Living Mysig-ally

Swedish houses and apartments may be smaller than their American counterparts, but the owners make every square meter count. Justin Chan gives due credit to the millions of talented Swedish home decorators.

It sometimes takes visiting a place highly different from your own to see the peculiarities of the place you live in. A trip to Spain exposed me to a society that lives life outdoors, not in the woods but in their cities’ public spaces. Every main square is usually crowded with people who have emerged from their homes for no other reason than to socialize.

Returning to Lund on a Sunday afternoon and being greeted by barren streets was a stark reminder of how many homebodies there are in Sweden.

Granted, Spaniards have a climate advantage, and I am no stranger myself to being voluntarily locked inside for days at a time. Such solitude gives a person a lot of time to think.

At some point during these solitary ponderings, it occurred to me how important the home is within Swedish culture. Yes, most people around the world love their home, but the significance of spending time inside it seems higher to Swedes. The word “mysig” (cozy) is special to them, and this seems reflected in their home life.

Ever notice how many home furnishing stores there are in Sweden? The shops offering endless furniture choices and every clever kitchen gadget you could imagine? Interior design seems to be something of a religion.

But of course that would be the case when home is your life’s base of operations. If you plan on being inside for most of the winter and mostly doing your own cooking, the inside should be pleasant to look at and well-equipped.

Maybe that also explains Sweden’s relative lack of homeless. For one thing, they would certainly freeze, but it’s good to see the comforts of a home provided even to the neediest. The university’s “Housing First” initiative to eliminate homelessness exemplifies this belief that a place to live is a human right.

One of my secret hobbies in this country is peeking into people’s apartments—but only to admire the decorations! I admire the strikingly tasteful design of Swedish home interiors, and it feeds me ideas about how I want my future home to look.

Thank goodness Swedes never cover their windows at night. Otherwise, people would miss out on the fruits of their hard work.

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