Home Design

Lessons from Scandinavian Living–Friluftsliv

Another element of Scandinavian living is friluftsliv. Many have heard about hygge and we discuss it here. Less well known is this concept that complements hygge.

As the pandemic stretches on, friluftsliv, or living outdoors, has becomes even more relevant than before and is gaining rapidly in popularity.

Like hygge, it isn’t a thing but the enjoyment of a lifestyle. But while hygge focuses inward on us and our relationships, friluftsliv looks outward towards our relationship with nature.

According to the BBC, the expression literally translates as “open-air living” and was popularized in the 1850s by the Norwegian playwright and poet, Henrik Ibsen, who used the term to describe the value of spending time in remote locations for spiritual and physical wellbeing.

And in Scandinavia, it does not stop for cold winters or dank, rainy days. There is a saying in Swedish that there is no such things as bad weather, only bad clothes.

It could be the pleasure of long strolls in winter air with friends, walking a dog on a chilling morning or even enjoying cold beverages—there is even a special term for drinking a beer outdoors—utepils.

The concept is not unique. The love of the outdoors is also considered an American ideal and the biophilic design movement to bring nature inside is also becoming a huge trend in the United States.

But, like Scandinavian furniture, it is the simple yet intentional application that makes it unique. It is that feeling that you get when experiencing nature at its simplest level.

So, when considering building a home, think about how you might include friluftsliv in your planning. It could be the piece of property you select—does it offer direct walking access to nature trails or can you literally paddle your way away on a lake? Does your location invite you to take a midday break for a walk in the woods? Can you take a relaxing swim after meetings? 

It could include specific design elements that help you connect to nature. Is there a mudroom to store walking sticks?  You could build a special room or even a boathouse to better access kayaks and fishing poles. Do you have a quiet space in your home that makes you feel like you are in the middle of nature?  Perhaps you have built a sauna and plunge pool to invigorate you? You can design outdoor seating to enjoy a coffee on a cold day or iced tea on a warm day—or take part in utepils.

Like hygge, it is about your connection and enjoyment. So, think about how you want to live in and with nature and how your home allows you to do it. Then plan that into your property and home.