Organic non-toxic mattresses and bedding offer a luxury that will help you rest a little easier.
We spend approximately one-third of our lives sleeping. Why not choose the very best surfaces on which to sleep?
We take special care of the food we consume and the products we use but our mattresses and bedding are often overlooked. In reality, they can largely affect our overall wellbeing. Based on the tips, tricks, and articles scattering the internet, we are desperate for a good night’s sleep, and with good reason. As we overload our schedules and take on more responsibilities, the need for a solid night of rest continues to grow, just as the importance to rejuvenate and reset does.
According to Jack Dell’Accio, CEO and founder of Essentia, synthetic mattresses and bedding introduce low-level toxins into our environment, which our central nervous systems continuously need to fight while we rest. The chronic exposure to the harmful chemicals found in synthetic mattresses and bedding can interfere with our sleep, which can affect everything from productivity and mood to weight loss and eating habits.
Mark Abrials, co-founder and CMO of Avocado Green Mattress says, “Countless studies show that the chemically treated materials commonly used in our manufacturing and building processes negatively impact human health.” The toxins slowly release over time, all the while contaminating our environment “through the processes of volatilization (off-gassing),
abrasion, leaching, and oxidation,” according to Abrials.
Unfortunately, most people “tend to not realize the hidden dangers hiding in synthetic mattresses that can cause health issues over time,” says Dell’Accio. Essentia and other companies are handcrafting mattresses, pillows, bedding and more with materials that are safer and environmentally responsible.
White Lotus Home offers mattresses and bedding that are handcrafted from organic cotton and other chemical-free materials. Essentia uses a natural memory foam that is made from hevea milk — the white sap from the Rubber tree — and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic wool. While Avocado and Happsy avoid polyurethane foams and harsh flame retardants. Dedicated to a good night’s sleep, these companies are improving the environment and sleeping habits.
White Lotus Home
White Lotus Home proves its dedication to healthy living by creating safe, chemical-free hand-crafted mattresses, duvets, pillows, toppers, and more. Wool latex, organic cotton, green cotton, and other materials make these products a healthier choice for consumers. Marlon Pando, the president of White Lotus Home — a company dedicated to creating sustainable and healthy products — says “our integrity and craftsmanship are the main reasons why we have been in business since 1981. We are experts in handcrafting mattresses, pillows, and bedding from the finest fibers on Earth.”
Photo courtesy of Lotos Homes
The Avocado Green Mattress is beaming with several certifications and standards, such as GREENGUARD Gold Certified, GOLS organic certified latex, and OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified latex that ensures its mattresses, bedding and more are reliable products. “We follow a farm-to-bedroom approach when manufacturing our organic mattresses,” says Abrials. “Ours is more sustainable and responsible than the conventional alternative and is truly
Photo courtesy of Avocado Green Mattress
Essentia products are making a difference even while we sleep. The company offers a variety of mattresses, pillows, and accessories that are healthier for the average person, but with options that also cater to athletes and children specifically. “Essentia is completely uncompromising. Our products don’t just focus on being natural, our biggest plus is performing for the sleeper. This means truly helping you rest and recover from your daily grind and waking up more refreshed,” according to Dell’Accio.
Phots courtesy of Essentia
By the end of 2023, the aromatherapy industry is expected to hit over $4.3 billion, as reported by Reuters. And with candles being the quintessential form of aromatherapy, luxury homeowners are making room for this new form of wellness. Here are ways in which artisans and craftsmen are using candles to elevate the wellness industry once again.
Decreasing stress is one of the top priorities for people in demanding careers — and everyone is turning to scented candles for a natural and easy remedy in creating the perfect escape from the pressures in the world. Heating and Plumbing’s wide variety of scented candles does just that. The “Herb Garden and Hops” candles generate a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Adding scented candles to various rooms in your home can help you relax and unwind after a busy day.
Photo courtesy of Heating & Plumbing
Photo courtesy of Garden Trading
Photo courtesy of Garden Trading
Just in time for the holidays, make sure to include candles in your decorating process. They’re not only the top product in the wellness industry but, when styled right, can leave a festive impression. These scented candles from Garden Trading are the perfect design for the upcoming holiday season.
