If Your Place Doesn’t Feel Like Home, You’re Not Alone, IKEA Says

updated May 3, 2019
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It turns out that “Home Sweet Home” goes far beyond just where you live. IKEA just released their Life at Home Report 2018 and the findings show that the traditional concept of “home” has evolved significantly in recent years.

The annual report nailed down five core emotional needs that embrace the feeling of home: privacy, comfort, ownership, security, and belonging. And while most people believe their actual residence should provide these qualities, it’s clear that many still fall short. According to the report, nearly four in ten Americans (39 percent) do not feel a sense of belonging in their residence. A quarter of respondents say flat out that they don’t feel at home in their own residence. So simply put: What changed?

“We were curious to understand why some people say they feel more at home away from home than others,” said Maria Jonsson, Macro Insights Leader at IKEA Group. “This report seeks to get to the heart of what creates that elusive feeling of home, and how we can all make this feeling easier to achieve where we live.”

IKEA worked to discover how the insights from this year’s report could be directly applied to our daily lives at home. One quality everyone wants is privacy—but that goes far beyond just have a space to oneself. Instead, it’s about having control of an area, and being able to choose how you exist in it.

(Image credit: Cherish Bryck/Stocksy)

Next is comfort—but this doesn’t just mean a comfortable couch to plop oneself down on at the end of a long day. It’s about feeling content and at ease in your space. “What we want or seek at home can often change depending on our mood,” the report reads. “For example, wanting to spend time with family can mean different things. Sometimes you gather as many as you can to share a special moment. Other times, you want closeness but still allow for different screens and activities. Then again, some days you just want to stretch out all by yourself.”

Ownership is also an important quality—particularly for those who share their space with roommates. Having security means far more than feeling safe in your surroundings; while it can apply to children who are afraid of the dark, for example, it also means feeling grounded where you are.

The last quality is belonging. More than just feeling like you’re part of something, belonging is about a place that brings people together to form a sense of community. It’s a gathering space where people can co-exist, even if they’re pursuing entirely different activities.

There’s a lot of variables that affect how and where we feel at home, and many of them are reflections of our rapidly changing world, where technology is a major focus. One in four people work from home, while one third of us shower or bathe outside the home multiple times a week. A quarter of people who live with strangers use their home to make money on Airbnb.

(Image credit: Javier Díez/Stocksy)

There’s also the rise of urban living, where residents have much less space than they used to. And with prices skyrocketing, many people are forced to live in more communal living situations than before. It’s no wonder that 23 percent of people globally feel they have to leave the house to find alone time, and this goes up to 33 percent for people living with friends or strangers. And it’s not just individuals, either: 53 percent of young families don’t get belonging from their residential home.

However, it’s not all dark news. Instead, people are learning to expand their understanding of home to mean something new. 47 percent of respondents say they seek opportunities outside of the home that help them grow as a person.

The survey was composed of 22,000 respondents in 22 different markets. The researchers visited stores in six cities, and even participated in 12 “home safaris.” Read more in IKEA’s Life at Home Report 2018.