Balance starts at home

IKEA annually conducts a global research called “Life at Home”. Its topic differs every year and gives a clearer understanding of how the life at home looks like today – and how we can help in making it better for the many.

This year, in times of great uncertainty, we wanted to kickstart a conversation about what matters most – our mental wellbeing. We asked 1000 people in Estonia to share thoughts on the intimate relationship between their homes and their mental wellbeing. Here is what we've learned.


After the challenging 12 months, 25% of people in Estonia say their mental health has suffered.

Through the research, we learned that a home you love can help protect your inner balance: almost every third in Estonia who felt more positive towards their home also saw a positive impact on their mental wellbeing.

But there’s a flipside. When people are unhappy at home, they are more likely to experience negative mental health impacts. This is why we asked experts to share their advice on how to find balance at home.

Key ingredients for a balanced life at home:

  • Relationships
  • Space
  • Rituals
  • Community


Relationships at home are vital to our mental wellbeing

The pandemic has forced many of us to spend more time at home with family and loved ones. 42% of people in Baltics say their relationships with their families have improved over the last 12 months. However, 15% admit that their friendships have been negatively impacted.

No room for guests?

29% in Estonia say that socialising at home is important in terms of helping to maintain a sense of mental wellbeing at home. According to IKEA interior designer Pedro Castro, having guests is possible even in the smallest houses. An extendable table and some folding chairs will make room for everyone. When not in use, such pieces of furniture can be stored on the wall or inside the closet.
“Communication is the foundation of every relationship, whether it's with your partner, family or friends. It’s is extremely vital not to assume or wait for the other party to speak, but to always speak your mind when you want to say or ask something. Direct communication and contact between people is what we really need.”

Rita Rätsepp, psychologist


Is your home space supporting your headspace?

How we use our spaces has altered over the past year. To achieve balance, many of us have adapted our spaces to match. 60% both in the Baltics and globally say they’ve had to change the way their home is organized to do the activities they want or need to do at home. Our survey has also shown that a home that is easy to clean and keep clutter free became even higher in importance during the last 12 months.
“Home is a place where to recharge yourself and feel safe. A place where you do not need to worry and can enjoy the time with your close ones. The tidier the home and less visible items, the more relaxed we feel. Therefore, the advice to start the day from making the bed is not just an empty statement. Such an order where things have their places and are quickly accessible without a long search will help to assure better mental well-being.”

Rita Rätsepp, psychologist 

How to keep home neat and tidy?

One of the most important tips from our interior designer is to organize drawers in the hallway, bedroom or kitchen using inserts and boxes. This way, your drawers will remain clutter free, there will be more room for items inside them, and you will be able to re-organize them less frequently. 

Decorative boxes and wicker baskets can help you organize the things without hiding. They will provide you with both practical storage and a stylish way to decorate your interior.

Divide household chores by days, e.g., do the washing on Mondays, vacuum the floor on Tuesdays, and so on. Having such daily routines only requires half an hour every day instead of half a weekend, so you can spend the rest of your time on some other heart-pleasing activities.


Is home providing us with enough opportunities to look after ourselves?

The role of the home has been transformed. Now it is a place for activity and productivity as well as relaxation. Finding balance through good daily routines is key for our mental wellbeing.

Almost every fifth in Estonia say that self-care and relaxing at home SPA are the most important in terms of helping to maintain a sense of mental wellbeing.
“Have your own SPA treatment box with all the essentials (body scrub, face mask, sea salt, scented candles, etc.) in one place. Then, just by opening it you will know that it's time for yourself and everything else can wait. Hang some twigs of eucalyptus in the shower and let them spread their scents in the humid air. If your bathroom does not provide a relaxing atmosphere, refresh the room with textiles and accessories: choose a shower curtain, bath mat, and towels in matching colours, add a beautiful soap dish or boxes for smaller items. The mood in the bathroom will instantly shift to nice and cosy.”

Pedro Castro, IKEA interior designer

The ability to relax is essential for our wellbeing

According to psychologist Rita Rätsepp, setting up an office at home should come together with a dedicated place for relaxation after the work is done. If you work in a living room, find another place where you can recover. It can be a corner, a chair, a rug, or anything you associate with the transition from work mode to home mode.

IKEA interior designer Pedro Castro recommends having a separate space for each relaxing activity. Think about the tools and environment you need. Home textiles will provide cosiness and lighting will set the right mood. Reading a book or doing handicrafts will require high-quality functional lighting, while dimmable lamps or candles will be just perfect for listening to music or enjoying a cup of tea.


How much do your communities do for you?

Whether it’s local neighbourhoods or Messenger groups, communities are important to us. They support our practical, social, and emotional needs – and we have been turning to them more over the last 12 months. 

After spending more time in their neighbourhoods, 9% in Estonia say that their mental wellbeing benefited from having a sense of belonging in the neighbourhood.

Future home

How close are you to your dream life at home?

People are clearer than ever about what they want and need from where they live. The things which best describe our expectations towards the ideal home now is making private space for everyone living in the household, living close to friends and family, and most of all - having an immediate access to green spaces and nature.

Psychologist Rita Rätsepp advises: if you cannot enjoy nature close to home, invite it into your home with colors. The tones of blue and green create a feeling of security and well-being at home, as they relate to nature. The sky is blue and the grass is green - it is instinctively associated with our well-being, because we always feel good in nature. A person senses colors not only with the eyes, but also with the skin.
“As people need to clear their head and thoughts from time to time, we also need to clear our homes. I advise to revise all your belongings at least once a year and make a selection what to keep, what to give for recycling and what to re-use. This helps to keep your home tidy and also analyse how to make your home more comfortable safe haven for yourself. The most important here is to consider your own needs and refurnish your home accordingly, because it is YOUR home.”

Rita Rätsepp, psychologist