The latest lifestyle buzzword is hygge (pronounced “hue-gah”). And for Aimee Lagos, it’s an apt description of her online wallpaper business – as well as her century-old house in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States.
Lagos chose the Danish word for cosy and savouring small simple moments in naming her wallpaper collection, Hygge & West. “The patterns make rooms feel happy, warm and welcoming,” she says.
In her own home, she’s created an atmosphere that encourages hygge moments, such as leisurely dinners in the dining room with friends or reading a great book by the fireplace. “I choose furniture and decor not purely for style and appearance, but to foster togetherness,” says Lagos.
And, of course, she’s enhanced seven rooms in her home with Hygge & West wallpapers. (In the lead image above: Lagos covered the wall of her home office with family photos and Hygge & West Diamonds wallpaper, inspired by South-Western American textiles.)
Lagos, with her business partner Christiana Coop, started the company in 2008 – before most people ever heard of the word hygge. “Hygge blew up,” says Lagos. “Now you see it everywhere.”
Lagos and Coop have been friends since primary school in New Mexico. While working as corporate lawyers in Chicago, both women yearned for a career about-face. “We wanted to do something more artistic and creative,” says Lagos.
In 2006, Lagos moved to Minneapolis with her two sons and husband Manny Lagos, a St Paul native and currently the sporting director for the Minnesota United soccer team.
Lagos and Coop made connections in the wall-covering industry as American distributors for the Danish company Ferm Living. After about a year, they launched their own brand and online retail site.
Today Hygge & West offers nearly 100 different wallpaper patterns by 14 designers and brands such as Rifle Paper and Laundry Studio. Rolls start at US$140 (RM573). New products include shower curtains and throw pillows. A bedding line of duvet covers will be out next month.
The women collaborate with artists to create bold patterns that are a “fresh modern twist on traditional”, says Lagos. The diverse designs range from contemporary interpretations of folk art to botanical peonies re-imagined in bright hues.
Daydream by Julia Rothman, depicting vividly coloured birds floating among clouds, is a popular bestseller. “The patterns have a fun, playful energy,” says Coop, who now lives in San Francisco.
The women manage their long-distance partnership through e-mails and texts, meeting about once a month at trade shows or photo shoots. Lagos runs her end of the business from her home office in the Four Square (a minimalist American house style popular from the mid-1890s to the late 1930s) that she and Manny bought in the Kenwood neighbourhood of Minneapolis.
They immediately fell in love with the roomy front porch of the corner house because it reminded them of a past home in North Carolina. The front rooms had retained much of their original 1908 period character – from the coffered ceilings to the built-in oak buffet. A newer kitchen addition, built by a previous owner, was popped out the back.
Over time, Lagos has put her eclectic stamp on each space. “I don’t subscribe to any one look,” she says. “I blend a lot of traditional with modern elements.”
In the front entry, the Pajarito wallpaper pattern of abstract black and white birds, inspired by a trip to Mexico City, brightens up the doorway. In the living room, her creative juxtaposition of diverse materials and styles is illustrated by a tree stump side table placed between two Scandinavian-style vintage rattan chairs. Rattan is repeated in the bull head above the fireplace. “It’s a nod to Spain – we’ve lived there,” she explains.
Lagos admits she’ll hang onto a workhorse piece of furniture for a long time. She’s moved a vintage leather sofa and chair from house to house since buying them in 1999.
For living spaces, Lagos prefers a calm and neutral backdrop, infusing colour in artwork, such as the massive painting of two bucks immersed in a waterfall, created by a Minneapolis College Of Art And Design student, that she bought at the school’s annual sale. “It looks like it should be on the cover of a 90s grunge album cover,” she says.
Finally, the room’s area rug is composed of removable Flor tiles, which are “a godsend if you have children and pets”, she says. The adjacent dining room’s oak built-in “gives you the sense that you’re living in a 100-year-old home”, she points out.
The couple host dinner parties and holiday meals served on a farmhouse-style table. The bench seating and clear Lucite chairs keep sight lines open across the room. The dining room’s wallpaper of gold metallic dots mimicking falling snow is just one layer in the overall design scheme, rather than a dominant element, Lagos says.
To tie it all together, she strategically hung a mod black and gold eye-shaped mirror on one wall and a matte brass light fixture over the table to echo the warm gold in the wallpaper, But in the end, day-to-day life ultimately drives how she furnishes and decorates her home.
With two teens and four pets, a hygge home is what matters most. “I want to see my kids lying on the sofa,” she says. “Scratches on the dining-room table means it’s well used and well loved.” – Star Tribune Minneapolis/Tribune News Service