Fact: Christiana Coop was on the hygge trend way before the rest of us.
Today, Coop is one of the two women behind the brand Hygge & West, known for its cozy patterned home décor. But she got her start dealing in comfy-cozy goodness back in the early 2000s—long before hygge, the Danish term for all things warm and fuzzy, became a buzzword across the U.S. It was then that she began to realize that her stressful law career wasn’t nearly as satisfying to her as dreaming up home decorating ideas. “I realized ‘Oh, this is what it feels like to actually enjoy what you’re doing,’” she recalls. So she left the world of law behind and teamed up with her friend Aimee Lagos to found the lifestyle brand Hygge & West.
These days, Hygge & West is a source of fresh inspo for décor-obsessed Millennials, who swoon over the company’s pretty patterned wallpapers, dreamy bedding, shower curtains, kids products and more. And Coop’s living the hygge dream in a 1920’s farmhouse in Northern California with plenty of fresh air and free space for her and her Pit Bull-Labrador Retriever, Otis.
From the very beginning, Coop and Lagos set out to create products that would make people feel content, comfortable and happy—in other words, hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”), a term that crossed the Atlantic to take American culture by storm in the mid-2010s. In hindsight, it’s easy to see that the concept of a lifestyle built on coziness and contentment was bound to be a success. But in 2008, years before the New Yorker announced “The Year of Hygge,” Coop’s idea was ahead of its time.
“I actually remember talking to a publisher when we first started our business and they couldn't really get it,” she says. “They were like, ‘That doesn't seem like anything that people would want.’” Flash forward a few years, and the word was everywhere—and Hygge & West, with its soothing color schemes and whimsical patterns, emerged as a leader of the comfy revolution.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, Coop’s life is just as warm and cozy as the lifestyle her company represents. After abandoning her law career in Chicago, she moved to San Francisco to start the brand, eventually tucking herself away in a friend’s farmhouse just outside of Petaluma. There’s chickens and goats in the yard, romantic floral wallpaper in the kitchen, and warm wood paneling. The property has a big barn, and she and her friends plan to put in a pool at some point, too. In an old abandoned community building on the property, they play ping pong. “I don’t miss the city at all,” she says. “It’s been such a nice change.”
But nothing makes her feel more at home—or dare we say hygge?—than Otis, her 2-year-old rescue dog. The truth is, without him, she might have never moved outside of San Francisco at all. When she was first living in the city, Coop started fostering dogs through Copper’s Dream, a Bay Area rescue. At one point, she was ready to adopt two fosters, but her landlord said no. So Coop decided to move to her friend’s farmland in the countryside so she could continue to keep dogs around.
“Every time I would foster a dog, I would fall in love with it,” she says. Still, she couldn’t commit. “My mom told me to think of it this way: Would you pick that dog out of a crowd of dogs?” Then came 3-month-old Otis. “I knew he was the one,” she says. “He just spoke to me.”
Thankfully, farm lifestyle seems to suit Otis. “He’s very sweet. He’s definitely got a mind of his own,” Coop laughs. His favorite things, in order of importance, are “to swim, play fetch, eat, and then be with people,” she says.
Every morning, the pair go for a training walk—”I’m still working on him not pulling,” Coop says—and they say hello to the other animals on the farm, including a three-legged sheep, horse, and miniature horse. “I’m so glad to have him during quarantine,” she says. “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have a little dog waking me up to go for a walk. I can’t emphasize how much he’s added to my lifestyle.”
Otis has even changed the way she decorates—not because he chews furniture (thank goodness), but because of his hair. (Note to design obsessives everywhere: Velvet and pet hair are not a good mix—the fabric traps in the hair. Coop’s trick? Go for an outdoor fabric instead.)
But their morning rituals have been the most transformative for Coop, especially in terms of her mental health during quarantine. “For a long time, before I had Otis, I would get up and immediately jump on my phone and jump on my laptop. I didn’t really have a morning routine. And so I think he's especially helped me,” she says.
Now, Coop doesn’t start working until 9 a.m., and spends her morning doing an hour and a half of non-work-related things—a feat she says is all the more impressive when you work from home and the temptation of a laptop is right there. “It's just a much nicer way to start the day,” she says. “And now I get up and get some exercise first thing.”
In fact, they spend almost the entirety of their days together, with Coop working in her office and Otis snoozing in a sunny spot on the floor. Mostly it’s just the two of them, but on the rare occasion she’ll have a guest over for a socially distanced dinner outside, Otis is just as happy to see them as Coop. “He’s probably very bored with me,” Coop jokes. “Whenever there is someone new who comes along, he’s much more excited than he used to be before quarantine.”
For Coop, Otis is proof that we don’t just take care of dogs—they also take care of us, in quaran-times and the rest of the time, too. Of course Otis brings her joy, she says, because being surrounded by things that make her happy has always been a part of her—and her company’s—ethos.
“It’s all about creating a space that makes you feel content and comfortable and surrounding yourself with people that make you feel content and happy,” she says “Hygge can be applied to anything.” Even pets. Scratch that—especially pets.
If you’d like to help dogs like Otis live their best hygge lives, check out Copper’s Dream’s Chewy Wish List, where you can send donations of the supplies they need right to their doorstep. And if you’d like to add a dose of hygge to your own home, shop hyggeandwest.com.
Christina Shops Chewy: Her Picks for Perfect Pet Products
Max and Neo Dog Gear Nylon Reflective Double Dog Leash
Form and function meet in the middle with this leash, which Coop relies on for her morning walks on the farm with Otis.
Goughnuts TuG Dog Toy
“Otis is a really aggressive chewer,” Coop says, “and this is one of the toughest toys I’ve found for him to play tug-of-war with.”
Redbarn Large Peanut Butter Bone
Otis loves licking the filling out of this large bone, which has major staying power. “I refill this over and over again with xylitol-free peanut butter,” Coop says. “Otis chews it while I work out with my Peloton—so he gets some stress and boredom relief too!
Christiana Coop's 5 Dos and Don’ts For Pet-Friendly Holiday Home Decor
1. Do Accessorize
During the holiday season, the old adage to “look in the mirror and take one thing off” should go out the window, Coop says. “From Santa hats to fuzzy sweaters, even furry friends can add some extra cheer to your holidays!” Coop’s favorite pet picks include this matching antler headband and collar for dogs and cats, and festive holiday sweater featuring reindeer with colorful pom-pom noses.
2. Don’t Use Tinsel
It may be sparkle season, but there’s nothing merry and bright about a sick pet on Christmas. “Though it’s pretty on the tree, the sparkly strings of tinsel can cause intestinal damage if your pet eats them,” Coop says.
3. Do Keep Candles Up High
Nothing sets a holiday glow like candles, “but make sure they’re above tail-wagging height,” Coop suggests. Aside from the dangers of a house fire, open flames and hot wax can both hurt your pet.
4. Don’t Forget The Stockings
“Who says that pets can’t get treats in their stockings?” Coop says. She makes sure Otis is on Santa’s Nice List every year by hanging a stocking for him by the fireplace on Christmas Eve, too. If you’re looking to copy that tradition, Coop says the vintage style of this Glitzhome dog stocking is pure hygge.
5. Do Give A Dog a Bone
Coop has made a holiday tradition of gifting homemade bone-shaped dog treats to her fellow pet parent friends. Looking for a festive DIY dog treat recipe? Check out these red velvet holiday truffles.