Studio Violet Gemütlichkeit

September 17, 2009

Studio Violet is such an inspiring little nook on the web, isn’t it? Camilla and Elisabeth are both so attentive to details and those tiny things that so often many overlook, a quality about them that I cherish the most I think. They are also masters, in my opinion, at capturing natural light and emotion in their photographs. Very cozy. Their prints, shown below in situ, look so gorgeous amongst cherished possessions in the home, don’t they? A nice touch to modernize this setting I think. You have a vintage bunny, old portraits and then a modern element to merge old with new effortlessly as so many of us adore. The marriage of what we loved 20 years ago alongside with what we love today is so meaningful, I think, to have around in our living space. Especially in this somewhat disposable, fast-paced world we live in.

Studio Violet Gemütlichkeit

Sometimes I gaze upon rooms with only objects purchased recently – furniture, art, rugs, all of it – pretty much all brand new – and this “showroom” decoration doesn’t nothing for me on an emotional level. It feels cold and makes me not want to enter. It does not feel cozy at all. I’m studying German and so I’ve found a bunch of favorite words and one of them I’d like to share is Gemütlichkeit (Ge moot leesh kite) and after you read this definition below from Wikipedia you’ll quickly understand why.

Gemütlichkeit is a German abstract noun that has been adopted into English. Its closest equivalent is the word “coziness”; however, rather than merely describing a place that is compact, well-heated and nicely furnished (a cozy room, a cozy flat), Gemütlichkeit connotes the notion of belonging, social acceptance, cheerfulness, the absence of anything hectic and the opportunity to spend quality time.

By my definition the word means this: A room or setting that feels like you’ve just had someone walk up to you as you’ve entered, plant a kiss on both cheeks, wrap you in a warm plaid blanket, and grab you by the hand inviting you to sit at their table with cake, coffee and candles. And it’s not put on, in fact there is no vanity in it whatsoever. It’s completely natural.

Studio Violet Gemütlichkeit

I think that is what I love so much about Europe, at least to the northern countries where I’ve traveled. There is this Gemütlichkeit that I feel in restaurants, cafes, lounges, and in the homes of my friends and family. For example, when we go for lunch, dinner or to simply order a coffee the staff does not “harass” us with frequent visits to the table. Even while shopping, most offer a simple “May I help you?” and then shuffle off to go about their business. There is no “riding” customers, “up-selling” of products, loud music that one cannot hear themselves think over, etc. In fact, things here in most situations while out dining or shopping can feel quite cozy and charming. At least in my city I feel this way. And this is so, so valuable to me and one of the main reasons why I decided to relocate here — I like to linger… I love not feeling rushed to pay my check and leave so as to free up the table for the next guest. I love sitting outside at a cafe in the Autumn with a blanket on my lap and candles on the table, which is common here.

Same when I visit friends, their homes are very casual and cozy, you feel like more than a guest, and it’s special – a special that is very hard to define. I think the Danish use the word Hygge, right? It’s that feeling. I wonder what the Swedish equivalent is? Anyone know?

(images: studio violet)


  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente September 17, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Oh…..how lovely and beautiful….it makes me yearn to live there as well. I love nothing better and that expression is perfect. That is exactly how I want friends and family to feel when they come into my home…..and I love it when I feel that way. So beautiful and thank you for sharing this with us…
    .-= Melissa de la Fuente´s last blog ..Come visit me! =-.

  • Reply Sean Jones September 17, 2009 at 8:44 am

    I see this style of drawing often on the blog – does it have a name?

  • Reply carro September 17, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Mys, or mysigt (swedish).
    I agree, first time I ate in a restaurant in the U.S. a got a minor chock. I almost started crying. It was so stressful! And americans usualy are so hospitable and friendly, so it took me a while before I understood it was all about business.
    I LOVE to linger too. It is so healthy and makes you creative.

