Those who know me even marginally well (and plenty of strangers!) know that I have two cats whose welfare is never far from my mind. One of them is perfect, the other is spoiled rotten, but both of them are my angels and I'm always looking for ways to enrich their lives. As indoor only cats, they got a major upgrade when last year I moved into an apartment with a balcony I could enclose!
My goal was also to make it a space that I would be excited to use. Previous to enclosing it, I had to close the door against them in order to use the balcony. This made me feel like 1) I was not home and 2) I was not relaxed. They cried at the door constantly, and the space felt small and lonely. I ended up just filling it with stuff, never improving it, and never using it. Now that it is enclosed, I can leave the door open during the day and it has become an extension of my apartment! This is a huge win for a small space in the city!
There are a lot of designs on the internet for cat enclosures, but none that I really felt like sitting in. They all looked like cages! In designing this catio I took inspiration from aviaries, train station depots, Parisian balconies and just plain pretty, magical spaces. Below is a video walk through and also a more in-depth discussion of how it's put together. Anything like this takes a lot of imagination working with the space you have, and even more patience, but surprisingly little carpentry skill. I hope you enjoy seeing it!
The final space has a chair for me and a basket and floor scratcher for them! They also love just sitting on the rug. All the plants are non-toxic.
Watch a tour!
How. How? How!
I built most of the catio using two framed lattices, green garden wire, UV resistant cable ties, and various hardware for attaching everything to supports. There are also two support wires at the top along either side made of galvanized wire and turnbuckles that form the foundation for the little roof.
First, I bought two pre-framed lattices from Home Depot. Since they were too wide to put end to end, I allowed them to overlap a little in the middle. I attached them to the existing wooden fence. I made up for the gap behind the second one with a matching 1x1 piece of redwood that I had them cut to the right height. I used the extra piece from that post to attach to the original green post across from it that was not quite tall enough. They're not even but they're close enough. I bought cute little toppers to screw into the tops of both posts!
To build the walls, I stretched the green garden wire around the whole thing. I attached it to the black security rail with black cable ties, and to the wood post and the lattice with screw hooks, and then used cable ties to secure the wire to the screw hooks. In the places where I needed the cable ties to attach to the side of the house, I used little pieces of plastic hardware that are made for doing that with cable ties. I didn't know these things existed! This means cable ties can do ANYTHING.
To attach the curved top of the catio, I first strung two thin pieces of galvanized wire between two turn buckles on either side to act as the foundation. On the side with the lattice, the turnbuckles are attached to screw hooks to the lattice itself. On the side with the post, I attached one turnbuckle to the post, and one turnbuckle to the apartment wall.
Finally I attached the garden wire from wire to wire using cable ties. The garden wire comes in a roll, so it already has a curve to it. First, I attached it thinking that was going to be enough, but then I realized it would need to be reinforced. I got thin pieces of white vinyl (I think they're for flooring? not sure) and pushed them into place and attached them with cable ties also.
That's pretty much it! The shade pieces I made also. The larger one is nicer and I made it by stapling a piece of canvas drop cloth to a matching piece of redwood and screwing it into the lattice on one side. On the other side I used a cable tie to gather it and another cable tie to attach it to the support wire.
The smaller one I used a piece of linen and used cable ties to attach both ends to the support wires. That piece is mostly to shade a certain set of plants and I'll probably take it down in the winter.
That's all she wrote!
This all began because I just had to see the Integraton before this architectural gem closed for the summer. The geodesic dome turned sound retreat was built in the 1950s by an alien-enthusiast and engineer. Recently I suffered a heartache, and I wanted to do something nice for myself by going on a relaxing trip, and also experience the deep healing of their sound baths.
"When we hygger we are not ignoring difficulty but putting it down for a while. Pain and shadow still exist on the periphery of an experience of hygge. We acknowledge their presence and prepare ourselves to address them by committing ourselves to the pleasures of the present moment, in order to regain momentum and cope with life..."
- "The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection"
I took much inspiration for this post from "The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection" by Louisa Thomsen Brits. The quotes are all from her.
