What is Lagom? The Swedish path to a balanced life at home explained
In a world of extremes, Lagom is here to offer a more balanced approach to our homes
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Lagom has quickly become a new hygge, spotted all over home blogs and the covers of life-advice books – but what is Lagom? And what does the Swedish practice mean for your home?
At a time when interior design trends swing from one extreme to another, Lagom is the perfect middle ground for those of us who are looking for a less intense way of life.
Here, designers explain the Lagom phenomenon and offer tips on how to use it in your home.
What is Lagom?
Lagom, like its Danish cousin hygge, is a way of living your life with wellness and peacefulness in mind. Both are excellent ways to incorporate wellness in design, however, hygge is all about making a house look cozy and helping you to feel relaxed and secure in your home and life, while Lagom is more about balance and mindfulness to help make life more manageable.
‘Lagom is a Swedish word that means "not too much, not too little,” begins Dominique Bonet (opens in new tab), lead designer at Lineaire design. ‘It is a philosophy of life that promotes moderation in all aspects of life in order to cultivate harmony and peace.’
Although traditionally a lifestyle practice, permeating your everyday life from matters of finances to practising gratitude, the ‘less-is-more’ approach can be transferred to the spaces around you too.
‘This philosophy can easily be applied to interior design,’ Dominique assures. ‘Lagom encourages designers to balance furniture and space to achieve a comfortable, well-proportioned environment, rather than overcrowding a room. It is also possible to implement this philosophy through the use of natural materials, such as wood and stone, as well as the use of natural light in a manner that creates a calming atmosphere that promotes relaxation,’ she explains.
Dominique has led Lineaire’s design team since co-founding the company in 2008, using her expertise in art direction and set design to guide the company’s vision and penetrate the high-end design market. Dominique has won numerous national and international awards throughout her career, including the Bronze Medal at the New York Film Festival for “Best Art Director” and Gold Medal for “Best Set Design” at the London International Advertising Awards.
The benefits of Lagom
‘If you know what’s “just enough”. Why go overboard?’ asks Linnea Dunne in her book Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living, at Amazon (opens in new tab). ‘The mantra of aiming for “just enough” at all times comes with benefits for our inner psychological and emotional world as well as society at large,’ she writes.
Lagom | $14.53 at Amazon (opens in new tab)
Discover the Swedish ethos of balanced living with this little book of Lagom. With seemingly endless financial, emotional, and environmental benefits, Lagom presents an accessible and all-encompassing lifestyle that is sure to inspire mindfulness, wellbeing, and contentment.
While a home design trend may not seem like the wellness tip you need to find inner peace, designing your home with intention can have a profound effect on your mental well-being, says Dominique Bonet.
‘Lagom embraces the idea of creating a comfortable and inviting atmosphere for the home through a focus on balance and moderation.
'It emphasizes the importance of creating a harmonious and calming environment, which is why it has become increasingly popular in modern design,’ she explains. ‘Often, people use their homes as temples, a place of well-being, a respite from the stresses of everyday life, and an opportunity to enjoy the serenity of the space they live in.
‘In other words, Lagom promotes creating a welcoming feeling in your home, creating corners of peace, no more need for perfection just keeping objects that have real meaning for you, objects with history, now imperfection is beauty.’
How to use Lagom in your home
The ‘less-is-more’ mantra may sound like a plot towards stark white minimalism (a trend we will be ‘quiet-quitting’ in 2023), but the Lagom design style lends itself more to interiors such as Japandi, Organic Modern, or Scandinavian decor (more obviously) where you can still add personal, non-functional decor pieces into a room without overloading the space with unnecessary trinkets that do not bring you joy. It also places great emphasis on reusing and recycling natural materials to prevent over-consumption.
A Lagom space is at once comforting and manageable – whether that means you design the space to be easier to spring clean and declutter, or a room that promotes a healthy work-life balance, such as a home office separate from your relaxing living room or bedroom.
1. Make a plan for your home
While making a detailed plan may not sound like the moderate relaxing experience you expect with Lagom, when incorporating it into an existing home it pays to have an idea of what you want to get rid of, and what you want to change to make your Lagom design effective.
‘I suggest choosing carefully which pieces and design elements to include in your home, trying to create balance and harmony in order to create a relaxing, serene, and peaceful environment,’ says Dominique Bonet.
2. Carefully choose natural textiles
The Lagom movement has become increasingly popular with a general rise of anti-consumerism. The move away from fast-decor, fast-fashion, and low-quality furniture has also instilled a need to invest in sustainable fabrics and reclaimed wood.
‘I also suggest the use of natural, noble materials, without artifice, neutral, discreet colors, which do not attract attention or go out of fashion,’ Dominique Bonet continues. ‘With these materials and colors, you can create a timeless aesthetic that isn't subject to whims or trends and will not become outdated over time.
‘Creating a warm and serene atmosphere can be achieved by utilizing natural materials such as wood, handmade fabrics, and neutral color palettes – not too much, not too little.’
3. Declutter decorative displays – but not entirely
Decluttering when you feel overwhelmed can be difficult, however, it is a great first step into making a more manageable Lagom home.
‘If you're looking to bring the principles of Lagom into your home, there are several simple steps you can take. Start by decluttering your space and only keeping the essentials, suggests Artem Kropovinsky (opens in new tab), interior designer and founder of Arsight.
This decluttering process should go beyond simply removing what you have in your home already and target what you bring into your space too. ‘I would advise against overloading with unnecessary decorative elements. In order to get to know the clients' habits and needs before beginning the project, I meet with them multiple times before beginning it,’ says Dominique Bonet, lead designer at Lineaire design.
This is not to say that all home decor is banished in Lagom, however. It is just as important to focus on the ‘not too little’ part of Lagom as the ‘not too much’. Make sure to still pick out pieces that bring you joy, are easy to manage, and bring your space to life – but don’t buy unnecessarily. For instance, follow trends with caution and opt for timeless pieces over trendy clutter.
Based in New York, Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight, has a decade of extensive and considerable global design experience. Prioritizing minimalism, sustainability, and authenticity, Artem, alongside his team of professionals, works on projects in the US and worldwide.
4. Invest in good quality
Given Lagom’s focus on eco-consciousness, investing in quality pieces, recycling and reclaiming, and even commissioning bespoke furniture is a huge part of creating a Lagom home.
‘Make an effort to invest in high-quality furniture that will last for years to come,’ says Artem Kropovinsky of Arsight. ‘That means sourcing new pieces or decorating with antiques that have already proven they can stand the test of time.’
Why has Lagom become popular?
‘In recent years, Lagom has gained a lot of popularity in the world of design. People are drawn to its idea of creating a space that is functional, aesthetically pleasing, and in harmony with nature,’ explains Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight. ‘This concept fits perfectly with the sustainable trend that has taken over interior design in recent years.’
What is the difference between hygge and Lagom?
Hygge and Lagom are two different approaches to decorating and furnishing your home. While hygge is about creating a cozy, comfortable home to offer security and relaxation, Lagom is a means to make a more manageable, balanced home without veering into minimalism.
Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for six months, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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