Lagom: home Swede home

Lagom: home Swede home

If you've got to grips with hygge, you can turn your attention to lagom, a Swedish word that encapsulates a way of living that is about having enough but not too much. Lagom by Niki Brantmark is a new book that explains all

Not familiar with the word lagom? In a nutshell you could define it as 'the Swedish art of living a balanced happy life' and it is, Niki Brantmark tells us, a concept that's ingrained in the Swedish psyche. It's about finding a balance that's right for not too much, not too little and it's one of those shorthand words, so your clothing can be a 'lagom fit' or your bath water can be lagom warm. And it's pronounced with a long A - so lar-gom. Lagom is published by Harper Collins, £9.99


Has too much Scandi noir left you with the impression that Sweden is a grey land rife with heinous murders, depression and alcohol abuse? Au contraire, of course, because Sweden is wholesome and eco-friendly and of course we owe it a debt of gratitude for Ikea. And we can learn some of what lies are the root of Swedish goodness from Niki Brantmark, whose book Lagom
a/ introduces us to a word we didn't know
b/ shows us how we can live it

apply lagom to decluttering and you'll breathe more freely.. Image by Niki Brantmark
the lagom approach loves flowers and plants indoors as well as out. Image by Gaelle Marcel/Upslash

Niki Brantmark moved to Sweden in the early noughties when she married a Swede and she's been struck by the more laid back, less frenetically materialistic way many Swedes live, with lagom being a word they use all the time. In this book she offers advice and tips on how those of us who don't live in Sweden can ease up and give ourselves more time and space by getting into the spirit of lagom.

The first section of the book talks about bringing the lagom approach into our personal life - so living in a home that's not stuffed to the gills with stuff, that has plants in it, that we furnish over time with an eclectic mix of old, new and upcycled. Section two considers the place of lagom in your family and friend relationships, with, for example, tips of entertaining at home and organising a wedding like a Swede (Swedish weddings are rarely lavish but they're pretty and fun). Section three considers lagom in the wider world.. so energy saving, reducing food waste, growing food in small spaces/containers, buying the things we need second-hand or vintage. 

The tone of the book is chatty, friendly, not at all condescending or worthy, nor is it proselytising. It's got useful tips and advice and while some of it is common sense and widely only boiling enough water in the kettle for the number of drinks needed, taking short showers, and not falling into the trap of competitive parenting...Brantmark does write in a way that motivates you to at least reconsider your ways of doing things. For example.. lots of us still spend a fortune on brand new kids' clothes when they'll grow out of them in no time. So why not buy second-hand? Put snobbery aside because there is absolutely no shame in ferreting around in your local charity shops. And bicycles - they invariably get nicked, so pick up an inexpensive second-hand one for pootling around your area.

Some of the sections are a bit twee and possibly not that realistic. For example Five random acts of kindness includes an entreaty to 'carry a spare umbrella and hand it over to a friend when it rains' or 'leave a kind note in a library book for the next reader'. Buy a sandwich and a cup of coffee for a homeless person and give them an umbrella would resonate more in these hard times.

But on the whole Lagom is a nice read, an easy read and is a book that does make you think and re-think and vow to try to do things differently and better.