Relationship psychology:
organised home and mind

Perceptions of order and tidiness in the home, the challenges involved in maintaining order, and how clutter and mess affect well-being and relationships can vary between women and men and between older and younger generations. Usually, the sense of order in the home increases as we grow older, while at the same time, a lack of storage space generally contributes to an untidy home. What does a family need to be aware of in order to maintain good relations and an organised structure in the home? We asked Anneli Östling, who is a relationship expert and member of Elfa Insights, to help us find the answers.

Home – a stability zone

Home should be a place for relaxation, regeneration and harmony. If this space is often cluttered or disorganised, it can disrupt the peaceful environment and affect us on a psychological level. The fact that family members have different behaviours is the main reason why homes become untidy and disorganised. Other major reasons seem to be lack of storage and having too many gadgets and items. The sooner we establish good routines for keeping spaces neat and tidy, the easier it is for everyone in the family to do their part.

More responsibility in the home improves peace and harmony

Anneli Östling, a relationship expert, explains that conflicts in the home are often about an unequal share of responsibilities. This is why it is important to review how responsibilities might have changed over time, perhaps because the family has grown or become smaller, and to re-establish routines that work for all members of the family.

There is usually one person who shoulders slightly more responsibility than another in the home and this can have a considerable impact on one’s mental health. A lot of people become irritated and feel stressed by an untidy household. Moreover, it tends to be women more than men who find a cluttered and disorganised home environment stressful.


The key to keeping living spaces organised and tidy is to be consistent and have a good basic structure with clear routines. This also ensures that everyone in the family can be included and contribute to creating a more relaxing home. It is hardly surprising in today’s consumer-driven society that a major reason why many homes are disorganised is because they are overburdened with things. A lot of people feel they do not have a good structure to help them stay organised.

Clothes are the biggest clutter culprit in the home. Almost as many people find it hard to keep paperwork and documents in order and feel they don’t really have an efficient recycling system in place.

Three smart tips

When it comes to approaching the task of organising and decluttering messy living spaces and maintaining the peace at home, Christine Dalman, Elfa’s storage expert, has three smart tips to share.

Divide the wardrobe into sections

Practical storage is about getting everything you own into a space in a simple and efficient manner. By allocating a specific purpose to each section, shelf and drawer in the wardrobe, you create spaces that your belongings actually need. Children usually find it fun to have a shelf of their own to keep in order.

Create a home-friendly workspace

Storage that is designed for papers, pens and other essentials for the home office makes it easy to keep the workspace tidy and free of items that might otherwise be scattered about. Have files and binders for paperwork and documents close at hand on the shelves, so they don’t get spread around the house.

Create a recycling zone

A dedicated zone for recycling makes it easier to sort packaging and might be conducive to peace in the home. Having separate boxes or shelves for products can help you manage the continuous flow of recyclable household waste more efficiently. When you have an organised system like this, it’ll be easier to get started with recycling and there’ll be fewer misunderstandings at home.

Elfa Insights 2023

Elfa Insights is Elfa’s think tank where we investigate trends, needs and challenges related to storage. We do this through consumer surveys and by gathering insights from leading experts in sustainable consumption and psychology. This gives us the opportunity to delve deep into our favourite subject, storage, and inspire others to bring order, structure and harmony to their home and thus create space for important everyday things.

Alexandra Davidsson

Alexandra Davidsson is a sustainability expert with extensive knowledge and experience in circular economy, consumption and sustainable lifestyle. She worked as general secretary for the association Medveten Konsumtion 2016-2022 and has been named one of Sweden's 33 greatest talents in sustainability according to Aktuell Hållbarhet as well as one of Sweden's 101 most powerful in sustainability. She is passionate about circular economy and creating circulars - a concept for the sustainable consumer of the future.

Anneli Östling

Anneli Östling is a relationship expert, certified psychosynthetic therapist and change leader who works with midwives in her clinic at Kungsholmen in Stockholm. She is also behind the app Otrohetsakuten and is current with the podcast Stora Relationsguiden, which is used as a midwife. I host also a new app and a book with the same title.

Christine Dalman

Elfa’s Senior PR Specialist and Storage Expert for the past 30 years. 

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