What Does Lagom Mean?
Lagom is a wonderful Swedish word – but quite a universal notion – and broadly, it means ‘in moderation.’ It doesn’t suggest minimalism as such, nor does it indicate a lack of pleasure or enjoyment – it means that true fulfillment and satisfaction will only come from just the right amount of something, with the ideal balance.
In the English language, we have the phrase, ‘enough is as good as a feast’, which points to a lack of greed and an appreciation of the ideal amount of something without the need to search for more or wait for the next (better) thing to come along.
We are already familiar with the phrase, ‘The Goldilocks Effect’, which is named after the famous children’s story about the perfect amount of porridge(!) – this phrase has been linked with many important concepts, including how even children will only mentally tune into something when it is the perfect balance of not too simple and not too complex for their brains to process.
Achieving Balance Looks Beautiful and Benefits Your Health
Many people are looking for a balance in life – work-life, rest and play, giving and receiving – and in Sweden, Lagom is a way of life that puts an emphasis on finding balance in all aspects of life. So in fact, lagom is a word that represents an idea and an actual way of living your life – not having too much or too little and having a proportional amount of light and dark, activity and stillness, ups and downs.
Quick Tip – Make time for Yourself: The working life can feel a little endless, with there not being much relief from the daily grindstone of dayjobs. Just make sure to take the time to read that book or walk that trail at least once a day.
Lagom and Stress Reduction – A Recent Example
Finding balance mentally can actually help you deal with stress more easily. Take the work-life balance, as an example – during the lockdowns of 2020, we were compelled to work from home more but, rather than working more hours, many of us actually found the space to rediscover old hobbies or found time for new ones, and the limitations on our space meant we enjoyed rare chances to go outside to the point where we were heading into nature more than we ever did before. We addressed our own balanced living in order to find fulfillment and reduce our stress.
Physically being at home during the pandemic also brought its challenges to which lagom was the answer – our homes became workplaces, classrooms, bars, and restaurants so we found ways to bring equilibrium by creating dual-purpose rooms by investing in new items for the home and decluttering the objects we no longer needed.
Speaking of being at home…
Lagom and Home Living
Ever since a certain Swedish home superstore burst onto the scene in the nineties, almost the entire world is familiar with Scandinavian minimalist interior design and all that it entails. Many of us think of functionality and scarcity with an absence of detail or flourish, but as we can see from the overall idea of lagom, there is a much more satisfying way to do Scandinavian interior design.
Lagom can represent a balanced way of living sustainably – only buying what you need, recycling, upcycling, using sustainable fuels, decluttering, and reusing. So, you could buy a beautiful vintage cupboard that serves to bring beauty and practicality to your room while reducing the need for more resources to make a new one.
Likewise, a reclaimed wood burner will add that other Scandinavian ideal, ‘hygge’, to your space while saving another item from going into landfill – not to mention reducing your need for unsustainable heating sources.
Lagom and Design in the Home
As we have already touched upon, our dwellings are doubling up their duties as we continue to work as well as live, rest, entertain, and sleep in our precious homes. So, lagom can help us to look for ways to find a balance of functions in each room.
Choose Joyful Pieces Carefully
The added bonus of lagom when it comes to interior design is that, once you have decluttered, you can make the most of key items that will shine through uninhibited and make you feel calm, in control, and living a happier lifestyle. If you love art, candles, or plants there is still of course a place for all of those things, as long as you keep space around each one.
The more space there is, the more uncluttered your home and your mind will be, and – crucially – the more unrestricted pleasure these objects can bring you.
Quick Tip – Embrace Lagom in Life: While balance is a stunning feature for a home decor plan, it’s more vital in life. Get exercise without beating yourself up, enjoy a drink with overdoing it, and indulge in food without pigging out.
Save the Space
Fold-away beds, for example, allow us to transform a room for guests but also save space for us to enjoy our rooms again when they have gone. Storage around permanent features such as beds, desks, and tables means we can easily and stylishly stow items away when we no longer need them, such as when we turn a desk back into a dining table.
Resist Radical Changes
As the strength of the ‘open plan’ trend fades, we can use the lagom principle to create uncomplicated privacy with a simple, beautiful screen or curtain that can be moved or opened if we need to transform the mood, without the need for installing walls or doors at the expense of our bank balances and our stress levels. Just enough is good enough, after all.
Quick Tip – Feel Free to Go Wild: Balance looks different in everyone’s home. While your house might have the perfect combination of decoration and function, it’s alright to have a room or two in the house where your imagination runs wild.
Let Lagom in for a Happier Lifestyle
So there we have just a few examples of how a broad principle for happiness, balance, and fulfillment can be adapted to our home decor. Start by reducing the number of unnecessary items in your home, make the most of dual-purpose living with space-saving storage and fold-away furniture, and find ways to keep the earth’s natural balance by reusing and living as sustainably as you can. Then if anyone asks you how you stay so calm and happy, you can tell them your secret is lagom, the Swedish art of balanced living.