Buckley and Phillips Aromatics has also been one of the forerunners in the boost for candles in the wellness industry. With candles like these, decoration is key. Candle centerpieces work perfectly for the holiday or year-round decorations to brighten the atmosphere. Or, just have the candles by themselves for a simpler and more minimalist design. Either way, candles like these are sure to bring a calm and inviting mood to the space.
Photo courtesy of Buckley & Phillips Aromatics
No matter the lifestyle, wellness and the pursuit to live better has been a rising trend in today’s world. In 2018, Pinterest reported that searches for “self care” were up 140 percent year-over-year, with no mention of stopping. Recently surveyed by national paint brand Sherwin-Williams, homeowners and professional interior designers have also noticed this uptick in wellness and how it affects modern home design and décor. Looking to make your spaces “healthier”? Check out these recent trends to see how you can incorporate wellness into your home styling.
Self-Caring for Your Space
People are taking self-care beyond their body and into interiors. According to the survey, nearly 42 percent of designers say they have been asked to incorporate self-care into their designs. Twenty-nine percent of homeowners also take self-care into consideration when decorating their home.
The most popular way to bring wellness into a space also happens to be one of the easiest — natural light. Eighty-seven percent of designers use natural light to effortlessly reflect wellness.
Photo by Daria Shevtsova
Breathe It In
Improving indoor air quality is key for homeowners and designers looking to make changes. Over 54 percent of homeowners cite air quality as away they bring wellness into their homes, and 58 percent of designers use it as a tool to incorporate wellness.
Limiting volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that are released through building materials is one of the best ways to improve air quality. This is done by using lower-VOC paints and other home improvement products that are sustainably sourced and have a low-carbon footprint.
Photo by Anamul Rezwan.
When it comes to color, designers and homeowners do not see eye to eye on their top color choice that represents or stimulates wellness. Nearly 41 percent of designers say that green associates the most with wellness, whereas 34 percent of homeowners believe this color to be blue. Another popular color is white/gray, which 11 percent of designers and 18 percent of homeowners associate with the trend.
The color least likely to be associated with wellness? Red. Not a single designer and only 1 percent of homeowners reported that they associate this hue with wellness.
Photo by Pixabay.
In regard to specific spaces that are designed to promote wellness, homeowners different on their choice of which space was the best to achieve “total zen.” The top choices included a gym/fitness room (41 percent), a reading room (41 percent), and a greenhouse (38 percent). These choices differed from designers, who say that the most popular wellness rooms they’ve been asked to design in the past year include a reading room, a sauna/spa, a gym/fitness room, or a meditation room.
No matter the space, these insights into the wellness trends of today may better help you to find the wellness you crave from the comfort of your own home.
Photo by KatjaFiona.
With the push for wellness-oriented spaces around the globe, interior designers are looking for different ways to incorporate this rapidly-growing industry to their styles. While including more plants and flowers into the home is known to brighten up the atmosphere, some designers are taking this theme to the next level. Here’s how:
When it comes to lighting, many chandeliers are starting to incorporate elements of nature to bring a more natural, elegant look. Both of these chandeliers are surrounded by vines and flowers, allowing the natural elements to be woven into the design. While critics may argue that the “unrefined” elements of nature decrease the elegance of the chandelier, these rooms prove them wrong. While remaining luxurious, the chandeliers’ design provide a warmer and more relaxed atmosphere.
Natural elements can also be incorporated into the wallpaper of a room, adding a bold yet comfortable piece to the space. Regardless of the individual’s style, nature-oriented wallpaper can be incorporated.
For a more feminine look, a bold, floral wallpaper does just the trick. The bright colors add a fun and relaxed style, while the natural elements of the flowers freshen up the atmosphere of the room.
If you’re looking for a less feminine wallpaper, however, incorporating nature to the room is certainly still possible. The darker wallpaper in this bathroom, although much less feminine than a floral backdrop, still adds natural elements to give the room a fresh look.
Wellness may be a hot topic, but not everyone is sure what it means.
Every year one topic seems to dominate real estate. This year it’s wellness. Yet, if you ask designers and architects what comprises wellness in he home you are apt to get a variety of responses ranging from connections to nature to spaces for meditation or yoga to air quality. Some might point to certifications such as Wellness Within Your Walls or the WELL Building Standard or biophilic design. Others say LEED and other green certifications address wellness.
“I think health and wellness is still in the ‘public education’ stage of what it means. All last year you’re hearing it more and more and more. But I still think it’s educating the designer,” and the public, says Beverly Hills designer Christopher Grubb, president of Arch-Interiors Design Group. Designers often understand the term as it applies to LEED accreditation or to aging in place, but not necessarily the overall concept.
