Would you Cwtch?
Cwtch is the latest in a long list of foreign lifestyle trends to come over to the United States—but the first to come from Wales. Like the Danish practice hygge which embraces coziness, or the Finnish past time of kalsarikanni (being comfortable enough to drink alone in your underwear), Cwtch combines the feelings of comfort and coziness with those of security.
Since the Welsh language can be challenging for non-Welsh speakers, it’s helpful to know that Cwtch is pronounced kutch (rhymes with butch.) You might say, “He looks so sad, I just want to cwtch him.” If you’re giving someone a Cwtch, you’re offering them a metaphor for a safe space, and the feeling of a protective hug.
In 2007, Cwtch (sometimes spelled, cwtsh) was named the most popular word in Wales, so you can see that it holds a very special place in the hearts of the Welsh people. They tend not to use it unless they really mean it. Some couples even incorporate it into their wedding vows and say, “to love and to Cwtch” instead of “to love and to hold.”
According to Adina Mahalli, Cwtch can be loosely defined as a safe place: “The word originated from the Middle English word “couche” which used to mean a resting or hiding place. The word Cwtch may have had humble beginnings but it’s become popular for non-Welsh speakers in Wales as well. It’s become a part of Wales’s national identity of being a warm and affectionate group of people.”
Words that are synonymous with Cwtch are snuggling, cuddling, loving, protecting, safeguarding and claiming—Cwtch is all of that. It’s an interaction like a warm embrace but it also means a cubbyhole or cupboard, in other words, an enclosed, small, and safe place. It’s an evocative word for Welsh people and has the magical ability to transport them back to the more innocent time of childhood.
The way we feel at our homes affects us in so many ways, and if we feel good when we’re at home, we’re more comfortable in social situations, we have a more positive mindset, and our sense of well-being is improved. Making your home more Cwtch-friendly will have definite long-term benefits.
How to Cwtch Your Home
Most of us want our homes to be somewhere where we, and the people who visit us, feel comfortable and safe, but sometimes that can be harder to attain than you’d think. You can’t assume that just because you live somewhere that it’s going to feel like home. Sometimes you have to make an effort to turn your dwelling into a home.
A cwtch environment highlights a warm, inviting atmosphere and gives one a feeling of comfort and well-being. You don’t have to stick to one style in order to do this; you have the freedom to incorporate many interior design trends whether it’s Danish modern or shabby chic. Plus, there’s nothing that says you can’t Cwtch and hygge at the same time. Ask yourself what makes you feel safe and secure when you’re in your own home?
Follow Your Instincts
One thing that you can do to create a feeling of Cwtch with your home is to follow your own instincts. There are guidelines but they’re not restrictive. Do your own thing and what feels right for you. If you want to use an old steamer-trunk for a coffee table or turn a vase into a lamp, you have the freedom to do so. Don’t rely on what you read in design magazines or feel intimidated by what the interior designer says. There are no limitations.
Personalize Your Space
When it comes to Cwtch, personalization is the most important aspect of each room. Make sure that you have family pictures on display, family heirlooms, knick-knacks, and objects that you treasure. If you bought a miniature sculpture when you were in Greece or picked up a tapestry in Morocco, make sure you display them. Not only will they remind you of past experiences, they probably will be a good conversation starters when you’re entertaining.
Create Smaller Spaces
Take advantage of the concept of contained spaces and break up larger rooms into smaller ones. In many houses, apartments, and lofts, there’s one big room which contains both the living room and the dining room areas. Using a curtain, screen, or divider, turn your dining room into a nook and make it more intimate. Hanging textiles can help mute the sound if you have an extra high ceiling and will also add to the feeling of coziness.
Incorporate Warm Colors
Another way to warm up your home and create a feeling of cwtch is to use warm colors such as creamy whites, mustard yellows, soft blues, moody greens, and rich reds. One word of warning, if you decide to use red, look for reds with tones of brown. You want your rooms to inspire feelings of comfort; not look like a crime scene.
Embrace Warm Lighting
The right lighting is crucial to any home décor, so make sure that your lighting isn’t sterile or cold, but warm and glowing. If you have a working fireplace then you’re already well on your way to having a home that evokes the comforting feeling of Cwtch. Give yourself permission to sit in front of the fire with your favorite hot or cold beverage, unplug, and just relax.
Beware of anything being too matchy-matchy. You don’t want your home to look unlived in or as if it’s straight out of the catalog. Mix and match colors, textiles, and shapes. Make sure there are extra throw pillows, decorative blankets, and places for people to put their feet up. No one can be comfortable if they’re too nervous about disturbing or breaking something to relax.
One thing you might not have considered to make a room warmer and cozier is by layering things. Put a rug on top of another rug/carpet, or a pillow on a rug. Layering helps to keep the heat in a room and makes people feel comfortable by offering additional comfy places to sit.
Add Books to Your Space
Books, alone or in stacks, can add an air of calm and contemplation. Make sure that they’re not dirty or dusty or the feeling that will evoke will be of neglect and thoughtlessness.
One of the ways that we practice self-care is by having a home-environment that helps us in taking care of ourselves. Self-care is vital to living a healthy life and in order to do so, we need a comfortable and safe place to practice it. Cwtch may not be specifically self-care but it aids in #relaxationgoals.
Invite Your Pets Into Your Space
Pets can make even the most industrial of spaces feel more cozy and homey. Dogs are an easy way to feel safer in your home. We don’t have a dog but we have a “beware of dog” sign on our gate. It may not seem like much, but according to a police officer we spoke to once it’s a major deterrent to potential criminals. While cats may not have the same home-security skills as dogs, they can be instrumental in helping to generate feelings of safety, coziness, and comfort.
All these design trends are about making your home a place where you can relax, be comfortable, feel safe, and loved. The world is a hectic place and can be extremely stressful—it’s lifesaving to have a space that you can go to where you can let go of your worries, decompress, and have the security to do so. How we feel at home can affect how we feel out in the world and a positive feeling can help us to feel more confident and ready to take on every challenge. Cwtch may be difficult to say, but it doesn’t take much effort to feel it.