How to Hygge: Finding joy in the small things with Alexandra Gove

How to Hygge: Finding joy in the small things with Alexandra Gove

We couldn't think of a better time to share a post on the art of hygge, a Danish concept pronounced "hoo-ga" that focuses on finding happiness in the little things, with well-being, coziness and contentment at the forefront. We also couldn't think of anyone better to educate us on the idea than Alexandra Gove, co-founder of interiors store and cafe Hygge Life in Eaglevail, Colorado.

Founded alongside her partner Koen, Hygge Life offers visitors a slice of the Danish way of life in the snowy central-US ski town, with a store stocked with considered products and brands, and an adjoining cafe offering coffee, tea, and baked goods, made fresh every day by the local bakery. We caught up with co-owner Alexandra to find out how the space came to life and how we can all enjoy a little hygge in our day-to-day lives.

Hygge Life store in Colorado


Hygge Life's sunny patio, the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee and learn the art of hygge.

How would you best explain hygge to someone with no previous knowledge of the concept?

There are many facets of hygge that will resonate differently with each individual. It could be a moment by a bonfire with old friends and sweet wine, or sitting safe and warm on a sheepskin rug with a cozy cup of cocoa while candles flicker and winter weather swirls outside. Maybe getting on your bike on that first warm night of summer, smelling the fresh earth in the air as you ride to meet for a beer on a terrace - but when your heart swells with the general perfection of your world at that particular moment, you are hygge.

Hygge is the pursuance, recognition and enjoyment of the small joys in life. The things that make you sigh contentedly and feel that out of all the places in the world, all the hours of the day, all the company you could be keeping…you are in the one perfect spot.

The store features lots of Scandivanian and north European aesthetics. What is it about this style that attracts you?

We love the intentionality and thoughtfulness behind Scandinavian and northern European design. In Denmark, something as simple as a coffee or tea mug can make you smile. Things are made and spaces are designed thoughtfully yet simply and with hygge in mind. It is not about decorating your home to perfection, but instead about finding things that speak to you, inspire you, remind you of wonderful moments and that you can share with all the people you love in your life. A hygge home is not about having a perfect home - it is about finding the home décor that speaks to you personally and creating a space that cultivates coziness.

The store is brimming with carefully curated, well-made products from around the world.

We love the selection of products included in the Hygge Life store. How do you choose which products and brands to feature?

First of all, we have to love the products ourselves. We hand select products for the store based on their beauty, uniqueness, functionality and the stories they tell. We make sure to get to know the people and the stories behind each product, which gives each piece a soul. We love to share these stories with shop visitors and connect them with something they may decide to bring into their home.

Where did the idea come from for a store with a cozy cafe next door, and how did the project come to fruition?

We wanted to create a space in the store where people could slow down, soak in the space and truly experience a hygge moment, so we created the café. We intentionally don’t offer wifi in the café, so people can take a break from their phones or computers and instead catch up with a friend, read a good book, or have a nice conversation with Johnny, the barista.

How did you go about designing the space?

The shop started with one large homemade table filled with product, which we hung from the rafters with rope. Over the past four years, since the opening of the shop, we have organically grown and added new products to the space as well as the café space. Now, we have a large showroom filled with furniture, lighting and home decor sourced from around the world.

A George & Willy Round Sign in a great spot for attracting attention on the sidewalk.

What advice would you have for someone hoping to open a retail or cafe space in the near future?

1. Open the doors! Don’t wait for the space to reach perfection before opening the doors. Let your community see the progression of your space and share in the joy of your growth.

2. Don’t feel pressured to be open all day, every day. We adopted the European model and are still closed two days a week. We cherish these days of hygge and rest!

What's next in the pipeline for Hygge Life?

We have always dreamt of a hygge hotel complete with beautifully designed rooms, a restaurant with a community table serving a meal of the day, a cozy coffee bar, and a home goods shop. Stay tuned for the Hygge Lodge!

 

Instagram: @hyggelife
Website: www.hyggelife.com
Images credit: Bridget Burnett

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We are designers at heart, and constantly find ourselves questioning the decision process behind particular elements of interiors and spaces.

Picking up a coffee at our local café, enjoying dinner in our favorite restaurant, or visiting friends in their homes, we’re always analysing the fundamentals of great spaces, how they were designed, why each feature is included, and what exactly makes them so great.

Through experience, research, and good old trial and error, we’ve learnt some valuable lessons over the years, so we thought we’d share them with you.