“It might mean one thing to one person and something else to another,” says designer Allie Mann with Case Architects and Remodelers in Washington, D.C., noting that some might be caught up in the movement without fully understanding it.
“I think that this is really being driven by a lot of consumer behavior. When it comes to the builder-developer world, I think our consumers are much more educated. I think they know what they want. They just don’t know how to get there,” says Angela Harris, creative director and principal of TRIO, an award-winning, market-driven, full-service interior design firm in Denver.
“Health and wellness is a new frontier for all of us, says Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability for KB Home. KB Home, along with Hanley Wood, KTGY Architects and Delos, a tech and wellness company, created a concept home outside of Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada, to illustrate what a home designed with wellness as a core value looks like and how it functions. “It is the home story of the future,” he says.
Even though wellness seems to have suddenly burst onto the housing scene in the last year, the idea of connecting home to health is not new. More than 20 years ago, health issues potentially linked to building materials and toxic conditions such as black mold gained attention, giving rise to the term sick building syndrome. Since then, awareness of the relationship between the built environment and health has been growing. A decade ago, new technologies led to the development of products that either reduced the level of toxic contaminants released into the indoor ecosystem or scrubbed the air of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Other concerns about noise, water and connections with the natural environment were also beginning to surface. At the same time, health and wellness was becoming an important value for consumers worldwide, expanding beyond fitness to include personalized medicine, mind-body connections, spa, wellness tourism and also the built environment.
By 2015, wellness had morphed into a $3.7 trillion industry worldwide, according to the Global Wellness Institute, and climbed an additional 6.4 percent annually to reach $4.2 trillion in 2017. One of the fastest growing sectors in the wellness space is a category called Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate, which includes everything in the built environment that incorporates wellness elements in design, construction, amenities and service. In addition to physical well-being, wellness real estate also addresses social wellness and mental, emotional and spiritual wellness.
The biggest difference between homes designed to promote wellness and homes that address air quality or other environmental factors that impact physical health is that wellness is integral to the design and permeates every aspect of the home from floor plan to amenities. “Overall you are programming the home to be more livable,” says Harris.
Frustrated by the lack of attention to the ways in which indoor environments influence health, Phil Scalia, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, founded the initiative that eventually became Delos, which has been on the forefront of wellness in the built environment for more than 10 years. In 2014, Delos established the WELL Building Standard, which was initially applied to commercial buildings. Over 1,200 projects in 45 countries, across over 250 million square feet of commercial real estate, fall under the WELL umbrella. The WELL standard focuses on seven categories of building performance: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. Additionally, it takes connections between a building and the surroundings into consideration.
During groundbreaking work on EcoManor, the first LEED Gold certified single-family residence in the U.S., designer Jillian Pritchard Cooke discovered that both consumers and design and construction professionals lacked accurate information on how to reduce toxins in the interior environment. That was the inspiration for Wellness Within Your Walls, another wellness certification that offers education on building and designing healthier interior environments. The focus is on materials both for construction and also furnishings and finishes.
Another more recent wellness initiative centers around the principles of biophilic design and the benefits of bringing natural elements into buildings. In 2016, Amanda Sturgeon, a biophilic design expert and CEO of the International Living Future Institute spearheaded the Biophilic Design Initiative. In addition to designers, builders and architects, current proponents include tech companies who have added natural elements to buildings to increase productivity and reduce stress for workers.
This year, it’s fair to say wellness is coming home as attention shifts from commercial to residential applications. The KB ProjeKt Home takes wellness in residential structures to the next level. Not only are established practices regarding connections with the outdoors, indoor toxins and air quality embedded in the design, but a synergy with smart home tech transforms wellness from a passive attribute into one that is active.
“The motivation was to examine how we can make the home healthier and at the same time how do we engage that home in partnering with the occupants, with the people living in it, to enhance their health and wellness or engage them in making the environment they live in better. We know that about 90 percent of our lives are spent indoors, and a lot of that indoor living is in your own home,” Atalla explains. Recent research from Hanley Wood shows that homeowners believe housing is essential or extremely important to good health, and two-thirds say the right housing environment could cut annual medical costs by 40 percent.
