The world is changing and so are our lives at home. More and more people move to cities and live in smaller spaces with fewer rooms. New household structures have an impact too. Our lives have become more diverse. More of us live alone, lodge or live together with roommates and many children live in single-parent homes. We also travel abroad more than ever. And we are always online – ready to share our meal, purchase or latest discovery with the rest of the world through social media. Still, for many, the longest journey is the one to the local market, the living room is still dedicated for special occasions only, and the phone is just a tool to make a phone call. Many of us choose to seek happiness in big cities. Others are forced to leave their homes for an unknown life in a new country. Regardless of the reasons, it’s clear that we have to get used to new ways of living, and think again about our approach to the home.
Understanding our lives at home is helping us realise the IKEA vision: “To create a better everyday life for the many people”. That is why we are always curious of what makes a home. In a world that is changing faster than ever before, it becomes increasingly important to understand the challenges we face and the needs we want our homes to fulfil.
We are now starting our journey to find out more about people’s real needs, aspirations and dreams when it comes to the home today. Our aim is to make this a part of our long-term business development. Hopefully, our exploration will make us even better at making people’s homes more meaningful.
We know about many of the important aspects of how people connect with the idea of the home. But we also know that life at home is constantly evolving and that the ever-changing world around us affects our lives at home – not least when it comes to our feelings.
To find out more about how people feel about their homes today, we started this study by asking some fundamental questions: What is a home to you? What do you need to experience in order to feel at home? We found that the homes of today still inspire feelings of comfort, safety and belonging – essential needs that appear to be constant. We need our homes to physically protect us – to provide roofs over our heads. But we also need the emotional aspects of having a secure base to return to. To many of us, home is a personal haven where we can recline, reconnect and revitalize after a long day.
Different as we are, our feelings of home are strikingly similar. People all over the world use similar words to describe the essence of what makes a home to them. Comfort, cosiness, relaxation and warmth are among the first words mentioned. The feeling of home is described as a feeling of being myself, a feeling of safety, a feeling of belonging and even that home is the feeling of love.
When we combine our previous knowledge with the insights from our quantitative survey and our experiences from talking to people in their homes, we get a picture of how people want to feel in their homes. We can also see what they need from their homes and how they create meaning in their lives at home. It seems our requirements of our homes can be summed up like this: it has to be comfortable, it has to be safe, and it has to provide familiarity. Relationships, love and belonging have to be balanced with room for privacy, relaxation and recovery. And we like our homes to be personal and express who we are.
But how are these feelings and needs challenged in our new, urban way of living? To understand life at home, we want to review the changing conditions for our homes. In order to do so, we want to look at the development that comes with urbanization and find out more about how it impacts our lives.
Let’s have a look at what makes a home from four basic perspectives of the home: Space, Things, Relationships and Place.
At IKEA we have years of experience, knowledge and insights about people’s lives at home from listening to the needs and dreams of our customers. With the IKEA Life at Home Report we want to share our knowledge, raise awareness and interest, spark debate and contribute toward creating a better everyday life.
This is the third consecutive year we have published the IKEA Life at Home Report. In previous reports, we have looked at morning routines and at how people meet and eat in and around the kitchen. This time, we dig into what actually makes a home for people. We have conducted a new quantitative survey in twelve cities around the world – resulting in more than 12,000 respondents. The survey was conducted in collaboration with Swedish business intelligence agency United Minds, using online panels in Berlin, London, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Zurich and Madrid. We have dug into our own archives as well as looked at external studies in, for example, sociology, psychology, liberal arts, neuroscience and design. Not to mention talked to academic experts. But perhaps most importantly, we have talked to real people.
This year’s report is divided into two parts. In the first part, we share insights based on our new survey and existing IKEA research, as well as other well-known study findings from experts and opinion leaders. In the second part, we dive deeper into an interesting finding from our survey to understand it in more detail. To get a better understanding of the public-private relationships of the home, we’ve visited and photographed households in four cities: Stockholm, Mumbai, New York and Shanghai. This is what we call Real Life Stories – emotional stories that can help us really understand people’s feelings, thoughts and behaviours.