  • Reply ninainvorm September 17, 2009 at 8:50 am

    We have the word in Dutch too: ‘gezelligheid’! ;) And indeed, we use the adjective ‘gezellig’ for everything that’s nice, comfortable and has a good vibe…

  • Reply marionfizz September 17, 2009 at 9:39 am

    I have one of their poster, i love it. It gives such an atmosphere to my living room. I love them !
    .-= marionfizz´s last blog ..Jeu concours : gagnez un sautoir Poe & Tree ! =-.

  • Reply Ana September 17, 2009 at 9:43 am

    It was one of the frst word I learned in German and I was surprised how much it meant. Still today, although I don’t speak German that often, I use it to the surprise of many people – to whom I have to explain the meaning.
    Your blog ist sehr Gemutlich!!!
    .-= Ana´s last blog ..Recomeçar / Starting over =-.

  • Reply jodi September 17, 2009 at 10:00 am

    love studio violet.

    and, oh gosh, that sounds so wonderful. i hate the lack of gemütlichkeit in the U.S.
    .-= jodi´s last blog ..faves =-.

  • Reply Jaimie September 17, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Do the Germans have a knack for abstract nouns or what? What a beautiful word. My best friend lives in Stockholm and I noticed the same quality about restaurants and homes there. Perhaps because they have such long, dark winters, I noticed that people decorate more creatively with lights and candles (including the beautiful paper stars that go up as winter decorations). Even for just a casual evening at home, people had candles lit on the dining table.

    • Reply decor8 September 17, 2009 at 10:47 am

      Jaimie – Germans use the paper stars too – and lanterns and candles and fairy/twinkle lights (clear ones)… :) :) Don’t you love it?

  • Reply connie September 17, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    there certainly are many words that perfectly describe one’s state of being/emotion/etc. that are totally lost in translation when translated into english. too bad, that is.

    anyways, that mustache man is cavity-inducing sweet!
    .-= connie´s last blog ..That very night in Max’s room a forest grew and grew … =-.

  • Reply lindsayk8 September 17, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    MMM…yup, I’ll go there. Would that be my home to guests!
    .-= lindsayk8´s last blog ..Inspired Patterns: architecturaldigest.com =-.

  • Reply lindsayk8 September 17, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    MMM…yup, I’ll go there. Would that be my home to guests!

  • Reply Donna September 17, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Many years ago when I was traveling in Russia, I ended up meeting and hanging out with two, very sweet Dutch guys. (A year later they wound up staying with me in San Francisco.) They taught me the word “gezellig,” stressing how important this word was in their culture and how they knew of no English equivalent. From what they said, it seems that “gezellig” goes beyond coziness and hospitality. Thanks for the post. I haven’t thought of that time and my old travel buddies for some time.
    .-= Donna´s last blog ..Swoonable =-.

  • Reply J from Boston September 17, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    You have perfectly described what I miss about Finland! Life is way too rushed here in the U.S. Just the fact that people don’t stop and sit down in a cafe or at home (for that matter) to drink their coffee from a porcelain coffee cup is quite sad. I always joke that Americans are on the go ever since they open their eyes and start their day with their gallon sized jumbo coffee travel mug. If it gets cold, they just reheat it and keep going. I too love to linger and think in peace. For a long time I tried to force myself into that “Go! Go! Go!” mentality, but have stopped doing that and allowed myself to linger and slow down. I recently explained the concept of taking my time and why I need it and where it comes from to my American husband and he gets it now. He says “Oh yeah, you are doing your Lapland Girl thing” smiles and lets me take my time. In Lapland life is even slower than in Helsinki…I can send a few pictures of our vacation there if you would like. Then you would see what Finnish Country style looks like:-)

    • Reply decor8 September 17, 2009 at 3:22 pm

      J From Boston – YES please share!!! :) :)

  • Reply Sarah September 17, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    My mother speaks German and often drops German words into her english sentences. This is my favourite word and she uses it all the time! She is Oma (German for mother) to her grandchildren. Funny, she is Scottish but has always loved Germany…
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..HOUSE CALLS: Lori Marie from Pretty Little Things =-.

