Have you found your hygge yet?
That Danish word for the feeling of cozy comfort at home has been having a moment. Now it’s on display in a new book, “Hygge & West Home: Design for a Cozy Life” (Chronicle Books, $35).
Authors Aimee Lagos and Christiana Coop, best friends since childhood, first tapped into hygge when they quit their corporate law careers to launch their wallcovering and home design company, Hygge & West. Now in their book they showcase the hygge homes of 20 homeowners across the country who have created that cozy, contented feeling in spaces they’ve personalized and made their own.
The homes represent a wide range of styles — from a family farmhouse in Hugo to comedian Ana Gasteyer’s New York City apartment in Brooklyn. There’s even a 1982 Winnebago RV designed by stylist Liz Kamarul, who infused her free-spirited Bohemian style in her home-on-the-move.
We caught up with Lagos, of Minneapolis, and Coop, who lives in San Francisco, while they were book-touring in Portland, Ore., to talk about making meaningful spaces, how pets are a plus and which Minnesota homes made the cut.
Q: What are key ingredients for creating a hygge home?
Aimee Lagos: I could give the clichéd response, which is candles, blankets and sitting in front of a fire to create the notion of cozy. But the meaning of cozy can be very different for different people. It’s not a trend or something you can buy — it’s a natural feeling. It’s about appreciating small moments and creating warm, welcoming spaces.
Q: The interiors in your book were designed by artists, influencers and creative people who know how to express themselves through their spaces. How about tips for the clueless?
Lagos: There are so many resources between social media, TV shows and magazines — your job is to figure out what you like and don’t like.
Absorb design ideas, and notice what you gravitate to on Pinterest and Instagram to help you define your style and aesthetic. You’ll know when you see a space and think “I wish my house looked like that.”
Q: The homes are from all over the U.S. and include Kristin Hollander’s renovated Lowry Hill house in Minneapolis and Julie Backer’s farmhouse in Lake Elmo. How did they make the cut?
Lagos: We chose people who had a distinctive aesthetic and interesting homes that reflected their personalities.
Kristin and Julie are close friends of ours and are passionate about design. Julie and her family moved from their home in Minneapolis to her parents’ farm to give her children the childhood she grew up with. Kristin’s family moved to a Lowry Hill fixer-upper for more space.
The rest of the homes are geographically diverse, and the people we knew through friends, or our paths had crossed through the design world. Readers can envision living in their spaces — not like Elle Decor where you could never have a home like that.
Q: Do the Twin Cities women’s design sensibilities have a Minnesota flavor?
Lagos: Many homes in Minnesota have two distinct personalities — urban homes in the cosmopolitan Twin Cities and more traditional Scandinavian roots in rural Minnesota.
The Hollander home is the epitome of a Lowry Hill house — beautiful, glamorous and stylishly sophisticated. Julie Backer’s traditional-style farmhouse is in this pastoral setting.
Q: How do you make your spaces feel one-of-a-kind and meaningful — and not look like a page from a home decor catalog?
Lagos: It’s a process that happens over time. Be intentional in everything you bring into the house — pieces you love and that speak to you, family heirlooms, objects from your travels — and it will slowly build.
My living room is still a work in progress — and we’ve lived there for 10 years.
Q: How do pets contribute to a hygge home?
Christiana Coop: Would you rather curl up with a pet or a blanket? Hygge is surrounding yourself with people and things that make you feel comfortable and secure. Nothing compares to the unconditional love of a pet.
Lagos: My dogs and cat are always excited to see me. Whenever you enter your home, to get that type of welcome is so special.
Q: One home is filled with green plants that are like works of art. What are pluses of plants?
Lagos: Use plants as decor — they purify the air, have an energy and change the chemistry of the room.
Q: Your bold-patterned wallpapers cover the walls in some of the rooms. How do pattern and color play a role in a hygge home?
Lagos: Pattern and color can change the personality of a room and are essential to a cozy home. Pattern adds a layer of texture that can create a warm environment. People are nervous about painting dark-colored walls, but it can make you feel snug and cozy.
Q: Your family’s Wisconsin lake cabin gets a spread in the book. What’s your personal style?
Lagos: I have two teenage boys and pets. My eclectic style gets shaped by the path of least resistance.
At home, everyone has too much stuff. We try to keep the cabin more minimalist, with less stuff, and it has more modern lines than our Minneapolis 1908 foursquare. It’s nice to have two homes with such different personalities.
Q: What’s your design process for your compact San Francisco apartment?
Coop: I have a shopping addiction — and see beautiful things every day. I mix a lot different styles and influences — I really like 1920s Paris. I use a lot of pattern and color but try to make it all feel collected by editing and moving it around in the small spaces. Some people think it’s cluttered — but it’s my style.
Q: Does clutter clash with the hygge feeling?
Coop: It’s very personal. Some people could never live with so much stuff, while other people think it’s interesting to look at and expresses experiences. Understand how different environments make you feel. If clutter stresses you out — streamline. But intentional clutter can be comforting.
Q: Why do we see the motif of cowhide rugs and sheepskin throws in several living rooms in the book?
Lagos: Animal skin has definitely been a trend for the last year and looks good with different styles.
Coop: Sheepskin is a Scandinavian look that adds texture and warmth. Cowhide has a more natural feel than laying down a polyester rug in the same space.
Q: How can you make a hygge home family-friendly?
Lagos: A third of the people in the book have kids. Hygge comes from creating a well-used homey space where you can all spend time together. And remember to design a bedroom where children feel comfortable and happy — it doesn’t matter if the duvet cover is the right color.
Q: In the book, New Yorker Malene Barnett said, “Your home is one of the few areas of your life that you can truly personalize, so just do it.” What are some guidelines?
Lagos: Be confident in your preferences. If you want to always have gray, cream and taupe, that’s great. But if you want your walls and ceiling to be red — don’t worry about the trends.
It’s your home and your life, and spend the moments appreciating what you have.