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The Scots Have Their Own Version of Hygge and It's Called Còsagach

Get to know this distinctly Scottish vibe of calm and cozy.

February  7, 2018

If all you want to do in the cold, grey months of winter is hibernate indoors, we have good news. Scotland has officially given us the green light to do just that: Meet còsagach.

Like Danish hygge, Swedish lagom, and Japanese ikigai, còsagach (pronounced “kos-ah-gogh") is “based on an an old Scottish word for feeling snug, sheltered and warm,” according to Visit Scotland’s site. It’s a way of living meant to defeat things like ruts and winter blues. Through home design ideas, and eating and drinking options, còsagach promises a soothing sense of calm and coziness. It can make your living room a sanctuary when skies are grey and winds are brutal. It can make you feel at peace after the craziest day at work. Còsagach brings life back to the basics, with a distinctively Scottish twist. You might already be imagining a plaid blanket and cup of hot tea in front of the fireplace without even needing to read the specifics.

You’ll need the specifics, though, to start living your best winter life, Highlands-style. So, how do you bring còsagach into your home? Cuddle up with a hot toddy and your favorite throw, and consider these ideas.

The Colors of Còsagach

“Choosing an impactful color palette is one of the simplest ways to set the stage for a specific design trend, like còsagach,” explains Erika Woelfel, vice president of color and creative services at paint company BEHR. “By selecting warm or cool hues, people can evoke a wide variety of feelings and moods in their spaces.”

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I’m sad that it’s a made up concept, but I still want to curl up on a cozy chair with some milky tea, candles lit, and Shetland playing on the TV!”
— Mar

If you’re còsagach-ing a room up, the colors you choose are the easiest (and most important!) way to set the scene. They have the power to turn any space into a cozy Scottish hideaway. Woelfel has a few ideas for hues that will still be in style even if we’re discussing a new trend from a new country this time next year.

Scotland Road 450F-4, a restorative spruce hue, epitomizes a cozy escape and will remind you of the country’s lush green landscape. For a darker, cocooning shade, try Equilibrium T18-20. Whiskey Barrel N230-6, a warm brown, is the perfect complement to a crackling fireplace. Named for Scotland’s national drink, this hue will help you transition inside after a day full of outdoor adventure. If you’re looking for your new favorite neutral, a taupe grey like Off The Grid T18-08 oozes comfort and simplicity. For a bolder pick, try the darker grey Unplugged T18-11 on a statement wall or in a reading nook.”

Evenings by the Fireplace

We'll just make ourselves comfortable here, thanks.

A fireplace is pretty much the foundation of escaping the cold for a cozy evening of dreamy proportions. Just add blankets, books, and that hot toddy or tea, and you’re essentially the living definition of còsagach. This setup at Smallwoods nails the look from its greenery to its country-chic lanterns (pooch not included).

Not everyone has a fireplace, though. Fear not, Còsagach is still just as possible. If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can find DIY faux fireplace ideas on sites like SF Girl or find different ways to style a decorative mantel like we often do here at Food52.

Rustic Textures

Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a hideaway (cabin or castle, it’s your dream home, after all) among the rolling green hills of Scotland. Inside, you’re probably seeing a ton of natural wood and stone, with pops of lush greenery and richness from details from sheepskin rugs.

Bringing in warm and comforting textile might be most direct route to còsagach — you could pick up a few wool throws and knit pillows today and voilà, you’re doing the Scottish trend proud. We're already dreaming of plaid flannel pillows and chunky cable knit blankets.

Living (& Eating) the Còsagach Life

If you’ve chosen to outfit your space with natural wood tables, lambskin rugs, plaid blankets, and a (real or faux) fireplace, you might find it’s easier to incorporate còsagach elements in your everyday life. According to the Visit Scotland guide, this trend is also an excuse to treat yourself. Get away from it all by retreating to a ski lodge for the weekend, or indulge in some adventure with a snowy hike (just don't forget the snacks). Wrap up in all of that cable knit and finally finish that book that’s been sitting on your nightstand for weeks. Here are a few hearty, warm-you-from-the-inside dishes we think could also round out your experience.

How would you bring the còsagach way of life into your home? Share your thoughts with us below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Mar
  • Linda Ayers
    Linda Ayers
  • Miki
  • Meg Lambert
    Meg Lambert
  • knittingrid
Courtney Iseman

Written by: Courtney Iseman


Mar January 16, 2021
I’m sad that it’s a made up concept, but I still want to curl up on a cozy chair with some milky tea, candles lit, and Shetland playing on the TV!
Linda A. February 8, 2019
I love the concept and do not mind if the word has been created for this purpose!
Miki February 13, 2018
Can I just say... "ikigai" means raison d'etre or "purpose in life" and I have never heard it used for a concept anywhere near Hygge
Meg L. February 9, 2018
Was this post sponsored by Visit Scotland? If not, I'm sorry to tell you that cosagach is one part manipulated Gaelic and one part total fiction. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/dec/14/cosagach-is-the-scottish-hygge-more-about-wet-moss-than-warm-blankets

We have no such thing in Scotland! Most responses to Visit Scotland's attempt to make a Scottish "hygge" was a snort of laughter, to be honest. There are so many other exciting parts of the Scottish food scene and food traditions to share. Would love to see more of that here than things that are about as fictional as our national animal (the unicorn.)
knittingrid February 7, 2018
maybe this is the origin of the word "cosy?"
Kenn February 11, 2018
Yes. Kind of. Còsagach is a marketing ploy, but “cozy” was introduced to the English language by the Scots, but probably came to them via The Swedish phrase “å kose seg” which roughly translates into “to enjoy oneself.”