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WE NEED TO TALK

The “We Need to Talk” table reflects the tension between different needs that make the living room the most common “battleground” at home.

Balancing everybody’s needs is challenging, and requires a focus and mental presence. Especially since our use of technology has changed what traditionally used to be the social heart of the home - we no longer need to be physically present in order to be social, and we no longer need to be social because we are physically present. Our need for alone time is becoming even more important as our lives and schedules are getting busier. At the same time, the living room is becoming more fluid, moving away from being “the TV room,” to having different meanings and functions. And as we live in smaller spaces, the living room needs to accommodate many types of needs – needs that are sometimes conflicting. Maybe that’s why the living room is where we fight the most at home?

46% have had a fight in the living room.

Our research shows that the most common rooms to fight in are those that are going through transformation and are fluid, undefined spaces. Changes in spaces that have typically been used for shared family moments must now meet our needs – whether we use them alone or together.

“For many people, the living room is the most important room in the home. It's a room that is both public and personal, where you can show who you are and who you want to be. But the functions and furniture that people need to live their lives within the living room are rapidly changing. As a curious company, it´s our job to accept the challenge of these new needs and redefine the living room.” - Marcus Engman, design manager at IKEA of Sweden.

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The most common “battle grounds” in our living spaces
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When our deepest needs collide

1 in 3 of those surveyed think the living room is a place for “me.” This is perhaps a surprising statistic given that the livin room is traditionally designed as a social space, whether it’s for parents to entertain guests or for children to play with all their toys. Our research also suggests that those with a large need for quietness are more likely to fight there (introverts 52% vs. extroverts 45%) – indicating that we might underestimate the need for privacy and quietness in our shared, undefined spaces. So how can we create a better balance between the “me” and the “we” in our living rooms? Maybe we should think again when it comes to different spaces at home – and the needs they need to fulfil for different members of the household…

Where I find moments for me…

  • Bedroom (52%)
  • Bathroom (38%)
  • Living room (32%)
  • Kitchen (18%)
  • Outside the home (15%)

Where I find social moments…

  • Living room (60%)
  • Dining table (39%)
  • Outside the home (23%)
  • Kitchen (28%)
  • Bedroom (16%)

Can we learn to make peace in the living room?

It’s obvious that our different needs at home can create friction, especially when it’s not clear to everyone how the space is being used at any given moment. This is particularly true for spaces that are changing from the traditional ways of usage, like the living room or the kitchen. But are there ways we can deal with this successfully?

Our research shows that nothing beats a good conversation when it comes to creating harmony in the living room. Different as we are, having a proactive discussion and purposeful planning for our various needs and expectations at home, seem to help beat the battle of the “me” and the “we” at home.

“We have a conversation that takes place around every two weeks about how things are going in our home and what we all want…” – Ilene, USA

Home Pioneer voices

”Our living room is definitely the common area for the entire family to enjoy each other’s company and for entertaining. We encourage the children to come out of their own rooms and interact with each other in common areas, unless they are reading, resting or just in need of private time. My husband and I will watch television in our bedroom unless we decide to watch a family movie with the children. While there is a means for the children to watch television in their own room, we limit that to the occasion when adults need the common living space. The spaces are often fluid when they need to be. Adaptation, planning, and creativity is the key within
a tiny home.”
– Jennifer, USA

”I think the ability to achieve a sense of private space through the use of smartphones, tablets and headphones, even when surrounded by people, creates new ways of being together. I often find myself sitting with my laptop on the sofa while my wife watches TV. We find that it’s cosier than me being in a different room.” – Christian, Denmark

Looking for ways to beat the battles at home? Learn from the Home Pioneers here

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