  • Reply Victoria Zlotkowski September 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Woah, you made me tear uo a bit…. I am German and it’s funny because I always loved the attentiveness in the shops in America, but then again, I grew up in East Germany and they were especially raff at selling, when there was anything to buy. And I found sales people in Germany sometimes a bit rude. But I am so happy you did not find this yet.
    And Gemuetlichkeit: yes it’s big and when I was a child my mom would say on cold or rainy days: ‘Komm, wir machen es uns richtig gemuetlich’.
    Let’s get comfortable and cozy. She usually meant sitting together, having coffee or hot choclate and chat.
    Today I infuse a lot of German Gemuetlichkeit in my own home and my friends and family love that part…
    It is so lovely to follow you around, thank you for all your insights.
    .-= Victoria Zlotkowski´s last blog ..Color exploration: Do you see gray? =-.

  • Reply Lumine September 17, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    The illustrations are so wonderfully delicate, even though they are of pipe smoking bears and men in mustaches. LOL I love it.
    .-= Lumine´s last blog ..Vintage Item – Glass Floral Dish =-.

  • Reply Marwa September 17, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    great picture .. you can use it for redecorating your wall
    .-= Marwa´s last blog ..Nails =-.

  • Reply mijk September 18, 2009 at 3:28 am

    Gezellig. It is such an abstract concepty and yet so clear. Rain against the windows and all of us reading in the house together is so gezellig. It is about togetherness as much as about comfort and cosiness.

    .-= mijk´s last blog ..happiness is a field of grass =-.

  • Reply Pam September 18, 2009 at 8:49 am

    So eloquently put Holly. I would love more Gemütlichkeit in my life. I get so tired of this Go Go attitude in the U.S. and I grew up here! It never quite fit with me and yet I do get caught up in it too. I understand that it’s wonderful to accomplish things but what is the point if you are not enjoying life and it’s smaller moments and details which in the end add up to a more fulfilling life. You’re very lucky to be in a place where Gemütlichkeit abounds everywhere.

  • Reply sara September 18, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Yes, that is a very good word. And in Sweden we have Mys, as mentioned earlier, which is very commonly used. We also have ‘gemytligt’ which is obviously a direct translation of the German word, although not used that much by our generation.
    I live in England and lit candles pretty much for every evening meal and whilst watching tv, having coffee and so on. A friend recently commented on it, that a lot of English people only light candles on special occasions. I never thought about that before – and do agree on the fact that it probably got to do with our Swedish long dark, cold winters, and that we have got to create a warm cozy (mysig) feeling in our homes. Lighting a candle is so calming and welcoming and such a simple gesture, most cafes in Sweden (Scandinavia) got candles on all tables. On a similar not, we are big on the ‘fika’ culture, which goes hand in hand with gemutlichkeit. Fika is the whole concept of having coffee, sandwiches, cakes, chatting, enjoying time together and just hanging out – often with homebaked goodieness :)

  • Reply melissa September 19, 2009 at 7:13 am

    this was a really beautiful blog day, Holly. thank you for sharing your experiences. I traveled to Germany for the first time last fall and absolutely loved it and the German people. if given the opportunity, I would move there in a heartbeat too.

  • Reply petallica September 20, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Since moving to Bremen and learning German I have had to admit to a number of Germans who’ve asked that there is no real translation into english for Gemütlichkeit. Gemütlich homes are the reason that winter isn’t just a series of long cold months, but something to look forward to.

    My other favourite which isn’t used as much is ‘mit Muße’. To do something leisurely, take your time and reach that ideal pace of life for reflection.

  • Reply Lynn Wurzburg February 3, 2010 at 10:17 am

    It’s really great to read this discussion about the important things in life.I live in Vermont in the northeastern U.S. (I’m American) and Vermonters have a better innate understanding of gemutlichkeit than most Americans. In fact I have it painted on the wall above our dining table and we do cultivate the cozy, eating-drinking together comraderie. My daughters’ teenage friends love it here- young people are drawn to it and do know what they’re missing. A great English tv series called “The Darling Buds of May” really was about the gemutlich way of life- check it out!

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