The Danish word hygge has been popping up everywhere recently, from home décor to makeup, but few people have brought the trend to the hospitality scene. Read on for my four helpful tips for how to bring a hygge environment to a restaurant or bar.
Start at Square One
You must start at the very beginning and look at an overview of the space itself. Stand in the restaurant or bar, and imagine patrons eating, drinking, and chatting. Are they sitting on plush, oversize chairs or cozy Hollywood booths? What do the lighting fixtures look like? Draw inspiration from the room itself and the client’s vision for the venue. Once you have that purpose, you can develop everything around that. There are no strict rules to creating a hygge environment, it is mostly a lot of intuition and understanding the guests’ and clients’ needs.
Lighting Goes Far
Lighting might be the most important contributor in creating a hygge It must be light enough so patrons can see and navigate around, but dim enough so the coziness is not compromised.
At Tabula Rasa Bar in East Hollywood, we used mirrored sconce lighting, which provides a soft, ambient glow. This lighting is more flattering and when people feel like they look good, they are more relaxed and at ease.
Harsh overhead lights can create unforgiving shadows, and no one feels comfortable when they or the person they are with look like a racoon. Lighting is vital to creating the perfect ambiance.
Comfort Is Key
Seating arrangements greatly affect how cozy a space feels. The chairs, benches, stools, or whatever people are sitting on should make people feel snug, but not overcrowded. With Prank, a bar in Downtown Los Angeles, we used a soft velvet fabric for the chairs to give a touch of luxury and comfort as opposed to vinyl. This material allows people to be comfortable, which means they can plant themselves in the seats for a while and feel at ease. No one wants to sit in a bar with uncomfortable seats.
Hollywood booths are perfect for creating a hygge feeling as they provide the opportunity for people to snuggle up and get cozy. They give people that sense of ownership of the area they are sitting in.
The Hollywood booths at several of my Downtown LA clients, Brack Shop Tavern, Golden Gopher, and Honeycut, are the most coveted seats in the house. You can pack a large group of friends in one or spread out only a few people, but no matter the party size you still get that cozy, comfortable seat.
Make the Space Intimate
At Prank and Golden Gopher, we were faced with really high ceilings so we had to come up with ways to create a sense of intimacy inside a cavernous space. Do not let high ceilings scare you – through the use of finishes and lighting, you can manipulate the space to make the ceiling feel as low or high as desired.
You can create small nooks and niches to make a space feel smaller or drop the ceiling down entirely. When dropping the ceiling low, mirrors can add a loftiness and kinetic energy plus some fun while still maintaining a warm and intimate space. This technique makes the bar feel cozy and compact, not oppressive.