Your Coorie Christmas

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Leading West End interiors experts share the secrets of the winter season with Joanna Moorhead

In Scotland we call it coorie, in Denmark they call it hygge; and for winter 2021/22 the cosiness trend is flourishing in a whole new way in the west end of Glasgow, according to some of the area’s best-known interiors specialists.

Like hygge, the roots of coorie go way back. ‘At a time when many people in Scotland probably had no idea where Denmark was, your gran would be telling you to “coorie in” for a cuddle or a seat by the fire on a cold evening,’ says Karen Harvey MBE, founder of the West End’s interior boutique Hoos.  She moved home to Glasgow after more than 30 years living and working in England, and in 2016 she opened Hoos, bringing some of Denmark’s best interiors brands – Hay, Ferm Living, Muuto and House Doctor among them – to the city where she was raised. 

Just like the Nordic countries, where the hygge concept evolved through long, dark winters and the need to create an interior world of warmth and cosines, Scotland has always had to find ways of surviving the longest, darkest months of the year. Sheepskin rugs, tartan throws, warm pools of light and piles of books are some of the simplest ways of concocting coorie in the typical high-ceilinged, airy West End house or apartment – and according to Anna Campbell-Jones, who runs West End interior design consultancy Habitus, and is well known to viewers of the BBC’s Scotland’s Home of the Year, where she’s one of the judges, a combination of factors has meant it’s more to the front of homeowners’ minds than ever this winter.

‘Scotland has always had this big overlap with the concept of hygge – we have a similar climate to Denmark, and similar social conditions, with the need to be inside through the coldest months,’ she says. But what’s sharpened the trends for now are twofold: the heightened interest in interiors sparked by the pandemic, and the digital opening-up of the world that’s allowed ideas to be quickly and widely shared. Also, at a time when conventional shopping has been more difficult, and when socialising has been even more difficult than usual due to covid, the satisfaction of buying a set of tartan rugs, lamps and candles online, and setting about transforming your sitting room to coorie in for winter, has never seemed more appealing.

Trying new things out, as we’ve more often been doing in our homes over the last two years, begets a welcome new confidence in interior design, says Anna. ‘One thing I love about my job is that people are becoming more and more confident about doing their own thing,’ she says. Successful interiors aren’t about trying to do what’s ‘in’ – they’re about trying to reflect ourselves, our personalities, in the space where we spend most of our time. And that’s also the space, these days, in which we’re likely to be working as well as relaxing and enjoying one another’s company.  Home isn’t somewhere it’s easy to escape in a pandemic; so the world over, we’ve looked inwards at what’s right in front of us.

Perhaps the best thing about coorie is that it’s not a set of rules or musts – it’s a sense of something, a playing-out of human needs, a naming of what matters in our lives right here, right now. It’s about making the most of the hardest time of the year – and then finding that our most meaningful and significant times can be in these least hospitable months. Suddenly winter isn’t something just to endure or make it through – it’s a time to savour, a time to recharge, a time to hunker down and think about what truly matters. A time to enjoy the company not only of those closest to us, but also our books and music, the sustenance for our minds that will see us through the more active months of the year when we’re walking in the Highlands or swimming in the lochs. 

Creating the space to embrace our coorie ambitions is an important part of it: it’s about naming our intentions for the winter, scoping out what’s going to matter to us through the long days when sunrise is a while after breakfast and sunset is just after lunch. And the good news is that a coorie makeover doesn’t have to be an expensive indulgence: more than anything it’s about rethinking where things are in your home, perhaps moving them around a bit, and about accessories that will help you create the mood you want. 

The key words of coorie interiors are fabrics, and light. Sheepskin, fluffy textures, tweeds, wool – these are the textures that help create a coorie vibe. Anna suggests changing covers on scatter cushions to ones with a wintery feel, and she also recommends – if your sofas have loose covers – that you invest in a second set in a winter colour, as that’s a simple change that can make a huge difference to the feel of the space. In her own home in the West End, she has the inside of her shutters painted in different colours, and that too is a way of using colour to create a new feel at the time of the year when the shutters will be more often closed than not.

Rugs are the other headline on the textile front, and that’s both for the floor and as throws over sofas and chairs. ‘I have various tartan rugs that live in cupboards through the summer, and then when winter arrives I get them out and throw them around,’ says Anna. ‘It’s a quick way to make a room cosy for winter.’ 

Light is the other major tool for coorie-transformation. ‘In Italy, where I’m from, we have a big Christmas tradition of big, beautiful tables with lots of light and sparkly decorations,’ says Camilla de Martin, design consultant at Noma Living on Great Western Road. ‘Changing the lighting is key – and in these days when you’re more likely to be using your home for work by day, changing the lighting to change the mood in the evening is really important.’  Candles are synonymous with the hygge/coorie vibe, and Hoos is full of options. ‘We have lots of scented candles, and we have beautiful tapered candles that are on a frame, and we cut them off in the colour you want,’ says Karen.  ‘They’re by Ester & Erik, and we also have their cones that stand on their own or on the mantelpiece – they’re great candles for Christmas.’

Books are another staple of coorie. Obviously books are for any time of the year; but the winter months give time and space for reading, and curling up with a book under a lamp is the essence of a long, dark evening well-spent. If you’re lucky enough to live in a high-ceilinged, spacious West End home, look for cosy corners you can claim for this time of the year; create pools of light with lamps and candles, and focus in on warmth in the midst of space. It’s often difficult, and certainly expensive, to heat these outsize spaces, so keep plenty of throws around for people to snuggle under – encourage your visitors to wrap themselves in a blanket as you sip warm drinks and chat. 

Best of all, remember that any interiors investment you make for the coorie winter will have lots more potential in the years ahead. And embracing it for now will mean you’re excited to transform your home when it comes around again, and again. Winter will never be the easiest time of the year – but rethinking your indoor space for it, even just a bit, can go a long way towards giving you some of the most rewarding, and meaningful, times to savour.

Hoos is at 715 Great Western Road, and in the new year Karen is opening a second shop – In Hoos – with a bigger floor space to show sofas, dining tables and other large piece of furniture, at 91-93 Great Western Road. That’s close to Noma Living, which is at 79 Great Western Road. Anna’s company is based in the West End and you can find out more at www.habitus.design

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