Central to the home’s wellness quotient is an innovative smart system, dubbed DARWIN, developed by Delos. This first of its kind, home wellness intelligence network constantly monitors the home environment and interacts with and adjusts systems in the home as needed. A network of sensors built into the walls — there are nine in the ProjeKt Home — constantly tests air quality.
If it detects problems with air quality, containments or chemicals from everyday products, DARWIN directs the climate control systems to bring more fresh air to that room. Water quality is also monitored, and purified water is delivered to every fixture in the home. “You have a wellness intelligence system that is constantly doing things on your behalf to increase your wellbeing,” says Atalla.
The system also monitors the plumbing system and alerts homeowners to leaks. Sleep is an important wellness component and the master bedroom in this home is primed to promote slumber. Special noise-damping drywall ensures quiet. Motorized shades block out exterior light. “Total quietness, total darkness, and circadian rhythms help you sleep,” adds Atalla.
Lighting is another mainstay of wellness formulas, both natural light from large windows and expanses of glass as well as interior lighting keyed to circadian rhythms. DARWIN adjusts lights to match the time of day. But what makes this function more worthwhile is the homeowner can change the lighting to produce a desired effect, which means the lights can create an energizing morning environment even if morning comes at 5 a.m. on a stormy day.
A living garden wall enables the home to grow herbs and microgreens. Turning the home and kitchen into a place to produce healthy food is an emerging area of innovation for kitchens.
Social interaction is another wellness component, and community design increasingly takes social interaction into account with spaces such as walking trails, parks and coffee houses designed to encourage interaction and encounters among residents as part of everyday life.
It might seem like a big jump to add wellness to typical new homes, particularly production homes, but Atalla says the KB ProjeKt Home is an example of what can be done. Additionally, Harris says it’s often an easy tweak to add features such as water filtration in the kitchen and master bath. “That doesn’t cost a whole lot. And again, I think it’s just about livability and how you’re programming your floor plan to be more livable.”
Looking ahead, most research points to continued growth of the wellness economy, with new initiatives approaching wellness from the perspective of design, construction, materials and function. There are now more than 740 wellness real estate and community developments built or in development across 34 countries — a number that grows weekly according to the Global Wellness Institute.
Right now, the $134 billion wellness real estate market is about half the size of the global green building industry and projections call for the pace to continue. “But the wellness market isn’t just growing, it’s extremely dynamic. We believe that the three sectors that represent the core spheres of life will see the strongest future growth — wellness real estate, workplace wellness and wellness tourism — while other sectors will also grow as they support the integration of wellness into all aspects of daily life,” says Ophelia Yeung, senior research fellow, GWI.
According to The Global Wellness Institute in 2017, travelers took 830 million wellness trips — 139 million more than in 2015. As one of the fastest-growing travel trends, wellness travel currently represents 17 percent of total tourism expenditures. As people worldwide embrace their own health and wellness destinies, Health and Fitness Travel (a company that specializes in wellness-based vacations) predicts that Nature Immersion Getaways will be an emerging trend in 2019.
From Belize, Canada to Japan, here are a few of the top destinations across the world that allow visitors the chance to focus on their health and wellness — whether it’s reducing stress, staying active, connecting with their emotions, or indulging on the thrill of a lifetime.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Banyan Bay Suites
Home to the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, Ambergris Caye is a perfect destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. The Great Blue Hole allows visitors the chance to witness offshore atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and endangered species. Travelers who would like to stay above water can visit the ancient caves, zipline through the Mayflower Bocawina National Park, or visit the stunning Mayan temples.
Where to Stay:
Travelers who would like to explore Belize’s natural underwater beauty, can stay at Banyan Bay Suites or Grand Colony Island Villas — before the highly anticipated opening of Alaia Belize.
Just moments from the world’s most sought-after adventure destinations, Bristol is a go-to destination for nature-loving travelers. For those looking to go off the grid for a bit, the scenic small town is in close proximity to the Appalachian Trail, where visitors can enjoy a day hike on one of the trail’s challenging paths or a rugged adventure through the ancient Bristol Caverns.
Where to Stay:
After a long adventurous day in the outdoors, guest can kick back and relax at the recently opened The Bristol Hotel.
Asheville, North Carolina
Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a hip, thriving mountain city offering a near-perfect blend of natural beauty and quirky culture in the heart of Southern Appalachia.
