If gaudy florals, bland stripes, or grandma’s brocade come to mind when you think of wallpaper, it’s time you met Hygge & West, a company that’s managed to do the unthinkable: Take a fairly stuffy, outdated design element and turn it into an absolute must-have for stylish living spaces.
Since launching in 2008, the wallpaper brand has swiftly become a home decor go-to for its artistic, modern reimagining of wallpaper and collaborations with designers like Anna Bond of stationery brand Rifle Paper Co. and Joy Cho of the lifestyle blog Oh Joy! Even if you’re a traditionalist when it comes to your walls, we bet you’d find it impossible not to fall for Hygge & West’s charming designs that feature modern motifs like pineapples, illustrated animals, abstract florals and eye-catching color combinations.
Part of its allure, undoubtedly, is rooted in the story of its founders, childhood friends and fellow former lawyers Christiana Coop and Aimee Lagos. We had the chance to get some insight from these two on what it takes to balance business with friendship, how personal style translates to the home, and why even the biggest doubters become wallpaper converts.
Firstly, how did your friendship start?
Christiana Coop: We became friends in second grade and quickly bonded over ballet, Esprit outfits and Michael J. Fox.
Aimee Lagos: The first time I went to Christiana’s house, we played Smurfs for several hours and the rest is history.
When did you know it was the right time to leave your day jobs?
CC: I was in my fifth year as an attorney at a corporate law firm. I’d discovered my passion for interior design towards the end of law school—bad timing!—so when the opportunity came along to break free from my legal job into to design world and work with Aimee, it was a no-brainer.
AL: I’d left being a lawyer and had transitioned into marketing. I wanted flexibility to have more time with my family, and I’d had another small business previously and was looking to do something entrepreneurial again. The opportunity to work in an industry that I love with my best friend was just too good to resist.
What is it about wallpaper that inspired you both creatively and from a business standpoint?
Creatively, there are few other products that can create a certain mood or change the feel of a space as quickly and dramatically as wallpaper. With limitless patterns and color combinations out there, every collection is a new and exciting challenge. From a business standpoint, when we started there were only a handful of fresh and modern wallpaper companies on the market so it seemed like an emerging niche for us.
You’ve said you both didn’t have too much experience in manufacturing. What made you confident to pursue this business opportunity anyway?
CC: I just figured making wallpaper had to be a better business opportunity than reviewing countless legal documents.
AL: I’d done something of this nature before, so I had (probably misplaced) confidence that we could make it work. We started small, and we were really diligent about finding great partners from the very start. And there was also a lot of trial and error.
You’ve explained that “hygge” roughly translates to simple pleasures. How does that relate to your brand?
CC: Each collection we create has a different style, but they’re all connected through an overall joyful feeling, we think. We want our patterns to ultimately bring happiness to the people that have them in their homes or see them out in the world. I think that’s why we steer more towards unique motifs, cheerful elements and pretty colors.
AL: Your home is such an important part of your life – all your and your family’s, memories are created there. We hope that our wallpaper helps make homes feel more joyful and vibrant.
What are your simple pleasures?
CC: Drinking coffee in the morning in my favorite cup, sitting in the sunshine with a décor magazine, laughing with my little nephews, and drinking wine on the porch. It really is all about appreciating and enjoying life’s little moments.
AL: My simple pleasures include uninterrupted reading on the porch, playing with our three dogs, watching movies with my sons while eating my husband’s signature stovetop popcorn, and long dinners with friends at our huge dining room table.
How did you develop your wallpaper aesthetic?
CC: I think our aesthetic developed from what we’d want to use in our own homes. I’m probably a bit more enamored with saturated, colorful combinations and Aimee (luckily) tempers that with her attraction to sophisticated, more subdued color palettes.
AL: Ha! We’ve learned over the years what makes good wallpaper – not every pattern or color scheme translates. But as Christiana mentions, first and foremost it has to be something that we’d put in our own homes. And we work with incredible designers who bring their aesthetic to the work as well.
How do you think personal style ties into home design?
CC: They definitely go hand in hand. For example, my wardrobe basically consists of black, white and denim and then I accessorize with bright shoes, statement necklaces or a colorful clutch. Similarly, my interior is all about simple furniture with eye-catching accessories—and a ton of wallpaper—layered in.
AL: Your home should absolutely reflect your personal style. People should feel like they know you as a person a little better once they’ve seen your home. My personal style is comfy chic (maybe more emphasis on comfy…) and pretty casual. Our home is the same way – the most important thing to me is that our family and friends feel comfortable there.
What are your top tips for first-time wallpaper shoppers?
CC: Find a pattern that really speaks to you and that you find meaningful. And, be warned—wallpaper is addicting.
AL: Don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you a horror story about how awful removing old wallpaper was—the new papers and pastes are much more easily removed. It’s not a permanent decision so find something you love and go for it!
How do you balance your friendship with being business partners?
CC: We put our friendship first. I think that’s the only way it would work. Usually, if one of us doesn’t like a particular design or colorway, we just nix it. We both want each other to be excited about what we’re creating. Luckily, we’re usually on the same page about most of the major business decisions we need to make.
AL: We’ve definitely been through a lot of ups and downs together while getting to [this] point—I think that “together” is the key. We take everything on as a team and both really respect the other’s opinions. I think that we both also appreciate how incredibly lucky we are – how many people get to do work that they love with their best friend?