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Life at Home Insights

The IKEA Life at Home Pulse Report #1: In the Messy Middle

We’ve created our first special IKEA Life at Home Pulse Report to share our rich pocketful of insights into people’s struggles during this temporary time – and how they’re making the most of it. From our conversations with 20 households across five countries over the past month, we’ve gathered these insights into how people are feeling, coping, surviving and thriving in the current pause between two normals. We’re calling this strange space, in which coronavirus lockdowns are easing yet restrictions remain, ’the messy middle’.


Home is where our hearts are

As COVID-19 spread across the globe, and governments tried to contain it by locking societies down and people in, our homes became overnight, our whole worlds. For us at IKEA, home has always been the most important place in the world, and we’ve long been obsessed with getting to know it better – warts and all – in order to help make people’s everyday life there better. So, as home changed for the many, and people’s experience of and focus within it pivoted, so did ours.

The result is fortnightly blog posts (see the first here, and second here), plus two pulse reports, the first of which is newly released – all to understand and immediately speak to the time that we’re in. Because, being in people’s homes means that during this extraordinary time, we’re able not only to help them by listening, but also to help others by sharing what they’ve told us. All to make everyday life in the messy middle feel that little bit better for as many people as possible.

Monotony and muddle

In both our conversations with our 20 households, people generously and vividly shared the parts of their lives under lockdown – and in the messy middle – that they’ve both struggled with and been surprised by. The IKEA Life at Home Pulse Report #1 is built on all this, with raw content created by the households themselves, including stories, quotes, videos and images, that come together to build a rich and total snapshot of people’s realities.

What have we discovered so far? That there was a blurring of boundaries, as home became everything – school, office, gym and more.


And that the days seemed without end, as one activity morphed into the next. That there was a sense of monotony to days, of repetition and moments and modes left unmarked, which created de-energised and flat feelings. That the dependence on virtual connection, while providing lifelines and much-needed contact, also spotlighted how much we human beings love and long for physical, human connection.

But there was also a surprising revelation: that spaces shared created, less feelings of frustration with the lack of privacy, and more a newfound respect and understanding of the needs of others. Essentially, that being thrown together in this way made people more empathetic and generous with each other.


Exceptional times, extraordinary resilience

It wasn’t just people’s responses to having to share their space that were positive. Here are the other ways in which people found a new sense of perspective in these challenging times.

1) Certainty in routine

It’s well known that babies and children thrive within a routine. What this pandemic has revealed to us is that the same goes for the rest of us. Without the structure of school runs, commutes to work and exercise classes, people have created their own sense of rhythm at home – whether by starting the day with meditation or building in naps between afternoon Teams meetings. And interestingly, they’ve found this form of self-care so affirming, they say they’ll keep these rituals in the future – whatever that may look like.

2) Comfort in small moments

Big is no longer better. Within our endless everydays come many little things to love, and without the noise of multiple plans and our usual levels of busy, we finally have the space to notice and revel in them. Whether they come in the form of setting up a balcony garden or long soaks in the bath while listening to music, these are what our households are telling us are bringing them snippets of joy and helping them remain positive.

3) Structure in future plans

As we adapt to the messy middle, the sense of the unknown in terms of what comes next brings with it new levels of acceptance and resolve. Living ever more in the moment, we’re adjusting our expectations both of the now and of the future. What does this look like? Putting longer-term solutions to certain realities such as working from home in place, as well as cementing the wellness routines and work-life balance solutions we thought were temporary.


Fun things to help

In response to what this research has revealed, we’ve created a toolkit to help smooth the path into new routines, structuring days, prioritising our wellbeing and more.

  • Learnt something new in lockdown? From a new plan to a new priority, record it with our ‘What I’ve learnt’ template.
  • Looking for a simple way to build focus, structure, movement, nourishment and hydration into your day? Then our downloadable planner is for you.
  • Feeling like you’re doing everything and yet nothing? Our tickable Lockdown bingo list reminds you of your wins – both little and large! – during lockdown and life in the messy middle.
  • A gif is worth a thousand words – so grab our ‘My lockdown life in gifs!’ template to gather them for seven situations, from what you’re currently cooking, to what you’re missing most.



Stronger, together

What all this has revealed – and what this first pulse report digs into – is that we’re truly all in something big together. No matter where we live or what our home is like, we’re all looking for and finding ways to feel safer and happier there, despite what’s going on outside our windows. Many of us have surprised ourselves and our loved ones with our own resilience, and what we at IKEA have been most touched by, is how truly united people are in this experience.

Check out the IKEA Life at Home Pulse Report #1 to further explore how to make more of life in this messy middle.