Hike through the Great Smoky Mountains, take a day trip to the legendary Biltmore Estate or walk through Asheville’s Botanical Gardens.
Where to Stay:
Guests looking for a serene retreat after a thrilling hike can book a room at The Foundry Hotel, the city’s newest boutique hotel.
Where to Stay:
At any of the three elevated camping options in the safari tents at Seneca Sol, in the tents with hardwood floors and covered porches at Firelight Camps, and in the Sioux style teepees at Mountain Horse Farm.
Travelers can hike or hot air balloon over the “Grand Canyon of the East,” stroll past 19-plus waterfalls, book a silent retreat at a monastery, take Wilderness Survival Training, engage in cow cuddling and horse therapy sessions, zip line and ride a mountain coaster through the wild, or air glide over vineyard-dotted valleys.
Nova Scotia, Canada
Whale watching reigns supreme in this Canadian region, and guests of Whale Cove Campground in Digby are afforded the luxury of discounts on nearby whale watching boat excursions. For visitors who want to be totally immersed in nature, there are plenty of beaches and birdwatching in the area as well, along with the natural phenomenon Balancing Rock, which appears to defy gravity and “float” above the natural rock formations that line the sea.
Where to Stay:
Whale Cove Campground, a stunning seaside campsite.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Home to breathtaking natural wonders like Mystic Mountain, Dunn’s River Falls and the Martha Brae River, wellness seekers can hike, raft, zip line and even bobsled their way through Jamaica’s stunning northeast coast.
Where to Stay:
Combining local island ingredients with ancient Jamaican healing rituals, guests may choose to stay at Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa.
Nicknamed the “Sport Fishing Capital of the World,” Islamorada is the epicenter of Florida’s most vibrant ocean activities, as diving and snorkeling enthusiasts from all over the world flock to Islamorada to explore the dynamic reef line.
Where to Stay:
Situated on a former coconut plantation with one of the largest private white sand beaches in the region, The Moorings Village is a luxury resort with 18 West Indies-style villas.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Visitors will have access to the underground tunnels at Iguabonita Cave, a Zip Line Eco Adventure, the secluded Juanillo Beach, the Sunshine Cruise catamaran, the sinkhole at Cenote Indigena Las Ondas, horseback riding and Sanctuary Spa’s new ZEN garden.
Where to Stay:
The newly reimagined, adults-only Sanctuary Cap Cana resort, which offers 20 tropical acres.
Iya Valley in the Setouchi Region of Japan
Travelers who need a quiet escape from their busy lives can immerse themselves in the Iya Valley. Known for its stunning landscapes and outdoor wonders, the Iya Valley offers quiet yet dramatic mountain valleys and gorges, sometimes called “Japan’s Grand Canyon.”
Where to Stay:
The Togenkyo Iya Farmhouses offer private accommodations and offer a way for travelers to experience traditional life in the Iya Valley.
From healthy food and exercise to spa treatments and spiritual guidance, wellness tourism is putting health and well-being at the center of travel.
By Alyssa Gautieri
Photo courtesy of The James Hotels
Whether a hotel, resort or apartment complex, health and wellness amenities are in higher demand than ever from tourists seeking to enhance themselves physically, psychologically and spiritually.
According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), a non-profit organization for the wellness industry, the wellness economy grew by 10.6 percent between 2013 and 2015. Wellness tourists spent about $563 billion in 2015, and the GWI predicts the total expenditure of wellness tourists will grow by another 43 percent between 2015 and 2020.
Curated exclusively for guests of The James Hotels, Four Bodies Wellness perfectly embodies the idea of wellness tourism. The in-room wellness program was designed to help balance all four bodies — physical, mental, spiritual and emotional.
Photo courtesy of The James Hotels
Whether guests feel stressed, disconnected or lacking inspiration, the four partners of the Four Bodies Wellness have curated offerings specifically catered to each area of the body.
From in-room TV Kundalini Yoga sessions, one-on-one sessions with intuitive counselors to in-room TV workout sessions, collaboration among the four partners has led to the creation of a holistic experience. “To feel really well, we need to think about all of the different areas of our well-being,” says Ruby Warrington, the curator of the emotional program.
Photo courtesy of QT Hotels & Resorts
According to Warrington, wellness tourists are increasingly using travel as a way to recharge. “Time alone in a hotel can be very valuable,” she says. “We can really use that time as a way to reconnect ourselves.”
