How to Hygge in Raleigh

Savor the North Carolina winter — or a chilly spring day — the Dutch way these ideas to channel all the cozy vibes.
by Addie Ladner

Photo Credit: Eamon Queeney

Sure, we get milder winters here in North Carolina, but that doesn’t mean we have to shut it all down when the temperature drops. Instead, take a note from the Dutch, who are such pros thriving in the cold that they have a word for it: hygge. The hygge mentality encourages folks to detach from technology, spend time with their nearest and dearest, lean into warming foods and beverages, and (still) get outside every day.

Prioritizing this quality time, along with savoring small, cozy touches — like candles lit in the evening, a favorite pair of super-soft socks, and an engrossing book — can help you look forward to even the coldest days. Below, we’ve mapped out ways to do just, with the help of our local bakeries, coffee shops, trails, and bookstores. Read on for 10 ways to get hygge in Raleigh.

Lean into Baking

Beyond being delicious to eat, freshly-baked breads, scones, cookies, or biscuits warm up your home. Jump right in with one of these recipe, which include Instagram sensation Hannah Page’s Fluffy Sourdough Rolls and longtime Triangle chef Jeff Seizer’s versatile pizza dough. Or take a cue from Yellow Dog owners Matt and Tonya Andrews and keep a batch of dough in the freezer to easily make cookies, anytime.

Cozy Up with a New Book

It’s not uncommon to have a list of want-to-read books that seems to grow and grow. In the Netherlands, they prioritize doing things that bring them comfort, that they enjoy. Carve out an intention to get through at least one of those books during a cold, blustery day, and don your comfiest loungewear, sit by a window (or crackling fire if you’re lucky enough), and escape. To find a new book, visit a local bookstore, like Read With Me in downtown, whichhas great options for children and teens, as well as a small section for grown-ups; Quail Ridge in North Hills; or So and So Books in the Person Street corridor. If you prefer to browse for a used book, hit up Readers Corner or Nice Price Books on Hillsborough Street. And don’t forget about Wake County’s dozens of library locations, which also offer digital loans for those who prefer to read electronically.

Layer on the Socks, Sweats, and Knits

If you’re going to be enjoying your surroundings, you might as well enjoy what you’re wearing while in them. In The Danish are about blending comfort with style, layering knits with chunky cardigans, sporting stylish tennis shoes or timeless clogs with understated accessories. Sport your love of Dix Park with this green beanie. Local clothing company Rise and Ramble, known for its muted tie-dye patterns, has soft socks and loungewear sets —great for staying indoors or layering while out. Nothing Finer stocks Carolina blue patterned flannel pajamas for the Tar Heel lover. Voda Boutique in North Hills has sold color sweats, chunky cardigans. Don’t forget about our breadth of local consignment options where you never know if that perfect vintage scarf, wool coat, or new sweater is waiting. 

Photo credit: Eamon Queeney

Sip on a Great Cup of Tea or Coffee

The Danes know the mental and physical benefits that a warm, nourishing beverage can have on your spirit in the chilly months. So instead of plugging in the coffee maker, consider trying something different, like a Laotian or Taiwanese inspired brew from Heirloom or one of the hundreds of varieties at Tin Roof Teas. For a latte with a little something extra, consider the Vietnamese coffee from Idle Hour on Oberlin or Indian filter coffee from Cheeni’s outpost on Fayetteville. And of course, there’s always the brew of the day from your local haunt, be it The Optimist on Brookside Drive, Sir Walter Coffee on Davie, or Sola in North Raleigh.

Photo Credit: Taylor McDonald

Bring the Outdoors In

Hygge is all about natural settings, low stress, and comfortable conversations — so bring a hint of green indoors with a low-maintenance plant like a snake plants, spider plant, or succulent. Durham’s The Zen Succulent offers plants and terrarium building kits delivered directly to your door. Logan’s Garden Shop has everything you need to outfit your garden, along with home goods to brighten up your space. If you’re looking for local plants or fresh flowers, the State Farmers Market has you covered with vendors coming from all around to sell their herbs, trees, and bouquets. That is not it, we also have compiled a list of gardens and nurseries for you to support.

Photo Credit: Catherine Nguyen

Add Spa-Like Elements to Your Space

The Danes love candles and fewer-but-better bath products. Look for ways to add some relaxing and rejuvenating touches to the home with places like Good Juju Herbal bath soaps (which can be used for things other than washing). Usu Candles and Edge of Urge’s incense options. We’ve also got this list right here mapping out tons of ideas to cinfporat local shops offerings from lotions, scrubs, and towels.

Photo Credit: Keith Issacs

Add Some Texture and Warmth to Your Home

Scandinavian-style homes are known for utilizing natural light, wood accents, and a neutral palette. They seem to take a more minimal approach to interior design, yet have a knack for adding just the right amount of soft textures and interesting finds from travels and antique stores. Assess your home this season: can you declutter a bit and add some texture and warmth to your home space with a new throw blanket or pillows or an artisan rug? Green Front has a worldly selection of hand-crafted rugs in tons of styles and prices. Home goods shop Bella Vita has lush bedding and accessories. And you never know what steals you can find whilst scanning your favorite vintage home shops on Instagram — Raleigh has plenty of them. 

Make a Big Batch of Soup

Sip on it for lunch or dinner, soup is a wonderful thing to have on the regular during these cold months. Be extra hygge and invite some friends over to reconnect over one of these ten nourishing soup recipes. Each one showcases herbs, spices, lesser-known vegetables, and professional techniques to create something satisfying and simple. Might we suggest making big batches of them to freeze and pull out on one of those surprisingly cold spring days that we have each year? If you’d rather someone make the soup for you, places like Rosewater, Fiction Kitchen, and Stanbury often have soup specials this time of year.

Photo Credit: Geoff Wood 

Get Outside — Really!

The Dutch know there’s no such thing as bad weather, you just need the right attire and attitude. Bundle up in your coziest winter gear and take a nice walk through the woods. The Triangle is lucky enough to be situated right in the heart of North Carolina, surrounded by beautiful Piedmont forests while not too far from the foothills of Appalachia, meaning greenspaces and trails are everywhere you turn. No matter where you are in the state, you are bound to be near a section of the 700+ mile long Mountains-to-Sea trail, and these hikes are not far from town. A walk along a rushing creek or glass-like lake always relaxes the mind, and hikes with a little bit of history can inspire you to learn more. If you’d prefer an urban setting, consider walking instead of driving to ones of these cozy bars and restaurants that’ll reward you with very hygge fireplaces, rich food, and comfy seating. Need more Inso? Check out our Triangle-wide trail guide.

Read Poetry

Tired of doing yet another board game or puzzle? Try a different form of entertainment: poetry. The old adage “poetry is all around us” reigns particularly true in North Carolina. From the acclaimed poet laureates of the state to young, rising scribes, these North Carolina poets offer a unique lens to view the world around us through their gorgeous, soulful words — and remind us of ways to find beauty in every day, especially the winter. In our February issue, we challenged writer Leah Finch to write poetry inspired by a handful of murals around town. Why not read her works then go contemplate the murals yourself on a crisp day, with a warm drink in hand.