Lagom: the balanced lifestyle from Sweden

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What hygge is to Denmark, lagom is to Sweden: an untranslatable word that describes a very specific attitude to life that is typical of the Scandinavian – and in particular the Swedish – lifestyle. If you live lagom, you live in harmony with your environment and just right. Here you can find out what the Swedish trend term is all about and how you can incorporate it into your everyday life!

Lagom: meaning and origin

It’s not so easy to translate and explain lagom – there is no direct and literal translation into English. Accordingly, similar to hygge, the Swedish term is also used in this country, which has also long been established in Sweden and Norway.

The best way to translate lagom is “suitable”, “just right” or “not too little and not too much” – basically, lagom describes what we call the “golden mean” in English. It is used as an adjective and adverb in a wide variety of situations and in every situation in life – as long as everything fits and is in balance. Lagom can refer to food and drink, to an establishment, to the weather, to dealings with others or simply to one’s own mood and lifestyle, whether in an individual situation or in general. At the same time, it can also be applied to other people, where it has the meaning of “likeable”.

Where the word lagom comes from is not one hundred per cent proven – according to legend, it goes back to a custom from the Viking Age. Back then, the crew would gather around a campfire and pass around a drinking horn from which everyone would take a sip – if everyone drank not too much and not too little, the horn was filled just right so that everyone got the same amount. This custom was called “laget om”, which was shortened to lagom.

Lagom living: lifestyle and design for your own four walls

If you want to bring lagom into your home, you should first and foremost pay attention to balance. In general, Scandinavian design emphasises balance, simplicity and minimalism – one of the design philosophies is that every piece of furniture should have a function and enhance everyday life for a long time – less is more in the Scandinavian style and high quality is essential. Accordingly, Scandinavian-style furniture and decorations are cleverly designed and less bulky or conspicuous.

At the same time, materials also play an important role – both in the Scandi style itself and in lagom: sustainability is more important than ever in Scandinavia! Scandinavians therefore love natural materials, above all wood of course, especially if they have a sustainable background. In addition to wood, cork, wicker and cotton are also popular materials that create an authentic and natural look. Plants are also a must as decorative elements!

Lagom Interior
A lagom interior is bright, tidy and cosy.

Another important factor in creating a lagom home is the choice of colours. Light and friendly colours dominate – especially white, light grey and wood tones. Colour highlights and accents are set with soft pastel shades, especially blue, green or yellow. However, the colours should be combined skilfully – overcrowding has no place in the lagom world! Together with plenty of natural daylight, the right colours create an open-plan space that makes you feel much more comfortable.

To live lagom, however, you should also make sure to furnish everything the way you like it. Once you have found the concept, another factor of lagom comes into play: being happy with what you have. At the same time, you shouldn’t be afraid to dispose of superfluous, unnecessary and unused items – because lagom focuses on the essentials.

Lagom clothing: reduced, simple and high-quality

The same applies to fashion: Less is more! And that doesn’t just apply to the design or colour choice of clothing, but also to the quantity. If you really want to live lagom, there’s no getting around the fact that you need to thoroughly clean out and tidy your wardrobe. In today’s world, which is characterised by fast fashion, we usually have far more in our wardrobe than we regularly wear and need – sometimes probably shirts, trousers or dresses that we only wear once or even never.

This is where lagom comes into play: instead of buying everything you like at first glance, you should take a more considered approach to choosing clothes. It’s better to buy a few high-quality key pieces that can be combined with each other and worn regularly. Not only will you hopefully have better quality clothes that you enjoy wearing a lot, but you will also save time – with fewer clothes in your wardrobe, there is less choice and you can quickly decide what you want to wear without having to rummage around and, in the worst case, create even more chaos in your wardrobe!

DRessing Lagom
Dressing lagom also means keeping your wardrobe simple and tidy.

Scandinavian fashion is made for the lagom lifestyle. It is often simple and minimalist in design, while at the same time Scandinavian brands emphasise timelessness and casual elegance. Muted colours and high-quality materials also play an important role. This means that the garments can be worn for many different occasions and make a statement against excess, sensory overload and an overcrowded wardrobe.

All of this also applies to jewellery and accessories – it’s better to stick to a few favourite pieces!

Lagom through everyday life: work, food and more

Living according to the lagom principle can also have a positive effect in other areas of life. Take the culinary arts, for example – lagom means dishes and portions that are just right, not too big, but not too small either, but give you just the right feeling of satiety without wasting food or having too little. At the same time, it also means valuing food! So you should focus on high-quality ingredients and dishes, ideally grown or produced regionally – regardless of whether you cook yourself or go out to eat. The delicious tacos that many Swedes end their week with on Taco Friday can also be prepared lagom.

But lagom is also helpful in everyday working life. The right balance is sought here: taking breaks is essential – it’s not for nothing that fika is an important part of the day in Swedish offices and universities! It is the perfect contrast to motivated and focussed work and can help to establish a healthy work-life balance! In general, the relationship between work and leisure time is also important – drawing boundaries and respecting them is important.

Lagom Everyday
You can also organise your working life lagom.

What can also help at work is to speak lagom, but also to listen. Sincere, honest and direct communication is essential, for example, criticism should always be expressed constructively and praise should be realistic. At the same time, you should also take a step back in a conversation and not take centre stage, but pay attention to others and know when it is better to remain silent. Whether with colleagues, friends or strangers – you can usually learn something by listening.

Listening also shows a certain degree of empathy, which is also very important in the lagom society – because social awareness, fairness and mutual support are important building blocks.

Lagom in everyday working life is a reason for many people to emigrate to Sweden and pursue a healthier working life there.

Lagom in the UK: cafés and more

If you’re looking for lagom in the UK, you won’t just find it at IKEA – there are now dozens of cosy cafés and restaurants dedicated to the Scandinavian trend. Here you will not only find a relaxed and balanced atmosphere, but also delicious delicacies from Sweden and elsewhere, so you can take a little break from the stresses of everyday life.

In addition to cafés and restaurants, there are also small shops away from the big chains for relaxed browsing and shopping, such as second-hand shops – whether for clothing, furniture or decoration.

Lagom Cafés
There are also Swedish cafés in the UK where you can enjoy a lagom coffee break.
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