This summer at TidyFairy we are exploring hygge and everything we can learn from it to make our lives and the lives of our clients more enjoyable, especially when it comes to the home. For the Danes this concept cannot be captured by buying a few candles and cozy blankets. As Heather put it, "That's like buying an American flag bikini and some hot dogs and declaring you know freedom!" With Independence Day coming up, I think she's hit on something ;)
Heather Dee was also the first to remind me that going out to the desert in the summer is not particularly hygge, since hygge is NOT about punishing yourself and seeing what terrible conditions you can survive. The idea of a vision quest and hygge are actually at odds, because hygge is all about the familiar, and vision quests are specifically unfamiliar. But sometimes you can best learn what something is by exploring also what it is not.
I just didn't know how hot it was going to get.
On the way to Joshua Tree the AC in my car burnt out! Much the way that Danes would need to hunker down against a blizzard, we were engulfed in an inferno and needed to seek relief!
We got a great little Air BnB in the form of a tiny house! I was attracted to the small size, simple furnishings, privacy, and cheerful paint job, which put together made for a very cozy place to stay. Luckily it also had a rockin' swamp cooler.
The inside of the bungalow was outfit for simple entertainment only - no television or other electronics to distract us from the peace of the desert. We had paperback books and a guitar and the conversation of one another, which fits nicely into Danish value of personal human interaction. Also candles to light at meals and little lanterns to light our way outside!
"Domestic appliances that call for our attention, or the interruption of electronic notifications that pull us away from the moment or from each other, detract from a hyggelig experience."
The simple wood furnishings and cotton textiles were also very hygge, which values natural materials. On an organizational note, it was wonderful to be in a place that had only the things we needed. Hotels and small Air Bnb's are great studies for cozy minimalism.
"An initial step to creating hygge is to give thought to the textures, sounds, scents, and tastes of our lives, to the quality of materiality that surrounds us."
They had even provided sage to burn and a special relaxation spray for the room! Knowing that our hosts had thought of everything made us feel very cared for.
"We notice and appreciate the things that have been prepared or put aside for our comfort - a well-laid fire, a clean bath towel at the end of a bed, a pillow put on the passenger seat for a long journey."
We also loved the Chofu wood burning hot tub - more on that in a moment!
The drive to the Integraton the next day was dusty, windy, long and hot - all of those things came together to also make it a little terrifying considering we had spotty cell service. When we finally made it to the Integraton, the woman leading the sound bath remarked, "You two look so happy!" And indeed we WERE! Part of hygge is appreciating the contrast between elements, and the difference between car ride and the quiet, cool interior of the Integraton was MUCH appreciated!
"The contrast heightens our awareness, intensifies our pleasure and enhances our experience."
The Little Things
When we got back to the Refuge at the end of a long day, we were so happy to hunker down and hygge. We loved so many things about the tiny house, but one of the coziest was the "cowboy hot tub." The fact of it being an actual animal watering trough, the chemical free water from a simple gardening hose, and the cozy smell of wood smoke all added to its hygge, which values the simple and rustic.
Building the fire ourselves gave us a sense of accomplishment. Even exiting the tub in the cold air in order to stoke the flames added to the hygge, since we were able to better appreciate the contrast between the elements and our coziness in the tub!
"The primal attraction of an open fire or wood-burning stove speaks to our hearts and radiates a warmth that is very different from central heating; it lifts and soothes our spirits."
I also enjoyed the moments when we both did our own things, but in each other's presence! Relaxing with a book and a cup of tea in bed while Heather was on the couch in her little encampment, reading and napping, was companionable and safe feeling! I do not think I would have appreciated this quite as much if we weren't studying hygge.
"There is luxury in being alone in a warm bed, the luxury of a deep bath, or sitting in companionable silence with a friend in the evening sun."
All in all I was very glad we went, and I feel I did learn a lot about hygge despite the very un-hygge conditions! Have you toyed around with how hygge might enrich your life? What are some ways you already hygge but had not realized that's what you are doing? Does the awareness make you want to do it more?
Would you like help making your home ready for some good old fashioned hygge times?Or maybe just some simple decluttering? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org OR text message 323-736-2594 to chat about it!
Share your hygge wisdom and experiences with us here, on our Facebook Page, and follow as we explore hygge on our Instagram!
You can check out more of Heather Dee's favorite Hyggespiration on our Pinterest!
It's Friday morning.
I'm lying here peacefully in my hyggekrog (the nook where someone can sit and have a hygglig time! Which for me is also my bed...tiny living!), enjoying the still morning air, while a candle burns and Carl Nielsen's "Symphony No 4" plays softly in the background. I've got a favorite mug full of my favorite chocolate coffee next to me, I'm in no rush, and I'm having a hyggestund (moment of hygge)!
