The Senses Of Home: Insights from the IKEA Home Report

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Swedish furniture powerhouse IKEA recently released the third edition of it’s annual Home Report, a comprehensive study that looks to uncover the things we think we know about the places we call home.

The concept of a home is one that proceeds many others and is in some ways the very genesis of development for the human species. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places shelter at the very bottom of the pyramid, a metaphorical starting point for the phenomenon that are our lives.

“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.” – IKEA Home Report, 2016

The Report takes stride from these sentiments and delves into the personal infrastructures that we collect, collate and require to create such spaces for ourselves. Traditional conversations surrounding how we define our homes have often looked at the basic requirements for survival and then the relationships we have with our loved ones, family and friends. All of which help to validate the process of constructing less nomadic habitats. The Home Report aims to deliberate on how the fundamental feelings and needs that  have traditionally orchestrated our perceptions of home are created and influenced in the new ways we live.

High density, urban environments that are continually blurring the lines between our public and private lives via the omnipresence of digital technology and it’s integration into physical space. Yes, this is the typical paradigm that has come to describe the circumstances that the Western world decide to create homes.

Yet as we move into more high-tech and in the moment existences, our physiological attributes still continue to mould the way we interpret a space. Our senses play a big part in our sense of home.


Touch, for instance, can dictate the way we feel towards a space with textures playing an interesting part in the way we approach one another. “Rough textures, for example, can make social situations seem more difficult. Smooth wood can make them feel a little friendlier.” Touch and our sense of home are more akin than many realise, just look at your favourite cuddly blanket for instance.

Light, of course, plays a key role in the way we visually participate with a space. Cool lighting is better suited for work or study, whilst warm lighting perpetuates feelings of relaxation.

With 65% of millennials using music to create a homely feel, our ears are another integral part  the way we experience our dwellings. As our urban environments are flooded with the residual noises of traffic, neighbours and further cacophonies, people are tasked with minimising the auditory intrusions.

Despite smell being the fast-track to our memory, the Ikea Home Report states “a recent study shows that 53% of people aged 16-22 and 48% of those aged 23-30 would give up their sense of smell if it meant they could keep one of their electronic gadgets.”

The physiological arsenal that are our senses can often be forgotten as key and kingdom to the way we experience the spaces we spend time in. Home for many is a place of safety, familiarity and comfort. A place where a feeling a belonging is perpetuated by the people and things around us. The true findings of the Ikea Home Report might not be so closely linked to the collection of the things and objects we have in our homes, but rather the seemingly insignificant ways they interact with us over time.


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