Fulfilling a similar need, QT Hotels & Resorts has introduced “Yoga in the Sky,” a pop-up rooftop yoga series, at QT Melbourne.
The series is an “opportunity for people to connect both with themselves and with others,” according to Lee Davey, general manager at QT Melbourne. “The great ambiance on our rooftop, paired with guidance from professional yoga instructors, the energy of a live DJ and the breathtaking skyline views, all combine to create an absolutely one-of-a-kind experience.”
From Chicago to Australia, wellness tourists are emerging as “people are realizing the importance of taking a moment to pause during the day and re-center,” Davey says. “It’s important to escape for a moment and focus your energy on body, mind and soul,” and wellness tourism allows for just that.
The spas at Fifty Third and Eighth, 50 West, 1000M and The Grand View at Skyview Park offer guests steam rooms, experiential showers, fitness center access and specialty treatments.
Photo courtesy of Millerhare
With self care being top of mind in 2018, here are some of the best residential spas for #selfcaresunday, a weekly ritual for resetting and treating oneself before the week ahead.
Manhattan luxury condo Fifty Third and Eighth recently completed its residents-only sauna.
For some real “me time” any day of the week, Fifty Third and Eighth’s spa offers a peaceful refuge in the heart of Manhattan. Residents can start their #selfcaresundays by taking a walk through the secluded garden.
After a morning stroll, residents can head over to the fitness center for a solid sweat session, then unwind in the personal sauna or steam room before ending the day doing face masks in their spacious two-bedroom residence.
Photos courtesy of Gotham
The downtown tower 50 West features a full-floor Water Club in the lower level that includes a 60-foot swimming pool, a cedar-lined sauna, marble steam room and an experiential shower. The experiential shower allows a variable of water pressures, the sounds of thunder and lightning and the aroma of impending rain. The showers are capable of simulating the sounds of a “summer thunderstorm in Colorado” or a “tropical rainforest.” The showers are a good space for residents to relax their muscles and relieve any pain, swelling or stiffness from working out at the gym.
Photo courtesy of Qualls Benson
Among the many features of the Level 11 Spa are ice therapy, which can be used in a cryotherapy routine, and a Himalayan salt room, which in addition to relaxing your mind and body can help clear pollens, viruses, toxins and other pollutants from the body.
Photo courtesy of Millerhare
At The Grand at Skyview Park in Flushing, residents have access to The Grand Club, an onsite health and wellness space offering full-service spa services and treatment rooms with on-site staff.
Spa-goers can finish off a relaxing day at the spa with a unique experience shower, equipped with multiple misters and body sprays including a 24-inch shower head with various flow settings and a unique variety of multi-temperature water sequences with soothing chromotherapy, relaxing acoustics and rejuvenating aroma. Chromotherapy, or color therapy, directs colored lights on acupressure points focusing on stimulating the healing energy that naturally occurs within the human body.
Photo courtesy of Thanassi Karageorgiou
Hygge: This philosophy of relaxation is gaining traction in the U.S. and around the world.
By Alyssa Gautieri
“Hygge so perfectly describes what it means to be happy. It’s not material items that make us happy — it’s taking time to discover what really fills up our tank internally,” says Samantha J. Vander Wielen, health coach and owner of Philadelphia-based Hygge Wellness.
The taste of cake and hot tea, the sound of fire crackling, the scent of fresh bread in the oven, the sight of flickering candle flames and the feeling of total contentment — this may describe your ideal hygge moment.
“Hygge” (hoo-gah) is a Danish term used to describe an atmosphere of coziness and calmness. It isn’t about spending money, but instead, it’s about taking a step back and enjoying the smaller things in life. Hygge is about togetherness and sharing a pot of coffee among friends or family. But, it also may be about grabbing a good book, snuggling up with a blanket and enjoying some “you” time.
While the perfect hygelig evening — complete with a hot beverage, fireplace, thick blanket and sweatpants — may seem ideal for the fall or winter, hygee can be shared year-round.
Hygge has been embraced in the Danish culture for centuries, but only recently has the concept spread worldwide.
British Journalist Helen Russell has done her part to spread knowledge of hygge. As she spent a year in Denmark, Russell became largely influenced by hygge — a concept so engrained in Danish culture — and it became the inspiration for her bestselling work, The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country.