I have to pause here and say that hygge is so much more than I thought it was going into these two weeks. I feel no more adequate to fully express the width and depth of the hygge spirit here on my little tidy blog than I would to try to explain what freedom means in the everyday lives of Americans. Yes, a more hygglig atmosphere can be achieved through things, but hygge itself is more than candles and blankets. It seems to be a feeling of safety, of coziness, a happy moment well earned; that rest with friends by the fire after a day of skiing. The home made lemonade you drink quietly with your family, all slightly worn out and relieved after having just returned from a hearty spring hike. It's about opening your home to others because your heart is open to others. Living with the rhythm of the natural world, and embracing it. Valuing the things you have rather than trying to be flashy or show off with the toy/status symbol of the moment. Indulging, because you know that another day's joys are not promised to you. Sharing warmth and kindness with others, because this life right now is the only one we've all got.
I'm about to get into some more fun, lighthearted, and perhaps superficial suggestions here, and while they have gone a long way to introduce me to this Danish lifestyle, I just needed to take a moment to tip my hat to the actual emotional and cultural depth of this tradition.
Alright, onto candles, blankets, and cake!
Learning about hygge and trying to bring it into my home for the summer has been a delight!
At the start of this two week joy-speriment, I wasn't entirely sure where to start. So I got myself a copy of Meik Wiking's "The Little Book of Hygge", read blogs voraciously, and plunged deep into YouTube.
So, where to start, to try to bring a piece of the culture of the happiest country on earth into my home?
The number one thing that Danes associate with hygge is hot drinks. I was already with them there. I love me a hot coffee/tea/anything. The number two physical thing that Danes associate with hygge is candles. Of Danes polled for Miek Wiking's book, 28% lit candles every day year-round, and 31% burn six or more at a time. Lighting is so important to this experience of "a hug without touching" that it's first on most hygge lists and gets its own chapter in "The Little Book of Hygge".
Before this experience, I had zero candles. Though I love the smell and silent companionship of a nice scented candle, I saw them as clutter, and also as wasteful; they burn out fast & have to be replaced = bye money! But obviously I was going to have to get over my clutter aversion here. I went out and bought (dear lord) $170.00 worth of candles. I KNOW, I KNOW. I had no idea just how expensive candles could be.
Once I recovered from my spending heart attack, I arranged the candles all over my deck, bedroom and kitchen (and I still have leftovers because I SERIOUSLY over bought). I decided I would light at least one candle wherever I was in my house this week, and at night I would use candlelight instead of electric lights.
The candles gave me more joy than I thought they would.
Especially at night. The warm light did make me feel much more cozy. And it made me more inclined to read a lovely book in bed at night before falling asleep, rather than falling down a google-hole. I loved stilling out on my deck at dusk, basking in the comforting glow of citronella candles. And it's probably just the novelty of it, but I got a thrill out of navigating my house at night with a hand-held oil lamp.
I'm sure this isn't news to pretty much anyone, but lighting does make a huge difference in the atmosphere of a place. And candlelight, even in the summer, just is distinctly cozy and hygge.
Because my home is decluttered and I only have what I use and love, I didn't have to buy anything else to create more hygge in my home.
Which actually seems pretty on the money, according to my research thus far. Hygge isn't about spending lots of money, or being trendy or flashy or showy. It's far better to appreciate the things you have and use them to their fullest to create a hygglig environment. Which for me ties in very well with joyism/minimalism!
Alright, I'm veering into novel writing territory here. To avoid that, I'm just gonna entirely switch formats here & give you a bullet-point list of non-candle hyggethings I did in these two weeks.
My time with hygge isn't over.
I just received a copy of "How to Hygge" by Signe Johansen. I'm not even a little bit done with trying to bring more of this kind of coziness, joy, and peace of mind into my life.
I love that it works so well with my mindful style of curating my home through decluttering. I've shopped my things; I'm already surrounded by things that I use and that spark joy in my life. Hygge has just encouraged me to appreciate them more through using them more, and paying regular attention to how things make me feel.
Have you hygge'd? Share your hygge wisdom and experiences with us here, on our Facebook Page, and on our Instagram!
And check out more of my favorite Hyggespiration on Pinterest!