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Lagom: a Home (and Life) in Balance

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Several years ago, Maria Kondo came onto the scene, promoting her version of extreme minimalism. And I do mean EXTREME; her book, The KonMari Method, insisted that any objects that do not bring joy should be eliminated entirely from the home. This inspired many of us to fanatically declutter our homes in the pursuit of the peace and freedom that Kondo assured us we would feel. While I absolutely agree that clutter can be burdensome and a feeling of space in the home is healthy, this type of extreme minimalism often feels cold and somewhat institutional. Meaningful, personal objects and touches are the things that bring warmth and humanity to a space, after al. I mean, who wants their living room to resemble the waiting room of a doctor’s office?

Then, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction with the Danish concept of Hygge (pronounced ‘Hoo-gah’). This philosophy is all about warmth and coziness, both as a lifestyle and as a concept in interior design. Hygge is all about enjoying each moment and all aspects of one’s daily routine. Hygge promotes filling a space with colors, objects, textures, art, etc. to enhance one’s comfort in and enjoyment of the space. Where KonMari is about stripping away, Hygge is about adding to. But where KonMari’s approach can create a cold, impersonal space, Hygge can create a fussy, cluttered one. For many people (myself included), neither approach hits the mark.

Now (thankfully!), along comes the Swedish concept of Lagom (pronounced ‘La-gum’). The word Lagom translates to “the right amount is best” and it’s a lifestyle and decor philosophy that promotes moderation. Synonyms for Lagom include ‘enough, sufficient, perfect amount, balance, just-right,’ and this is a concept that’s clearly NOT supported by a consumerist culture. Nonetheless, it’s the very same commonsense advice that we’re given with respect to eating, exercise, fashion and everything else. Like Goldilocks, our job is to find our “just right”

I know what you’re thinking…how do we know what is the ‘right amount’ of stuff? What is ‘moderate’ when it comes to home decor? How do we achieve this state of balance in the rooms of our home? (These terms are so subjective.) I had these very same questions. As someone without a degree in design, this type of balance and moderation seemed difficult to achieve. But, as someone who also places a high value on simplicity AND comfort in my home environment, I was interested to explore this further.

I started with Linnea Dunne’s book, The Swedish Art of Balanced Living, and here is the best advice that I found on the subject:

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Keep your space clean and neat. This may seem almost too simple, but we can’t adequately evaluate (and enjoy) any space if it’s not neat and clean, so allow that to be the starting point.

Stick to just a few colors (preferably ones you find calming). Scandinavians love a neutral palette with different shades of white, grey and beige.

Begin with what you have. The Scandinavian way is all about living with what you’ve got. Resist the urge to buy, buy, buy. Take stock of what you have and work with that (at least, initially).

Whenever possible, use natural materials. This can provide the perfect backdrop for a calm and relaxing atmosphere.

Utilize hidden storage in order to minimize clutter. We all have areas of our home which tend to be “chaotic” (especially when we share our space with kids!). Taking advantage of creative storage solutions is a great way to create harmony in these places.

Include plants and greenery into the home. Not only do plants remove pollutants and help to keep the air in your home clean, but bringing the outdoors in tends to promote a sense of wellbeing, as well.

Use glass surfaces and mirrors to reflect the light and make your space appear larger.

Pay attention to space and remember that “less is more.” Don’t stuff a room full of furniture but, rather, allow each piece of furniture in a room to “breathe.” in other words, leave enough space around each piece to allow for movement. While we don’t need to be overly minimalist, we do want to make sure that the environment created is simple and functional.

Create one focal point in a room, rather than several. It could be a wall hanging, a piece of art, or a statement rug. Eliminating a lot of distractions allows this piece to have more impact.

If a room feels cold or impersonal, add warmth by adding a few well-chosen elements, such as a knitted throw, a beautiful candle, or a bouquet of flowers. Start with one thing and see how it feels. Then continue to experiment in this way until the space feels “just right.”

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As a lifestyle, Lagom promotes a positive outlook on life that’s borne of simplicity and conscious decisions around spending and the environment. Lagom encourages people to be happy with what they have and to be discriminating about what we allow into our life and our environment. It’s not about restriction or indulgence, although it is understood that there are times in life when each is appropriate. Instead, Lagom is about knowing ourselves and finding our own, very personal “happy medium.” Sounds like a very Wellegant approach, if you ask me 😉

Have a lovely weekend,

Karen

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