While the word hygge defies literal translation, Russell believes the best definition is “the complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming: taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.” She adds, “Hygge isn’t a commodity and it shouldn’t cost you anything — simple candles are better than fancy scented ones, an old knitted blanket is better than the latest designer incarnation, and hot drinks in mismatched mugs are just fine.”
With little knowledge of Danish culture and without knowing a bit of the Danish language, Russell moved to Denmark when her husband was offered a job in the rural city of Jutland. After only a few days there, Russell first heard the term used in a Danish bakery.
About a year later, she wrote a book about her life in Denmark. “My intention in writing the book was to uncover the lessons we can all learn to get happier by living more Danishly — wherever we are,” she says. “The book was the first to introduce the world to the concept of hygge and distil the best advice on getting happy.”
Since its publication in 2015, the response to the book has been phenomenal. It is now a bestseller, published in 19 countries worldwide and has spurred a huge interest in the Danish lifestyle. “I knew that the phenomenon would strike a chord, but I had no idea it would become so huge,” Russell admitted.
One of the many individuals who were inspired by the book is Samantha J. Vander Wielen, health coach and owner of Philadelphia-based Hygge Wellness. After reading the book, Wielen decided to name her business after hygge because of the relationship she saw between hygge and wellness. “Hygge so perfectly describes what it means to be happy. It’s not material items that make us happy — it’s taking the time to discover what really fills up our tank internally,” she said. “I realized there was such a strong connection between this idea and my approach to wellness.”
Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, has also brought a lot of attention to hygge with his 2016 book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. While each individuals’ ideal hygge moment may vary, there are some components that Wiking discusses in his book — and many Danes have agreed — are essential to hygge.
Left photo ©istockphoto.com/SolStock; right photo courtesy Ronbow
In The Little Book of Hygge, Wiking says 57 percent of Danes believe it takes 3 to 4 people to have hygge. A smaller, more intimate group seems to create a perfect space for support and coziness. “Hygge is about the company you’re keeping,” says Russell. “Hygge has a lot to do with togetherness, so it’s about prioritizing your people, cramming as many of the folk you care about around a table and eating, drinking and being generally merry.”
Wiking dedicates his entire first chapter of The Little Book of Hygge to light, claiming “no recipe for hygge is complete without candles.” According to Wiking’s research, more than half of Danes light candles almost every day during autumn and winter, and only 4 percent say they never light candles.
When it comes to lamps, the Danes don’t like bright lights. Instead, they prefer a warm, soft glow, — artfully using illumination to produce soothing pools of light throughout their homes.
Food and drink
Cake, ice cream, soup, wine, coffee or beer — hygge is about comfort food and drink and treating yourself to the treats you love. According to Wielen, there is one fundamental difference between the way Americans eat and drink and how the Danes indulge. “Danes don’t binge then purge like we do in the U.K. and the U.S.,” she said. “Instead they’re kind to themselves, indulging when they fancy it and not depriving or punishing themselves.”
But hygge isn’t about getting too full or eating to the point of regret. Instead, it means eating and drinking slowly while appreciating the present moment. According to Wielen, the Dane’s way of indulging “makes them nicer to be around and happier as a nation.”
Bulky sweaters, cozy sweatpants, oversized scarfs and fluffy socks are hygge. Hygge is not about looking cute, it is about feeling comfortable. As Wiking puts it in The Little Book of Hygge, “casual is key” when it comes to hygelig clothing. Hygge is about layers and the bigger, the better.
According to Wiking, 71 percent of Danes experience hygge most often within their own homes. So, what are the essentials to a hygelig home? A hygelig home should include a fireplace, candles (obviously), wooden furniture, vintage accents, books, nature and an abundance of blankets and pillows.
Wielen, whose business is centered on fitness and health, created Hygge Wellness around the concept of hygge because she believes hygge is essential to mental health. “To me, hygge is all about cultivating experiences, moments and spaces in your life and home that restore, rejuvenate, and fulfill you,” she said.
According to Wielen, a client’s fitness goals may be reached only after their mental health and happiness is prioritized. “It’s when we’re fulfilled in the major areas of our life that we feel comfortable around food, eager to move our bodies, and present enough to care for our minds,” she said.
Incorporating natural elements and vintage accents can help to bring hygge into any home. Ronbow’s contemporary vanities (pictured above) merge a minimalist sophisticated design with form and function.
Is Hygge the reason the Danes are so happy?
