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IKEA co-worker story

Meet… Kate Poulsson Johnson

Copywriter, Editorial Team, for Group Communications – Ingka Group

Kate’s living situation:

Who: Kate lives with her illustrator husband, Adrian, and their two sons, Kasper (7) and Magnus (11). From time to time, they have Bertha, the French bulldog Magnus walks as his job, come and stay with them.

What: The family’s home is a 120 sq m period, first-floor walk-up apartment, which they own. It looks over a man-made lake, and they renovated and slightly reconfigured the layout to make the best use of the space and ensure everyone had their own bedroom.

Where: The apartment is in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the family-friendly neighbourhood of Østerbro, at the city’s eastern end. Because it overlooks the Lakes, the light is very special. It doesn’t feel urban and there’s a sense of space.

If you had two hours for yourself, what would you do?

I live in the centre of a city that treasures its waterside location. I’ve always loved the sea, but my family doesn’t feel quite the same way about it. Whenever I have any time for myself – and the weather allows for it – I go to the harbour, which is clean enough to swim in, and take a solo dip. Even if it’s quick, it feels indulgent and I find being in water very calming. I would spend my second hour in a café, where I’d drink coffee, eat cake and read a book alone. Otherwise I’d go to a museum.

What are the three biggest barriers to you getting headspace at home?

1. My family (in a good way!) – we’re a very close unit and spend a lot of time together, whether at home or out in the city.

2. My to-do list – I work full time and, like other families, ours comes with admin that can feel overwhelming. Often Adrian and I put aside our need to, say, read a book at the weekend because we need to action things on the parent intranet.

3. Mess – our apartment is relatively small and our kids play right across it. I don’t want to be a barrier to that, but when it’s messy, it can be hard to relax.

“Don’t leave it to others to take your cues or offer you space and time – that leads to resentment. I’ve realised I have to create it myself.“

What changes to your home have you made – or would you like to make – with more privacy in mind?

Because our living room and kitchen/dining room are openplan, it can be hard for Adrian and I to get any downtime – alone or together – when the boys are watching movies or building LEGO in these spaces. So we decided to view our bedroom as a extra living room just for us, and redecorated it with restful, muted bed linens in dusty pink and dark grey, as well as de-cluttering and adding extra pillows to the bed and soft rugs to the foor. It’s now a retreat where we can read books or newspapers – or just take a nap! – at weekends.

What’s your top tip for getting the privacy you need when living with other people?

Don’t leave it to others to take your cues or offer you space and time – that leads to resentment. I’ve realised I have to create it myself. That means saying ‘I’m going for a walk around the lake’. Because it’s water ringed by trees, I’m getting some time in nature. And I’m moving, which is good for my mind and body. Because it’s a physical separation, I can’t be interrupted by the family. Yet it’s also close by and only takes 20 minutes, so it’s an easy fix that sees me back in the fold relatively quickly. No one can complain about that!