In our modern Western world, we often experience an intense struggle between feeling like we don’t have enough and feeling overwhelmed by excess. We can swing between these two extremes, struggling to find balance. We desire bigger homes, newer cars, fancier appliances, more instagrammable holidays. On the other side, we find ourselves overwhelmed by clutter, working to breaking point and self-medicating to cope with stress.
Swedes seem to have the antidote to this endless cycle. It’s called lagom. It means not too little, not too much, just enough. It comes from the Viking days, when mead was passed around and everyone took a sip from the same bowl. If you took more than your share, there wasn’t enough for everyone. It’s a mantra for moderation - appreciating what you have and knowing how much you need to feel content.
The Swedes apply lagom to everything – the way they work, the things they own and the food they eat. It’s a concept supported by research which shows that you need just enough to feel happy. Any more and you don’t actually experience a higher level of happiness. It’s about having your cake, but not eating the whole thing.
I foster lagom in my life in lots of ways. By making conscious, intentional choices about the way I spend my time, what I eat and the products I buy, I’ve learnt to practice balance.
Swedes fill their lives with practical, well-made, beautiful objects that have purpose and meaning. Swedish design places an emphasis on having things in our home that add value. You won’t find Swedes buying a sweater just because it’s on sale, or a couch that ‘will do for now’. Swedes believe that great quality and design should be for the everyday, not just special occasions. And just because something is functional, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be beautiful and vice versa. Having a lagom home doesn’t mean having a Swedish aesthetic. You don’t need white walls and wooden floors to experience lagom. It’s about choosing elements that you love and create balance for you, no matter your personal taste. There’s a misunderstanding that lagom means minimal.
Lagom isn’t about cutting down but rather about only bringing things into your home that actually add something to your life. When you look around you, do you see items that you cherish, that are well made, that you use every day? Some ways that you can incorporate lagom into your home are:
Choose quality over quantity
Buy items that will last, that you really need and that you love. Quality items may cost more but will last longer and over time you’ll build up a collection of things that you truly love, rather than a collection of things you don’t really need.
Choose timeless designs that will last forever. You can always update your space by changing small elements like fresh flowers, burning different scented candles, or swapping out the photos in your frames.
Everything is important
Consider everything in your home important, from the teatowels to the soap you use. When you value each individual object in your home, you can change the way you feel when you’re using them. When you fill your home with things you love, the whole space becomes inviting, peaceful and special.
Buy everyday things
Buy things that are easy to clean, aren’t fragile and don’t need to be saved for special occasions. A lagom home is an intimate space that feels lived in – no special china locked away, no rugs that little feet can’t run across.
Choose simplicity over fussiness
The Swedish aesthetic is about revering simple forms, clean lines and honouring the materials that something is made with. Let the inherent beauty in a natural product shine with a simple design.