Consistently, the Danes have been among the top three on the World Happiness Report. Cultures around the world are beginning to embrace hygge in hopes that it will bring them happiness too. Can the Dane’s happiness be contributed to hygge?
Helen Russell: “Hygge has been proven to make you happier — because you’re being kind to yourself. This in turn has been shown to make you nicer to other people and more generous and kind to society as a whole. Denmark has been ranked the happiest country in the world in studies going back to the 1970s — so it’s clear that there’s something Danes are doing differently and hygge plays a big part in this.”
Samantha J. Vander Wielen: “Absolutely! It’s not just the act of hygge or having hygge moments that makes the Danes some of the happiest in the world. It’s the fact that they cultivate experiences, and make space in their homes and lives to take care of themselves. They seem to have mastered the idea that they need to practice self-care in order to be the best versions of themselves. I also think the emphasis on social interactions makes them some of the happiest.”
Kicking off its 14th season, Toscana introduces its innovative wellness lifestyle offerings and a new membership program.
As country clubs across the United States have long struggled to keep pace with the changing generations, Toscana is reinventing the modern day country club and breaking the traditional mold by modernizing its homes, keeping pace with the latest health and wellness trends, and altering its membership plan.
Toscana Country Club, the premier private residential community in Indian Wells, has introduced La Cucina — a casual restaurant, Il Caffè — a coffee bar, a sports club pavilion with a movement studio and a pilates studio, a resort pool with a pavilion, an event lawn and new tennis, pickleball and bocce ball courts.
“We are in an industry that has seen monumental shifts over the past decade as country club members are looking for a casual, family-friendly, fun and wellness driven experience in addition to golf,” said William Bone, co-CEO and founder of Sunrise Company, the developer of Toscana Country Club. “Our biggest priority at Toscana is to stay at the forefront of this changing industry by regularly identifying what amenities and services will resonate most with different categories of buyers and responding accordingly. These new facilities and wellness offerings at Toscana provide a unique environment where members can connect, relax and enjoy time together. With relaxed attire encouraged and fun events, this is definitely not your grandfather’s country club.”
The new club facilities blend seamlessly with the existing structures, adding allure to the traditional Tuscan architecture with deep-toned stucco finishes, tall entry towers, rustic wood accents and colorful awnings. Members will enjoy a relaxed dining experience throughout La Cucina, the new casual restaurant which boasts a stunning contemporary design accentuated by wide planked porcelain tile flooring, a soft grey wood beamed ceiling and striking light fixtures. A large horseshoe shaped bar serves as the focal point in the relaxed lounge area complete with seven large screen TVs perfect for watching a game while catching up with friends. The captivating display kitchen enclosed in floor-to-ceiling glass offers members a front row seat for all the culinary action including watching pizzas baking in the woodfired oven. The entire space opens via 30-foot disappearing pocket doors. Members can unwind with a cocktail in front of the long curved fire pit framed by stunning views of the pool, golf course and Santa Rosa Mountains. Adjacent to La Cucina is Il Caffè, a coffee bar embodying a laid-back, cheerful vibe where friends can gather in the morning to enjoy coffee al fresco.
Just beyond the outdoor dining terrace and sunken six feet below the restaurant to enhance the views from dining is the new junior Olympic pool that will accommodate lap swimming, aqua fitness classes and recreational swimming. The space also features a kiddie pool and a spacious open air pavilion perched above the pool where friends and family can lounge near the adjacent new bocce ball courts. Immediately south of the pool, the event lawn hosts Club and private events, kid’s activities and outdoor fitness classes. The sports club pavilion contains a movement studio for group exercise classes and a Pilates studio while two additional hard surface tennis courts and two new pickleball courts have been added to the Charlie Pasarell Tennis Center.
Toscana has experienced tremendous sales success in 2017 with 45 homes sold resulting in $81 million in total sales volume. The Club also launched a new non-refundable equity membership program with a generous payment plan for the initiation fee. A new Young Professional membership was also added which provides deferred initiation fees and reduced dues to members who are under the age of 55.
“Our sales success this year alone is proof that the recent changes we’ve implemented are making a significant impression on potential buyers and our current owners while further differentiating Toscana from the competition in the Coachella Valley,” Bone said. “Between our attractive new membership offerings and our new modern club facilities, Toscana continues to evolve and has redefined what a private country club is.”
Photos courtesy of Toscana Country Club