The latest lifestyle buzzword is "hygge." And for Aimee Lagos, it's an apt description of her online wallpaper business – as well as her century-old Minneapolis house.
Lagos chose the Danish word for cozy and savoring small simple moments in naming her wallpaper collection, Hygge & West.
"The patterns make rooms feel happy, warm and welcoming," she said.
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," said Lagos.
And, of course, she's enhanced seven rooms in her home with Hygge & West wallpapers.
Lagos, with her business partner Christiana Coop, started the company in 2008 – before most people ever heard of the word hygge, pronounced "hue-gah."
"Hygge blew up," said Lagos. "Now you see it everywhere."
Lagos and Coop have been friends since grade 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," said Lagos.
In 2006, Lagos moved to Minneapolis with her two sons and her 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 wallcovering industry as U.S. distributors for the Danish company Ferm Living, and after about a year, they launched their own brand and online retail site.
Today Hygge & West (hyggeandwest.com) offers nearly 100 different wallpaper patterns by 14 designers and brands such as Rifle Paper and Laundry Studio. Rolls are 27 inches by 30 feet, and start at $140. New products include shower curtains and throw pillows. A bedding line of duvet covers will be out in January.
The women collaborate with artists to create bold patterns that are a "fresh modern twist on traditional," said 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 colored birds floating among clouds, is a popular bestseller. "The patterns have a fun, playful energy," said Coop, who now lives in San Francisco.
The women manage their long-distance partnership through emails 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 foursquare that she and Manny bought in the Kenwood neighborhood.
They immediately fell in love with the roomy front porch of the corner house close to Cedar Lake 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 said. "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 said.
Lagos admits she'll hang onto a workhorse piece of furniture for a long time. She's moved a Restoration Hardware leather sofa and chair from house to house since buying them in 1999.
For living spaces, Lagos prefers a calm and neutral backdrop, infusing color 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 said.
Finally, the room's "area rug" is composed of removable Flor tiles, which are "a godsend if you have children and pets," she said.
The adjacent dining room's oak built-in "gives you the sense that you're living in a 100-year-old home," she said.
The couple host dinner parties and holiday meals served on a Crate and Barrel farmhouse-style table. The bench seating and clear Lucite chairs keep sightlines 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, she said.
To tie it all together, Lagos 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 said. "Scratches on the dining-room table means it's well used and well loved."