'Not Too Little, Not Too Much:' How to Live the ‘Lagom’ Life

The Swedish concept of lagom is the idea of “not too little, not too much.” The opposite of materialism and consumerism, it is about moderation and restraint.

What does that look like? To visualize lagom, consider Scandinavian furniture. It’s practical and functional, its components are essential and unadorned, and ultimately it’s comfortable, timeless and versatile.

How do you foster lagom in your home? By having only what is essential to you. It’s not about being a minimalist. It’s about being considered in your choices. These beautifully simple—and simply beautiful—interiors are lagom all the way.

Contentment is the foundation of lagom. It’s the feeling of happiness and satisfaction with what you have, and that what you have is enough or sufficient for your way of life.

Be quietly confident. With contentment comes quiet confidence. There is no fussiness or pretentiousness in lagom; rather every element has a purpose and a place. As such, spaces are modest and understated but carefully considered.

Scandinavian Kitchen by Western Cabinets
PHOTO: WESTERN CABINETS

Look on the light side of life. Interiors look and feel light, airy and pared back while still being warm and inviting. This is due not only to the lack of “stuff” and clutter, but also to the fact that natural light and fresh air are essential and should be taken advantage of.

Being considered in your consumption can go beyond just your furniture and housewares choices. It can also extend to clothing, food and energy consumption. Make sustainable choices in all facets of your home life, including small and simple changes such as LED lightbulbs, recycling, buying only what you eat and considering the environmental impact of the design of your furniture.

Scandinavian Bedroom by Stylescale
PHOTO: STYLESCALE

Have respect for resources. Instead of discarding old furniture and buying new, make a concerted effort to upcycle or source secondhand pieces. They often come with a lot of history and character that new pieces just don’t have, and they are a sustainable choice.

Scandinavian Kitchen by Stylescale
PHOTO: STYLESCALE

Simplify and store away. You can have an uncluttered space by keeping only those things that are essential. However, what is essential to you may be different from another person’s idea of the necessities. And essential can be interpreted in different ways — it may be practical, functional or nostalgic, or it may be joyful, as Marie Kondo addresses in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Scandinavian Kitchen by InredningsStudion i Karlstad AB
PHOTO: INREDNINGSSTUDION I KARLSTAD AB

Hand in hand with decluttering a space comes investing in smart storage solutions. But don’t think of storage as a place to hide things away or to keep them for a rainy day. Rather, storage is to bring organization to your home and limit any unused, unnecessary possessions.

Scandinavian Living Room by Stylizmo
PHOTO: STYLIZMO

Bring in the outdoors. Buy indoor plants instead of investing in decorative objects and knickknacks. They add color, vibrancy and life to interiors while improving indoor air quality and providing health benefits. Choose hardy succulents, hanging plants, potted palms or whole vertical gardens.

Invest in quality. When you do make purchases, invest in good-quality objects that will last or serve multiple purposes. This will limit what you need while increasing the life span of pieces.

The benefits of investing in quality extend beyond the home to the impact of production and waste on the planet. It’s the return to slow consumption: investing in and taking care of goods that are designed and manufactured to go the distance.

Scandinavian Kitchen by Jenny André Designing
PHOTO: JENNY ANDRE DESIGNING

Master the art of moderation. Moderation is about having only what you need. Before you make a purchase, consider whether you really need it, and if it will complement or improve what you already have functionally and aesthetically.

Or take the approach of “one in, one out”: If you purchase or accrue something new, then it is at the loss or donation of something you already have.

Scandinavian Hall by Dash & Albert Australia
PHOTO: DASH & ALBERT AUSTRALIA

Consider color. Choose hues that make you happy and that you can live with now and in the future. Don’t be driven by trends and fashions — choose colors that make you feel good and that complement your home and lifestyle.

Contemporary Dining Room by Inbetween Architecture
PHOTO; INBETWEEN ARCHITECTURE

This story originally appeared on Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish. You can find it here.

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