent influx of hygge how-to’s). Both material and ephemeral, hygge makes possible the remarkable in the mundane. It makes room for the intimate poetics of everyday life—ritualized, observed.
Born in Uganda to a Danish mother and British father, author Louisa Thomsen Brits brings rare insight to the hot topic. Transcending easy expressions of hygge—like lighting a candle or fire, snuggling up under a blanket (trivialities so delightfully parodied in The New Yorker)—Thomsen Brits explores the values beneath the sense of well-being that pervades Denmark (often ranked the happiest country in the world). She bundles her techniques into six chapters— belonging, shelter, comfort, well-being, simplicity and observance—meditative text laced with truisms from famous thinkers and snapshots of hyggelit moments.
“In our overstimulated lives with so much to distract our attention and push us in opposing directions, we can turn to hygge as a conscious and appreciative approach to life,” Thomsen Brits writes. “Hygge is about having less, enjoying more; the pleasure of simply being.”
A practical primer, “The Book of Hygge” outlines ways to live hygge, not perform it; ways to cultivate a feeling of connection made possibly by slowing down and being present; ways to make a house a home. As Thomas Moore once said (and Thomsen Brits cites): “Home is an emotional state, a place in the imagination where feelings of security, belonging, placement, family, protection, memory, and personal history abide.”
Inside a hygge-rich JLF Design Build project, awarded Home of the Year by Mountain Living magazine.