Half of the people in Finland are ashamed of their home

8 September 2020

Every other person in Finland reports being ashamed of their home. Up to one in five feels this way all the time or much of the time. More than half of the people dream of having a more comfortable home. These are some of the findings of the 1,000+ respondent survey commissioned in August/September by SATO, one of Finland’s largest rental housing providers.

SATO, which owns around 26,000 rental homes across Finland, commissioned a survey of how people in Finland feel about the décor, tidiness and comfort of their homes. Conducted in August/September, the survey revealed that 49% of respondents felt ‘home shame’ all the time, much of the time or some of the time. Home shame was more common among women than men.

Among the respondents, 74% said that everyday life created clutter in the home in the form of piles of clothes or other things. Such clutter was a permanent factor of life for 22% of respondents. Around one quarter of those who reported clutter also felt ashamed of their clutter much of the time. A messy home can put pressure on anyone, and people prefer not to expose their messes to outsiders: according to the survey, up to 90% clean house before having people over.

Professional organiser and non-fiction author Ilana Aalto considers the figures unfortunately high. As she sees it, clutter in the home is directly proportionate to the stresses and strains of everyday life. It is also indicative of how people own much more stuff than they have the energy to take care of.

− In Finland, the home is considered an indicator of overall respectability. Shame comes into the picture especially when we look at our home through the eyes of an outsider. We imagine that everyone else’s home is much nicer and tidier. In my experience, many people find entertaining and family events highly stressful. They may start cleaning house and hiding away the clutter even weeks in advance, Aalto says.

− People put inordinate effort into making their homes spick and span when having people over, just to cover up the messiness of everyday life. No wonder that entertaining in the home has been in decline in Finland for the past 40 years, Aalto adds.

Even when a work in progress, the home is a source of joy and happiness

The respondents nonetheless had mainly positive feelings about their home. This came to light when respondents were asked to choose the emotion(s) they most associated with their home. Happiness was chosen by 45%, joy by 43% and gratitude by 38%. For many, incompleteness in the home was also a familiar feeling. A sense of inadequacy regarding their home was reported by 16% of respondents.

Most of the respondents were happy with the décor, tidiness and comfort of their homes. As many as 80% reported being happy with the comfort of their homes, while 76% were happy with the decor in their homes. Tidiness of the home was a source of happiness for 70%.

Still, more than half of the respondents dreamed of greater comfort, yet reported the barrier to this to be lack of money (39%), lack of time (12%) and lack of skills (7%). Only 7% of respondents reported that instead of seeing barriers, they were constantly working to make their home more comfortable.

The homes shown on social media platforms and other media put pressures on 35% of respondents to decorate and organise their own homes. Such pressures were much more commonplace among women: 76% of the male respondents reported feeling such pressures seldom or never, while among women this figure was only 55%.
Aalto advises to take such images as ‘eye candy’ that can be enjoyed without any compulsion to strive for the same.

− The pressure comes off when enjoyment of the home is measured by wellbeing, smooth everyday living and the security that comes from having a home – not by how others might look at our homes, Aalto says.

− Especially now, that we are all spending much more time at home, it would be high time to shift from home shame to home-positivity.

The survey was conducted as an online panel survey among the Dynata consumer panel and it had 1,005 respondents. The sample is representative of the Finnish-speaking population in mainland Finland aged 18–74. The representativeness of the responses was confirmed according to age, gender and location.

Take a closer look at the survey (in Finnish) »

For more information on the survey, please contact:

Miia Eloranta, Director of Marketing and Communications, SATO Corporation, phone +358 50 441 4221, miiia.eloranta@sato.fi

Ilana Aalto, professional organiser, PhD, phone +358 40 558 0811, ilana@paikkakaikelle.fi